Tag Archive: book production

corinne tippett and the westchester press

Writers dream of big book deals with traditional publishers, or big sales income from self published books. The big blue skies of Amazon.com pervade both dreams.

In the chaotic clouds of The New Publishing Landscape, one (of many) possible pathways to making money as a self published author is starting to emerge.

By learning how to self publish a book, an author can produce work that will not only be out there in readerland, possibly earning money from the start, but could also lead directly to a big traditional book deal.

Here is how:

  • A writer writes a Really Good Book (note… the book has to be really good…)
  • The writer self publishes the book as an e-book on Amazon.com (note… it has to be on Amazon.com…)
  • The writer markets the e-book and it begins to sell, then sells some more (note… the odds on the book selling – even with marketing – are slightly better than winning the lottery, and slightly worse than being nibbled by a shark near a beach in Florida)
  • The e-book rises in rank on the Amazon.com bestseller list (note… the rank rise is directly related to the previous bullet…)
  • Traditional publishers, who are watching the Amazon.com lists, decide to take a chance on the already proven sales of the writer and her e-book (no note required)
  • Amazon.com, seeing that traditional publishers are beginning to poach the self published shoals of profitably-selling books, jumps in and offers the writer a traditional-style book deal directly (note… meaning that Amazon.com is not only a place where an writer can self publish a book, but it is also a traditional-style publishing house itself.)

This pathway to traditional publishing has already happened for some now-big-name writers, and is happening more and more. In a related, but reversed, scenario, some traditionally-published authors are beginning to self publish their work, relying on their existing fan-base.

It does, however, all come down to sales.
Write a really good book, self publish it as an e-book, market it well, and…. voila!  (maybe…)

My first self published book was only a print book, and will soon be available as an e-book. Let’s see how it goes!


Horned Lizard and The Westchester Press

The Horned Lizard of Self Publishing is researching How To Turn A Blog Into A Book. How to make a blook. Horned Lizards want to know.

So I am testing each of the blog to book methods I can find to add “How To Turn A blog Into A Book” to my “How To Self Publish A Book” series.

I am investigating this topic because our blogs contain super-awesome-mega content and breathtaking photos, and turning them into books is a great idea. Making a blook!

My standards for the process are high.

  • I want a nice looking book, but I don’t want to have to spend hours formatting it, because I could do that manually, the same way I usually make books.
  • I want the photos to look good, and that’s going to be a challenge because while 72 dpi looks great on screen, it doesn’t look great in print.
  • The book probably needs to be in color, because of all the effort I’ve put into the photos, and color print books are expensive to produce… but, ebooks!  It could be an ebook (future posts on ebooks coming soon)
  • And I want to be able to access the book file. For cut and paste, for other uses of my materials. I want to create a file that I can take anywhere, print anywhere.

Blurb.com has the lion’s share of Google’s keyword hits, and so I started with them.

They advertise a blog to book method and they offer color books – hardcover or soft. They claim they can slurp my blog and drop it into a book, which I can then order for myself and sell online from their service.

First I set up an account, which was easy. Then I went to “Make Books And More” where I found “Blog Book”, and then was instructed to download their software, Blurb Booksmart. Which I did.

Ah soooo… the software resides on my computer, and therefore so do all my book projects, until I am ready to order a copy of the book. This way, I don’t take up their server space – clever ducks.

The software was free. There was no charge at all, actually, until I was ready to order the printed book. So that’s good.

There are seven book size options, and two of them are my preferred book sizes… 6×9 or 5×8. But there is only one blog-to-book layout option – which has the picture in a small square, and the text in a shorter column to the right.

If I want a different layout, I have to go into some heavy manual formatting while learning their Booksmart software… only to find that my low res pictures are looking very bad in my chosen layout.

The process supports four kinds of blog platforms: blogger, live journal, typepad, and wordpress.com. Which is great, unless you’ve moved your wordpress blog to self hosting, like I have. In which case, this process will not work. Game over for all my blogs except one.

Okay, forward I go with my Blogger.com blog, which has more than 100 posts and gets slurped into Blurb’s program without a hiccup. Where it looks like crap. And where I can’t do anything with it except print it out through Blurb.com. Hmmm.

My blook was 256 pages, and not all of the posts were properly separated, so it would have been even more pages. It is very easy to price the potential book using Blurb.com’s buttons, so I could see right away – before doing any more formatting – that my 6×9 softcover color print book would cost $37.95 per copy.
Ummm… oh dear. That’s not exactly the base cost I was looking for. 

If I gave up color, then my book would cost $12.95 per copy… but, but, I have to have color!

In summary, Blurb.com has a very nice system to capture a hard copy book of a blog as a novelty or one time gift.

It will take time to format it nicely, and unless you posted gigantic pictures on your blog, your images will be either tiny or blurry – your choice. I don’t consider this a commercially viable option for making a book out of my blog. And it doesn’t give me an electronic document to have my way with.

But it sure is a nice piece of software… which makes a nice, pretty, pricey book.

I will keep looking. This is not How To Turn A Book Into A Blog. Not in my blook.





Sometime after writers stopped using quills as ink pens, our copyright laws came into being. The law assigns copyright when a work is created – you don’t have to register. But it’s a good idea, especially since today’s quill is a computer and the paper is online.

Copyright on a creative work exists as soon as the work is put to paper. The author doesn’t have to formally register the work with the US Copyright office, but it’s a good idea to do it before self publishing a book, or submitting for traditional publication.

An author does have to register the copyright before claiming a case of copyright infringement, and having registered the work long before there is any question of infringement can help your case.

I see it as a professional approach to my creative work, a finishing touch.

