Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Self-Publishing - Ten Great Tips to Make Your Book Shine

We self-publishers fight a lonely battle, finding readers for our wit and wisdom. We write alone, and now we sell alone and search for ways to market our work. How do we entice readers to open their wallets?

Those questions are often premature. Before asking how you’re going to cope with all those book orders, you need to make sure you have a quality product. So here are ten tips to make your book, fiction or non-fiction, the best it can be.

#1 Use a spell-checker, but only as a first line of defense. Then you look for misspellings the spell-checker won’t catch, such as then/than, to/too/two, tail/tale, or its/it’s.

#2 Read your manuscript critically, as though you weren’t the author. Some things to check include complete chapters, well-organized paragraphs, complete sentences, and accurate punctuation.

#3 Be consistent. If you capitalize a word once in the text, chances are you always want to capitalize it. Decide whether you want one space or two at the end of a sentence, and stick with it. Never change your font or type size without good reason. If your work consists of more than one file, be sure that every file is formatted identically.

#4 Get honest, competent critiques. Leave your mother and spouse alone; your family has better things to do than fawn over your work. Avoid critiques from anyone who has an emotional stake in making you happy, because that isn’t what you need. The Internet Writing Workshop ( is an excellent source of constructive, informed criticism.

#5 Use your judgment. Even good critiquers may give you conflicting advice. Remember that it’s your project, so the final decision is always yours.

#6 Refer to a style manual such as the Chicago Manual of Style, which is the most widely accepted guide for standard writing.

#7 Make a style sheet. A novel or other large manuscript can involve lots of small stylistic decisions by the author. Keep a pad of paper with a running list things you don’t want to have to keep looking up. For example, a cartoon I liked showed a bank robber writing a note and asking the teller, “Is holdup one word or two?” Think of words you often misspell or don’t know how to capitalize, and write them correctly on the list.

#8 Follow your publisher’s guidelines religiously even if they don’t insist.

#9 Repeat tip #2.

#10 Review the publisher’s proof carefully. When you receive the publisher’s proof isn’t the time to look for typos; you should have done that already. At this stage, the publisher may even charge you if you fix many of your own mistakes at this stage. Instead, look for their errors. Are illustrations in their proper places? Are pages and chapters numbered properly? Look at every page’s overall appearance. Is each one properly aligned? Is any text missing?

If you follow these simple (but not always easy) tips, I can’t guarantee best-sellerdom for your book, but I can promise you this: Your book will be far superior to the vast majority of self-published books. You will have a quality product.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

When to Self Publish Your Book

There Are Some Very Good Reasons to Self-publish Your Book

by Melanie Schwear

Self-publishing or print on demand (POD) publishing is becoming a very popular topic on the internet. Many people have the dream of becoming a published writer, and self-publishing gives them the satisfaction of holding an actual bound book with their name on it without having to go through all the submission and rejection with a traditional publisher.

With traditional publishing routes, the publisher makes sure to get your book onto store shelves and publicizes it well. After all, it is in their interest to do so. They make money off each book that is sold. With self-publishing, however, all of the promotion depends on you. Most self-published books never sell more than five hundred copies.

You Already Have a Fan-Base

If you are an already published writer, and you want to give your fans a little treat, self-publishing might be a great idea for you. You can quickly have any number of books printed that you can offer exclusively to website visitors or members of your fan club.

Having a pre-made fan-base is very helpful to a self-published author, because it is not easy to get people who do not know you to find and purchase your book otherwise.

You Write Very Specific Niche Non-Fiction

Self-publishing and print on demand publishing was made for specific niche non-fiction. You might be hard pressed to find a traditional publisher that will touch “The Effects of Symphonic Orchestral Music on Woodworm,” or “Five Hundred Things to Carve Out of Cheese.” However, if your niche has an audience, self-publishing a book is a great idea. It is much easier to market a book to a very specific segment of the population who are already interested in your topic.

