Book Publishing Specialists
Observations of a Self-published Author (I): Know What You’re Getting IntoSeptember 07, 2007 by Wheatmark, Admin
Guest article by Bill Corbett
So ... you want to be a published author; and because you are an unknown, you can’t find a publishing house that will give you a look. Welcome to the club. I was in your same shoes a few years ago. After sending out nearly 100 queries to agents around the country, I finally found one who would accept me as their client. Four years later, after waiting for the agency to find me a publisher, I said to heck with this; there has to be some way I can get my novel into print. That’s when I began to look at self-publishing.
Self-publishing definitely has its satisfactions, but it also has its disappointments and drawbacks. If you are contemplating self-publishing, your journey is still in its early stages, and you have many trials and treasures ahead of you. The trials begin after the writing of the first draft, with the seemingly endless rewrites. Eventually, you feel comfortable in letting someone edit your manuscript; after which, there are still more rewrites until the time arrives when you decide you’re ready for the printing. You hire a typesetter, and someone to design a cover for you. They do their work and send you the proofs. You, and two or three others proof them; still more corrections and more rewrites.
Ultimately, it’s time to put the manuscript to bed. It’s time to go to press. You gather together about $10,000.00 for printing and promotion. You contact R.R. Bowker and purchase a block of ISBN #s, because as you have already learned from reading those “How to Publish Your Own Novel” manuals, your book has to have a bar code and an ISBN# in order to be considered for sale in major bookstores. There are other details which I won’t touch on here, because they are dealt with in the “how to books,” but if being your own publisher is your desire, I highly recommend you purchase and thoroughly digest these books. There are a number of them on the market.
Your “masterpiece” comes off the presses, and you savor it while thinking to yourself, I’ve finally done it, I’m a published author. You’ve taken care of the details, the printing is complete, and the books are now in your garage awaiting distribution. Oh, yes, you do have to be involved in the distribution—and the fulfillment of orders. Books do not distribute themselves, so you visit bookstores and obtain the names of all the suppliers from whom they buy. Then it’s back to your office where you begin writing a myriad of letters asking these wholesalers if they will handle your book.
Having successfully found a company or two who are willing to act as your wholesaler, you go back to the bookstores, inform them of the warehouses who can supply them with your book, and work to convince these retailers that they should stock it; and at the same time, you try to arrange for a booksigning. Keep in mind, also, that you may wait for as many as six to seven months before receiving payment from some of these wholesalers; and in cases such as one of mine, they go broke and leave you holding the bag for several hundred dollars.
From this point on, the trials and treasures co-mingle. You get your first booksigning and you’re both thrilled and scared to death. Thrilled because you now have a book being offered by major bookstores; and scared because you have never done anything like this before. Your first signing brings both disappointment and exhilaration. Because you are an unknown author, customers show very little interest in you, and you have little chance to tell them about your book.
Consequentally, you sell only one or two copies, but you are ecstatic about that, and a little awe stricken that someone actually bought something you had written. After the signing, you are worried that the bookstore manager is going to think he made a mistake carrying your book and will not be willing to give you another chance. You voice this concern to him and apologize for not having sold more books. He tells you not to worry. It’s all part of the game. Even so-called well known authors have their off days.
Still, you think to yourself, I have to devise a way to peak interest in my book when I am doing these signings. You design a flyer that you can hand out as the customers enter the store. They take the flyer and read it while they browse, and many actually come back and buy one of your books after reading it. Now your sales jump from one or two books per signing to one or two dozen. You’re on your way.
That’s one way of becoming a self-published author. I am building interest in my novel A HALCYON REVOLUTION, but it’s been a slow process, and it’s a lot of work. The hard work is to be expected, but I believe there is a better way of getting your book on the market and with considerable savings in expense. That better way, I believe, is with POD (print on demand) publishing. Some PODs offer professional editing, cover design, and other layout services, and in most cases, at less expense than you can obtain these services yourself from other sources.
In the beginning I shied away from PODs because after studying several POD publishers, I came to the conclusion I could not be competitive on the market; not to mention that most PODs at that time would not accept returns from the bookstores or the wholesalers; a major consideration in the publishing business.
That has since changed and there are some POD companies who operate more like tratitional publishers by accepting returns, and who will place your book with major wholesalers. This relieves the author of much of the leg work of producing and marketing his book, leaving to him the fun part of meeting and visiting with potential readers and making radio and TV appearances. POD also cuts down mightily on the up front expense as well, because printing costs are in direct proportion to the number of books ordered. No more using the garage as a storage warehouse, and no more fulfillment duties by the author.
Would I self publish again? Yes. I’m currently in the process of publishing my second book with a POD publisher. I think we all would like to have some big publisher buy our manuscripts and publish our works so we could just sit back and wait for the royalty checks to roll in, but it doesn’t work that way, folks; and right now, it seems to me that POD gives to us unknown authors a little of the best of both worlds. We get our work in print, and we also have a moderate amount of traditional professional assistance to help us get our books into the hands of the readers.
A couple of marketing ideas I’m using with this second book, is that I’m booking library appearances where I will read excerpts and conduct book sales after the presentation. Most of the libraries I have contacted seem willing to do this, and some even appear content with complimentary copies of the book in return for their part in sponsoring the event.
Another tool I am considering, is contacting companies who give premiums through various promotion campaigns which they conduct. I will suggest to them that my anthology might make a nice premium.
Oh, and one last point: Don’t give up your day job just yet.
About Bill Corbett
Bill Corbet is the author of two books, the novel A Halcyon Revolution and BUDDY ... His Trials & Treasures—an anthology of short stories, both of which are published under the pen name Will Edwinson and are available through Amazon.com.
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