Publishing a manuscript isn’t as hard as it once was. Self-publishing has almost eradicated the need to stand on a snow covered doorstep waiting for the senior editor to pop his/her head out to check the mail to sell your idea. In the days of lore, an author had to peddle their masterpieces from one major publishing house to the next in hopes of landing a deal or hire an agent to do the walking for them.
An agent is someone whom brokers a deal with a publisher to your advantage. When looking up agencies for representation, you’ll find that they come a dime a dozen. But they’re worth so much more to your writing livelihood. Having an agent is still the best route for a budding writer to snag up no matter which road you take to print your written work of art. I plan to write a post about this at a later date. For now, I’m focusing on publishing; self-publishing in particular.
The choices out there to pick a place to have your book call home are immense. Something I’d like to point out before going any further is pricing a book and the royalties earned. Royalties are based on the price of a novel. The lower your set the purchase price, the lower your royalties will be. Be aware that bookstores, your publishing company, and you split up the money. This is where competing with the big dogs of publishing becomes difficult. Do you drop your book to $9.99 or less to match other paperback novels only to bring home less than a dollar in royalties per book sale? It is something to keep in the forefront of your mind when coming up with the final book price.
I got sidetracked, sorry.
It took some time for me, but I narrowed the choices down to a few. To date, I’ve used five companies to offer my books through. The first two, CreateSpace and AuthorHouse, have have put me on the map with their POD (print on demand) services. (I would like to mention that AuthorHouse is still producing my novel, Temperature: Bitter Cold, at the time of this post. Quality of printing or binding of the book will not be compared to any other company.) Three other companies used to publish my various works for eBook publication were Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing (for Amazon), and Pub-It (offered by Barnes & Noble for the Nook).
For this post, let’s bring the emphasis about getting self-published towards POD publishing. I’ll write a separate post about eBook publishing soon. CreatSpace began my publishing career. I chose them for one simple and possibly selfish reason – Amazon owns them. I’d considered other companies to start out with, but being connected with a major company like Amazon seemed to be their first selling point for me. They have a superb record of selling – everything. What could go wrong?
A mid-level package to become published with CreatSpace at the time picked my pocket for around $2400. I thought it well worth the cost and still do. AuhorHouse didn’t offer it in my package, but I’ll cover that later on. One thing I really wanted out of the whole experience was being edited professionally. I’ve found out since then that I could search out independent editors/proofreaders for a lot less. I’m OK with that. What else did I get for my buck? Cover art, interior design, and promotional text I didn’t have to write myself were a few of the highlights to picking CreatSpace. I received one proof copy to look over before hitting the mainstream and a low price (very low) to purchase more books when I did book signings. most of the services CreatSpace and AuthorHouse offer are the same, so I’ll focus on unique services within a package I purchased like I already have with editing.
I also learned from my editor at CreatSpace that there is a standard APA style (American Psychological Association)in the writing world. It turns out the Chicago APA standard is what I should be using for all my novels. I have The Little Brown Compact Handbook lying around from my days of attending the University of Pheonix online. In it I found the APA sections to reference. This is a bit of knowledge I wanted to share with those just starting out. I wish I had known before getting started to minimize the numerous changes I ended up making in my manuscript. Now I’ll go back to talking about the comprehensive service packages I was offered.
Press releases are a way to get the word out to journalists and media outlets. And, Luckily CreateSpace offered that, too, in the price. Understand that if you don’t want your personal information to be on the release, you’ll need to get a P.O. Box and work number. For a phone number – might I suggest using Google Voice. It is a voicemail service that will take your calls and allow you to ring back the caller later.
Promotional text is another big deal to me. Writing a novel is one thing, but know how to describe it is completely different. CreateSpace did a bang up job telling me what my book was about. They also asked what I wanted to have on the backcover as a synopsis. What I ended up doing was taking an excerpt for them to use and added yet more promotional text after it. My journey with CreateSpace ended happily and I may come back to them soon.
This brings me to AuthorHouse, a member of the Penguin Group. With them I bought their highest package for around $1400. (In both cases all of the companies have upgraded their offers since my purchasing. I can only talk about what I got out of the deal.) Learning my mistakes about editing helped me here. They offered editing as an a la carte. Promotional text was also left up to me. And, lastly a Press Release also came a la carte. Now for the differences AuthorHouse did offer.
Why did I go with AuthorHouse? This answer is just as simple as why I chose CreateSpace. They offered a Bookseller’s Return Program to bookstores. My first novel didn’t have this option. Temperature: Dead and Rising is in every store, through their websites. I just couldn’t sell the idea of it being on their physical shelves. New authors without a glowing sells record will run into the same wall. Major bookstores don’t like discounting a book they can’t recoup the cost it took to buy the novel. Hence my reasoning behind picking AuthorHouse. Had CreateSpace offered this program, I might not have looked anywhere else to publish. Just being honest. I liked what they did that much, but traveling the internet for other publishers opened my eyes to what else I could with a manuscript. (A small disclaimer: I have not hit this stage in my second novel to know if a return program helps or not. I hope to soon.)
What about cover art? I had more creative freedom to build what I wanted to see on the cover. CreateSpace gave me three solid pictures to decide over, but I actually got to pick images and tell AuthorHouse what I wanted done with them. I also got a marketing and book signing kit, a 30% discount off current book price (a novel at $19.99 costs me $13.95 and this is much higher than CreateSpace’s discount), and a hard cover version. There wasn’t a hard cover option with my first novel.
In the end, it boils down to what a writer wants out of a publisher. These two POD companies have different packages, but I am extremely happy the outcome for both. Sacrificing is part of publishing. When self-publishing, it can be difficult to choose the best course. Do your research – compare what they offer. I don’t regret any of my choices. In fact, I would do the exact same thing if I could have a redo of my life in publishing over. I’ve learned a lot in a very short time. There is still more to learn, but I am a sponge waiting to suck it in.