Thursday, September 15, 2011

Paperback Writer

     The first step in self-publishing is to choose where to self-publish. Nowadays an author has the option between print-on-demand and/or going digital. Being a bit of an old-fashioned guy, I wanted to see my novel as a proper book. I had to set aside dreams of a hardcover for pragmatism's sake, but I wanted my first work to be in somebody’s bookshelf, even if was only mine. I’ll talk about e-publishing in a later article.
     There are companies like iUniverse, Xlibris, AuthorHouse, Lulu.com, Booklocker, Outskirts Press, Createspace among others that help a writer print and distribute their manuscripts. To me, it was a no-brainer; Createspace is an Amazon.com affiliate company and having my novel sold through the online behemoth seemed like the way to go.
     Createspace offers in-house and do-it-yourself (DIY) options, making the creation of my book very flexible. I had hired professional editors through another service, so I have no idea how their in-house editors are. Also, I’m a DIY guy, so I didn’t need their help to create a cover or layout my book (being a graphic designer has its advantages). They let you set your own price and have electronic calculators to show you what you’ll earn with each sale. You can order proofs and they are testing a setting that allows you to approve your book for selling without the need of one; I hope it’s here to stay. The approval of the files you submit is surprisingly fast; mine took less than 24 hours. And if you need an ISBN, they’ll provide one for you for a price.
     Of course, there’s always room for improvement. If you want to make a semi-decent profit, your price has to be set in the same range as established authors (some are even lower); this makes it tough to remain competitive. When you order a proof, the price of shipping is too high if you want to get it in a decent amount of time. The instructions on setting your cover when you have a bleed are vague. It took me a few tries until they got it right. That being said, their customer service was very helpful and quick. Last, but not least, if you have any changes after the book has been published (what can I say, I’m a perfectionist), the book goes into “temporarily out of stock,” it gives the patron an option to register for an email alert when the title becomes available. The files are approved so fast it can be done overnight.
     All in all, I’m pretty happy with Createspace’s services. My main gripe is with pricing vs. profit, but beimg in Amazon is a huge boost to anybody’s work. I’d definitely consider them again in the future. Keep on running!

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