Posts tagged ‘author’

Self-published…print! AND…then what? (a personal journey account)

O.K., so here’s the reality for anyone interested in becoming an author, or for just whoever might want to know about the process involved when finally getting that tome of yours self-published.  Is it a harsh reality? If I let you think that way…you may never want to try the self-publishing route at all…so let’s just continue to consider it.  You’ve written a story, collection of poems, essays, or the like. You would like to share your work with the world, and thus would like to see it published.  However, despite that want and your gut feeling that your body of work is well-worth being appreciated by the rest of the world…you can not find it a traditional publishing house.

This is what this post is about then:  self-publishing.  Maybe even you are a wayy big-baller, and you don’t want to go the normal route, because you know the drill, and you want your own control over your project.  My first book is a children’s picture-book…and I know since I’m not Jim Carrey, or Spike Lee, who both have recently-published picture-books out right now…the likelihood of me scoring a publishing house, especially because I have my own friend/collaborator who is the artist/illustrator of my project…was pretty slim.  So I didn’t bother going there.

But let’s get to the heart of this post.  I found a printer.  Ingram/Spark.  Best outfit, in my mind, of having the best offerings.  Things like quality printing, fairly inexpensive finished products, and their highly touted global distribution network.  Their claim is 39,000 distributors:  like libraries, on-line retailers, and schools/universities…who if they were to choose your title out of Ingram’s catalogue, could then order as many copies as they would like to carry and or sell.  Which sounds SO exciting! All of those people, able to consider your work!

But…and isn’t there always that one big butt-head thing that stops us? The thing is, even though Ingram, unlike CreateSpace, allows an individual author to publish in a hardback format (aka Case Laminate) and that might be what you would like to see aside from just a paperback (definitely what libraries need) the cost, including an upgrade to a premium color package (for me, or for cookbooks, heavy graphics, etc. which includes a heavier stock of 70#)…is just too prohibitive.  My base price, plus shipping, plus allowing for the traditional ability for retailers to have a “return policy” on their orders, would totally negate any profit I could make, along with a truly horrifying thought that if a retailer could not sell my precious book — I would be on the hook for the return charges!

So, here’s what I have done:  I left my book listed with Ingram/Spark at a premium package.  I disallowed any return policy.  This alone, supposedly and most definitely, will preclude me from being on anyone’s must-order list! I priced it as high as I could to allow for the 55% discount (also supposedly such a tradition, no one will order unless you have allowed this deep cut)  and to allow just the base printing price to be covered.  I think there was something like a $1.80 or so, left-over as profit for myself and illustrator to share.  Because that’s our shared business-plan.  For any on-line retailer, there was still room to make a profit…but not without the gamble of first buying the product outright.  So I know that’s never going to happen.

What is going to happen now is that I am going to still have a very nice place to print off books, one at a time, or as many as I choose to have printed and shipped to me…at a very affordable price; and receiving, for that price..the best quality, professional book I can be proud of.  Then, I am going to continue marketing the eBook version, while at the same time promoting sales of a hardback version, through my own website.  The next marketing move for me, after I can see if I can work out an agreement with any major stores/chains, etc., will be to do just like the big-boy publishers are doing:  print it overseas.  During a recent foray into Barnes & Noble, I found almost every picture-book to have been published (no matter the famous publishing-house) in either China, or Malaysia.

Now, definitely, you may be able to score sales from the global network program, if you are just merely looking to have a paperback listed on Amazon, and hopefully other retailers.  You will be much luckier than I in that regard, as your book will be much less costly to produce, and therefore can be picked up by other retailers! Yay for you! 🙂

Also, do not forget to produce your book in an eBook format!   If you sell it primarily on the internet, you will need to focus all of your attention on marketing it on the internet where you feel your core group can be found. The business (and it is a business) of marketing is almost full-time, and can take very valuable time away from what you love best:  writing! You may then consider, if your finances allow for it, a marketing team to boost awareness of your product.