The creative work does not have to be published before registration, and in fact, due to recent changes by the US Copyright Office, if the work is unpublished, it can be uploaded electronically for the registration process – which is a change from having to mail a hard copy. (Mailing a hard copy is part of the Library of Congress Control Number process, which happens after the work is published – including self published…)

I recently went through the copyright process with the finished draft of my grandfather’s aviation history biography, and I have some tips.

  • Prepare an electronic copy of the manuscript that is smaller than 11.3 MB, because that is the single file upload limit and a full length manuscript is almost certainly bigger than that. Make a compressed PDF or split the document into several files… the upload process does allow one project in multiple files (up to six). So getting that ready in advance will help.
  • Choose a time when you can do the whole process in one session, so that you don’t risk stopping part way. It will take about an hour, depending on the copyright office’s online response time.
  • It will cost $35, (as of 2012) payable online at the time of registration, so having a credit or debit card ready is a good idea.
  • At www.copyright.gov, you first establish a profile and choose a user name and password. You’ll use this same profile for every work you register for copyright.
  • The first step isn’t very obvious, despite the care given to try and make the process more streamlined. It’s called Register A New Claim… and from there, you go step by step.

You will have to click a confirmation button at the very end of the process, and it isn’t complete until you do, so don’t leave the process until you’ve clicked that button. It’s not a very obvious button… the Staples Easy Button is a better design, but you’ll find it.

It’s not required to register – copyright is yours once you create a work – but it’s a good idea to do it when you’ve finished your book, before you self publish, or before you submit your book for publication. Add a copy of your work to our Library of Congress!


How do I get paid as a self publisher

I reveal the payment mysteries of self publishing in this rockin’ post.

How do I get paid for my self published book? How does the money actually arrive in my bank account?

Well, it depends on how you are selling your book. I’ll focus on the online and credit card sales, because if you are selling your book at a table or out of the trunk of your car, it’s more obvious how you get paid… the online sales are the mystery to most of us.

If you are selling through a print-on-demand service like CreateSpace, then every time a book sells through Amazon.com, you get a royalty. The amount of that royalty is determined by the size and cover price of your book. You would know in advance how much that will be as you go through the set up process. There are at least three different royalty amounts, based on how what sales channel the buyer purchased your book.

The following CreateSpace details were current as of September, 2012, and since things change rapidly… take them with a grain of salt:

  • You get the highest royalty if the buyer buys from your CreateSpace author page, which is a page nobody will find unless you email them the direct link.
  • The “normal” royalty comes through sales directly from Amazon.com, and you have to rely on Amazon.com to report how many of those sales took place. There can be a lag between the buying and the reporting.
  • The least amount of royalty comes through Amazon.com expanded distribution, which is a channel you have to pay to sign up for, but enables your book to be available on request (not on the shelf) in every bookstore in the world.

You never have to handle the book or the shipping, and you don’t get the direct information about the buyer. Your royalties add up and when you’ve met the required minimum balance ($25 most recently), then CreateSpace will direct deposit the money to the bank account you’ve listed. They can send you a check instead, but it’ll cost you.

If you are selling your book through PayPal, directly from your own website, then PayPal will hold the full amount you charged for the book, less their fee, until you tell them to deposit it to your bank account (free), or request a check (which will cost you). You will package up the book, which you’ve already had printed somehow, and ship it to the seller. This way you get the buyer information, but you also have to handle the book and have an inventory to ship from, which you have already paid for.

If you set up your website to accept credit cards by getting a merchant account or gateway account, then the money you process from the sales of your books gets deposited to your bank account, less the fees for the merchant account. Depending on how you have it set up, you may instead have a lump sum fee withdrawal come out of your account once a month.

All of these methods require you to allow these companies  access to your bank account, to make the deposits, and so it is very wise to set up a totally separate account for these business activities. And make sure your bank offers good fraud protection. I don’t find it entirely comfortable either, but it’s the reality of true self publishing… you are a publisher, you are a business, and these are the conditions for normal modern business.

I promise you that it all feels much better than this post makes it sound when the money from book sales is flowing in…




Self Publishing Advice Duckling

What is Short Run Printing? What? What IS it?

Short Run Printing is a small (short) order of printed hard copy books (usually paperback, but could refer to hard cover) produced by a professional printing company. Short run printing is important to self publishers because it is the main way we can get a physical inventory of our books to sell at a profit. Traditional publishers usually order big numbers of books at a time, more than 5,000, and that’s how they get the books for a low enough price to be able to make a profit selling them in bookstores or anywhere else.

Before Print On Demand came around, small presses had to rely on short run printing to bring a book to market.  Now most self publishers can get a very good start with print on demand – having very small stocks of books on hand. But with enough sales volume, self publishers quickly look to short run printing to provide more inventory at a price that makes room for profitable sales.

As the self publisher, you write and create and design the book and have a final file of book interior and cover ready, then you work with a book printer to produce anywhere from 500 to 5,000 books. Some printers won’t do less than 1000. The cost per book goes down when the print order goes up. More and more traditional book printers are willing to do short runs in our current economy, when before it was not worth their time to work with the smaller orders and less experienced publishers.

We used Worzalla for the second short run printing of “Just A Couple Of Chickens” and were VERY pleased. And they did have to take more time to work with us, since we were less experienced as publishers. They were very patient… (…headsup the proof is called a blueline and it comes to you uncut and if you find a typo that late in the process it’s going to take a couple of hundred dollars to fix…)

I deeply believe in buying American, so I didn’t even consider a printer in China. With rising gas prices worldwide and rising basic wages in China, that competition is beginning to change – but regardless, I believe it is important to our economy to do our business here.

And that is Short Run Printing!


Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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