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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Long and Short of Self-publishing -- Guest Blog by Terrie Thorpe

So you've finished your masterpiece and now you're ready to present your baby to the world! All those long lonely hours hammering away at your keyboard are ready to payoff. You've done your homework, editing, spell corrected, spaced properly, written a masterful synopsis and submitted to publishers.

Now anxiously wait by the mail box for that acceptance letter, that never seems to comes. When the letter does arrive, it is yet another rejection. Now you've got a decision to make, continue submitting or look into self-publishing.

The route of the self-publisher is the most challenging, yet rewarding experience for the writer. Like the pioneers of yesteryear, you are a new breed, embarking on an adventure. With the global reach of the internet and the publishing market changing the way that it has, there has never been a better time in 400 years since inventing the printing press for the writer to publish! The old gatekeepers have been replaced with electronic media. Now anyone with a desire to publish can see their work in print.

We've all heard the success stories of those fortunate few who have made a fortune with eBooks, and several self-published stories like William P. Young's novel  “The SHACK”, but what you don't hear about is all the hard work it took for their success stories to come to life.

Just like writing, the self-publisher is responsible for all marketing, selling, publishing expenses, distribution, design, editing, public speaking, and promotion. All the things a traditional publisher would do to market your work. The basic difference is you are in complete control and get to reap the rewards of a job well done.

So what are the basics of self-publishing? What are the costs? Who should I choose to self-publish with?

First, what is a self-publisher? A self publisher is a person who chooses the route they want to publish. They can be a book author, a blogger, a journalist, family historian anyone who is not published through a contracted publishing company. That is not to say that you will not have to abide by the online services agreement, but you are in control of your work.

Next, Choosing your publishing venue. With the available arenas for publishing you have many options: you can go directly to eBook (electronic format book) or publish a physical book or both. With either of these choices there is quite a bit of research involved. Do I want to use a POD (Publish On Demand) company? or Vanity publisher?

Vanity Publishers were the first to take hold in the self-publishing arena. They offered a publishing service for very high fees, printing out a minimum run of let's say 250-1000 books. That was the end of their responsibility. You the author took responsibility to sell them and hopefully recoup the expense. Many people spent upwards of $20,000.00 to realize their dream and were reminded of the reality with a garage full of unsold books. Thankfully there are very few of those type vanity publishers still in business today.

POD (Print On Demand) are one of the most popular publishing styles of printed books these days. Most companies do not require a minimum order, leaving you hanging with a bunch of books, because they only print what is ordered. They do not warehouse, which saves resources and your money. This lowers your expenses and you receive higher royalty.

I can't say it enough – do your research! There are some companies out there who prey on authors desperate to publish. They have hidden fees or their cost per printed book are very high. Some companies are a cross between a POD and Vanity. They require a certain order size before they print your book. That can be as low as 50 books, but if you consider 50 x say $11.95 per book (print cost) your looking at $597.50 plus shipping and handling! Consider the print price does not include any other services you might need like editing or cover design. Watch out! You would have to charge double to recoup your time and effort.

Compare services. Most all of the reputable POD's offer services for a price. They will do basic copy-editing, assist with layout and format, help with cover design. Some will even evaluate your manuscript for a fee. Review their website for details and ask questions from other users. Most have some type of forum or FAQ sections.

DIY (Do It Yourself) publishers There are a couple out there and best of all they are FREE! Yes, free. You might say, “How can it be free? What is the catch?

I've looked at three: Createspace (; LuLu (; and Wordclay ( All claim publish your book for free, but the catch is you have to abide but their Formatting Guidelines. There’s that word again. If you have submitted anything to a prospective publisher they want you to adhere to their guidelines. Well it's the same here. They are not awful, but your manuscript will not be accepted if you don't follow their requirements.

If you are familiar with setting up a page in a word document, you can do this. Most accept a word doc file (.doc or .docx). Others like Createspace want the file uploaded in a PDF (Portable Document Format). For the PDF, all you do is re-size your page to the size of your book size. So, from a standard 8.5×11 sheet, you would change the size in page set up to a 6×9 sheet, portrait orientation. Viola, your standard manuscript pages would convert from 100 pages (8.5×11) to 200 pages (6×9). Nice! Now you don't have to write War and Peace to make your manuscript a book size.

As for the cover, most of these DIY sites offer a template cover design program that is fairly easy to use, for free. You select a color, a picture (if desired). You can add an author picture, a description and some font styles. These programs are limited, but if you have some extra cash, they offer some designer services for fee. If you are really creative, there are free designer programs of the web, such as GIMP an open source program, where you can create anything you want including adding your own photos.

If you feel you've exhausted your creativity on writing the book and don't want the challenge of page set up, or formatting or cover design, these companies can provide those services for a fee. Do compare shop for what your budget can endure to make your dream a reality.

These are a few of the publishing packages offered from the three DIY publishers mentioned earlier. Ranging in price for the Basic from $ 728.00 (Createspace, Lu Lu) to $ 4,850.00 for what I call the “full meal deal” everything they have to offer including some marketing help. Wordclay is fairly new company and didn't list any package prices. Keep in mind these publishing packages are only for one book file produced-no guaranteed sales. Your work as the promoter has only begun.

Individual services range in price: Basic copy-editing $120-$300.00 (10,000 wds); Cover design $149-$499.00; Editorial review $199-$275.00 and Formatting/ Interior layout $249-$349.00.

When I researched for a publishing company, I had a specific criteria in mind. I read several reviews of the companies I found and read reviews of other users to get feedback. I also read the company's TOS (Terms Of Service) and made a determination. I chose Createspace for my self-publishing needs. I have been very satisfied with their products and service.

I am now producing my second book “Footsteps of Jesus – Becoming a Disciple” through Createspace, due to release end of March 2012. I used the totally free method, except I had to purchase proof copies, which were reasonable. It was a challenge to learn how to prepare my manuscript for publishing, a huge learning curve, but I have the personal satisfaction of a job well done. 

If you would like to learn more about her latest book or to purchase it, click here.

BONUS If you would like the chance to win the latest Frank Peretti thriller, here's the link


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