Successful Self-Publishing: Assignment #6

I woke up this morning with my book, the one I’m trying to self-publish, on my mind. Maybe it was because I worked on the workshop assignment late last night before going to bed. Or maybe it was because now that I am home again after a few idyllic days in Adams County, all the pressures I contend with at home came flooding back. I worked in the garden for a couple of hours. I did laundry. Unpacked. Made plans to visit my parents tomorrow. Did some final edits of my manuscript so my daughter can incorporate them into the pdf. And then I worked on my Successful Self-Publishing Workshop assignment.

Specifically, I woke up thinking about all the things that still need to go into the book: the little pages up front with all the publishing and copyright information, any dedication I choose to include, a table of contents perhaps. Are there more?  I was also thinking about the book cover (which I’m still waiting on my darling daughter to design). I need to write, or somehow come up with copy for the back cover—in 200 words or less what the book is about in an interesting enough way to grab the attention of an over-stimulated society. Am I losing my optimism here?

I not only woke up this morning with the book on my mind, I woke up several times through the night thinking about it. I think it might be because as we progress through this workshop  we learn about more and more things we need to do to be successful with this endeavor, yet we aren’t really supposed to do any of them until we complete the full ten weeks of the workshop. The to-do list in my mind is tremendous. I think I need to spend a little time today, tomorrow, or soon, organizing, prioritizing and committing that to-do list to paper. That usually makes me feel better in situations like this one.

Assignment #6 was about Indie Authorship and Types of Self-Publishing. We read Chapter 4 on Publishing Options in April Hamilton’s The Indie Author Guide. And then we were supposed to research and compare various publishing options.

All self-publishing options are not equal. There is vanity publishing, subsidy publishing, print service providers and print on demand (POD). They differ in whether or not you keep the rights to your book, whether there is an acceptance requirement for your book, distribution avenues, up-front costs, and royalties. Although it is fairly clear that print on demand is the way to go for most people, there are many variations on this theme out there depending upon how much you want to go it alone versus how much help with design, distribution, and marketing you need or want.

In many cases you’re comparing apples to oranges. It can be overwhelming.

All I can say is that I have a new-found respect for indie authors who have successfully navigated through this maze.

Here is the assignment I submitted. (It’s a darn good thing I’m not getting graded or paid for this shoddy work.)

I’ve just spent a lot of time reading through reviews of Createspace, iUniverse, Xlibris, and Authorhouse. It’s all very confusing and finding prices is not very straightforward, but I’m not as worried about the money as I am about the overall publishing experience and reliability.

You can read good and bad reviews on everybody. The thing that stands out in my mind about these four POD companies is the package they provide or require. From what I can tell, Createspace is the only one that allows you to do-it-yourself without the cost of an expensive package. As my daughter is a graphic designer, I do not feel the need to have a package to help me design or create my book.

Additionally, on the Writer’s Digest Community group about self-publishing, the creator of the discussion topic Linton Robinson seems to be quite knowledgeable. When I communicated with him earlier in the process, he recommended Createspace, probably in part because of the set-up fees others are charging. Also, I have been following a discussion on LinkedIn about self-publishing and several writers highly recommend Createspace.

I could spend an excessive amount of time scrutinizing the details. I feel confident that Createspace can do a good job. It is an established company, connected to the  established bookseller I think I will go with Createspace. If I’m not happy, I can always change later. It appears as if there are very few upfront costs.

As far as e-books go, I don’t know whether to use the free online tools with Kindle and other e-book providers, or to go with Smashwords. I will have to go to the various sites and see whether or not I understand what to do, or if I need to use a service like Smashwords.

I don’t think my initial plan has changed overly much. I always had a general sense of using a POD provider, and Createspace in particular, and also publish as an e-book. So nothing here has really changed. I think my original timing estimates are still realistic if I don’t encounter any major roadblocks I haven’t anticipated. If I go with Creatspace, unless I’m reading it wrong, I will have very little upfront expense with publishing the book. Most of the expense will come from setting up the business and creating marketing materials. One thing that has changed—initially I thought I would have to travel a lot and do a lot of book signings. Having recently read about the relative benefits of this, or lack of, for marketing a book, I now believe I won’t have to do all those book signings, if I don’t want to. Evidently, they are not the most productive way to spend your time marketing your books.

