Publish Your Book For Less Than $20
How to Publish Your Book For Less Than Twenty Squid! – Part I
Thanks for joining me. I appreciate it. First of all, what is a squid? It’s anything you want it to be, pounds sterling, dollars, even Canadian or Australian dollars, I will show you how you can publish your book for less than twenty of the darned things. Yes, really, this is no joke and there is no catch.
They say there is a book in all of us, and that’s probably true. It could be that you have a hobby you are fanatical about, might be anything, fishing, travelling, cooking, camping, music, it really could be anything. But if you have been following that hobby for a long while you have certainly picked up a great deal of expertise and information, and you could share that wisdom with others, and maybe in the process make a few extra squids too.
Or you might have led an interesting and varied life, maybe in the forces or the police or nursing, or any of the professions, and you must have picked up lots of stories along the way ranging from the humorous to the tragic, and again, there will be plenty of people out there who will be interested in that.
Possibly your parents had many stores to tell, maybe in wartime, or emigration, or family sagas and tragedies. Once again, there are many people out there who love reading interesting biographies, especially wartime stories, and that may have inspired you to write that story, and now you are casting around, looking for a vehicle to publish that account.
Or, finally, you simply might really enjoy making up stories. Perhaps your bag is fiction. Maybe you’ve done that for as long as you can remember, even as a small child. They could be about anything. Fantasy lands full of amazing creatures, thrillers crammed with villains and detectives, or children’s books, romance or something racier, or glimpses of life into the future, perhaps a hundred years from now, where science fiction comes into play. You could have shown some of these stories to others, friends and family to begin with, and then to a wider audience too, maybe at a reading or book club and perhaps some people have said: You really ought to publish this!
But how do you go about it? And more importantly, how do you go about it without breaking the bank? And talking about finance, here are a couple of quick examples I’d like to share with you about the publishing industry, and the cash and payments that some people ask for.
Around 1991, my mother was casting around to publish a little book she had written of her wartime experiences. It wasn’t much more than a booklet really, barely a hundred pages. I took her to see a printer/publisher and we asked him if he could do it. ‘Sure,’ he said, 'and I can do it for around £4,500.00.' Sadly, at that time my mother did not have that kind of spare cash lying around, she was single pensioner back then, and neither did I, and even more sad was the fact that that little book never did see the light of day. You can perhaps imagine how disappointed she was with that, but this was before the whole self publishing revolution got under way. It simply hadn’t been thought of.
And then round 2000 I finished a sizeable novel and showed it to several people and they all said it was great, and I should get it published, and no, they were not all friends and relations and lovers of mine! Encouraged by that, I sent it off to a well known national publisher located in the south of England, they are still going to this day, and you can imagine my excitement when they wrote back almost immediately, saying that they loved the book, it would do very well, they were excited by it, and were keen to publish it and in their eyes it would be a great success. So they said.
I turned the page of the letter, my heart beating ever faster, and there I found the punchline. "We will start the publishing process the moment we have a contribution from you to go towards production, publicity and advertising, and the amount we would need for this book would be £30,000.00!" I kid you not! Wonderful! Not!
So why am I repeating these stories? Simple. It’s to remind readers that the publishing industry is full of sharks and charlatans, and it always has been, and it still is today. Always stay alert and never part with money without thinking about it deeply, and then think about it again and again. I don’t know who it was who said the famous words, when talking about publishing: Publishers pay the writers for their work, and NEVER the other way around. That is as true today as it ever has been, and if someone asks you to make a “contribution” to their costs, and especially a sizeable one, run a mile, and do it quickly, and take your hard-earned money with you.
Which brings us on to the whole concept of self publishing. Self publishing is not vanity publishing. Vanity publishing is where someone pays a printer/publisher, who may well have been established a long time, to publish your book for you. People who use vanity publishers invariably fail to get anywhere near covering their large cash outlay, and in some cases never sell a single book, other than to the writer’s friends and relations.
Self publishing is totally different, and is seizing a growing percentage of the overall publishing market, and pay no attention to those handwringers and permanent doubters who insist that self publishing has peaked. It has done no such thing. Self publishing continues to grow at a huge rate and the number of successful self publishing authors who are enjoying real success by doing so is also growing exponentially. And if you think that self publishing is for writers who are simply not very good you should take a look at the growing list who have at some point self published. People like John Grisham, J K Rowling, Stephen King, Mark Twain, Tom Clancy, etc etc etc, and no one in their right mind could ever say that they're not good writers.
Self publishing has three serious advantages. Firstly, instead of the writer receiving 10% or 15% in royalties they can grab 70% , or even more than that. That alone is enough to make any budding writer and publisher sit up and take notice. And it is as it should be!
