Archive for July, 2012


3 Eggs of Self Publishing Advice

Three eggs of self publishing advice to nest with.

Some self publishing helper companies may charge you for things you can do for free if you own your ISBN number… so you should know about 3 things you can do for free as a self publisher.

  1. You can create your own cover using the print-on-demand’s online software for no additional fee, although I strongly recommend you get your cover professionally done. This is true for any author actually. You don’t have to have your own ISBN number. It depends on what POD service you choose. Both Createspace and Lulu offer a free cover creator tool.
  2. You can register for a Library of Congress Control Number yourself, for free. (You must mail them a copy of your published book).
  3. You can list your title in Books In Print for free.

Also, consider this when evaluating a company’s service pricing:

You can register your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office for $35 – $65 (and, depending on your project. You must mail them a copy of your published book)

You can get your book on Amazon.com yourself by using the right print-on-demand company. Research LightingSource and Createspace before paying a company to put your book on Amazon. Expanded distribution will cost, but putting it on Amazon may not. I have used Createspace and I’m happy with their service and product, but there are other companies out there that I haven’t tried yet (future posts!). If I have an affiliate link on this site to a company, that means I’ve used the service and I like it… and I’ve probably got a post in here somewhere reviewing it. Createspace is in, and you don’t pay extra to get your book on Amazon, because Createspace IS Amazon.

As with everything else, if you do decide to pay someone else for a service you could do for free… there is value in the fact that you don’t have to spend your time whacking away at the search engines and web portals to get it done. But my mission in my self publishing journey is DIY and DIFF. Do It Yourself and Do It For Free.
Because knowledge is power.

 

 

 

Barnacles of Self Publishing Advice

Self Publishing can be barnacled with confusing terms and definitions.

Publishing chatter today is very confusing. Self publishing, vanity press, subsidy press, independent publishing, traditional publishing, print on demand, epublishing, … whuuut?

And it doesn’t help that almost all of the companies who come up under a google search of Self Publishing are offering to help authors by handling the publishing for them. Which is not always self publishing…

It’s all about the ISBN number.

If the author owns the ISBN number, then the book is self published. 

Even if the author hired out portions of producing the book.

And in order for the author to own the ISBN number, the author had to establish a publishing business. This can be as simple as getting a business license and giving the business a name. So the author is now a publisher.

Self Publisher.

If the author accepted the free ISBN number offered through the print on demand company, then the author is not self published. The print on demand company is the publisher. That’s not always bad, but it isn’t self publishing.

The companies that offer help with self publishing must require you to get your own ISBN number, otherwise they are actually the publisher for your book. Many of them state this upfront, but I am frustrated with the ones that don’t explain it well enough and offer the ISBN number for “free” as “part of the service”.

It is free… but if you want to take your book and publish it somewhere else, you discover that they are the publisher and you can’t easily do that. (You can get your own ISBN number and go on your merry way… but my point is the confusion involved.)

Authors can buy a single ISBN number for @ $125 (as of 2012) or a pack of 10 for @ $300 from Bowker. Self publishing authors should buy the 10, because having gone to the effort of publishing one book, it’s a good idea to put out another one. You will need the ten.

Own the ISBN and you own the rights.
It’s important.

 

 

Self Publishing Advice for Blue Hens

Inquiring Hens want to know, what is POD?

POD is a good way to get a book ASAP as long as you have a PDF.

Print On Demand (POD) is the heart of the new publishing revolution. A publisher, or author, or pretty much anyone with a PDF  (Portable Document Format) file (an electronic copy of your book, already formatted, sized, and totally ready to print) can upload the file to a POD (Print-On-Demand) supplier and order up a single copy of the book. The cover of the book is usually a separate PDF file, uploaded at the same time. The important point here is that the PDF file is totally ready to go – no edits or adjustments required. The POD company prints either a single copy of the book, or as many as you have ordered, and ships it out. Fast.

Print On Demand is a tool that self publishers can use. Traditional publishers can use it too.

When someone orders my book through Amazon.com, they are ordering up a POD copy. I do not have a stock of printed books sitting in an Amazon warehouse in one of their strategically placed supply centers… although I could do that if I wanted to. I could have the books printed up ahead of time and shipped to that center, then Amazon would pull one from inventory and ship it out. This is a core difference between me, a self published author, and Simon & Schuster, a massive, big, respected, resourced, old-school, traditional publisher. Or one core difference, among others. Because I don’t have that big book inventory sitting in a warehouse, I don’t have all that money tied up there either.

Print On Demand also makes it possible that no book needs to go Out of Print ever again, as long as there are servers and electronic data in the world. Many books that existed before the publishing revolution are not yet available POD and so are still Out of Print… but this is a main strength of electronic publishing. Ebooks are another, but that’s another post for another day.

AND, this is a new industry. A new science. It has bugs.

