Tuesday, January 31, 2012
The ART of SELF-Publishing mingled with singing and dancing
Yesterday was a very happy day for me. ( Me kicking my heels) Why? Well, I'll tell you. Yesterday the preliminary cover of my debut novel, "The Sand Bar" was sent to me. I squealed in delight when I saw the mock-ups. I did. I admit it. I squealed. This book has been a long time coming and to see it was very exciting to me. To celebrate, we watched an Indian movie called "Lagaan" and danced to all the Bollywood songs. Even Dan, the husband. The guy who moans and groans when I ask, beg, plead for him to dance with me. It was amazing. And now he is going to be embarrassed that I've just published the fact that he enjoyed dancing.
Anyway, with the dancing and singing behind us I can move on and describe my journey towards self-publishing.
It hasn't been an easy decision. I've written several books, sent queries out, gotten a few nibbles and then nothing. Crickets. It's a horrible way to live. Always hoping, waiting, waiting and waiting. Send ten queries out, wait, check your email. Wait.
Get excited when one asks for more,
wait some more and then have your hopes dashed upon a sharp rock when they later respond that it just didn't work for them.
Then there are the horror stories;I have a friend who got an agent, the agent then left the agency and took my friends book with her, so then she had to fight to get her book back. What a mess. Don't get me wrong. There are many who have gotten an agent, sold the book to a publisher, and then had it published and distributed to thousands of book stores, like my friend and former classmate Jen Wolf is about to do. It can happen. And to those who succeed down this path I cheer emphatically for them. But I decided that I needed to take my books future in my own hands, and make it happen.
So I spent several months comparing self-publishing companies. It was painful and confusing because somewhere along the way the publishing company is going to make money off you, whether it is on the front end, making your actual book or on the other end, distributing it to bookstores online and the brick and mortar type. I was so confused I asked my father-in-law, whom I consider to be one of the smartest people I know, to help with the research. I actually felt better when he made the comment that "This is very confusing." as he studied the different plans. I knew then that it wasn't just me.
I finally decided that there wasn't one golden company out there. You just have to find the one that works best for you, and good luck!
One great reference for comparing companies is dogearpublishing.net. They do a great job comparing several different self-publishing companies and helping you think of questions that might come up later. I didn't end up using their services and I'll explain why in a second.
So it came down to four companies: Dog ear, Create space, Outskirts publishing, and Abbott Press. Dog ear and Abbott were a little more expensive on the front end, but touted cheaper book publishing costs on the other end. Abbott is affiliated with Writer's Digest. This, to me, is a good thing as I take a lot of classes from Writers Digest and read their blogs and get their newsletters. What I didn't like was the royalty package. I think after all the costs I would make 50% of what was left in the kitty. I was going to make literally pennies unless I sold the book for more money than I knew even my mother would spend for it. Not an option since my name isn't Nicholas Sparks or Jodi Picoult. The next company, "Create Space" seemed like a great option if you want to take out the middle man or do things on your own. I mean, they're Amazon; seems like a no-brainer, right? You can do it all yourself, or buy into one of their packages.
In the long run you make more money per book with Create Space, but I didn't feel like they were interested in marketing my book beyond putting it on their site. And to be honest, I have a soft spot for the little guy. And Amazon is nothing if not gargantuan.
This leads me to Outskirts Publishing, located in Parker, Colorado. Cheaper on the front end, Outskirts leaves a little more money in your pockets so you can buy into their plethora of marketing packages. They have thought of everything from putting your cover choices on their blogs for people to vote on, thereby building buzz about your upcoming book, to sending your book on a worldwide book tour, to creating your own book trailer (all for a price, of course). They do most correspondence by email, but you can call them if you have a concern. I'm not much of a phone person so this works great for me.
So far they have been very attentive, punctual, and have honestly surpassed my expectations. On Friday, my Representative, Colleen asked me to send any photo's I hoped to use for the cover, and to give the ideas I had about the look of the book. By Friday afternoon I had sent off my ideas. When I received an email Monday afternoon with two Great mock-ups all ready to go I was shocked and so excited!
They listened to everything I said, maybe to their detriment, as the one I had imagined in my mind was not the favorite of those I polled late last night. The looks are very different. A reminder that designing a book cover is an art form in itself.
Anyway, I am very excited. And now, showcasing the winning cover (minus a few changes to be made) May I introduce my first novel titled "The Sand Bar" YIPPEE!!!