When I decide I have some buyers for bigger venues, and I am ready to commit time to local fairs, shows, etc., I will order the minimum shipment allowable (like $3,500 worth) of books from China.  Meanwhile, I am happy to sell them one at a time through word of mouth, or like last week, one copy to a nearby lunch patron who was at the same bistro where I was holding a signing!

The true excitement and value comes when just that one person tells you they like your book.  It’s even better when they are a sweet, loveable child and the story reached them innocently, without that child worrying about how the story came by them and what marketing strategies the writer had to employ…it just came to them.  And they tell you they loved it! My book is titled ‘Spoiled Pink’, and the little girl dressed herself (she was 7) all in pink, to meet me! And what was even cooler, is that she and her mom already had a copy of the book, but just wanted to meet me and have it signed! That, to me, is what it’s all about!





A-hunting we will go…


Last week, out of a deep slumber, I awoke to the sing-song voice of Elmer Fudd, saying “A-hunting we will go…” I literally sat up in bed, thinking WTH? Did that come from my friend Ron Yoder posting the occasional Bugs Bunny cartoon? I didn’t remember a recent posting. Maybe because it was duck hunting season and I had just visited with my son-in-law and heard how he hadn’t even squeezed off a shot, much less bagged a duck? (Daffy would be happy at that) Hmm…Elmer’s phrase that lingered in my head might even be attributed to those Duck Dynasty pictures floating around on Facebook.

Whatever prompted me to wake so unusually, even for me, a vivid technicolor dreamer…I let go of and decided to turn it into fodder for a blog. It’s not too far a reach, considering I’m in the midst of a just-released first book, that I then immediately pulled from the market. Now my book has no home, and I am hunting for a new printer.

My designer Randy has likened the process of self-publishing to being on Mr. Toad’s Wild ride…& I have to agree. Along with our own self-discoveries about our work dragging us down, my illustrator and I started with CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon. The things we didn’t like? The fact that they cared so little about protecting our product during shipping was number one on the list. The first copy I held in my hand…which should have been a thrilling moment, was disappointing…with a big crease across the front, and an already bent corner.

I googled customer shipping reviews…and found horror story, after horror story. Boo! My next unpleasant surprise was the reduction in price in as little as 48 hours to 15% off our set list-price. Hey, I had a willing & eager buying public! Yay for the eStore set-up where I had listed my price, and was directing my friends & relatives to purchase…but a big NO to the Amazon web page where, while thrilling to see the book up on it’s ordering page…was again, a big disappointment when I saw what they put our price at.

So, a hunting-we-will-go, indeed!
But there’s a problem. Mr. Toad’s Wild ride won’t stop to let us off! We’ve finished our book, really! And we just want to list it with a fair and reputable company! But no, it’s not that easy, grasshopper. Which come to think of it, must be a pretty favorite food (grasshoppers) of Wild Toads. But that’s what it’s beginning to feel like. (I’ll stop here with my comparisons before I get into trouble like Tom Cruise always does.)

It seems that not only has everyone started blogs way before I have, but also they are way ahead on their book titles, and everyone who’s anyone is self-publishing right now. The company I am interested in is Lightening Source printing. But they started another sister company, Ingram/Sparks. Which one to use? What are the differences? Yes, the hunt is on, and these choices seem to currently be the best, but permits are not being given out easily. The company does not take calls…well they do, but only to say please contact them first via email. After which you receive your email back as undeliverable because they are currently out of space for accepting new emails.

I decided to also concurrently work the eBook route, and happily settled on BookBaby to be our aggregator to all the major distributors. Oh, a children’s book? Lot’s of pictures? Except for Apple’s version, that’ll need to be specially formatted by someone else. Off then, to Smashwords’ Mark’s list…where right off the bat the first choice guy says he can’t (won’t) take the time because he has so much business, he doesn’t want to turn away the easy stuff to bother with one that’s going to cut into his proceeds…Le sigh, I sigh to myself.

Long story short, I love Elmer Fudd’s catchy tune…but I sure do NOT enjoy the hunt! Funny thing, I don’t think ELmer likes hunting all that much either!

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