February 27, 2009

I ain’t gonna get rich this way…

I know. I’m not Stephen King or J. K. Rowling. And, to be truthful, I have never had any expectations that I would be a great author (that’s with a capital GA). Rather, I’ve always wanted to write. A professionally printed book is the icing on the cake. My friends purchasing my book, or discussing it, or using it to take out the trash, is swell.
Have I set my expectations too low? I don’t really think so. In the past few months I have read several books about marketing self-pubs. They advocate aggressive marketing techniques using web sites and viral social networking outlets on the internet. Well frankly, if I did all that they suggested I would spend 18 hours a day 7 days a week on social networking for my book at a royalty rate so far of about $80 per month that’s pretty low pay. I could probably do better (and actually have done better) begging on the street with a bowl. How about an article on book marketing for introvert authors who have to work at a non-writerly job for a living? (There’s a Borsch Circuit joke in there somewhere).
So here’s my list so far for marketing:
Amazon.com
Blog with lots of tags
Consider a commercial web site.
Keep writing, perhaps the next book will be published by a company that wants to market it.

February 25, 2009

Vanity or Business?

In “Surprises, Again” I skirted the question: “Is self-publishing always vanity publishing?” So if you want to know what I think: “Could be, depends on motivation and economics.” Of course classic vanity publishing consists of paying for set-up and printing of a limited number of copies. The author is liable to get stuck for these copies if they are not a nimble enough book seller. Additionally the margin of profit isn’t nearly as deep as some of the current POD vendors.
In the current POD environment of self-publishing, there is little or no up-front fixed cash investment on the part of the author (I only paid for a CreateSpace upgrade) especially if you are something of a tech hound. I have invested in several books so that I can sell them to various friends and save for them the cost of shipping from Amazon.com. I also get a higher percentage of the take on these copies so I have been keeping a close record of my expenses. So far I have exceeded the actual out-of-pocket expenses of the book. I am free to order copies whenever I need them.
Additionally my POD publisher, CreateSpace is a subsidiary of Amazon so, as mentioned before, marketing can get viral at no expense to the author.
In the current state of the publishing market, as publishers decrease advances and ask authors more and more to do their own marketing (especially for the first-time author), there is a tipping point where getting ones book in print and marketing it by oneself may become more feasible than traditional publishing options.

February 24, 2009

Surprises, again

Well, the process of self-publishing is coming together for me. The first step was just getting the block and cover together, uploading it to Createspace, surveying the proof, setting the price and then pushing the “publish” button. Because In Between Goodbyes was my first baby it also involved some crying, some book hugging and yes, even sleeping with the book (one night only).
After that initial exhilaration I sat back and resolved to be patient for the several days it would take to appear on Amazon.com, but it was only hours before it appeared. Almost instant gratification. The email blasts went out and I’ve been impressed by the sales that trickled in.
It was the side things that happened that impressed me even more, though. First Amazon put up the cover then provided a “look inside” view, all without my prompting. My next challenge would be to provide a Kindle copy for Amazon.com and to set my price. This was amazingly easy with MSWord’s “save as HTML feature. I proofed the HTML, tweaked it a bit and sent it on its way. At first it appeared as a separate entity on Amazon.com and I was wondering how it would get linked to the hard copy book. Google can be a wonderful tool and indeed Google took me to a board which assured me that Amazon.com would eventually make the hookup. True to the poster’s word, about 5 days later my Kindle version and my hard copy book were married on Amazon.com.
Sometimes it also pays to Google. I Googled the book this week and lo and behold Amazon.com seems to have a co-marketing agreement with Langton Information Services, an English bookseller, because my book was also in their online offerings. My, my.

So far how does this experience compare with traditional publishing? Well. I had spent a year trying to get In Between Goodbyes published. For whatever reason I couldn’t even get an agent and more and more publishers are refusing over the transom submissions. My self-esteem was at a new low when I started this process. Call it vanity publishing? Perhaps it is if you are just tying to get something published and don’t care about sales. For me, this is about finishing something and trying new things.

February 4, 2009

Surprise!

Well, golly gosh. In doing tonight's routine search for my book title I find that I am listed on Target which I guess co-markets with Amazon.com.

Surprise. Free extra link on Google.