BARNSTABLE, Massachusetts, US
Have any of you here published your own books? Either self publishing or through a publishing house? I was curious about how one goes about doing such a thing. I don't know the first thing or even where to start.
I self published a book of local photography and history. It sold primarily through a couple local bookstores.
My process was basically: I had the idea. I looked to see if any such books existed, I talked to the local book stores to see if they'd be interested, and then lined up a printer.
I had my books printed on demand, which meant no inventory, but also a higher per unit production cost. In the end that's what got me. The printer I was using increased their prices to the point, I just couldn't have copies made and sell them at competitive retail prices. I sold about 250 copies before that happened. It was too bad, I'm sure I could have had a run of 1000 at least.
I did that project in Word, but am now using InDesign for a current project, in part because I'm going to pitch it to a couple publishers.
I think self-publishing is best suited for niche markets where you know how to reach your target audience without spending a great deal of money on marketing. Realize, that getting a book listed on Amazon is one means of distribution, it is not marketing. Many self published books carried by Amazon have never sold a single copy.
If you self-publish you need to be able to do everything or most everything yourself - writing, layout, editing, etc. The more you pay others, the more likely it is that may kill your profit. What ever you do, stay away from the vanity presses. They are happy to charge you an arm and a leg, but that does not mean your book will sell.
If you are planning to self publish, I recommend figuring out your printer first. It's much easier to lay out everything according to their specifications than update it all later.
Amazon is becoming a viable option to start your writing career. Many authors have started there and got the attention of book publishers.
I have been wanting to writ books for many years but was intimidated by the process. Now that Amazon is what it is, I am encouraged to actually write. To that point, I have downloaded DOZENS of books on how to write regular books and for the e market. I got all my books FREE from Amazon.
They list from 600 upwards to 1,700 every single day. You will find lot's of books on getting started. The books are all over the place when it comes to writing. Formatting, character development, word usage, story structure etc. Keep at it for about a month and you will have a treasure trove of books to get you started.
The issue I see with places like Blurb is their price point. I don't see any way to print a book through them and be competitive in the general retail market. That means having to produce something that people are willing to pay more for. That's not so hard it it's personal to people but gets more difficult the more generic the book becomes. Certainly a few people here have managed to do that, but it's something to keep in mind.
Blurb is "competitive" because you're not ordering 20,000 books at a time. You make much less per book, but the initial outset is quite low.
Blurb also uses several printing presses, meaning that the look of the book may vary slightly from order to order. Most of the more common online booksellers are like this. You could approve a dummy, and get a whole run with slightly different colour. Your average soccer mom would never notice, but I don't spend hours colour correcting everything so I can get two different copies.
I'd recommend Oddi. www.oddi.com, I think. The guys there have excellent customer service, and I think you only need to order something like 150 books at a time to have the same price as Blurb. They have REALLY good customer service. They get back to you asap, and they even check up on stuff for you.
My thesis project is a book, and I figure that if I'm going to make a book, I'm going to really make a book - handmade looks great and all, but if I'm going to go through all the effort I want a production run, even if it's only 300. I emailed them for some price quotes, and Martein got back to me every time. About a month later, I received an email from Martein asking me how it was coming, and he even referred to the book by name, instead of just asking about 'my order' or 'my project.' It was basically a cold call, but it was a cold call that they took the time to personalize, and to make in a way that was about me, and not about them.
For me, that sort of customer service goes a long way. I've already decided that my production run will be with them.