As most of you know—and one quick glance at my blog will tell you—I am an author and publisher of books. No secret there. Most of you also know that I am self-published. The trendy, more sophisticated calling card reads “independent author/publisher.” It is not what I did before I retired and it is certainly not what I do to make money. My posting today is targeted to self-publishers, either wannabe’s or actual beginners. If anyone else is interested, welcome!
Traditionally, the book publishing industry looks at us guys as bottom feeders. We are unworthy of using a keyboard other than to make a shopping list or socialize on social media. But times have changed and some of their snootiness is beginning to disappear—it will be a while before, if ever, it goes away completely.
New technology has caused the industry of independent publishing to grow dramatically over the past decade. Previously, books were printed with a minimum number required by the printer. Consequently, authors, whether on their own or being published by a big publishing house like Simon & Schuster or Random House, would wind up with cartons of books warehoused in their garages, kitchens, bathrooms, wherever. And if they didn’t sell….well, read ‘em and weep because somebody had to pay for all those books—either the publisher or the author.
Nowadays, with handy-dandy word processing in just about every home, almost anyone can type out a story and have a company or themselves transition it into a book which is now printed copy-by-copy. It’s called P.O.D., or Print on Demand. Many of the books on amazon.com are P.O.D. If you order one of my books, ONE order is sent to the printer, the printer pulls up my file for the book and prints ONE copy and then it’s mailed to you. It’s that simple….and economical.
Unfortunately, like everything in our crazy little country, bad people like to exploit opportunities and scam good people. So my little independent publishing world is an easy target because a lot of wannabe authors can produce a manuscript, but they don’t know how to get it out of their computer and into a published book. There are companies that do this. I use one of them, minimally, because I have been able to teach myself the process of preparing my manuscripts directly for publication. I’ve even learned how to produce my own covers. I simply fill in some informational boxes and then upload my files. A day later there is a paperback book waiting for me.
But many new writers have to hire a company or someone to prepare their manuscript and cover so it can be produced into a book. Depending on the vendor, this can cost you a reasonable amount of money to fees that are in the stratosphere. I got an offer this morning from one self-publishing service that has three different publishing packages, each offering various levels of service involved in the publishing process. The fees ran from $949 to $1995. I’ve seen them still higher at other companies. That’s crazy.
If you have an itch to write a book and see it, hold it, give a copy to your mother and maybe—JUST maybe even sell a copy—you need to be careful about hiring someone to do the work for you. Right now, one respected self-publishing service called Book Baby has a good article on the scammers and what to look for. Check it out at bookbaby.com.
My advice is to be super realistic. If you think you will write a book and within months it’ll be on the best-seller list and you’ll be getting royalties for years to come, well think again. J.K. Rowling who pounded out Harry Potter novels and sold them faster than she could count her British pounds, is like a lottery winner. You could be too, but find a comfortable seat—this could take a while.
One final tip…I use a company called CreatSpace. It’s owned by amazon. You can buy their services to do the work you can’t do, or you can learn how to do it yourself and use their facilities for free. They offer lots of materials to read and aids to help you publish successfully. Now, how to sell your books successfully…that’s a whole other topic and I’m still trying to figure it out!