Successful Self-Publishing — Assignment #8

This week’s assignment was “Choosing a Print Service Provider.” In lesson six I investigated and compared several POD providers. This week I took a hard look at the numbers, calculating my break-even point considering the upfront costs, the per-copy production cost, and the net author royalty. Since this was a short response, I also included my first draft of a brief, 200-word summary for the back of my book cover.

Assignment #8 — Choosing a Print Service Provider

Although I never did what I would consider to be a thorough comparison and investigation of POD service providers, I’m going to stick with Createspace which was recommended to me by several sources.

The Createspace website has handy little calculators for determining the cost of the book, shipping, and royalties. I used these to estimate that my book, at about 185 pages, in a 6×9 format will cost about $3.08 to produce.

Createspace offers a Pro-plan for $39 which discounts the cost of each book printed and increases the royalty payments.

If I sell the print books at $10.00 each which is on the low-end of the scale, and I take into consideration the bookseller’s cut, I will make $4.92 on every book sold in the Createspace e-store, $2.92 on each book sold at Amazon.com, and $0.92 for the books sold through the expanded distribution channels.

The following are my actual and some estimated upfront costs:

$300 — professional editing

$39.00 — Createspace pro-plan

$3.08 —proof copy

$3.59 —proof copy shipping

$154 —author copies (50) for family members, reviews and promotions

$23 —shipping author copies

$100 —promotional materials (estimate)

$100 —website hosting/year

$312 —cost to set up business (estimate)

$1039 —total upfront costs

At the royalty rates I anticipate based on the Createspace calculators, I only need to sell 211 books on the e-store to break even, or 355 books on Amazon.com. There are other means of distribution that I do not consider in these calculations. For example, I plan to sell Dancing in Heaven as an e-book. It’s possible I may at times hand sell books if I choose to do any book signings or attempt to get the book into smaller, independent bookstores.

I don’t really know what to expect in terms of sales. I suppose the way I look at it is, if I don’t break even, I will have to write it off as a hobby.  It’s not nearly as expensive as other hobbies can be.

My main goal all along was to get Annie’s story out there. When the first person buys a book, I will have begun to accomplish that goal.

Book summary draft:

If you are reading this, I would appreciate any help you can give me by posting or sending me your comments on this first draft of a book summary for the back cover of my book. The book summary will also be used in any advertising materials I have, so it is important that it is clear and engaging.

My sister Annie was born with severe brain damage in 1958.  She was born a year after me and was the fourth of five children in our family.

Annie never outgrew the needs of an infant. She didn’t walk or talk. Our parents fed her, changed her clothes, and carried her for her entire life. Although the doctors who initially diagnosed her predicted she’d have a life expectancy of eight years, Annie lived to be 51 years old.

In the summer of 2009, Annie became ill, was hospitalized, and returned home with our family for her few remaining days, under the tender care of Hospice.

Dancing in Heaven is an inspirational story about Annie’s life, death, and her significance in the lives of those of us who loved her and others who were somehow touched by her.  This memoir provides a window into my family’s life with a severely disabled member. But more importantly, Dancing in Heaven is a testimony to the basic intrinsic value of human life.

Annie never walked. She never spoke. She never worked. Yet she filled our lives with smiles and radiated light and love every day of her life.

Now, she’s dancing in heaven.

Start at the beginning with Successful Self-Publishing Workshop

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Author: CMSmith

I enjoy reading, writing, gardening, photography, genealogy and travel. I have opinions about many things, but am trying to age gracefully and not continually tick people off with them. Sometimes I can’t help myself.

16 thoughts on “Successful Self-Publishing — Assignment #8”

  1. I think the book summary is good. It is descriptive without telling too much. these are my favorite lines:

    ‘But more importantly, Dancing in Heaven is a testimony to the basic intrinsic value of human life.

    Annie never walked. She never spoke. She never worked. Yet she filled our lives with smiles and radiated light and love every day of her life.

    Now, she’s dancing in heaven.’

    it ties the summary together.

    Thank you Christine:)

  2. The book title and summary really work well; your sister reminds me of my nephew Jacob, who like her wasn’t able to talk in his short life. He was given a few days by the doctors, and made it to three years. Like Annie, I think he’s laughing and playing in heaven.

    1. Thanks for sharing Jacob’s story, William. So many people are touched by someone who is disabled. Such a sad story about Jacob. I’m sure he was well-loved while he was here.

  3. Christine ~

    You can strengthen the blurb by NOT starting out with sentences using the passive verb “was” three times.

    For example, instead of your first two paragraphs:

    My sister Annie was born with severe brain damage in 1958. She was born a year after me and was the fourth of five children in our family.

    Annie never outgrew the needs of an infant. She didn’t walk or talk. Our parents fed her, changed her clothes, and carried her for her entire life. Although the doctors who initially diagnosed her predicted she’d have a life expectancy of eight years, Annie lived to be 51 years old.

    Consider combining the two paragraphs and making a few other changes:

    Annie, born with severe brain damage in 1958, never outgrew the needs of an infant. The fourth of five children (born a year after me), Annie never learned to walk or talk. Mom and dad fed her, changed her clothes, carried her, and cared for her throughout her life.

    Initially, doctors predicted that Annie would have a life expectancy of eight years. Annie ignored them and lived for 51 years ~ supported by mom and dad’s loving care.

    In the summer of 2009, Annie became ill. After a brief hospitalization, she returned home, under the tender care of Hospice, to spend her last days surrounded by family.

    Dancing in Heaven shares Annie’s story ~ her life, her death, and her significance to those who loved her and to many others who were touched by her. It not only offers a window into living with a severely disabled family member . . . Dancing in Heaven is a testament to the intrinsic value of human life.

    Annie never walked. She never spoke. She never worked. Yet she filled our lives with smiles and radiated light and love every day of her life.

    Now, she’s dancing in heaven.

    1. Reading over my suggested changes . . . I think this paragraph still needs work:

      Dancing in Heaven shares Annie’s story ~ her life, her death, and her significance to those who loved her and to many others who were touched by her. It not only offers a window into living with a severely disabled family member . . . Dancing in Heaven is a testament to the intrinsic value of human life.

      Maybe:

      Dancing in Heaven shares Annie’s life, death, and significance ~ both to those who loved her and to many others who were touched by her. Her story offers much more than a window into living with a severely disabled family member . . . Dancing in Heaven provides a testament to the intrinsic value of human life.

      1. Thanks for taking the time to give such a well-thought-out response, Nancy. For some reason, I’ve been dragging my feet on putting together a summary. You’ve offered some helpful ideas.

        I think I will still keep it in first person. I’ve debated back and forth on this, read summaries on other memoirs, and just feel it is the right voice for this book.

        But your comments on the passive verbs, and some of the other things you’ve changed are helpful. So thanks.

  4. I’ve really enjoyed your sharing these. I’m not sure I will get this far into it, but it helps me understand the process better. The other Nancy some good suggestions ~ as you said, it was very thoughtful. Keeping it first person sounds good, but now you’ve thought it out and your reasons for doing it.

    You are really making good progress on this.

    Nancy
    http://dogear6.wordpress.com/

  5. I read right through the summary without stopping. Yes, the ‘was’ s were passive, but they didn’t bother me as they should have. I just reviewed Boy in the Moon for Amazon Vine, about a severely disabled child (though not as much as Annie). As you say, his family got so much out of knowing him, as did I. I look forward to your book.

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