You are Writing a Personal Memoir or Family History

These kinds of books are great for self-publishing, or especially print on demand books. That is because you would not intend to sell them at all. Having attractively bound books to present to your family at the next reunion is a great way of showing your familial pride. No one would want to publish these books professionally, and you probably would not want them to.

You are an Expert Marketer

If you are an expert book marketer or publicist and want to stretch your advertising muscles, self-publishing is a great idea. Many self-published authors cannot get their books into mainstream bookstores so all potential sales must be done online. And no one will market the book for you, unless you pay him or her to do it.

Your Book is Horrible

This last reason to self-publish your book is painful, yet valid. Anyone can get his or her book bound and printed by a print on demand or self-publishing company. It doesn’t matter if you can spell, use proper punctuation, or craft a decent story. Either a massive lack of confidence, or a major dose of realism can lead you to self-publish your book.

Self-publishing your fiction or non-fiction book has its drawbacks. You must market your own book and it may not be stocked in regular books stores. However, self-publishing or print on demand publishing, can be a good idea for people in several groups. If you are in one of these groups, I wish you the very best of luck.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

How much does it cost to self-publish a book?

by: Ron Pramschufer

How much does it cost to self-publish a book? This seems like a simple enough question but there is no simple answer. There are three basic types of self-publishers. I’ll call them the casual hobbyist, the serious hobbyist and the professional. Before I can answer “How much?” you need to determine which type fits you best.

Today I am going concentrate on the casual hobbyist type of self-publisher. This category probably covers the majority of all the authors currently considering self-publishing their first book. This group covers a broad range of both subject matter and personal author profiles. As a member of this group you have written a story of some sort or the other, and a friend or family member, most likely, has talked you into considering turning this story into a book. Maybe your story is an autobiography. Maybe it’s a collection of poems or short stories or your political views. Maybe it’s the memoirs of your days in the War or in the Peace Corp or your days as a hippie, an Anarchist or … whatever. Maybe it’s even a children’s story. No matter what the subject matter is, the primary audience for this book is your immediate family and friends.

As a casual hobbyist, you probably do not have any formal writing experience. You are most likely over fifty with your kids pretty much off on their own. If you aren’t already retired, you are probably getting close, at least mentally if not physically. Chances are you have been telling your story, in parts, to your family or buddies at the bar over the course of years, embellishing it as time goes on. Maybe you even listened to President Bill Clinton when he said that anyone over fifty owed it to their family to write down their life experiences (and publish it as a book).

As a casual hobbyist you do not want to invest a lot of time or money in bringing this manuscript to publication. You may have a passing thought about getting a call from Oprah or Dr. Phil, to discuss your book, but know that your main motivation is much more personal. In the end, if see your name in print and receive a bit of praise from family and friends you have met your goal.

Chances are, if you are the casual hobbyist, you may not even be reading newsletters like the Publishing Basics Newsletter because you don’t really care about publishing as a business. You are happy to give your money to the first company that makes it look easy and doesn’t charge “too much”. It’s just a hobby, and a casual one at that. If you are not the one reading this, perhaps your son or daughter or friend, is in an effort to keep you from being taken advantage of, by any of the “too good to be true” advertising of companies who prey on the casual hobbyist. Unfortunately, the Internet is full of these places.

The one thing that the casual hobbyist rarely realizes is that they are only a phone call or experience away from becoming a serious hobbyist or even a professional. This is why it is important to follow a few basic tips no matter how serious you are about publishing when you initially enter the market.

The primary rule is to never grant a company exclusive rights to your book for any amount of time to unless that company is paying you an awful lot of money. One of the slimier publishers claim to be a traditional publisher because they pay the author a one dollar advance royalty. For this one dollar, the author signs over the rights to their book for seven years. This might be fine if your book never goes beyond the dozen copies you buy to hand out to your friends but there is no reason to do it. Remember, your self-publishing status can change at a moments notice.

The other basic rule, which runs along the same line as the first is, you want to make sure that you own everything used to produce your book. What I am talking about here is the ownership of the digital files used to print your book. Again, it doesn’t matter who owns your printing file if you are only printing a few books but things change and you want to be able to react to these changes.

