Self Publishing…Is It Worth It?

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There they were. Those two words you thought would never happen. Six little letters. You type slowly and reverently:

The End.

The act of completing a novel is huge. Of the billions of people on the planet we are in a very small, select group of Homo sapiens. Soak up the ambiance because shortly you come to the next gargantuan phase of your book: publishing.

You can have your book published on Amazon within a few days. You can use their cover designer for free. You just upload the pdf, collect your ISBN and POOF you’re published. You can do it in your underwear, or less. Clickity clack – baddaboom baddabing. AUTHOR!

Ooooooor, you can compose a query letter, a synopsis and prep a few select gorgeous pages of your work and try courting the shy and elusive literary agent or traditional publisher. And then await the rejections! I am in a group on Facebook that celebrates the Rejection Letter. Mostly they are pre-written form letters and ironically sometimes contain typos.

There is also a deep, dark secret that transpires at bookstores and libraries the world over. [TRIGGER ALERT] Every bookstore and library participate in the culling of books. Books — pages toiled over and written in blood by a writer — get DUMPED. Sometimes the get purchased by paper recycling company, some take truckloads to the land fills. It’s gruesome. Mass graves for literary endeavor.

I’m at a cross-roads. I’ve completed my novel. I can testify that it is definitely “not bad”. It’s a literary fiction manuscript. No vampires. No spacesuits. It’s about….well, here  you can read about it and see what I mean. I had this intense urge to get my manuscript through my editor’s process. I had a drive to finish, to get those pages to Amazon. And then once I was all done I sat with my novel…digitized into a pdf…and I became suddenly aware of relegating my book to the culled pile. Or worse, it never gets to the culled pile because my three friends didn’t have money to buy it and it just sits there, a victim of a lack of marketing and distribution.

Some reports suggest that less than 1% of authors on Amazon create revenue of $50 per day or more. But wait! Use Ads!! That’s right, start paying for your novel to be placed more successfully. It’s maddening.

So here I sit with my little pdf, working on pdf #2 and I’m considering all of the above. I believe I am going to wait for traditional publishing.

I don’t know…I really don’t.

For more reading try these: Claude Forthomme’s BlogNew York Times, The Guardian, Amazon KDP Support Chat

To ISBN or Not ISBN.

Self publishing? Need an ISBN? CreateSpace will give you an ISBN for FREE! Woo hoo!

But wait, if CreateSpace or other POD’s give me an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) – what’s the drawback? ISBN’s assigned to you by CreateSpace are “CreateSpace Assigned ISBN’s”. In other words it’s a place holder used only within Amazon marketing matrix.

But there are some options if you use CreateSpace:

  1. The option above, CreateSpace Assigned ISBN
  2. Custom Universal ISBN (for $99)
  3. Or you can provide your own ISBN purchased from an ISBN broker

Holy Crap…$99! That’s expensive…isn’t it? Actually for a universal ISBN, no – it isn’t. Arguably, the top ISBN broker is a company named Bowker. They sell a single ISBN for $125. The feature that most people use at Bowker is their group purchase option. They sell ten ISBN;s for $295, 100 ISBN’s for $575 or 1000 ISBN’s for $1500.

Why spend the money?

Here’s why.

  1. With a CreateSpace (or other POD) you are not the publisher, they are. Your book may immediately be disregarded by bookstores and potential reviewers as a vanity press project. I know when I was shopping my novel around to book stores they wouldn’t consider it if it had a CreateSpace ISBN.
  2. If you own the ISBN, you can move your book to a different printer if needed. Let’s say sales start taking off and you want to have copies on hand for book signings, you will have to pay CreateSpace the retail value for books. You cannot move it to a private printer for a run of prints to stock your book fair, book signings or public events. You will need to pay Amazon for your book!
  3. Lastly, buying your own ISBN’s means your book is listed with many retailers, libraries, Bowker Books In Print, Bookwire, as well as online services like Google Books, Apple’s iBooks, Chegg and the New York Times. Having your own ISBN gets your book OUT THERE!

So with my first novel coming out next month, I’m going to purchase ten ISBN’s. If anyone associated with IntrovertPRESS wants their own ISBN I’m happy to share. I would even be open to pooling resources or using crowd-sourcing to raise fund for ISBN’s. If you use your own ISBN, you can use IntrovertPRESS as your “publisher” so it looks like you are a traditionally published book.

We’re an author-netowrking site…let’s network!

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Amazon Preview Feature

Self publishing has many steps. I’m currently preparing for a book launch in May. I’m working on my Amazon Preview with Create Space (the facilitator of book prep for Amazon). This feature allows you to preview your book on their website. They provide options for the intended audience of your preview. Essentially you can create a Private Preview available only to people you select; or there are two types of Public Previews to target audiences or to the whole of the Amazon readership.

I chose the latter.

If you want to see what the Preview feature looks like, I shamelessly give you the link for my PREVIEW of SHELTERED, the story of Joe a homeless man with mental illness as he finds his way back to security. It is due out in May

Disclaimer: there is some tough language.

 

I’ll Show You Mine…

 

My novel, Sheltered, is coming out next month. In preparation for the release I have done some thinking on how to market my title so I can create revenue from my work. Since we are a network of authors supporting authors I thought I’d share an outline I’m creating about how to market my book. My book is about a homeless man in Columbus OH battling mental illness. The story begins inside a homeless shelter and follows my MC as he finds stability in his life. My marketing thoughts are such:

1. Who is my target audience?

  • 20 years old and up
  • Literary fiction readers
    • Mental Health & Homelessness Groups
    • Community Organizers & Co-housing Advocates
    • LGBT Groups (my MC is gay)
    • Chess Enthusiasts (there is a neighborhood chess tournament in the book)

2. What are my marketing goals

  • Research specific national groups from target audiences (above) & send copies for review
    • NAMI
    • Mental Health America (all local counties)
    • The Advocate
    • National Alliance to End Homelessness
  • Create revenue from writing through Amazon and KDP ad/keyword targets
  • Create audience for future sales
    • Local book fairs
    • Book signing/Release event
  • Create traffic to my social media outlets

3. Marketing Tools

  • Letters
    • Regional/national contacts where subject matter is related to organization
    • Local letter of introduction highlighting local landmarks and locations
    • Individual letter/email/link to online book sharing and promo groups
  • Promotional Package
    • Copy of book
    • Introductory letter with bio, upcoming work and contact into
      • include excerpts from positive reviews
      • Include accolades from industry people
    • Business card with links to sales sites for book and contact into
  • Book Fair Tour
    • Contact independent bookstore
      • Arrange for them to carry your book
      • Arrange for book signing event
  • Sit in front of computer and tweet.post/tweet about book wherever it is ok to post

4. What about the future?

  • Create my BRAND: edgy, literary fiction
  • Produce novels fitting my brand in diverse areas to bring more readers in
    • Re-write letters for new novel
    • Add/Subtract organizations based on their being pertinent to subject matter
  • Sustain my life through writing
  • Foster other writers to create a small publishing press

So this is a basic concept for marketing. What are you doing to market you title?