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View Full Version : An Ignorant (Not Stupid) Self-Publishing Question



Craig Mattice
05-17-2011, 04:58 PM
I fully respect all of the members here as primarily professional and committed to writing. I, however, am not a professional, have no desire to be, and I am writing my first and only book as a WIP.

I've read all I can find on AW regarding the self-publishing recommendations, many interesting engaging conversations, yet found no adequate solution to my personal challenges.

My book may or may not be published or even require at any time an ISBN number. I am simply looking for a source to print my book, 25 copies consisting of 180 pages with a trim of 6 x 9. Nothing fancy but I am open to the potential responses of the option to actually publish later. (Not a real expectation on my part but those who've read some of it believe it should be published.)

What service would you recommend for fulfillment of such and order? I have a regional digital POD who quoted $350 for 30 books. I have yet to figure out how to price using CreateSpace, but it seems it would be a much better package value. Cost is a factor because I am on Social Security Disability from Uncle Sam, enough said.

Your knowledge and experienced guidance is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time and reading this post.

shaldna
05-17-2011, 05:27 PM
Createspace is virtually free to set up, they just require you to buy a proof copy, and after that the book is available for sale through amazon etc, so it would have and isbn number assigned to it.

You set the price yourself in createspace during the set up process, based on the costs and size of your book.

If you sign up for the proplan you get the books even cheaper, and you get more royalties if people buy them. From what I remember it costs about $30 extra, but you don't have to sign up for this.

as 6x9 is one of their standard trim sizes there should be no additional costs, you just upload your own formatted pdf and they use that.

As the author you can buy the book yourself for a discount, although you recieve no royalites on those. It works out at around $3-5 a book, depending on the specs. Which, means your total cost for 25 books would be around $80 or about $110 if you went with the proplan.

jsmith
05-17-2011, 05:29 PM
I second that! Createspace is a wonderful outfit!

wizard tim
05-17-2011, 07:03 PM
Craig, I recommend giving some consideration to the print-on-demand model, versus printing a certain number of copies that may end up sitting in boxes in your garage.

But it really depends on your goal. If you want 25 copies to give to family and friends, that's entirely different from wanting to sell copies online via Amazon, Barnes&Noble, etc.

I don't have as much experience with printing, but I think the 30 books for $350 quote sounded high.

ResearchGuy
05-17-2011, 07:33 PM
. . . 25 copies consisting of 180 pages with a trim of 6 x 9.. . . .
Assuming you can do the formatting of interior and cover, Lulu or Createspace are both practical options. At 180 pages, per copy at Lulu (excluding their extortionate shipping -- which is sometimes waived on special offers -- and assuming you buy none of their paid services) comes to $8.13. That's about $244 plus shipping (maybe another $30, or a bit more for that). Bulk discounts start with as few as five or ten copies. Createspace is probably a bit cheaper, although they seem to be set up to add ISBN and put the book on Amazon by default (not sure if that can be avoided), and for best price per book you have to pay $39 for Pro Plan, plus a small annual fee, which adds a lot per copy to a small order.

Local printers are almost certain to be more costly.

The hard part for most is to make the book look good.

--Ken

P.S. Look into www.mirasmart.com (http://www.mirasmart.com) (Mira Digital Publishing). I just received a promo card from them. Per book price for 25 copies, 200 pages, b/w interior, color cover, is $5.84 on the card. No experience with the company, but looks worth investigating. Morris Publishing (www.morrispublishing.com (http://www.morrispublishing.com)) might be worth checking out, too.

Carradee
05-17-2011, 08:24 PM
Also, a note on CreateSpace—they've been known to give coupons to folks who "win" NaNoWriMo.

Craig Mattice
05-17-2011, 09:00 PM
Thank you all for your responses and insights on this, to me, confusing challenge. In looking at CreateSpace, I wasn't sure if I was calculating properly. I would like to keep the option of public sales on the table, to be determined later based on the responses of friends, family, and those who have already requested a copy. Thus the initial 25 to 30 book order.

I too felt the regional company was high vs. what they were willing to provide as an end product.

Here is what I was able to determine after reading the responses of shaldna and ResearchGuy.

Est. 30 Books at 180 pages: ISBN # Cost Free= Amazon.com as publisher.
30 Books = $90.30*
Shipping = $18.00
*Pro Plan = $39.00
Total Cost= $147.30*

*Includes Full Market Distribution:
Stores, eStores, Online, Academic, Libraries

Actually, investing in the Pro Plan only increases the individual book to me by $1.30 added back to the $3.01, equals only $4.31 per book plus shipping. The additional benefits create excellent current and potential value to me under my circumstances.

I will be creating my own formatting, PDF for both the interior and using their tools for the cover creation. Plus, I would much rather have an ISBN linked to CreateSpace and Amazon.com than incur the limitations of Lulu from reading the agreements. It sure beats the heck out of almost $11.50 per book with no benefits from the regional source.