Secondly, self publishers have full control over the entire project. They control the editing and final product, and believe you me, that is no small benefit, they control and dictate what goes on the cover, and they can control how many books are written and published, and how often they appear. If you are lucky enough to land a traditional publisher it might take a year or even two before your book appears. With self publishing you can have your finished book out in a week!
Thirdly, you can cease a book and close it down, if you ever decide you’d like to do that, any time you like, you can re-edit it, update it, and change anything you want within it, even the cover if you want, and you can do that as often as you like. No traditional publisher could ever offer such benefits, and that is particularly useful with non fiction and text books where market conditions and rules and regulations are forever changing. You can update your book content any time you like to ensure it is always current.
Self publishers enjoy far better royalties, have full control over the publishing process, and have greater flexibility once your books are out there. Little wonder that more and more traditionally published writers are switching from traditional publishing to self publishing. If you’d like to see just some of those successful writers who have done that check out Mark Dawson’s excellent Self Publishing podcasts.
So what do you need me for if you are going down the self publishing route? Fact is, you don’t need me at all, you can do it all by yourself, but what I will say is that I have made many mistakes over the last nineteen years or so, and hopefully I have learnt something through those errors, and if you could avoid them too, then so much the better.
Almost all the information and ideas featured here are out there in the public domain, so you could search it out for yourself if you prefer to do that. But why bother? I’ll talk you through it, and walk you through it, and yes, at the end of it, you really will be able to publish your book for less then twenty notes, and that is both as an ebook and a paperback copy too. We will also see how you can include getting your book listed for sale on almost all of the major ebook and paperback selling sites, and that will include an ISBN, barcode, a paperback proof copy, and you can even include a cover design.
And if you are now thinking: What’s he selling, what’s his angle? The straight answer is that I am not selling anything at all. I am not earning a commission on services or suppliers that I recommend in this series of articles, there are NO affiliate links anywhere in these thoughts, and I have no interest in selling any printing or publishing services of any kind. There are plenty of firms out there who do, and that’s what we are going to look at next.
So, you have finally decided to go down the self publishing route, but you want to keep a close eye on the potential costs involved. Where do you go from there?
Unless you start your own publishing company, and that would cost significantly more cash, you are going to need a platform on which to base and publish your book. There are hundreds of them about, really, hundreds, but be very careful. These are shark infested waters, and hungry sharks are always searching for an easy meal. Don’t be that meal! Lots of self publishing companies will ask you for £450 or £750 or £1050 or even £1500 per title, or even more than that to take on your book, and will attempt to justify those demands for money by throwing all kinds of so called added benefits into the deal.
For example, they will say your book will be listed in their catalogue, (big deal!) They might design a professional cover for you. Really? Have you seen some of the covers? They might say they will tweet about your book every week. Again, Big deal! I’ll tweet about your book for nothing if you send me the details! You get the picture? IMHO these so called added benefits are simply a mirage, all smoke and mirrors, and are rarely worth the money asked.
The only thing that matters is, will these features and benefits produce any sales? Put it this way, if you had say £750 to publicise and market your book would you rather do it yourself and have total control over where and when that money was spent, or would you prefer to give that cash to someone else on vague promises that they will do it for you. I know which I’d choose.
But you will need a platform on which to publish your book, and again there are lots of them out there, but especially I will mention Lulu.com, Createspace.com, and Smashwords.com, to name but three. I have used Lulu, in fact I began using them around 2000 and I found them pretty good too. I still have some books on there, and I still regularly get royalty cheques/checks from them, and very nice that is too, especially as I haven’t published anything with them for around ten years now. It's always nice to receive some revenue! It brightens up the darkest day.
I have never used Smashwords to publish a book. They are primarily ebook publishers, and they do have a slight reputation of being a little tricky to upload books there, though no doubt they would disagree with that. As I say, I have never used them, you might like to try, but there is mountains of information available out there for free that will broaden your knowledge on that if you want it.
Currently, I am using Createspace.com, and overall I have been impressed with them. Of course there are odd hiccups and annoying days when things don’t always work properly, but that is the internet for you, it is not a prefect beast, far from it, though over time these sites do slowly get better and better.
But can you publish your book on Createspace for less than twenty squids? Really? Yes, you can, and there are added benefits through doing so too. Firstly, Createspace is an Amazon company, so your book will automatically be listed for sale on the Amazon sales pages before it appears anywhere else, so you have no worries about getting your book up for sale on the biggest book sales site in the whole world. That's a start!
In the second part of this series of articles about publishing your book on a tight budget, I’ll take you through how to best do that, and by the time we have finished looking at that you will be well on your way to publishing your precious book. The second part of this article will appear here in February 2018, but if you’d like to get a copy before then you can do so by subscribing to my very occasional booksy newsletter by clicking on the link below. I’ll also throw in a free murder mystery ebook for you too, so what’s not to like? You can unsubscribe any time you want, and I guarantee that I will never sell or pass on your email address to anyone else, ever.
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