There are millions of books on the market, most of which are provided by scant few traditional publishers with fewer editors and marketing executives than ever before. They've made a fortune in the past, but now writers have found a way to keep the PROFITS for themselves.
However, there are things you should know before choosing the self-publishing route. It's HARD work! If you've completed a novel you're not afraid of hard work. But self-publishing means exactly that -- you do EVERYTHING yourself! You design the cover, you send copies to book reviewers, you do the setup for the printer, you absorb all costs, and you have to find the best way to market your product. Before you start, you would do well to learn all you can first.
DESIGNING THE COVER
Some of us are graphically-inclined, and others are not. But the best first step in designing a cover is to examine covers of traditional books to get an idea of what you WANT. The cover is the first thing that your readers will see, so don’t be skimpy. If you are not comfortable creating a graphic on your own, check out the art and computer program forums on the net, speak with college students who are working toward a degree in one of these fields, and ask your friends and colleagues for referrals. You may find someone who is interested in providing you with a low-cost graphic to gain the design EXPERIENCE. If you do want to tackle it yourself and are not already familiar with design programs such as PhotoShop or Paint Shop Pro, there are others who will help you learn (some of them for free!)
DOING IT LEGALLY
You will probably want to try and get local bookstores to carry your publication -- but they won’t even consider it unless you have gone through the proper channels. Find all the information you can on applying for a COPYRIGHT to protect your work from being stolen (through the US Patent and Trademark Office at www.uspto.gov/) – as well as getting an ISBN number and BARCODE so you can be listed in your book store’s computer system (at www.isbn.org/). You need these, but keep in mind that you should never pay more than $75.00 for all three.
EDIT, EDIT, EDIT
As a self-publishing author, you are your own COPY-EDITOR (unless you choose to hire someone else to do it for you). One very nice thing about self-publishing is that you can easily FIX errors before the next printing. But finding all the errors in the beginning will save a lot of heartache. It may be difficult for you to catch all of your grammatical and spelling “boo-boos” on your own -- try trading editing services with other writers and you will save a bundle.
Who will print your book is one of the most important decisions you will make in this entire process. Finding a printer in your own area saves shipping charges, and you don’t necessarily have to go with a huge printer these days to get good quality. Lots of small local printers are gearing up to do print on DEMAND books -- which allows them to print one book at a time (instead of a batch of thousands) at a reasonable rate. Each printer is different -- and they all use different programs and procedures -- so always be sure to ask your printer for setup GUIDELINES. Most printers can work from your Word document, but you'll need to set the margins for the size book you want, number the pages, make sure the extra pages (such as the dedication page, maps, publisher's page, etc.) are included, and be sure the pages end up facing the right direction.
The hardest part! To market your own book, you'll need lots of original ideas. Going through a traditional BOOKSTORE is certainly one way to make sure the public sees your work, but booksellers usually want 55% of the profit, which often makes the book too expensive for readers. Consider selling at community events, putting a small classified ad in a targeted magazine, offering your books at the back of the room when you put on SPEAKING engagements, or talking to the manager of your local grocery store about putting a rack near the checkout area. With Amazon Advantage, you can establish a WEB presence and promote by joining forums leaving a link to that site.
REAP THE REWARDS
The good news is, done right you can make 50% profit instead of the 10% traditional publishers offer. And the more you print at one time, the HIGHER your profit margin. It's hard work, but it can be done, and very successfully!
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