Between the editing concerns, the permission and copyright considerations, establishing a business, selecting the POD provider, and understanding and executing all the marketing tasks required, it is a wonder anyone self-publishes. The whole process seems daunting.

Originally I planned to first seek an agent for my memoir. In fact I purchased several books on finding an agent, writing query letters and book proposals. I thought I could always fall back on self-publishing if I didn’t find an agent in a reasonable amount of time. But the more I read, the more disenchanted I became with the idea and possibility of finding an agent. And I became worried about the changes I might have to make in my memoir to please someone else.

The self-publishing option started to look more attractive. This way the readers will decide if the book is good enough to buy, not a random editor out there somewhere who I don’t get to choose, but who chooses me. I read over and over again that word of mouth sells books. I’m going to trust the readers.

I also read that even if you get published by a traditional publishing house, you still have to have a platform and a following and expend great energy marketing your book. At first look it seemed as if it wouldn’t be any more work to self-publish the book. I could do it more quickly and keep more control of the end product. Now I think that may be true for the marketing of the book, but a publishing house would take care of the other editing, copyrighting, permissions, and printing concerns. Setting up my own business wouldn’t be required. So self-publishing is clearly a lot more work, at least from my perspective right now.

It is daunting. But I think if I approach this project one step at a time, by first understanding what order I need to take the steps in, I will be able to do this. One step at a time.

Read Assignment #7

Start at the beginning with Successful Self-Publishing Workshop

14 thoughts on “Successful Self-Publishing: Assignment #6”

  1. One way to market is to hold a one person book signing with readings at all the local churches. Maybe will generate some coverage in the small local newspapers, the kinds they give away free at the grocery stores. Sponsor writing contests at schools and be present on book day or book fairs at schools. Presentations at university. Become a local celeb. It’s a foundation.A publisher may take interest when you need a printing of 2,000 books for local sales. As advertising for book signing attendance offer 10 free copies as drawing end of session. Ask hair dresser and salons to offer copies at their counters with products.

  2. I’m impressed with your thoroughness in self printing. I know a guy who did it through amazon. He did not have his manuscript edited. I have not read his book, but am familiar with his writing which is usually quite sloppy. He had family write him 5 star reviews and plastered slef promotions about his book on every well known celebrity FB page he could get to. I think he sold a couple of hundred that way. I wanted to read it just to see if he polished it up at all, but didn’t want to buy it as the subject matter was of zero interest to me. The point is that if you do the work ahead like this it is more likely to be picked up by a publishing house.

    1. Right now the editing is one of my biggest concerns. I paid a college teacher who does this sort of thing to do an edit. She gave me some great larger order things to revise: get rid of this, more about that, kind of stuff.

      Now I am concerned with the copy-editing issues. I have two people who have offered to do that for me, so hopefully they will come through for me.

      I know that self-pub is tricky because it gets a bad reputation from authors who put stuff out there that maybe isn’t ready yet for a wider readership.

      You know, with this project, I continue to follow my heart for good or bad. I never intended to publish a book. But after Annie died, I felt compelled to write the book. Then once it was written, I felt compelled to make it available to others who might be enriched by it, or benefit from it in some way.

      When I have second thoughts, Annie comes to mind, and I keep going.

  3. Thanks for your flattering mention, Christine.
    Let me say that there are also some very active groups and threads on publishing on Linked In (groups like Published Authors and especially Books and Writers)

    Anybody nervous about the mechanics of uploading their books for publication might want to start out on, where it’s easy, but the books tend to run higher in price. Once you get a Lulu book (which makes editing easier for your and your pals) you can look into tackling CreateSpace.
    And don’t forget Kindle and Smashwords–ebooks are where the money is these days.
    Lin Robinson

    1. Thanks a lot for weighing in, Linton. I couldn’t figure out how to get the page size I want to use on Lulu, so I skipped that step. I will just have to muddle my way through with Createspace.

      I have not forgotten the ebooks.

  4. Thank you for sharing your journey through this course with everyone. It does seem like a lot, but with all of the work and dedication going into it, you know the satisfaction will be well worth it. Somehow, it usually is.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I still have a lot to learn, especially about marketing. I glanced through your 2011 booklist and some on Goodreads. My book has a lot in it about faith and death and dying. I think you might like it.

      1. I’ve actually already self-published it, so if it needs editing, I’m not sure I want to know. 🙂

        If you do reviews, I could send you a copy, or figure out how to get you an ebook.


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