Have you decided to publish your book in print?

It has been a while since I posted a blog about independent publishing…or a blog post at all…so what do you say we jump back in?

As I mentioned in an earlier installment, probably muddying the waters as I waded along, it is my opinion that there is a difference between self-publishing and independent publishing—however slight it might be. Now it’s decision time. How much work do you want to do? How much time are you willing to invest? How much control do you want over the final product? How willing are you to let other companies take a share of your money?

That last one got you, didn’t it? I know, you were thinking you wanted to do as little work as possible in as little time as possible, while retaining full control, and keeping all the money! Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. If you want someone else to do most of the work, then you will relinquish some control over the final product. No publisher can offer you a self-publishing deal for $700 when you insist on a cover that will cost $500 to create. They will produce your book in the most cost-effective manner possible for them. Keep that in mind as you move forward. Publishers are in business to make money. They are not going to publish your book for you if they can’t make at least a few hundred dollars profit. It’s just that simple. Accept it, it’s a fact of life. That doesn’t mean a self-publishing company isn’t right for you. There are plenty of good ones out there. Many of my author friends have found Create Space, an Amazon company, to offer what they want for the right price.

I chose a different path. I toiled with the decision for months and none of the self-publishing companies offered—or even came close to offering—a product or package that met my requirements. I was not going to invest a lot of money in something I wasn’t 100% satisfied with. So when I came to the fork in the road, the same fork you might be standing at right now, I had to make a decision. Take the road to self-publishing with another company or the road to independent publishing. It was a difficult decision. I had to think about my decision long term. Where do I want my writing career to be next year? Five years from now? Ten? Do I really want to wear a publisher’s hat? How much does control over the final product really mean to me and will it matter to the reader?

What I found was that control mattered…and what the reader thought mattered even more. So, I chose independent publishing and have not regretted a day of it. Some days the long to-do list can be frustrating, but at day’s end, it’s worth it.

Independent publishing offers me the flexibility and control I couldn’t get from any of the self-publishing companies. I choose everything; cover design, interior design, you name it. And, as the publisher, I have to pay for it too. There is a cost to your wallet and your time. But there is satisfaction when you have control over the final product. I was not willing to relinquish control and let somebody else make a profit from my hard work and then possibly wind up dissatisfied with their results. If you’ve written a book you understand…it’s a labor of love. A part of you is in every manuscript you churn out. Because a part of me is in every manuscript I turn out, I took control. And if I turn out a bad product, I take the blame. I can accept that. Remember: do it right!

You know what the best thing about independent publishing is? There are no one else’s fingers in my pie. I spend the money; I get to keep the money. I know my costs up front and I know how many print books and e-books I have to sell to move each new project from red ink to black. After it makes that move, it’s all black. I do short-run printing with a print-on-demand (POD) printer so I only keep a small amount of inventory and have the flexibility to reorder as often as needed. POD printing costs a little more per book than offset printing, but it allows me to place smaller short-run print orders thus maintaining a smaller inventory. I only order books when I need books. And, in most instances, they will be delivered within a week of placing the order. However, if you have the spare change and want to order 10,000 print copies, be my guest, your cost per book will come way down. Find a good offset printer but be sure you have room to store the inventory of books. Even though it costs more per book to print, there is money to be made with a POD printer provided you use good judgment in pricing your project and controlling your other expenses. It certainly isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme by any measure, but with hard work and diligence, it can be profitable.

Put your independent publisher’s hat on and follow along with me as I explain how I forged into the world of publishing. After you’ve finished, maybe you’ll decide to follow the same path or strike out in a different direction. Perhaps down a path I have yet to discover. For anyone who buys this book, all I wish for you is success in publishing and selling your book(s).

Now grab your hiking gear and be prepared to climb Switchback Mountain. Yeah, yeah…a cheap plug for my imprint Switchback Press. But, as I’ll explain in a minute, your imprint is a reflection of you.

3 Comments

  1. Sandra on April 18, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Hi Chuck,
    Saw this post mentioned in one of your tweets (yeah, I’m very delinquent in Tweeting & FB posts). I had to check it out. I had the same issues and came to the same conclusion. I want the control. I write the book; my editor (Joy @http://bigsisteredits.com/) gives me edits, I make changes; she edits again. I guess I should tell you that I do have an in, she is my sister, but she’s a great editor anyway, and YES, I do pay her. Hey, she has to eat, too! So, we finish the polishing then we put our heads together and create the cover. Yep, I’ve done my last 5 covers. I grumble for a bit, but then BAM! I find something that clicks and I love it! I also do all my own formatting – Amazon, Smashwords (I use them because they distribute to so many others like Apple and I don’t have to do the formatting), CreateSpace (for the paperbacks), and am looking into a few others. For me, it’s the only way to go. When I retire from my DAY job in May, it will be that much more exciting.
    Glad you’re enjoying the Indie life!

  2. Pete Carter on August 15, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Hi Chuck
    The smaller of my two main books is now in paperback, thanks to Createspace. e-publishing is one thing, but to actually hold the finished product in your hands is a very satisfying experience and I commend others to try it.

    My only criticism of Createspace is that living in the UK, shipping costs are prohibitive (unless I bought 100+ copies or so), but the unit cost, buying off Amazon UK is over twice as much (excluding recoverable royalty). So Switchback sounds a great idea, but probably only for US authors. It doesn’t seem like we have anything comparable in the UK ( not at sensible prices anyway).

    One word of advice to e-authors thinking of producing paper copy: If you want a wrap-around cover CREATE YOUR COVER ARTWORK (FRONT/BACK/SPINE) AT THE SAME TIME YOU DESIGN THE E-BOOK ARTWORK. It’s a right pain trying to go back and extend your carefully designed cover to wrap around.

    • Chuck Barrett on August 15, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      Thanks you for your input. I agree with your comment about CreateSpace outside of the US…that’s why I use Lightning Source. Switchback Press uses Lightning Source because Ingram has much better worldwide distribution.

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