Thursday, June 27, 2013

Low Cost Self-Publishing

Sounds like one of those adds for the many "author services" or "self-publishing" companies that advertise seemingly everywhere on the internet. Some of these companies are reputable and deliver what they promise and charge for. Others in the "author services" industry are simply sharks preying on authors desperate to get their book published.

Sounds grim. 

If that's not discouraging enough, getting published the old fashioned traditional way is not only getting harder, but the industry is changing so fast it is nearly impossible to keep up with the changes.

Take heart though.

Self-publishing is also becoming more and more accepted and common place, and with good reason. The barriers to publish quality books are becoming lower and lower for the average individual.

Here in lies the dirty little secret. Traditional publishing offered editing, book design services, marketing and most important of all, distribution - access to the reading public. If you did not have a traditional book deal, you had no access to any of the above necessary items.

Technology has leveled the playing field. The internet giant Amazon does not care if the book is from a traditional publisher or a self-published author. Print-on-demand technology allows authors, and publishing companies, to make their books available to customers without having to tie up capital in inventory sitting in a warehouse.

Digital books such as Kindle and Nook have further leveled the playing field, lowering costs for the consumer and allowing authors to keep a higher percentage of each book sold. Authors can self-publish and actually earn some money.

While it has gotten easier to get published, it still is not an easy way to earn money or make a living. There are still obstacles in the path of the author who desires to publish his or her work and earn an income from that work.

First, authors who are considering self-publishing MUST understand this is a business. That means you have to worry about legal issues, copyright, taxes, record keeping, marketing, sales, editing, book design, cover design and a host of other things the publishing companies took care of the old days. All of these things cost money. Something most of us have too little of.

Still, it can be done. Your prized manuscript can be published successfully and without breaking the bank to do so. If you are willing to roll up your sleeves, work hard and learn the skills you'll need to self-publish your book.

The first step, develop your marketing plan while your writing your book. It is never too early to start building an audience for your book. For non-fiction authors part of your marketing research needs to include whether or not there is even a market for your book. How many people want to know about the effect of earthworms on soil in a desert? On the other hand, how many amateur Civil War historians and reinactors are there? Fiction authors need to start recruiting and building an audience for their stories.  How to do either of these is not the subject of this post.

The legal stuff such as copyright, taxes, etc, is also beyond the scope of this post nor do I want to stick my neck out legally by giving advice on these issues. You will need to do the research to learn the necessary information.

What else do you need to do to successfully self-publish? First, write a good book. That step somehow seems to get forgotten in the process at times. Second, have your manuscript edited by a professional editor. It will dramatically improve your manuscript.

What about cover and book design, the interior layout of the book? If you have an eye for design and are willing to learn to use, and possibly invest in, software such as InDesign and master the steep learning curve and pay the hefty price tag, you can do your own covers. Or you can have covers done professionally for a reasonable price. 

Finally, the good news is even if you have no clue about book design, typesetting and all the nuances that go with designing and producing a quality, attractive and readable book interior, you can do it yourself at a very reasonable cost if you can use Microsoft Word.

For those who need to spend zero money, other than the price of a book, to produce the interior of their self-published book, obtain a copy of Aaron Shepard's Perfect Pages. It is a guide on how to produce a reasonably good interior file for use with print-on-demand services such as CreateSpace or Lightning Source.

If you can spend around $100, I strongly suggest you investigate the range of interior book design templates from Joel Friedlander's The Book Designer. If you can use Word and take the time to read the detailed PDF format instruction manual provided, you can produce an outstanding book interior. For more information about these great templates click here or just below the Book Design Template below.

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