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Klucky
August 5th, 2008, 05:33 PM
For all of you independent publishers out there, how did you physically put together your books? I've been eyeing several online sites and wondered if I could get any opinions. (Most especially on lulu.com.) I've done plenty of research, so I know the basic ups and downs of some of the most-used sites, but now I'd like some personal accounts.

So...any stories or experiences to share? :) It'd be very much appreciated!

Xander67
November 30th, 2008, 03:43 AM
The Problem with Online publishers is they often are lacking in the marketing department. Sure they will publish you online but they leave you hanging..

Currently, I am doing the bulk of the online Marketing for all three of our Novels that Michael (Writing Teacher) wrote because the company he was using went under. (big surprise)

the company was called Internet Book Company. They gave him a huge song and dance pony show too..

He recently did a Book signing at Borders and did pretty well with it. We are selling the novels through our site, amazon, Borders, and a few affiliates and do quite well.

Anyone can Publish you, but the real important thing to be concerned with is how they plan to market your work.

Ben Gruagach
December 1st, 2008, 10:23 PM
As Xander67 pointed out, self-publishing means you do all the book promotion and selling yourself. Places like Lulu.com are great to get your book in print, and if you pay for the distribution service it will give your book an ISBN so it can be ordered by bookstores and made available through online bookstores like Amazon.

However, no one will buy your book if it's not promoted, if there is no advertising. That's where having a traditional publisher behind your book helps. Traditional publishers usually have at least a minimal promotion and advertising budget which they use to push their books into public awareness.

Lulu is probably the best of the self-publisher companies out there although due to the economic problems that have been going on in the USA and worldwide they have recently had some big setbacks. The big problem now is that they have somehow messed up their shipping costs for getting their products to customers outside the USA. Customers outside the USA ordering a book from Lulu have seen shipping costs as high as $100 US (or more!) just to ship a single paperback book. For that price I'd expect it to come in a gold-lined box, hand delivered by the CEO of Lulu.

Another alternative to Lulu is CreateSpace, which is run by Amazon.com. The drawback with CreateSpace is that your book becomes available only on Amazon.com -- it won't show up even on the other Amazon sites (like Amazon.ca or Amazon.co.uk). But at least their shipping options are not outrageous, and customers can order from Amazon.com no matter where they are in the world.

If you just want to get something printed up so you can have a few copies to hand out to friends and family, then Lulu's free deal, or even CafePress, will work just fine. If you plan to sell your book to strangers, you need to go with something like Lulu and pay for their distribution package to get the ISBN and distribution deal. But you have to be willing to do your own promotions and advertising as even with an ISBN and distribution set up no one will buy a book if they've never heard of it.

P.S. Physical bookstores tend to not carry books unless the publisher/author basically convinces them to carry it. Shelf space is valuable so they are reluctant to bring in unknown books when they could put books that are actually being actively promoted in the same shelf space.

Klucky
December 22nd, 2008, 12:27 PM
Thanks, gentlemen! I was aware of the marketing issues, but have read up on several interesting tricks to market an independently published book, so I have high hopes. I hadn't thought of the current economic downturn, though, so thanks for the warning. I have had my eyes set on lulu.com, but I wasn't aware of their current issues.

I feel like I'm still miles away from publishing, but I figured it couldn't hurt to have the plan in advance! :)

Thanks!

Godgifu
July 10th, 2010, 09:57 PM
I use Createspace for my books (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_2?_encoding=UTF8&sort=relevancerank&search-alias=books&field-author=Talia%20Felix) (yeah, plug them any chance you get.)
I just use templates in MS word to do the interiors, then the covers are a little more complex -- Createspace has a template they like you to use, to make sure everything is laid out right for printing -- the template makes sure they get it all the right size and you don't accidentally put something important too far over the end or where the ISBN goes. I put whatever images I plan to use in Photoshop onto that template, then when it's all together, one makes a PDF to send in. (Be warned -- at least by all the computers I've used, Createspace tends to slightly darken and redden the colors on the cover, so especially if there's a lot of dark on your illustration you may need to adjust everything to be a bit brighter than you want in order to ensure the final print looks right.) Createspace has some generic covers to use as well, but I've never employed one -- I either use public domain artwork, my own original artwork, or my own photographs to make the covers.

Was this what you wanted to know?

EDIT: also, if you think you might not do Print-On-Demand, then there's a book called "The Well-Fed Self Publisher" that could be of some help. Most of its tips are no good for POD, but if you expect to do a full print run it may have useful info.

EDIT AGAIN: Another thing which struck me, this about the matter of promotion -- I have found not a bookstore in town will carry any of my books. Borders refuses to stock anything self-published, and the smaller stores won't take books unless they're available from one particular distributor called Ingrams. Ingrams basically won't work with you unless you have at least 10 titles in print. Also, a lot of people will refuse press releases or to do reviews of self-published works. So, be aware that your possibilities for promotion are kind of limited.

watchman11
September 30th, 2010, 12:54 PM
I'm going to echo Godgifu. Going it alone should be the very last option.

If a first time novelist hasn't had any success after querying at least 50 agents, they should look for indie publishers who accept unrepresented writers and might be interested in their novel genre. I mean a legit one that publishes books that get reviewed on whatever site or newspaper with decent reputation/audience/circulation. Shun vanity ones and any that wants to charge you anything.

Noone takes self-published authors seriously, starting with readers. Plus, working with a real publisher will give you professional editorial feedback that will certainly improve your draft.