Once you have established that you are not giving up any rights to your book and you own the digital files used to print the books (or at least know what owning the files will cost), you can start to shop and compare pricing for the actual production of your book.

The casual hobbyist self publisher does not really need an ISBN. At this stage, this book is going no where near a bookstore, where an ISBN is required. Your primary market is your family and friends. An ISBN is not necessary to hand out books to your buddies at the VFW or your friends in your sewing circle. Having an ISBN is only necessary if you plan to sell your book in bookstores, including Amazon. You can always buy ISBN’s later, should you become more serious about your publishing but, for now, save your money.

To the casual hobbyist, hiring an editor is a luxury. Your family and friends are going to love your book, just the way you’ve written it. Between the spell checker in MS Word, a few re-reads and possibly your 10th grade English teacher, you’ll be fine. This, of course, changes if you shift from casual hobbyist to serious hobbyist or professional but it’s something that is easy enough to go back and do later.

The casual hobbyist most likely has the ability to do an acceptable job laying out the text in MS Word. The trick is to set up the page size correctly. The easiest way to accomplish this is to download a free text template from Look at a few books in your library to get an idea of what your text should look like. The free template is already set up with page numbers and page headers. All you need to do is “select all”, “copy” and “paste” your word document into the template and move the type around until it looks right. Remember, the first page should be a title page and the second should be your copyright page. Copyright can be as simple as “copyright, your name, year or copyright © your name and year. You can find the symbol © by going to the Insert dropdown in word, select “symbol” and “insert” the correct symbol. If you want to get fancy, you can copy the whole paragraph of legalese printed on the copyright page of most books, but it’s not necessary. You’re covered. The rest of your text should pretty much flow. Try to stay away from using too many typefaces. Just because MS Word has 100 typefaces available, it doesn’t mean you have to use them all.

Up to this point, the casual hobbyist self-publisher hasn’t spent a nickel. The first money that will most likely need to be spent is in converting your MS word text into PDF format and designing and laying out a book cover. The converting to PDF is easy if you have the software. Laying out the cover in MS word and converting to PDF is much more difficult and probably not worth the time it would take the casual hobbyist to learn how to do it. Having a nice looking cover is important, even to the casual hobbyist. People do judge a book by its cover… even family and friends. There is no reason to spend a fortune on a high end graphic designer although you do need to spend a couple bucks to get this part done correctly. has a program they call their “Hybrid Design” program. This program takes the author’s supplied, laid out word document and converts it to a press ready PDF file. The author then has a choice of 30 or so basic cover designs as well as thousands of cover pictures and illustrations to choose from. The final cover will be assembled and converted to a print ready PDF by a qualified designer. The cost is only $149, as long as the author prints with or $199 if the author wants to print with someone else. Remember when I said you want to own the digital printing file? For $199 you own the file with no strings attached. Most of the POD publishers, like Iuniverse, Author House and Xlibris have starter programs which include basic layout but their prices are higher and you do not own the digital printing file when you are done.

Now that you have a digital file ready for printing, you need to find a printer. This again is pretty easy. There are only two choices that I will mention in this article because they are clearly the best two choices. If you are truly only going to print 5-10 copies, I would use There is no setup cost with Lulu. All you need to do is supply a print ready PDF file, which we just talked about above. The cost per copy is fairly high but the total number of dollars needed for a small quantity is quite low. If you think your circle of friends may extend beyond that and you think you might want to print 100 or 200 copies, would be a more cost effective alternative. With either of these services you are not tied down with any exclusives. You can always start with Lulu, buying a few copies, and do a larger press run with later on. Or, the other way around, you can print 100 or so with and order a couple at a time, as needed, after your original printing runs out from One way or the other, your total investment in prepress and printing is minimal… under $1000 for 100 copies.