Allow me to mention, I had serious concerns regarding placing this question on the forum considering your levels of achievement and my newbie ignorance. However, you all treated the question and the response with respect and direct honesty, that makes a tremendous positive impact.

With my sincere gratitude and appreciation,

KevinMcLaughlin
05-17-2011, 09:54 PM
If you're only printing 30 books, it might not be worth doing the pro plan. You might actually save money by skipping it.

Also, remember that you DO NOT have to put the book up for sale on Amazon via Createspace. You can simply set the book up, upload it, order your copies, and *not* put it up for public sale. If you're not interested in public selling, that's a worthwhile tool. It's something I'm planning to do, for instance, with some picture books my 5-yo twins are writing (just get some copies printed for family).

HapiSofi
05-19-2011, 01:39 AM
Per-unit price drops in conventional offset printing start at around 50-100 copies, and you don't get the really big price reductions unless you're printing a thousand copies or more, so go with digital.

You don't need an ISBN unless you're going to sell copies via a third party. If you're giving them away, or selling them yourself, you can do without one.

Do put a copyright notice on the copyright page, which goes on the back side of the title page. It won't change your status under current copyright law. Your work will still be under copyright, but you won't be able to sue for damages the way you could if you paid to register the copyright. However, having it there will keep a certain sort of numbskull from deciding that your work must be in the public domain, so it's worth doing.

Finally, be kind to the future. Include your name, your address, the date, and optionally the number of copies printed, in your frontmatter.

FOTSGreg
05-19-2011, 03:05 AM
318 5.25x8 pages B&W on white paper is going to run me $7.86 per copy on Create Space without being in their Pro Plan (which costs a mere $39). If I join the Pro Plan not only does my per book cost decrease, my royalty per book and my distribution channels increase.

I'm thinking it's $40 well-spent just to get a few copies of my own book in print in my hand and in the hands of the people who I cite in my acknowledgment section plus friends.

KevinMcLaughlin
05-19-2011, 04:13 AM
318 5.25x8 pages B&W on white paper is going to run me $7.86 per copy on Create Space without being in their Pro Plan (which costs a mere $39). If I join the Pro Plan not only does my per book cost decrease, my royalty per book and my distribution channels increase.

I'm thinking it's $40 well-spent just to get a few copies of my own book in print in my hand and in the hands of the people who I cite in my acknowledgment section plus friends.

Yup, totally depends on the book you're making!

Createspace has a handy calculator here:
https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/

I entered the numbers FOTSGreg gave, and came back with $235.80 for 30 books using standard and $139.80 (or $179.80, with the Pro Plan fee) for 30 books using Pro. Definite win for the Pro plan, in that case.

For the same book, if you are buying only ten copies, it's cheaper to not go pro. ($78.60 vs $86.60)

So just plug in the numbers, do a little math, and it's a pretty easy decision.

JSSchley
05-19-2011, 06:45 AM
Nothing fancy but I am open to the potential responses of the option to actually publish later. (Not a real expectation on my part but those who've read some of it believe it should be published.)


Hi Craig,

No one else commented on this, so it's entirely possible I read this wrong. But if you create an ISBN for your book and make it available for sale, it is no longer an unpublished book, even if you only sell 25 copies. It sounds like self-pubbing is a great idea for what you have in mind, but do be aware that once you've done it, commercial publishing is largely off the table for that title because you've used up your first rights. Self-pubbing for a given title is best thought of as an either/or...you can either self publish it or pursue commercial publishing, but you can't self pub and then plan to query it later if it gets good response (unless it gets PHENOMENAL response in the realm of tens of thousands of copies).

Just wanted to make sure that wasn't a plan in the back of the mind...don't get your hopes up on that one. Otherwise, good luck. It sounds like you're doing well finding the right plan for you to get this book into the hands of the folks you want to have it.

Craig Mattice
05-19-2011, 09:16 AM
I appreciate everyone's contributions including recommendations, information, and various points of view for consideration.

After looking at several options, CreateSpace offers all of the benefits and features at the best cost value to accomplish my short-term and long-term goals. This includes initial cost, value received with ISBN and full distribution, with the added benefit of the Pro Plan. My initial calculations indicate the Pro Plan initial investment will be returned easily on the first book order for my personal use. I can't discount the support and training tools available because I am doing everything except professional editing myself.

I apologize and should have been clearer regarding the ISBN number. My goal when speaking of future publishing; I was referring to stepping up to the next level, but still remaining with CreateSpace utilizing their Expanded Distribution Channel vs. attempting to go to trade publishing.

I thank everyone who has contributed in response to my question. I didn't know what to expect but the responses have been outstanding.

