Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A wonderful book (mine) from a great author (me)

Writing books is similar to other artistic pursuits ranging from singing to sculpting. Modesty will keep you hidden, and maybe broke. You have to overcome shyness and learn to toot your own hornor hire someone to toot for you.

It's time to do some tooting for my latest book: How to not get Screwed by a Self-Publishing Company.

Self-publishing companies enable anyone who can type to quickly become a "published author" and compete for the attention of the reading public. There is no longer a need to go through the years-long process of finding an agent and publisher.

Sadly, these companies publish a lot of badly written books, and sometimes do a bad job of publishing and promoting them. Their writer/customers spend a lot of money, and many customers are greatly disappointed in the quality of their books and the limited sales and book reviews. You can minimize disappointment if you are properly prepared—and this book will prepare you!

Don’t buy services and trinkets that you don’t need. Pay the right prices for what you do need. Let the publisher do the tech stuff that you don’t want to get involved in, and concentrate on the creative process (perhaps with a independent editors and designers) to make a good-reading, good-looking book which you can be proud of and maybe make money from.

It's critical that you remember that when Random House sells a million books, they make money from the books. When Outskirts Press sells 14 books, they need to supplement their income by selling bookmarks, postcards and press releases.

You may get seduced by ads promising "free" publishing or publishing for $199, but pressure from "advisers" may boost your bill into the thousands. A lot of what the companies want to sell you is available for much less, or even for free, elsewhere.

For a while Outskirts offered to sell authors customized Keds sneakers with images of a book cover for $99. Now they try to sell $49 T-shirts that you can get from Zazzle for $12.95.

Balboa and DellArte charge $90 for a Library of Congress Control Number registration. You can get one for FREE, with a few minutes’ work. 

Self-publishing companies apparently want you to think copyright registration is difficult. Booktango will provide U.S. copyright registration for $150. Wheatmark will register for you for $199. Xlibris charges $249. Schiel & Denver charges $250. AuthorHouse charges $170. Outskirts Press charges $99.· You can do it yourself for $35.

Lulu boss Bob Young told Publishers Weekly that “We publish a huge number of really bad books.” He didn't have to publish them.

The book includes revealing comments from customers and former employees of several major self-publishing companies.

Here's the table of contents:

Preface: a change of heart
Publishing paths: difficult and easy
Three doses of reality
Why self-publish?
Why is self-publishing so popular now? There’s bad news and good news.
What should you write?
What shouldn’t you write?
How much should you write?
Building your “self” publishing team
How good is good enough?
What should you name your baby?
Try to be original
Should you announce your new book’s title before it’s published?
Don’t forget business insurance!
Why no respect?
Don’t be easily impressed
Empty boasts
Self-Publishing may have more flavors than Baskin-Robbins
Every publisher doesn’t do everything
Check the deal
Don’t get the royal shaft on royalties
Advertising what can’t be sold
Advertising what is almost never sold
Advertising what is seldom sold
The embarrassing secrets of self-publishing companies
What do you get for $199, or for nothing?
Can you really publish for free?
How to get the most from your publisher
The worst mistakes of authors who use self-publishing companies
GOTCHA! Some reasons to do it yourself, and not use a self-publishing company
GOTCHA AGAIN! Some reasons not to be an independent self-publisher
Don’t use your publisher’s brand name
Prices, discounts, markups
Making cents
Basic arithmetic for a $15.95 book
Do You Need to Make a Profit?
À la carte overcharging
Beware of Bait & Switch
What’s an ISBN and do you need one?
Buying copies of your own book
Get real. How many can you sell?
What does a self-publishing author have to do?
Understanding print on demand (POD)
Ebooks: even greener than POD
The split-personality self-publishing companies
Outskirts press is often stupid, sloppy and sleazy
The low standards of PublishAmerica
Xlibris is ruining self-publishing by not providing the help its authors need
Mill City’s weird math
Stay away from Beckham
Don’t get help from Self Help Publishers
Light Messages is sending the wrong message
Obit for a first-class self-publishing service
What should you call yourself?
Marketing your books
Your website
Getting out the news: promotion, publicity, press releases
Getting book reviews
Book blurbs
You don’t really need bookstores, but you might want to try to use them
Should you allow returns?
Why can’t books be sold like toys?
Buying copies of your own book
Selling your books yourself
Special sales
Selling out to a traditional publisher
Where can you get help
You don’t have to do it all yourself
How long does it take? How much does it cost?
What should publishers do?
What should you do?

The book quickly reached the #71 position in publishing on the Amazon Best Sellers lists. I've had other books on other bestseller lists and this sales rankings may be different in an hour, but as of right now: YIPPEE!

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