The total number of dollars needed to be spent on sales and marketing for the casual hobbyist is the cost a few phone calls to friends and perhaps a little postage. These costs will be more than recovered with the free beers your friends buy you after seeing your book. When you are done, you will be the proud owner of a nice, professional looking book. Depending on whether you buy 10 or 100, you will have presents for at least the next holiday or two. Once you run out of friends, you will always have your book close by in case you run into a stranger who shows an interest. Who knows, maybe you’ll be stuck in an airport delay one day and be sitting next to Oprah and she will take an interest in you and your book. Stranger things have happened. Like I said earlier, if you set yourself up correctly in the beginning and you didn’t sign away any of your rights and own your printing file you can shift from Casual Hobbyist to Serious Hobbyist or even Self-Publishing Professional, in a hurry. Next month we’ll talk about the self-publishing costs involved for the serious hobbyist type of self-publisher.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How to Decide Between Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing

By: Bruno Somerset

In years past, the only way to get a novel published was through what we now refer to as "traditional publishers". Today, however, technology has made self-publishing a viable alternative for many authors. To properly assess traditional publishing vs. self-publishing as a means of getting your novel to readers, you must first understand the realities of each method. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and in the end, it is up to each individual writer to decide which choice's pros outweigh its cons.

Being published by a major (or even minor) "traditional" publishing house is the goal of nearly everyone who has completed a novel. We envision huge advances, even bigger royalty checks, movie deals, and no more 9 to 5 job. It rarely happens that way. Most of the time you need an agent first, because publishers usually won't accept manuscripts from anyone but agents. Agents often only accept query letters, not full manuscripts or even sample chapters, and you need to be prepared for a deluge of form rejection letters that may not even spell your name right. If you do get an agent, there is no guarantee he will be able to sell your novel to a publisher, and if he does, he will gladly take 15% of everything you earn for his trouble.

After acceptance by a publisher, it will be at least a year or more of editors changing your novel in a seemingly arbitrary way. This will be followed by more delays because it wasn't finished in time for the most current catalogue they are sending to booksellers. And while you weren't looking, they slipped a clause into your contract that requires you to pay back part of the advance if the book doesn't sell enough copies for royalties to cover it. They will handle the cover art, and you may even have some input. But be ready to do all the publicity yourself, because unless your name is Grisham or King, they're not going to do it for you.

Self-publishing has just as many difficulties, but in my opinion, the pros here do outweigh the cons. To clarify, vanity publishing and subsidy publishing are not what I consider self-publishing. More often than not, they are simply scams. True self-publishing companies include Xlibris, iUniverse, Cold Tree Press, and Lulu. Of these only Lulu ( charges no fees for their service; they only make money on copies of your book that actually sell.

With self-publishing, you have to hire a freelance editor; do not trust your best friend who was an English major to do this for you. You will do most of the work yourself, or pay a hefty fee for a publishing package to do it for you: cover design, layout, reviews, and many other things. You will have to market yourself, but as mentioned earlier, this is true for traditional publishing as well.

The most difficult aspect of self-publishing is getting placement in brick-and-mortar bookstores. An ISBN will get you listed in Books in Print, which nearly always leads to listing on,, and other retailer's websites. But because most self-published books are published using Print On Demand (POD)Technology, and POD companies do not accept returns, most bookstores are hesitant to carry them. Bookselling is one of the few industries left that still expect not only a huge discount from wholesalers, but the ability to return for full credit anything they don't sell.

Your best hope of getting into stores is to sell enough online that they can't ignore you. Advertise it on your website, your blog, and every other online presence you have. Utilize your e-mail distribution list, as well as those of your friends and family. But even if this doesn't make the bookstores take notice, enough books are sold online every year for you to attract a wide audience through aggressive marketing and positive word of mouth. And you don't have to give 15% to an agent in the process.

