TIPS and RESOURCES for SELF-PUBLISHERS

Congratulations on finishing your book. Here are some tips to help you prepare for an edit and guide you through the self-publishing minefield.

PLEASE DON’T RUSH – I know you’re excited and want to see your baby out there, but remember, your goal as an author is not to get published, but to be read. This is a business and you want to share your product with the world. Make the product something that your target audience needs, wants, desires, looks forward to. First impressions count. If you put out a product that is less than stellar, people are not going to come back and buy more, they will let everyone else they know that your product did not meet expectations and you will sink into a hole that will be hard to get out of. Take the time to put out a GREAT book, and make sure you have your PROMOTIONS plan in place, well in advance of your targeted release date. Most large publishers take more than a year to put out a book, and have many teams in place to make that book sell. They have layers of editing, test marketing, advertising campaigns and scads of reviewers ready to publicize that book the moment that book is available for purchase. That takes a lot of preparation ahead of time. Set reasonable goals.

DO NOT EXPECT AN EDITOR TO RUSH YOUR PROJECT – I’m good, but I’m not perfect. I have a goodly-sized client list, which honestly works in your favor because that means people trust me and know I do pretty good work. That also means you might have to wait a bit until I can get to you. The process of editing will take some time as well, a week or more for an initial edit once I get to you, the time it takes for you to make revisions and return it to me, a few days for me to look through your book and return it. We might need to do this a few times until you’re satisfied. You will also want to have someone else lined up as a final proofreader after we’re done. The more I read your work, the more familiar I become and I might miss some words or character names or punctuation. A person who likes to read, and who will eventually help promote your books is a great ally to have as a proofreader. It’s like free advertising. Big publishers do this multiple times.

COVER – I know you’re excited to “see” what your book, either/both e-book or print book will look like, but your cover template for print is going to be based on the number of pages in the book. You won’t know that until you’ve completed the edit. Sure, go ahead and find a cover artist or develop some concepts, but please WAIT until the edit is complete before spending money on a cover that may have to be redone because the word count changed substantially. If you’re interested in only producing an e-book, I still encourage you to wait because the concept might change after you’ve had an edit. Your back cover will include a paragraph teaser about your book which is meant to draw your readers to read the book. Make it a good one.
Recommended cover artist: Lisa Hainline

PUBLISHING PLATFORMS 
How do I choose a printer/e-book program/distributor?

Begin by asking yourself who you want to sell your book to. Who is going to buy it? Do you want it available in libraries? Physical book stores? Only online? What’s my budget? Am I going to make a lot of physical copies available to promoters and reviewers? Print on Demand is different from a VANITY PRESS in which you pay a company a fee to produce your book. They may offer you some copies of your book, or require to pay for a certain amount of copies in order to offset their fees to produce your book. They may offer editing and cover design as part of the package or as an add-on you can purchase. I have not heard one happy customer yet-not that they’re all terrible services. Mostly the negatives are the result of unmet expectations of the customer, either editing, cover, or cost of the final product, or having to purchase a high number of copies which sit around the garage. KNOW what you’re getting into before you purchase. All of these, as far as I know, must be tied to a bank account so the printers can deposit your royalties directly to you. Be prepared for that.

GENRE – if you do not know what shelf your book belongs on in a library, check out the overwhelming BISAC list from the Book Industry Study Group. Another helpful resource is the AmericanBooksellers Association and the Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators organization.You will need to be able to identify your book when you register your ISBN and when you upload to your publishing platform.

A PRINT ON DEMAND printer is one that takes your manuscript and prints it for you, one copy at a time, per your order. They charge you a fee for each book they print, and usually offer discounts the higher number you order. Unless the Printer has an established partnership with a DISTRIBUTOR, they do nothing to promote your book--even if they do list your book in a catalog, they still do nothing to tell others about your book. You do not receive “royalties” on the purchases you make from the printer—your turn-around profit is based on what price you set for the product. You may pay a small, reasonable fee one time or annually to the POD company to initially print your book and annually to make the book title available in its online distribution catalog available to retailers and libraries. PRICE: Say a POD charges $4.71 to print and ship your book. You sell it for $9.95—your profit is the difference. Keep in mind when you set your final prices that Distributors will want their cut as well—as high as 55% at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, though you are in charge of what you want to pay them. You will need to decide the type of cover and the size of the final product based on their available trim sizes. All of them will help you through the process and have customer support available. If you choose to upload to Create Space, for example, or NOOK Press, you must also upload your book to the other distributor – they will not cross-publish or distribute.

POD printers do not edit, expect a cover already finished to their speculations, and need an ISBN. A DISTRIBUTOR is the middleman who makes your books available to the public. A widely known distributor is AMAZON; however Amazon does not PROMOTE your book for you. You still have to tell people about your book. No one will know it’s there if you don’t tell them.