Thank you all,

FOTSGreg
05-20-2011, 02:21 AM
Kevin, thanks for the numbers. I'm on a fairly tight budget right now...but there is that tax return check on the horizon...

I can't think of a better use for money Uncle Sam owes me anyway.

:)

HapiSofi
05-20-2011, 02:38 AM
Craig, forgive me, I need to argue with this person.

But if you create an ISBN for your book and make it available for sale, it is no longer an unpublished book, even if you only sell 25 copies.
Not really. It's sufficiently published to be actionable if you've libeled someone in it, and it will get listed in Books in Print, but otherwise it's barely significant.

It sounds like self-pubbing is a great idea for what you have in mind, but do be aware that once you've done it, commercial publishing is largely off the table for that title because you've used up your first rights.
I don't want to sound too cynical, but there are easy ways around that if the publisher really wants the book. What can actually screw you up is doing a penny-ante first edition, then having the company fold up and disappear before they give you a written reversion. Never sign a publishing contract that doesn't include a reversion clause.

Self-pubbing for a given title is best thought of as an either/or...you can either self publish it or pursue commercial publishing, but you can't self pub and then plan to query it later if it gets good response (unless it gets PHENOMENAL response in the realm of tens of thousands of copies).
And once again, I say thee nope. You can do just about anything if (1.) the publisher wants to publish it, and (2.) you have the right to sell it to them.

It's not your fault you're wrong. This is a difficult issue to sort out, and I know for certain that there are self-appointed experts out there who are giving out the same erroneous information.

KevinMcLaughlin
05-20-2011, 04:26 AM
Think maybe there's some confusion between selling short work to periodicals (where first rights does tend to be more important, or so I'm told) and selling rights on a novel to book publishers (who seem to be a lot less picky about it)?

jairey
05-21-2011, 03:01 AM
While you're over at Createspace, check out Walton's messages in the community section. He's got a free download of "Build Your book" that gives some really concrete help with the formatting and layout.

I fully understand anyone who just wants to print up copies for their family and friends. I've helped people get it done. They know they're not going to get some "pay the author" publisher interested in what they've written and sometimes don't want to. (One woman wrote a personal memoir of being raised by her grandmother and needed 30 copies for her family. She absolutely did not want it sold to anyone. Oh, she had to get 20 copies more because cousins of cousins wanted their copy of this family account. It looked very good, and she had done a good job putting it together. Cost a *lot* less than other options.) Another woman was in her 80s, had been ripped off 4 times by various vanity presses who promised her royalties by publishing her poems. She'd written enough for a small book and asked for help because she realized they'd all lied to her and she wanted to leave a nice copy of what she felt were her last poems to her grandchildren. She got that and didn't pay thousands of dollars to do it.

Why not use the technology to get what you want?

Jean

FOTSGreg
05-21-2011, 05:44 AM
To be honest, most of my family wouldn't care if I'd written a book or dropped off the face of the planet (unless there was some way for them to milk a buck out of it). My mom would, but she wouldn't read it, just brag about it.

Some of my friends have expressed a slight interest, but I think they're looking for freebies and bragging rights ("Look, I knows a author").

It's others who keep asking me about a print edition that I'm more I treated in getting the book into the hands of.

Not having to pay thousands to do it worth it in both the long and short runs.

JSSchley
05-21-2011, 07:25 AM
Craig, forgive me, I need to argue with this person.

I'm going to argue back/clarify. :)

What I wanted to caution Craig against is the "I'm just going to self publish a few copies for my friends to buy but then I'll try for a contract to publish it later on" line of thought.

At the house where I worked (indie, commercial non-fiction, ~50 titles a year), our rate of rejection for self-published work was considerably higher (something over twice) that of work that hadn't been printed. Why? Because most of the time we were contending with either crappy sales which made us worry the book still wouldn't sell if we put money behind it, or decent sales which made us wonder if the market had already been exhausted. We passed on a good volume of self-pubbed books for those reasons, many of which were quite strong and excellent fits for our list. Obviously, there's no way to run a controlled experiment on that and submit the same book as both unpublished and self-published, but I can imagine that if some of those submissions had come through the slush pile just as finished manuscripts with a book proposal, we probably would've picked them up.

I'm not saying it's a for sure no, and if you read that into my post I apologize. Of course houses buy whatever they want, if it's self-pubbed or not, as long as the author has the rights to sell. But IMO, it is best for writers to THINK of self-publishing for a given title as an either/or, because the "self-publishing will keep my options open but I'll still have a book in my hands" avenue doesn't work nearly as often as people dream that it does, and many houses will be turned off by a book that has been self-published for a variety of reasons. Better to make the decision at the outset that self-publishing is the right decision for a given title and be prepared to stick by that choice.

Which seems to be exactly what Craig is prepared to do, so...moot point. :)