In the end, while you may want to keep sending queries in the hope that someday a publisher will actually read your manuscript, you might want to give self-publishing a try. It sure beats waiting on rejection letters.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

SELF-PUBLISHING PART 2: Self-Publishing Tips For Artists

by JessicaDelfino under Hacks & DIYs

Say you are making a comic book, a coloring book or a comic strip. In some ways, these are easier to reproduce than a manuscript. However, there is often post-production, which is why Staples Superstore can be so handy. They have a paper slicer that they will let you borrow, glue sticks, scissors and staplers - all important tools of the old-fashioned, yet not-to-be-underestimated cut-and-paste trade. Recently, I went to Staples and asked to borrow the big paper cutter, but they said no. They said someone sliced themselves, and now no one can use it. One clumbsy dumb ass ruined my slicing recources. But I kept showing up and asking nicely, and promised I wouldn't sue, and finally, they will let me use it again. If your hometown Staples won't let you use the slicer, just buy your own. They are about $20 brand new, for a half-assed but workable cutter.

I have considered purchasing my own or some time now. I found an old one for sale at my local pizza joint. The guy who runs the place also sells odds and ends now and then, and one night when I went in for a cheesier kind of slice, he had a big old art class style slicer for sale. You know, the one with the big arm that comes down and would just chop the head off a barbie doll in one swoop. If I didn't live in a refrigerator sized NYC apartment, I would have bought it. It was $5. I still think that I should have just bought it, but I really do not have any place to put it. I would have had to use it as a door mat or something. So until I live in a barn in Sweden with all the room in the world, I just go to Staples to do my slicing. I can't think of one city in the whole world where there is not yet a Staples. Normally, big business kind of makes me lurch, but call me a hypocrite, I love me some Staples Superstore.

What with Photoshop now, anyone can make their own artwork and simply print it out. If you can't print at home because your parents will beat you if you use their printer, you can't afford the ungodly cost of ink or your printer is broken, try going to the public library to print out your work. Most libraries will let you print at least a few pages for free or very cheap. Once you have printed what you need, you can copy them at Staples or at your day job. If you don't have Photoshop and can't afford to pay a grand for a copy of it, though it is worth every penny, for the love of man, get a copy from your friend who is in art school. If you can afford to pay for Photoshop, you shouldn't be reading this column.

If you can't afford ink for your printer, try using those ink replacement kits, for example, the Polaroid Ink Jet Refill System. This is a kit that comes with ink in a tube, a needle and some rubber gloves so you don't get ink all over your brand new suede jumpsuit. You take an old, used up cartridge out of the printer and basically fill the needle with ink and squirt it back into the cartridge. Be sure to read the instructions carefully, some printers don't use them, or you have to somehow trick the printers into taking them, now with the damn sensor chips on the cartridges. Who the hell does Epson think they are, anyway?

If you want to save a few bucks on your ink, don't forget to recycle your old cartridges if you buy your ink at Staples. They give you three bucks off your new cartridge. That is how you know replacing the ink yourself is legit. Because Epson themselves do it. That's right. For all I know, I'm using Madonna's old ink cartridges in my printer as we speak. So, if the printer companies can do it, why shouldn't we be able to do it, too?

A good program to use if you don't have Photoshop for very basic layout and cut and paste work is IrfanView. It is free to download off of the internet and you can do a plethora of crafty photo or scan work using it, including resizing, etc. The Paint Program of old is a piece of crap, but you can also use that do make some funky little pieces of art.

I personally made my own CD inserts, and I'm very glad with the way they came out. I first took a few dozen photographs of myself and other objects using my digital camera, which I uploaded into Photoshop and manipulated. I then laid out my two sided, 6 paneled insert using Photoshop. I typed in little witty Delfino-isms, pasted various images of my own face, put contact information and on the last panel, chopped up and glued my face back together in a brady-bunch styled 9 panel face-off with myself. The trippiness of it inspired a caption that reads, "Smoke pot and stare at me." I put my art on a disc and also sent a back-up e-mail of the work to myself, making sure it was saved in a high resolution of 300 dpi. At my day job, I printed it out using their nice color printer and then copied it 100 times on their very fancy color copier. It was glorious. I have since photocopied the magnificent color version to make a black and white copy that I can afford to copy myself, as I am no longer employed at that place of business.

