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Self-publishing may be way to go for would-be writers
by Paul Gonzales
Mar 18, 2013 | 1190 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE — So you want to be a writer? Sure, who doesn’t? And I bet you have the next No. 1 bestselling novel just sitting in your head, waiting until you get enough time to sit down and type it out on your home PC.

And that’s about as far as most people to whom I speak to get.

They desperately try and explain the plot and story twists and why their characters are so great.

And I respond with, “Then go write it. I’ll read it when it’s done.”

And I have yet to read any of them because they never get to that stage.

But let’s just say you’re not one of those many, many procrastinators and you actually have a manuscript or a collection of poems sitting on your desktop.

What do you do now?

The new market

There’s a lot of different routes you can take actually, and publishing yourself has gotten a lot easier, and cheaper, in the last few years.

The publishing market has changed drastically in just the past three years. Bookstores are closing. Publishing houses are merging or downsizing.

And it’s due to the growing number of eBooks, tablets and smartphones. We now have the power to read whatever we want, whenever we want.

In the past, you would need to procure an agent just to get the big publishers to take a look at a few pages and then decide if they want to read it and then decide if they want to publish it. The process can take up to a year at the least.

The pros of the traditional route is that they pay you when they decide to print you and they handle everything from book cover design to marketing and distribution.

The cons are that you’ve just waited over a year to see a copy, you don’t own the rights anymore, your book has a shelf life usually of only a few years before it’s pulled and book advances are shrinking.

So why not do it yourself?

Self-publishing

The process isn’t new. Independent musicians have been doing it for years. Recording their own albums and selling them at shows or out of the trunks of their cars.

It’s a lot of work, but if you have a product you believe in — and you should if you went through the trouble of producing it in the first place — then you have to hustle and be creative.

Self-publishing used to be frowned upon. It was as if your book wasn’t good enough to get published by the New York bigwigs.

But now, the head honchos of big publishing houses are looking at self-published authors as a way to find new talent.

And it’s relatively painless and most of the time for eBooks it’s free to get out there on the market.

Now let’s say you’re ready and you can’t wait to hold your novel in your hand. There are many places online that can help you out. For a price.

Most authors can’t resist the urge to have physical copies of their books, and that comes at a hefty cost to the author.

Printed books

iUniverse offers a lot of packages starting at $899 upwards to $4,599. You get a lot of support and help for those prices, along with an eBook made.

Amazon’s Createspace.com has various packages as well, starting at around $700. They are a print-on-demand company, so you never have to worry about having to pay for a ton of books. And if you want one, just order it yourself.

Lulu.com offers packages from $729 all the up to $4,949, but you get (most of) your money’s worth.

Included in the highest package is 100 softcover and 25 hardcover copies as well as editorial services and book cover design along with an eBook conversion.

Most of these services also include distribution and are limited to the number of words your book can be before the price jumps even higher.

And it’s been reported that most print-on-demand and self-published books only sell about 100 or so copies, but if you have the money and really, really want to hold your book, then go for it.

But remember, realistically, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever see that money again. Selling your own books is tough and time consuming, and you’ll have to pay more to get enough copies to hold book signings at your local library or high school. Or buy booth space or rent a table at literary conventions or book fairs.

And if you convince a store to sell copies on consignment, you’ll need enough copies to display.

Basically, you won’t become a millionaire overnight.

But that’s not why you’ve written a book to begin with, is it?

Format, format,

format

I’ve seen quite a few self-published, printed books with mistakes all over them and incorrect formatting.

It stands out, trust me, and will likely haunt you for your entire self-publishing career.

Also, you are not the best person to edit your book.

Find someone, a friend, ex-English teacher, a girlfriend, anybody you trust that can read and ask them to read it over and mark it up.

Now, there are professional editors out there like proofreadingservices.us who charge $3.25 a page to theproofreaders.com who charge $13 per page.

It’s a bit pricey, but a necessary process. So, hopefully, you have literate friends.

But for honest opinions, never trust friends or family. They won’t want to hurt your feelings, so they’ll say it’s great and they love it, even if it’s quite the opposite.

Find people online who love to read and ask them if they’d mind reading it and giving an honest opinion, especially if it’s your first time publishing anything.

This is part 1 of a 3-part series. Part 2 will discuss eBooks and publishing online and will be featured in an upcoming edition.
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