Self-publishing - cheap and easy


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Thread: Self-publishing - cheap and easy

  1. #1

    Self-publishing - cheap and easy

    I've seen so many threads started by newbies about how to become self-published, I decided to weigh in.

    In my opinion, it's amazing that companies like Lulu, AuthorHouse, etc. can still convince anyone to pay for publication. Writers don't need it. You may need editing of your work, that's another story. If you already know your work is good enough for publication (or don't give a crap and just want to print a few copies to impress your relatives), you can do it for nearly no cost at all. You might need software like Adobe Acrobat to format your book in PDF file, but guess what? You can download a free 30 day free trial and use that.

    Okay, e-book. You can publish to Amazon Kindle at no cost. Just upload your text in PDF and your cover (You do have a distinctive cover, don't you? No? Just keep reading.) You set your price and start selling right away. They provide the ISBN.

    For Barnes and Noble, they've been a little slow getting off the mark, and you can't publish straight to Nook, yet. And, from what I've read here, you have to be a US citizen. So go to Smashwords and load your text in MS Doc. (You don't have MS office? You've crippled yourself. Doc files can be immediately converted to PDF with Adobe Acrobat.) You upload your cover and your book is for sale in several different markets, including Barnes and Noble.

    Next, print publication. Use Amazon's Create Space. Fill out your book and author info, upload a PDF file (formatted correctly, of course. It took me a while, but I figured it out.). Then go to their "create-a-cover" option. They've got tons of perfectly dreadful covers, but look beyond that. Your title, sub-title, author name, back cover text, author picture and bar code are automatically placed in the exact positioning of the stock cover (but you chose the cover, remember? There are options.) Now, here's where you break the mold. You can upload your own artwork, or choose another picture from their library(dreadful, mostly, but one might fit your novel.) You don't have artwork? Bullcrap. Take a photograph of something suitable to your subject, choose something in the public domain (Take the Mona Lisa and put someone else's face on it). Or maybe you have an artistic friend (decently artistic, of course) and have him/her design cover art. Offer him a couple of percentage points on sales royalties. Once you've done both these tasks, submit your book and wait a day or two to find out if you've done it right and can proceed. (REMEMBER, they only check formatting. If your text is poorly written and your cover is an eyesore, that's your fault.) The create space program counts book size (you select that) and pages and gives you an automatic calculation of the royalties you can expect, dependent on the price you set. Up to now, there's no cost.

    But here comes the hard part. YOU HAVE TO BUY A PROOF COPY. That's right, Amazon actually expects you to buy a copy of your own book and make sure you're going to get what you want. Those guys have got a nerve, haven't they? I'm being facetious, of course. Oh, that's right, they gave me a discount code for entering the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award so that the proof copy and mailing were free, too. This program is free, until you actually order a proof. They also give you an ISBN. You need different ISBN's for print and e-book. Google around and see how much it will cost you to buy an ISBN. It's a government appointed firm and they have a monopoly. They charge quite a bit, if you just want one or two ISBN's.

    Once you've made changes, and uploaded them, Amazon just sits back and waits. They don't publish until you decide to buy your author copies. Then it goes on Amazon, for sale to others. There are special programs and options, but the cost is minimal and pays for itself. For instance, you can pay $39 for a higher percentage royalty (quite a bit more) and discount for your author copies. If you buy more than 10 of your own books, (and you're going to give (or sell) them to relatives, friends and associates, aren't you?)
    you're already paid the 39.00 back in reduced costs.

    There's a bit more to it, of course, but I've covered the major points. So why are the pay-to-publish sites going to go the way of the dinosaur? Because automated software will put them out of business. Amazon invested one time to develop this software, now it can make them money strictly off revenue from product produced by the software. Look at it this way. The guy who developed facebook doesn't charge a dime, peso, sous or euro for using his service, but I just heard that Facebook is now worth over 500 BILLION dollars. Sometimes it pays to just give things away.

    Speaking of giving things away, don't forget to send copies of your book to local reviewers, national reviewers, and web reviewers, if you think it's good enough. Maybe the local libraries? If it's non-fiction, influential people in that industry or speciality. Robert J. Sawyer couldn't GIVE his book away, so he threw it away. Literally. He went to a sci-fi convention (it's a s/f book, natch) and threw twenty copies into the crowd. Somehow, a copy made its way to Orson Scott Card, who gave him a great review. (And if you don't know who Orson Scott Card is, how did you get this far reading an article about publishing?) Rob Sawyer is now Canada's top SF writer, with several Hugo and Nebula awards to his credit. His work was good enough to give away and bring him more in return.

    That's why I'm giving away this advice; things tend to boomerang. If you're a new writer, don't hang around forums asking for "how-to" advice. There are many resources for writers (including Rob Sawyer's web site) that will tell you everything you need to know about writing and publishing. So don't ask beginner questions on forums, because I've seen this answer time and time again: "I don't write and I don't know anything about it, but here's my advice..." If you take that advice, bad on you.

    Get out, get busy, get knowledgable and get it published. And don't forget to self-promote.

    Oh, my latest novel "...and Remember that I Am a Man." is in the proof copy stage and will soon be published in hardcopy by Create-Space. For now, it's available at Amazon, Smashword, and Barnes and Noble, in e-book forms.

    Take care,

    JohnB

  2. #2
    I really appreciate this post. I'd never even heard of half these services. I'll be looking into them. Thanks much!

    However, I use Lulu, and I've never paid anything for publishing...

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