I’ve Written My Book, Now What?
The Now What is a huge question. Do you try to find an agent to help you find a publisher? Do you try and self publish? Who can you contact for help?
I’ve been there, done it and gotten a T-shirt. My T-shirt says Print On Demand. I am always looking for the universe to send me signs, and my sign on how to publish my book came in the strangest of places.
September 2009 found me working away on my book. The first draft was completed and I was trying to figure out what to do next. I spent hours online looking for answers. Knowing I still had work to do on the book did not stop me from fretting how to get it into the world when completed.
While doing my research I read how long it can take to get an agent. Then how long it can take to have a publisher do something with your book. If they want it at all. Be prepared for third party edits of your ideas. Allow at least two years for the book to go into print. If you are not in the top percent of books the publisher wants to promote, you are still doing much of the work. None of this agreed with me. As a widow I needed something to do, and taking charge of my book was my bridge to my new life.
So the sign. Let’s get back to that. It was a miserable rainy day. I had a cold. The mailman had left a registered letter slip. I was curious what was so important that required my signature. I threw on my raincoat and headed to the Post Office.
Standing in the long endless line at the Post Office I saw an old friend of mine several people up. We frantically waved at each other to say hello.
“Hey,” she shouted across all the people in front of me. “What are you doing?” She was loud enough that everyone turned to me to see what I had to say.
“I’m almost finished writing my widow book.” I had to yell loudly back to her.
The woman in front of me turned and smiled. “I’m a writer too.”
How nice I thought.
She continued. “There’s a class on publishing at Emory University this week you should check out. The teacher is an author from out of town and only gives this class once a year.”
That got my attention. I was so confused on what to do with my book. And here at the Decatur Post Office a stranger had my answer.
I grabbed my envelope and headed home. In case you are as curious as I am about everything, my letter contained plastic rhinestone butterflies from Malaysia. I was designing a scarecrow for the annual Halloween event at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and the butterflies were to be glued on my scarecrow’s dress.
As soon as my feet hit the house I raced to my computer, got online and registered for the course. Three nights later I was sitting in class on the Emory campus. The teacher was Tom Bird a publicist with the Pittsburgh Pirates turned writer many years ago. This evening his subject was Print On Demand (POD). Similar to self-publishing but you don’t have boxes of books in the basement and the cost is much less expensive. I was excited!
I looked up Print On Demand on Wikipedia to give you a more formal defination. POD companies offer “services directly to authors who wish to self-publish, usually for a fee.
These services generally include printing and shipping a book each time one is ordered, handling royalties and getting listings in online bookstores. The initial investment for POD services is usually less expensive for small quantities of books when compared with self-publishing that uses print runs. Often other services are offered as well: formatting, proof reading and editing, and so on. Such companies typically do not spend their own money on marketing, unlike traditional publishers.” Books are not printed until an order has been received and the books are printed using digital printing rather than traditional printing methods.
There are many companies that do print on demand. The teacher that night talked about Lightening Source as his choice for POD. Lightening Source is owned by Ingram, one of the biggest book distributors in the U.S. The costs are less than the company I ultimately chose, Outskirts Press, but I would have to do my own PDF. I am sadly technically challanged and this obstacle seemed overwhelming to me. Outskirts Press for a larger fee did the work for me. All I had to do was submit my word document with instructions.
While there are many POD companies out there I am familiar with just two. Outskirts Press that did a whiz bang job on my book. The other is Lightening Source who will be my choice for my next book. I have learned I can get help with all those things that scared me before. Lightening Source has that link to Amazon that is easier as a seller to work with. The profit margin is higher and there are many pluses there I was not familiar with when I started this process.
This go round I am very happy with my experience with Outskirts Press and my book looks sensational. I’ll put it up against any industry published book. It can hold its own.
So what did this cost me you might ask? I am happy to share. I chose the Diamond Package at just under $1000. That allowed me to submit my own cover, rather than using one of theirs. A book cover speaks to me before a book does and I wanted control of that image. A graphic designer friend gifted the cover to me. Outskirts Press sent the template for her to complete and return to them.
Other perks with the package I chose included an online listing with Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Outskirts provided the ISBN. I had already applied for my copyright. There is an e-book and a website.
I chose to do my own web and found a great web designer. It was important to me to have a professional web that reflected the spirit of my book. Check it out www.barbarabarth.net and visit my web gal http://www.auntiemomo.com/ .
Outskirts Press did offer editing services for a fee. I chose not to use them. I decided to do it myself. That said I had eight rounds of edits at $49 per round. With each round I paid extra for every group of 25 edits. The cost did add up. However, during the editing process I also changed my text to add more dialog and did other major revisions. That explains most of the eight rounds. The rest were punctuation errors on my part. It took less than three months from original manuscript submission to my final book. My eight rounds of edits slowed the process a good bit. But I sure learned a heap of good stuff.
I paid additional fees for Kindle and the Look Inside feature on Amazon ($200) and a buy back program for retailers ($495).
Outskirts Press sends marketing e-mails almost daily. The e-mails contain advice on what to do next. I found a better answer. I have a literary agent/publicist that is wonderful. John at PageOneLit.com http://wwwpageonelitcom.blogspot.com/ . Two days after reading my book he had a YouTube book trailer online and within a week an interview on his newsletter. http://www.pageonelit.com/interviews/BarbaraBarth.html .
I am amazed. For a gal who had no knowledge of the book world I have written and published my book. It has been two years since my husband’s death. My book took me from my old life to my new life where everyday I am writing away with six dogs sleeping at my feet. My choice to use Print On Demand kept me busy, involved. Doing it my way (thanks Frank for letting me use your song) has put me in control of my destiny. I am now feverishly learning how to market my book and have started pitching to agents. If they want my book, that’s great. If they don’t, it is out there for the whole world to read.
I call that a win win.