Guest Post by Tania Park
One of the hardest challenges for a writer these days is to get their work published. It appears that if you’re well-known, publishing houses welcome your manuscript. They’ll even contact you and ask you to write a book. Even if the celebrity doesn’t actually pen the words but uses the services of a ghost writer, the publisher’s arms are open wide. A huge amount of money is spent on promoting those types of books. There is only one reason why: money. Publishing houses are in it to make money.
So if you’re a nonentity, even with a literary masterpiece, it’s very difficult to get a publishing house to consider your manuscript.
So where does that leave the newcomer? How many brilliant manuscripts are gathering dust in forgotten drawers with twenty or so refusal slips attached?
There’s one solution: self-publishing. But this has pitfalls and many mistakes are made.
It will cost a certain amount of money – how much will depend on the printer you employ and what sort of expert advice you seek in order to have a professionally finished product. Then there’s the cost of getting your ISBN and barcode, which is a legal requirement.
I self-published a non-fiction book by doing all the work myself. It was the cheapest option. I found a printer who did the layout as part of the production cost. I hired a graphic artist to design the cover. This is a must if you want your book to look professional, unless you have those skills. A professional design will set you back anything from $250 for a basic cover. For a classier cover the cost will be higher.
You must have someone with excellent editorial skills to edit the book. An outsider sees errors you’ve missed even though you’ve read your work a hundred times. My eyes have skipped over simple misspellings repeatedly in my work. Spell check will not find things such as ‘the’ instead of ‘there’ and your brain skips over these simple typos unless you’re diligent in checking every word of every sentence. A professional editor will cost you at least a thousand dollars but it will be money well spent.
I recently read a self-published book that was edited by a ‘friend.’ The grammar is atrocious and the lack of proper punctuation is mind-boggling. The author paid an overseas publishing house to publish the book. So the publishers did what they were paid for – they published a raw manuscript. Some less than ethical publishing houses don’t care what the standard is like, for they received a substantial sum of money. Be very wary of these cowboy outfits that will publish your work for a one off payment of only $7,000.
My first book was successful and we managed to sell all copies. It looked professional but still I found at least four errors in the finished product. These were errors I’d missed repeatedly and so had other people who checked it for me.
I was involved in producing an anthology of short stories using the same method. The book was first class. But then we come to a major issue with self-publishing – selling.
Marketing a self-published book is harder than writing it and even harder than getting it published. Never make the mistake of thinking it will be a breeze. We had 300 copies of the short story anthology printed at a cost of around $10 a copy. It doesn’t sound like a large number but the books take up a lot of room and we still have at least 100 copies stashed in boxes – gathering dust.
I have just self-published my first novel, Mistaken, but this time I’ve used the services of a professional group. I’ve received advice from professional editors and technical producers, a cover designed by a professional that receives nothing but positive comments and every detail of book production is explained. The book is printed by a company that has outlets all over the world. The beauty of this method is that the books are printed on demand. I don’t have to order a print run of a certain number, which is the traditional method. I can order a single book if I wish or as many as I think I can sell. Of course the more you order at any one time, the cheaper each copy is. My initial order was for 100 copies. They were on my doorstep within ten days. I sold them all so my second order was for the same number. This doesn’t leave you with boxes of un-saleable books. The cost of my book being uploaded to more than one e-book supplier is included in the single up front fee. I don’t have the hassle.
I own the book. I own the rights to printing. I make the decisions for every single aspect of production and am responsible for the marketing, although I am amazed on how many websites my book is advertised. And it didn’t cost me anywhere near $7000.00. Even better, it is a local company that has a world-wide customer base. Everything is done by email. I didn’t even personally meet anyone from the company until I hand-delivered the first copy of my book.
I am so ecstatic with the completed product that my second book is now in the throes of production. I need to now market my book. All I need is a marketing company and ideas on how to sell it. Any offers?
Tania lives in Busselton, WA and has been writing for 10 years. Her second novel, Retribution, will be available soon.