I'm too busy making great art to work at some hovel in midtown, slinging antiques all day. I mean, who the hell is Christie, anyway?

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by JessicaDelfino under Hacks & DIYs

There are many resources out there to help people who want to make their own works en masse, but don't want to have to wait around to be discovered at a writer's convention, do an expensive and ill-reputed vanity press (though I have mixed feelings about that repute), pay some lame corporation to publish their poems in a book that they will then have to pay $50 per copy for, or "accidentally" meet their mentor in the crapper. Sure, you can send your uncopyrighted manuscript into Random House or Doubleday Books, and most likely, the idea won't get stolen. Yes, most likely, the idea won't get used at all. If you haven't figured out yet that artists are rarely judged on merit anymore, you are living in a time long passed. This is a generation of pay for play, and it really is very much so about who you know and who you blow. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is very lucky, very resourceful, or very full of shit.

Of course, you can spend a lifetime trying. Why not? You can work your day job from 9-5, and in any spare moments you have, I encourage you to stick your outline, your half-hashed ideas, or if you've got your shit together, a completed copy of your manuscript or what have you into an envelope and send it to John or Jane whats-his-face over at that place your friend suggested. It couldn't hurt...could it? I believe the answer is no.

But in the mean time, get to work making your own thing. You are, in my own humble opinion, 1000% more likely to sell something that the person who you would like to sell it to can hold in their hands, smell in their nostrils, and see with their eyes. I mean, think about it. If you were considering spending $10,000 on something, wouldn't you want to see it first?

You will need as many copies as possible. 50 is a good starting point, but as many as you can get is the amount that will have to do. This is your prototype, so try to make it look good. If you have made enough copies, you can sell a few and make your money back.

I can't tell you enough what a great resource a crappy day job is when it comes to making your dreams come true. Sure, you have to get up at 8 or 9 am and sit in a wretched cubicle, painted some kind of egg shell flavor of white or hospital blue. Yes, you question your existence on an hourly basis. Fine, the fluorescent lighting sucks your brain clean of inspiration, and probably gives you at least three kinds of cancer. But that photocopy access almost makes it all worth while. Every day job I've ever had has served as my "office" for my own projects. And each day job hath served me quite well. It is best not to make a spectacle of your photocopy usage. Just make some copies here and there, while you're making other copies anyway. Or stay late and use the shit out of it after most of the other employees have left for the day to go live their regular lives out as moms, dads, or people who go do things. They probably aren't writing the next best selling novel. Losers. Also do not forget to not underestimate the near limitless supply of black pens, business-y looking clasp envelopes, and if you have access to it - postage. These are important tools in the battle of self-publishing.

If you are one of those people who has some kind of "problem" "stealing" "office supplies", get a hold of your self. First of all, you are not "stealing". You are getting paid $8 per hour for every $1000 your company is making. Consider it a bonus, or a percentage of their profit. Second, they aren't office supplies. Most offices have an understanding. You work for $8 per hour while the people on top drive Mercedes and eat abused duck livers, and they don't mind if you help yourself to the envelopes and ink-jet printer usage. It's what we call a business agreement.

If you do not have a day job, chances are most of your friends do. If you ask 10 friends to make 2 copies each of your script, you have 20 right there - enough to send off to 15 "important people" and a few left over to keep as a reserve for emergencies. Say for example, you are planning to "accidentally" meet your mentor in the shitter at his favorite restaurant - not something I would recommend, by the way, though it seems to have worked for some.

If you refuse to utilize your office stash, or you want to mix it up a bit, another of my favorite resources is Staples. Staples is great in that you can go in and use their photocopiers with no hassle, using your debit or credit card. Their copies used to be 5 cents each, just a few months ago, but the price has raised, at least in NYC, to 9 cents per copy. Strangely, the copies cost 8 cents per copy at another location uptown. When you are a struggling artist making multiple copies of a publication, those pennies count. If you live in a smaller city, Staples copies are probably still 5 cents. They were 9 cents at Staples here, but when I went out of town, they were still 5 cents in North Carolina and elsewhere. You can also find a little neighborhood copy shop where they are still 5 cents each. Most of the places where there is the yellow sign hanging in the window offer 5 cent copies. Making pals with people who work at Staples, encouraging a friend to get a job at Staples, or getting a job at Staples yourself is never a bad idea. You only have to work there until you get rich and famous, and that is just around the corner, right?