PRINT ON DEMAND publishers I recommend:

INGRAM-SPARK – $49 whole package
Ingram-Spark does the whole package – both print and e-book and posts it on multiple platforms and makes it available in their distribution catalogs. They require a high-end PDF to upload, so you want to make sure you have the right equipment or hire someone who can help you with a program that meets their standard. I believe there might be a fee to upload revisions of the work. They offer a cover template for your design. You must have a pre-purchased ISBN I believe for both the print and electronic versions.

Free – CREATE SPACE (Amazon assigns ASIN to all of their products – it’s the Amazon Standard Inventory Number and is meant for their company records, it is not the same as an International Standard Book Number)
Create Space is AMAZON’S Print on Demand print platform. They do not charge you to upload and make your book available to sell, but they take their cut when the book sells. You can set this price and their percentage to a certain extent. You can also change the price. You can also upload for no fee multiple versions of the book if there are editorial changes you wish to make, or a new cover design. You can purchase an ISBN from them (see ISBN below), or allow them to assign one for you and then they become your publisher of record. You can upload in multiple formats, from Word or other processor product, which is easy for non-technologically minded authors; however, they will vet your product and let you know error messages with the process, which you will have to deal with. Proof copies are available for purchase before you order large quantities of copies or make them available. This is a good way to double check for errors.

Free – Kindle
Kindle is AMAZON’S Electronic Book Division. Again, they do not charge you to use their platform and take a cut of the net sale once your book sells. You can upload in multiple formats, from Word or other processor product, which is easy for non-technologically minded authors; however, they will vet your product and let you know error messages with the process, which you will have to deal with.

LIGHTNING SOURCE – $70 for each Print and Electronic Version first time upload
Lightning Source is the premier POD publisher of choice for most indie publishers. It is not terribly expensive but the fee for uploading revisions is $40 for any part – interior or cover. They put out a high quality product and their wholesale prices are competitive. You need to have a print-to PDF to upload, and one of their free cover templates to use and upload, and an ISBN. I believe for the first time you upload for print you are also required to purchase a $30 proof copy to double check for errors before you order multiple print copies. Electronic versions are also uploadable and distributed to multiple distributors for the same production fees. You may also choose some advertising, such as a $60 one-time fee to be in their distribution program (it’s the Ingram, Baker and Taylor premier distribution program) which makes your product available for order, and/or a $12 annual fee to make your book available in their online retail catalog.

Free – NOOK PRESS – new from Barnes and Noble, who took back their Nook, electronic book division, after selling it for a brief time. NOOK PRESS is new, although Nook Books platform for electronic publishing has been around for several years. I have not used the POD service, so I cannot comment on quality. They require a PDF for uploading. I do not know if they have a partnership with any Distributor other than Barnes and Noble, but as long as their bricks and mortar stores are doing business, I imagine your book will be available for order in those stores.

MISCELLANEOUS

ISBN (International Standard Book Number) which you can either purchase from them or buy on your own from Bowker (must purchase in packs of ten for $295). Do not purchase ISBNs from any other place.  You must register the ISBN when you use it. If you do not wish to use an ISBN for an electronic version of your book, you do not need to. For example, if you want to publish to Kindle, Nook, or Smashwords, you do not need an identifying number. You do not need a separate number for each publisher—only one for each version of your book. If you are planning to publish a foreign language version of your book or a hard cover or an audio version, you need separate identifying numbers. Individual ISBNs may be purchased for over $100 at print on demand publishers like Create Space. Create Space will also assign you an ISBN and become your publisher of record. If you do not want Create Space as your publisher, but want your own name, you will need to purchase one of your own and register it (or buy one and have that entity register it for you). Bowker will send DIRECTIONS about how to register the ISBN once you are ready to do so. I recommend you keep track of your numbers and the directions in a document. Registration is somewhat tedious and done online.

LOC (Library of Congress Catalog Number) – Do you need one? Your book has to be over 40 pages, have a registered ISBN and you think it will be received by a wide audience. These numbers are free and do not take very long to get. But plan ahead of time if you want one and be prepared to tell your book designer about it so the proper information can be added to your copyright page.

FRONT MATTER – this is material that will be part of your book, and will include a copyright page. Look at traditionally published books for an idea of the information you will include here. Other Front matter may or may not include a Foreword (for non-fiction—this is written by someone other than the author who is an authority on the subject matter), an introduction, a dedication, acknowledgements, a Table of Contents, a list of previous publications by the author, a list of characters or definitions if there are many and unfamiliar, maps, endorsements by other authors of this book or previous work, a teaser or quote from the book meant to entice the reader – it is not the back of the book “blurb” or teaser.

In the Electronic version of your book, you will want to put the regular “back cover blurb” or teaser on the page after your title.

BACK MATTER – this is material after the normal ending of your book. It may include acknowledgements instead of placing these in the front matter, advertisements, teasers or sample chapters of upcoming books, an author biography, Index, list of author’s work instead of in the front matter, Notes of material from the text, References, Appendixes, Contact information for referenced organizations, Discussion Guide, Interviews with the author