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Friday, May 21, 2010

Make Sure Your Self-Pub Research is Current

There's a lot of advice on the web concerning whether self-publishing your book is advisable, or even viable.

Some articles quote tales of unscrupulous printers/publishers who rob you of your rights to your own book.

Others speak of the poor quality of materials and printing in small printers or POD outlets.

Still others quote statistics of how few copies self-published books sell, and how high the costs of self-publishing are.

My advice to you when you are weighing all the available opinions regarding self-publishing is that you choose your mentors carefully, and make sure their recommendations reflect the current realities in the publishing world.

Just one example:


I self-published a small volleyball coaching book in May of 2009 -- exactly one year ago. My thorough research of the publishing environment at that time led me to the conclusion that I should use a small, independent printer to print the book, and I should design my own cover. I also had to obtain my own ISBN (nearly $200.00) and figure out how to insert a bar code on the book cover.

The total cost for me to order a first run of 500 copies of the book and get it listed on and Kindle, more than $2,000.00, plus monthly listing fees of $39.99 thereafter. Amazon reported the sales to me and I shipped them to the buyers. My take per book, around 50% (until you take the monthly listing fees into account). Then I usually lost money each month due to low sales volume -- which I had expected all along. It was not a mass market book.


Less than one year later, in March of 2010, I self-published my first fiction novel, THE MISSING ELEMENT, A James Becker Mystery, using an entirely different methodology. This time I used Amazon's as my printer. I was able to adapt one of their stock book covers to a look with which I was satisfied -- maybe not thrilled, but satisfied. CreateSpace provided my ISBN and bar code for free. And POD printing quality has been, in my opinion, very good -- at least comparable to the small printer I had used a year ago. And the proofs look exactly like the real book. They're not all in pieces, as you might find with a small printer.

The total cost for me to get my book on in paperback and Kindle? Less than $200.00. My percentage take on all Amazon sales, 32% of list price NET OF BOOK COST. I don't have to carry inventory for those sales. And I don't have to do the shipping myself. My book is even eligible for FREE SHIPPING OVER $25.00, so it saves my buyers money. And because I let Amazon set the price, they have discounted it 28% making the book attractive to even more buyers. My cut is still based on my original list price -- so the lower Amazon goes with the selling price, the better, as far as I am concerned.

I can still order my book at a delivered cost to me of about 31% of list, IN ANY QUANTITY, leaving me plenty of room to offer bookstores their expected 40% cut.


What changed between 2009 and 2010? Just about everything.

My point . . . when you are making your publishing decisions, make sure your info is current. A time frame as short as one year -- or an article whose author is even one year out of touch with this industry -- can render some advice nearly worthless.

I'm not saying there aren't some things that have stayed the same over the past couple years. You still need to watch out for scam publishers. I usually Google the publisher name and the word "scam" just to see what comes up.

Some POD printers are still asking you to sign over too many rights to them in exchange for their printing services. Read the fine print. (The way I published with CreateSpace, I can pick up my chips at any time and leave only their stock cover-art behind. I laid out my book interior myself, rather than hiring them to do it. More work, sure. But I can stick that PDF file into any cover I want to, with any printer, at any time.)

Some printers are still poor-quality printers. Check 'em out online for complaints and reviews.

And some distribution channels are still not really functional for self-pubs.

But the times are changing, and changing fast. So ya gotta keep up!

Have a great day!



  1. Hi John

    I am very happy with publishing at Createspace and Kindle. I had previously used iUniverse when it was a reasonable price. (Not any more) Quality from both have been very good, though. I design my own covers with my web designer, Judy. She's very reasonable. Check out my blog for comments on self pub.

  2. I will do that, Linda. And thanks for looking in on me over here at Self-Publishing Central.

  3. This is the new era of self publishing dymo allows you to print for anything you desire.