I recently added a disclaimer paragraph to my PDF file at Amazon that tells my reader that their book was from a Print On Demand supplier, and if it is not perfectly printed, to please contact me at www.TheWestchesterPress.com. Because I had tested the system, and been in contact with readers, and some people got books that were not perfectly trimmed or perfectly printed. Quality control was running at about 90%, which still left some readers getting weird-looking books – and this was my only way to combat that issue.

But the benefits truly outweigh those problems, and Print On Demand is a wonderful thing… it makes Self Publishing possible.

 

Party like it’s 1943!

I started researching my grandfather, Cloyce Joseph Tippett, for a biography twenty years ago. I used libraries, magazines,  US Government military and civilian archives, museums, personal connections… every “old school” research method I could find. As the Internet became available, I used it too.

With my Dad’s help, I ordered a copy of my grandfather’s military record – which was a treasure trove of dates and facts. The sheer volume of paperwork that the US Military can produce is amazing.

In the last three years, researching my grandfather’s biography became an entirely new thing. For one thing, it became FUN!  The evolution of both search engine function and more sources to search from resulted in an astonishing difference between researching now and researching ten years ago.

One example, out of hundreds: Jefferson Caffery was the US Ambassador to Brazil during the time my grandfather, Cloyce Joseph Tippett, was establishing civil aviation in Brazil. My grandmother, Louise, attended several evening functions with the Ambassador and had salty opinions of the “going-ons”… This story is supported by a few documents in Tip’s letter archive, but voila!  The University of Louisiana, Lafayette, in the Edith Garland Dupre Library Special Collections and Archives has the Jefferson Caffery Collection, and double voila, in box 48-f, under the “T-U-V” correspondence list, is Tippett, Cloyce J.: American Embassy, Rio.

For me, this is external confirmation of an interaction between Tip and Ambassador Caffery – which is important in supporting the story with facts. I think of it as provenance.  It’s just so cool. Almost as cool as partying with Ambassador Caffery on Ipanema Beach in 1943.

The book is getting closer and closer to being ready… let me know if you want to be on the release announcement list!

 

 

You can create your own cover for your self published book when you list it on Amazon.com, using the free cover creator service (with CreateSpace… other services have similar things) or you can get a professional to make you a cover and provide you with a PDF.

A PDF is a Portable Document File… which is totally ready to print,
fixed in stone, unchangeable, inalterable… or is it?

Red Cornish Chick and Just A Couple of Chickens

Red-Laced Cornish Chicks love the Book!

I used the cover creator service for the cover on my draft proofs, and then I worked with a professional graphic designer for the cover of Just a Couple of Chickens.

Michael Motley did a great job.
We sold out our first short-run printing (Awesome!) and took the opportunity of the second print run to add some positive review comments to the back matter on the cover.
Since I had, and still have, five out of five stars on the review page at Amazon.com, I added that phrase to the cover.

“5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com”

But when I uploaded that PDF cover file to CreateSpace so that readers ordering directly from Amazon.com would get the same cover… Amazon.com emailed me suggesting that I not refer to Amazon in case the POD book was sold through one of their other distribution portals. 

Whut?  I said, then ignored their advice, because no matter where the book landed, it was still true that it had 5 out of 5 stars on the amazon.com review page. Made sense to me.

Amazon changed my cover file.
Took out the 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com sentence.

Changed my PDF file. 

WHUT? I said, to myself. “I didn’t think you could modify a PDF”.  I knew they were adding a barcode in the white box left blank for the additional of a barcode, but I didn’t know they could add – or DELETE – other stuff.

Amazon has opinions, and the ability to change PDF documents. It is a Brave New World of Big Brothers… but most importantly,

“Just a Couple of Chickens” has 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com !!

 

Self Publishing Advice Tulips

Hundreds of colorful ideas and connections will bloom at the Willamette Writers Conference 2012.

This year the Willamette Writers Conference is August 3 – 5, 2012 at the Portland Airport Sheraton Hotel. In addition to workshops and classes, there are agents, editors, authors, publishers… and authors with book ideas, manuscripts, or screen plays can pitch their ideas.

I’m really pleased that I went to the conference last year because I was able to see how it is to pitch a book idea to an agent. The pitch practice on Thursday night taught me a huge amount about the key elements of a pitch… genre, core idea, three minute overview...

It gave me the opportunity to see how a marketable idea, made into a well written book, presented by a creditable author, pitched to the right agent… can result in an agent/author relationship, which could then lead to a book deal.

It may seen odd that me, determined self published author, would go to a conference designed to get authors in with traditional publishers, but no no, it’s not odd at all. I don’t believe that self publishing and traditional publishing have to be exclusive of each other. I have, and will continue to, present my work to the traditional publishing world (clearly stating what projects I have self published and which I have not) and see if I get anywhere doing everything I can possibly do to keep writing. Since I’m blogging about it, we’ll see how far I get!

And also, the Willamette Writers Conference has classes and workshops galore on writing, editing, social media, self publishing, websites… everything a writer needs. And every year, it has more and more about self publishing… interesting, ay?

 

 

Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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