resources: self-publishing checklist

Mad in Pursuit: Living the art life

This is a log of the process I'm going through for the publication and marketing of "Passion and Peril on the Silk Road" -- one woman's route. Warning: Learning curves are everywhere. If you don't have the time or skillset to be a manic-obsessive jack-of-all-trades, you might look into a supported self-publishing option (for example, see Author Solutions or Amazon's Book Surge).

Basic Publishing

Paperback Edition. Amazon's Createspace provides a free ISBN* and pushes your book directly into the US Amazon.com market via its print-on-demand facility. It also provides you with your own e-store. I used their book block guide and cover template for a US trade paperback. Layout: Adobe InDesign CS4 (improved over CS3 for long documents). Cover: Adobe Photoshop CS4 . Indispensible resource: The Indieauthor Guide by April Hamilton, as well as the Createspace forums. Cost: about $5 + shipping for proof copy; then only what you choose to purchase. Tip: paying the $40 or so for the premium program makes sense since it substantially reduces the cost per copy, hence your long-term profit margin.

About software: I use professional-quality software, because that's what I own and know. Free or cheap software is available for most processes.

Recommendation: if you have any notion of expanded publication, choose the 5.5 x 8.5 paperback format. As of 6/09, it's the only size in common with Lightning Source. Saves time tweaking and wear on your nerves.

Kindle Edition. Converting your book to Amazon's Digital Text Platform allows it to be published (under the same ISBN) for their electronic reader Kindle, alongside your paperback. Conversion from word processor to HTML: Adobe Dreamweaver CS4. Tip: Be sure to use ISO (ASCII, ANSI) encoding on your HTML, not Unicode (UTF). Tip: Make sure the title is exactly the same as the paperback's or the two editions will not pair up. Cost: none; pays percentage to author.

Expanded Publishing

If you want your book available at Barnes & Noble, don't bother going through their Small Press process with your Createspace product. They will direct you to Lightning Source (below).

*ISBN (International Standard Book Number). Amazon owns the ISBN it provides you (which cannot be used elsewhere), so if you know you are going to move beyond that channel, it makes sense to buy your own block of ISBN prefixes from the US ISBN Agency ($275 in 6/09). They will also provide bar codes for book covers at $25 each(not needed for Lightning Source if you use their book cover template generator). This all costs a few hundred dollars, but then you own the codes for life. To insure that your book can be unambiguously tracked within the publishing industry supply chain, use a separate ISBN for each format you publish.

eBookBase is a secure wholesale and DRM (Digital Rights Management) distribution center for publishers seeking to sell their eBook through a growing network of Book and eBooksellers. Software is provided to upload an eBook title to the crossplatform Mobipocket format. The HTML and cover art produced for your Kindle edition works just fine here. Their forms accept the Createspace-owned ISBN, but you are actually required to have a separate one for this format. Cost: none; pays percentage to author.

Lightning Source. This print-on-demand facility pushes your uploaded book into the Ingram Book Company wholesale distribution system, which supplies bookstores and libraries worldwide. The application process requires that you have your own ISBNs in hand (whether or not yet assigned to a book). Maintaining a book on their list requires a small annual fee (about $14). Other required expenses: $30 for express delivery of book proof, $75 for title set-up.

You don't have to be a publishing company. Individuals can apply. But you do have to have your block of ISBNs in hand. Be prepared for a long 3-part process that includes contract signing, providing credit card information and other grown-up activities. LSI will accept book files on various media. I used the PDF file upload procedure for the cover (using their precision template generator, with pre-loaded ISBN) and book interior, output to the PDF/X-1a:2001 standard.

I signed up for US print-on-demand (POD), UK print-on-demand (POD), and ebook distribution. [As of 7.12.09, I've completed the POD process.]

Podiobooks publishes serialized audiobooks free of charge (although donations for authors is requested). [As of 6.24.09, I'm looking into this distribution channel.]

Getting the Word Out

Getting people to actually buy the book is the bane of the self-published author (though I hear it is also the burden of the genre and small press author in any event). Continued>>>

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Passion And Peril