DIY Publishing

How do you get a mainstream publisher interested in your book? Well, I’ve been trying for over 30 years and the answer has always been the same – nothing wrong with the writing, but we don’t think it will sell in large enough quantities.

Ho hum. That was when a friend suggested going ‘Publish-on-Demand’. This, I’d never heard of, but it’s a great idea. The publisher waits until somebody asks for a copy of a book – and only then do they publish it, one book at a time. This immediately gets over the hurdle of not being able to sell a book in large enough quantities.

The next step, of course, is to find Publish-on-Demand publishers. There are a bunch of them out there, but I’d already been hearing good things about one particular company, so I tried them. I can honestly say that they are great to work with and I’d recommend them to anybody. Not only do they make the publishing process easy, but they have a great Customer Help Department and a database of queries which really do answer your ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

After all that introduction, how do you go about Do It Yourself Publishing? Well, first you write your book! The next thing is to find an on-line publisher who offers Print/Publish on Demand services. Now comes the interesting part – it is up to you how much money you want to spend on getting your book published.

Money no object? Great, get the company you’ve chosen to do all the work for you. It will cost around $5000 for a full package, designing, editing, marketing. The joy of DIY Publishing though, is that you DON’T have to spend very much at all! For very little money, you put the text of your book on line, then proofread and edit it yourself. Takes time and often gives you a headache, but it’s worth it. If you can afford $25, you can publish your book! $100 will get your book published and listed. After that, it’s up to you how much you are willing to spend – marketing is the B-I-G hurdle.

If you opt to Do It Yourself, then the next thing to do (if you’re working with the company I have in mind) is to download a template for the sort of book you want: Hardback/paperback, Pocketbook/Trade Paperback, whatever sie and shape that you want. Once you have your template, you can either upload your text directly, or you can import it as a pdf document first: pdf’s are very useful, in that they can’t be tampered with online, so I’d recommend using that format. There is plenty of softare available out there, including one or two free ones.

At this point, you have a beautifully edited.pdf document, sitting in a book-size template waiting in your computer – what next? The next step has to be to upload your book into the publisher’s website. The company I use gives you a ‘Document maker’ Wizard into which you import your book. When the Wizard is done (usually takes about a minute or so) you are invited to check the imported document. I strongly advise checking, because although everything should be perfect, the digital world can sometimes throw spanners into works and you don’t want your book to be published with only one sentence on each page! (that happened to me the first time around).

The check shows that everything is fine. The publisher has the book ready for publishing. But – books need covers. I was introduced to the company’s Cover Wizard, which helps you to design a cover for your book, yourself. The Wizard offers a small selection of cover designs and a big selection of colors. You can also upload your own design and/or illustrations to go on the cover. Again, you can check and review the cover. Everything just how you want it? Fine. Now we get to the slightly difficult bit.

Doing it Yourself isn’t completely free, after all companies have to make some profit. The company I use charges for the printing costs and one fifth of the price of the book. This means that you will have to set a price which will cover the printer’s costs and still bring both of you a profit every time you sell your book. There is another Wizard which will actually suggest a price which will do this and it is up to you whether you take it or set a different price. Companies will be quite happy as long as the price you set covers their costs. I’ve sold a paperback novel of about 200 pages for $10 and made a profit, so I’m not complaining.

Nearly finished. The next page will ask you to describe your book, give its title, add some tags, your name, and a few other things. That done, you will be asked to order a proof copy. If you’re happy with everything so far, go ahead and order. If you’ve found a problem somewhere, you can always go back and put it right. Let’s assume that everything is fine. Go ahead and order, with the company I use you even have a choice of which sort of mail you’d prefer, express or standard.

Less than a week later there’s a package in your mailbox. The Proof Copy! Read it, Give it to a friend to read, wait a few days and then read it again. This is your last chance to correct any mistakes (don’t worry, you’ll find one – probably on the last page!). No mistakes? Fine. Go back to the website and choose which Marketing package you want. There are at least three of them to choose from, so think very carefully about your choice. The free package will get your book listed with the most famous online booksellers. The $75 package will not only list your book with them, but also notify mainstream booksellers. If you are hoping to sell to the general public and not just to family and friends, this is the best choice for the least expense. After that, though, there are other, more expensive, packages which will give your book even better exposure.

That’s it. It is up to you how much work you do to market your book yourself (I recommend doing a lot), but the moment somebody buys that first copy of your book, YOU ARE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR – CONGRATULATIONS!

After trying for 30 years to find a mainstream publisher for a couple of novels, I decided to do it myself and use a Print/Publish-on-Demand website to publish my book. I was recommended to try Lulu.com, who offered exctly what I wanted and I’ve now been able to publish (and sell) three books. I’ve heard so many people wishing that they could get their books published, that I thought that they might like to try http://www.Lulu.com for themselves and get their books out into the great wide world! Lulu’s free marketing package sends details of your book to http://www.Amazon.com and to its Eurpoean subsidiaries and you can also choose to have your book put on to Google’s Book List. The more expensive packages add Barnes & Noble and Ingram Book Co: to your distribution. My own website can be found at Dana-Adler’s-place.co.uk and it gives details of my books, (historical) websites I’ve put on the net and a few details about myself.
Best of luck publishing your book!

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