Another favorite self-publishing trick I know and love is the trick of the trade. What do you have to trade with someone who owns, runs or works at a copy shop? Maybe you make great baked goods. Maybe you give a terrific back rub. Perhaps you are a computer whiz, or a Mr. Fix-It. Whatever you know how to do, pimp that skill out to get what you need.

Good luck!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Should You Self Publish Your Book?

Things to Consider Before Starting Your Own Publishing Company
© Barbara Doyen

Help for self-publishing a book. A publishing professional offers a checklist to determine if entering book publishing might be a good business decision for you.
You’ve written a great manuscript all ready for a book publishing company. You’ve heard that some authors are self-publishing their own books and you’re wondering if you should try it yourself. What elements should be present to indicate your book could be successfully self-published?

Check off all the following that apply to you and your book:

1. ___Your book will be nonfiction.

Fiction makes up only a small portion of the self-published book market because it’s so tough to sell self-published novels. Nonfiction is much easier.

2. ___Your book topic is needed and something people will pay money to read.
Hopefully you are an expert in the topic and you have a thorough understanding of what information is useful in your subject area.

3. ___You've identified your target book-buying audience niche.
This should be written up in detail, including actual numbers.

4. ___You know how to reach your target book-buying audience.
This is perhaps the most essential element for self-published authors. Not only must you be able to make your audience aware of your book, you must also provide them with convenient buying opportunities.

At the outset, assume that you will be selling the books yourself. Don’t count on getting a self-published book on bookstore shelves, because it is tough to do. Marketing and sales will be your responsibility.

5. ___You are committed to creating a high-quality book.
You will provide all the elements of book publishing, hiring professionals where needed to insure a fine product. Amateur efforts are not good enough.

6. ___You understand that you are creating your own company to self-publish your book.
You are not paying another so-called publishing company to publish your book—the latter indicates a vanity or book publishing scam.

7. ___You will invest a great deal of time to your book publishing company.
First, by educating yourself thoroughly about the self-publishing book business. Then, by taking the time necessary to create a quality product. Finally, by regularly and diligently dedicating time to marketing and sales.

8. ___You’ve researched the other similar books in print.
Your book should be comparable, if not superior to others.

The mere presence of competing books should not be a deterrent. Being able to identify, reach and provide sales opportunities to your target audience is more important.

* * * * * *

How did you rate?
The results of this checklist will help you know if you should consider self-publishing a book.

Obviously, you should have checked every item, above. Even so, starting your own book publishing company to self-publish your book should be considered carefully. Like any other business decision, you should not go into it without having strong indicators that your investment of time and money will be worthwhile.

Copyright 2007 by Barbara Doyen. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Assessing Your Future in Self-Publishing

Publishing is not for the faint of heart, the short-sighted or the introvert. It’s a commitment that demands courage, risk-taking, planning, energy, creativity and assertiveness.

Note: I’m speaking here of true self-publishing—establishing your own publishing company.

Before entering into the realm of self-publishing, consider the following:

Is there an audience for your book?

Are you willing to take the steps necessary to establish and operate a publishing business?

Do you have the funds available to pour into your publishing project?

Do you have room to store boxes and boxes of books?

Do you have the time and inclination to promote your book(s)?

I know hundreds of authors who have self-published their books. Some have a book or a series of books they produce while working full-time jobs, others have one book that they self-published and marketed until their stock ran out. But most of them are like me: They set up a publishing company in order to produce numerous books. To date, I’ve self-published about a dozen and a half books and I have five with traditional publishers.

