This past November, I self-published my first title, a children’s picture-book…’Spoiled Pink’. In learning several things regarding the publishing world, I decided perhaps if anyone were to read this, they could pick up a few tips, and perhaps spare themselves some of the angst I experienced in my first foray into self-publishing. I will try to keep it quick, and to the point.
1. I’ve been reading different people’s blogs to both motivate myself, and to glean the tips they freely provide. I used to think it would be nice to connect to people as well, but I know that with a purported 77 million bloggers world-wide, the chances of me finding and connecting with people who could become friends is very limited. Even with those odds! 77 million users! A serious writer must of course eventually realize that this is very much a solitary pursuit…and while becoming educated to the ways of the writers’ world…you should not expect much more. Information and entertainment (limit your reading time, or you will find little time to hone your own craft!) are about the best one can expect. And that alone is worthy of gratefulness. So read other people’s tips! They can be motivational, educational, and save you time!
2. On content: Having said the above, take everything with the proverbial grain of salt. I have read a lot of people’s blogs regarding initial works you may feel ready to publish…and a lot of them say, just get it out there! Forget the fear! Push on…”My first book…I use now as a doorstop, but I’ve learned so much since then.” A writer, they go on to say, is continually perfecting their craft. While that of course is true, please take it upon yourself to make sure your best effort is exactly that — your best effort! Nothing cemented the concept of it being the best it could possibly be, until I read the Kirkus Indie review I had paid for. The first words I read… “debut picture-book” immediately chilled me to the bone. I was already labeled as a children’s author…and it had been duly noted that this was my first “attempt” at being a writer. Traditionally, you were judged based on your first work. And if that wasn’t the best and did not garner glowing reviews or sales…that was it. One statistic I remember from somewhere is that most writers publish only one title in their lifetime. Not adding up possible life-times…this is not an encouraging stat! Bottom line…even though this is about self-publishing, and a lot of people are currently into just that…don’t discourage your future self from getting out that second title! Do hire an editor, a graphic designer for your cover art (Our Kirkus Indie review said the ‘Spoiled Pink’ cover was brilliant) AND, get yourself a Kirkus Indie review. The five hundred plus bucks is well worth it. It can also clue you in as to what may need to be done to your work to get it even more polished. The best part is being able to use it in all of your marketing efforts. Maybe even if your reviewer happened to be off his/her game that day and gave your book a passing nod…sometimes this is all it takes for people to notice you. Hey, someone thinks, Kirkus said it was good…so it must be. Then, like the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’, you’ve convinced not only someone to read your book, but perhaps already be preconditioned to like it!
3. It’s ready…where to publish? I myself opted for CreateSpace, right off the bat. Seems everyone was using them, they were inexpensive; and as a subsidiary of Amazon…you got your title up on Amazon instantaneously, with a promise of possible world-wide distribution. It seemed the route to go, and boldly I went. I found out a couple of things. The cost of publishing pretty much precludes a realistic partnering with any outside retailers because of one big rule. Traditionally and more importantly, because of our current economic climate, there is little room for pricing variables and booksellers need to be able to return any books they can not sell. Amazon/CreateSpace does not allow for such a practice. Bottom line: You will not have anyone order your books to sell in their on-line businesses, or brick and mortar stores. Other things that did not go well: shipping practices. The first copy I held in my hand had high-quality printing and binding, and beautiful rich color…but had suffered its ride to my home. The first few pages were wrinkled and the front cover was creased. I googled shipping problems, and found that they simply ignored all complaints, and never addressed the very real need to add protective materials to their shipping. As for pricing, I was dismayed to see Amazon reduce the price of my book after only 24 hours. Only then did I look at the contract between me and about fifteen of Amazon’s best attorneys, and read that they were free to price my title at whatever they wanted, at any given time. This ticked me off just a tad, as of course, our first and immediate sales are to the locals and to our relatives and immediate friends and sphere. Here I was quoting them one price, and here was Amazon, offering it up at something else. I recall an immediate discount of like 17% — overnight! In any event, that was enough to get me to drop them the very next day.
*PART TWO* (to be continued) My new relationship with Ingram/Sparks!
*PART THREE* (to be continued) All I know (NOW!) about eBooks!
Above information garnered while producing http://www.thespoiledpinkbook.com