What to look out for before contacting a self publishing service.
- DO be clear exactly what you are looking for
- DO make sure you hang onto the rights to your book
- DO make sure the royalties come straight to you and not through a third party
SUBMITTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT ONLINE
The online market leader is Amazon/CreateSpace, but there is also Ingram/Spark and Lulu. I have no direct experience of these last two, but I do know that while Amazon/CreateSpace charge nothing to upload your book or to re-upload later amended versions of it, Ingram do charge for both. The advantage of Ingram is that I believe they offer different qualities of, for instance, paper, and the shipping may be cheaper as they have an outlet here in the UK, and in Australia.
CreateSpace is the print arm of Amazon and their website is very user-friendly.
Once you’ve uploaded your title and chosen your dimensions and page colour you will be taken to a Pricing page. You can price your book in US$ and the other currencies will calculated automatically, if you wish. (Or you can adjust this.)
The ISBN is provided free through CreateSpace but not on Ingram. You can buy your own ISBN which then belongs to you no matter who you publish through. CreateSpace also have a forum, or ‘Community’, where you can post queries and with a bit of luck someone will get back to you pretty quickly, especially if you post in the afternoon when America has woken up.
Categories and keywords: we didn’t get to discuss these in the workshop, but they do help to sell books if you get them right. Amazon/CreateSpace offers a selection of categories to choose from, and you can pick your own keywords (up to 7, if I remember correctly).
Ordering copies. With Print on Demand unit costs of printing are very reasonable. My 318-page book costs $4.64 to print out, per copy. There are various shipping options but as a guide, Expedited Shipping (3 weeks or so) costs $7.99. Obviously shipping costs per book are less per item the more you order in one go. You can also order copies to be sent direct to other people, all round the Globe.
If you do decide to do it all yourself (and if I can do it anyone can) I have produced a book aimed at the technically challenged, available on Amazon.
This may not be a priority for the family historian but it’s worth mentioning.
Social media is an option obviously, but has to be handled carefully (ie no constant hard selling). What is a good idea is to have a website with a recognisable family name as a title as this will lead other family members to you. Mine, named after my ancestress (marymatchampitt.wordpress.com), has introduced me to several distant relatives with interesting tales to tell. It’s also worth considering a website and Facebook page dedicated to your book.
Reviews are also worth going for, especially from family history magazines.
‘Who do you think you are’ magazine also has a feature at the back called ‘My Family Hero’, and they are often looking out for people to fill it.
Why not? It doesn’t cost much to have your manuscript converted into the suitable formats for Kindle, Kobo, Nook and whatever other devices there are out there. For some reason self publishers tend to sell more ebooks than paperbacks. In my case 90% of my sales are ebooks.
FINALLY (almost): An update on cover design
It’s worth taking a look at this site:
Joel Friedlander is a book cover and interior designer (he also offers page templates). This is the result of a competition where writers submit their covers and he comments on them and chooses winners. It’s useful as you can compare your opinion with his! (And comment if you want to.)
Which reminds me:
USEFUL WEBSITES on self publishing: (or to follow on Twitter)
Frances Caballo: http://www.socialmediajustforwriters.com
Joanna Penn: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/
And if you are looking for advice on everything to do with self publishing you could consider joining ALLi (The Alliance of Independent Authors). Click the ALLi logo on my site. Their subscription fees are £75 for a published (self- or otherwise) author. ALLi have also produced some useful books on self publishing such as:
That is really it. Good luck with your various projects, and please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries (or interesting tales about your self publishing experience).