I’m often asked during a workshop or other presentation which I prefer—going with a traditional publisher or self-publishing. Truth? I like the ease of having a traditional publisher who handles the business end of the project and pays quarterly royalties. I like not being responsible for storing the books. Since I’m still involved in promoting the books, however, I actually prefer self-publishing. I like being in control of the project. When I self-publish, I choose the title and the cover design. I decide what chapters stay and which ones go. But this also means that I have total responsibility for promoting the book.

Certainly self-publishing is not for everyone. I respond to writers’ questions for writing/publishing-related newsletters for Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network ( I got a question last week from someone who yearns to be published, but doesn’t want any kind of paper trail leading to her. She doesn’t want to do anything involving public interaction. She probably would not be a good candidate for self-publishing.

Elderly people may want their memoirs published, but may not relish the hassle of self-publishing—setting up a distribution company, finding a cover designer and printer, promoting the book, taking orders and shipping books, etc.

Someone with a full-time career and who writes a book as a sideline, probably doesn’t want to get involved in operating a publishing business.

Anyone on a small income will find it difficult to finance a self-publishing venture.

I often coach authors who want to start their own publishing company and have observed about a fifty-percent success ratio. Those who succeed have built a business around their project and they take that business seriously. They have goals and they evaluate their goals regularly. They give their project their full attention. If they lack skills in a particular area, they hire someone to take up the slack.

I know one author, for example, who spent two years operating quite a successful campaign on behalf of her book. Her book was reviewed in major newspapers all over the country. She traveled far and wide giving demonstrations and selling books. When she ran out of steam, energy and ideas, she hired a publicist and book sales absolutely soared.

I don’t do page layout and design, so I hire someone to perform that task for me. I find shipping and handling large mailings rather mundane and time-consuming. So I hire my grandchildren or neighborhood children to help with these projects and we do them outside of regular business hours.

You get interesting responses when you tell people that you have a publishing company. Some ask you where you keep the printing presses, “In the garage?” Others want to discuss having you publish their grandmother’s memoirs. Still others call or stop you on the street to say, “I’m thinking about writing a book, how do I go about publishing it?” It was this question multiplied by dozens that prompted me to hang out my shingle. I now charge for consultations.

The discouraging thing is that most people are looking for a shortcut to publishing success. It’s after I map out the well-traveled course that the serious authors are culled from the wannabes.

Are you serious about self-publishing? Do you believe in your project enough to put in the effort and time? Or are you looking for a get-rich-quick scheme?

Enter into the world of self-publishing with a viable project, an open mind, creative ideas and a willingness to learn. You will experience success in equal measure to what you ultimately have to give.

Patricia Fry is a freelance writer and the author of 25 books, including, “The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book” (Matilija Press, January, 2006) and “How to Write a Successful Book Proposal in 8 Days or Less,” (Matilija Press, 2005). (for details). Or contact Patricia at Visit Patricia Fry’s informative blog often:

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Top Ten Reasons to Self Publish!

1. Self publishing may be the only way to get published. You may not be able to get anyone to professional look at your idea.2. As a self-publisher you get to keep all of the profits from your sales. You only get 4 - 6% in royalties from a publishing company.

3. You have absolute marketing and editing control when you self publish. 60% of the big publishers do the final editing, 23% select the final title, 37% do not involve the author in promoting their own material.

4. Major publishers may receive up to several hundred manuscripts a week. Unless you’ve published before, the odds are they won’t even look at your material.

5. When you self-publish you are in control every step of the way. By depending on a publisher, you take the chance of never getting anywhere.

6. By self-publishing you gain a different perspective. You handle the complete marketing package.

7. Self publishing saves you valuable time. Using a publisher it takes up to 18 months before the first copy reaches the market.

8. Self-publishing eliminates the waiting and wondering. Waiting for a letter from a publisher that might never come is frustrating and embarrassing.

9. You get more directly involved in the entire process. You develop greater skills and obtain a bigger picture of the world of publishing.

10. As a self-publisher you will receive greater business tax advantages. This can be important as a means of off setting some of the income received from the sale of your work.