Tag Archives: self publishing

Self Publishing One Year On – Has it been worth it?

It’s just over a year since I took the plunge and published my local history book about Whomerley Wood Moat in Stevenage, and since then have made four more available to the book buying public.  Five paperbacks in a year, each one quite different. Probate – A Personal Journey is a diarised account of events during carrying out probate on my late mother-in-law’s estate. Three Courses is an anthology of twenty five short stories, Thinking in the Cloud is a compilation of thirty five poems and Twelve Dozen Limericks is, well, what it says it is! The limericks were written over a period of about three months, and to be honest I was lucky to get to 144 without running out of inspiration!

book covers - all five

The cost of self-publishing the books was quite low, the biggest expense being the purchase of a wedge of ISBNs. It is only possible to buy a minimum of ten, and that was a whopping £144. Apart from the monetary cost, there was also the time spent in preparation for publication. Having said that, it needn’t be a huge commitment.  For instance, for the Limericks book I decided to take advantage of a free shipping offer from Lulu which only lasted two days, uploaded the text and the covers on a Sunday afternoon, received the print copy for checking on the Tuesday morning and the print book was available for distribution that evening. From my computer to worldwide publication in two days!  Mind you, the text was already laid out and proof read many times over, and the covers were ready to go before I started with Lulu.

I chose Lulu as the Print on Demand house, mostly because of the transparency of their publishing process and because they are free to use. Their profits come from the sale of your books, rather than setting them up. Actually, they are not quite free, because once you have your book uploaded and ready to go, you have to purchase an author print copy to approve before Lulu will release your work to the world. That still wasn’t big bucks though, and the print cost of the book was mostly overshadowed by the shipping charge. It’s worth mentioning that Lulu are happy to provide a free ISBN when you publish through them. It’s a matter of personal choice, but I didn’t want Lulu to be the named publisher of my books, preferring to use my own imprint Cade Books.

My sales expectations were not high, mostly because I wasn’t planning to spend a lot of time and money publicising the books, but sales to date have hit almost 200. To think that all those people bought a piece of my writing and some even came back for more is quite a thrill. The best seller out of the print copies has been the local history book ‘Whomerley Wood Moat’, with 93 copies sold, and the ‘Probate – A Personal Journey’ book is second with 54 sales. It’s interesting that of the Kindle sales, the ‘probate’ book stands far ahead of all the others with 28 downloads purchased out of a total of 40 for all the books.

Although ‘self-publishing’ means you get to do much of the book distribution yourself, Lulu has been responsible for distributing over a quarter of the print books sold. All of those purchased from Amazon or in a bookshop have been supplied directly by Lulu. Kindle downloads are made direct from Amazon of course, but almost half of the copies sold have been ordered directly from me either by email or using my eBay selling page. This is what the distribution percentages look like.

screenshot.1542

So, was it worth doing? The answer to that is a definite ‘Yes’. I realise that compared to best-selling authors, my contribution to the book market is very small beer, but seeing my local history book for sale in the local museum, and others sitting on the shelves at our town library and available on Amazon makes me break out in a huge grin!

Take a look at the Cade Books tab at the top of my blog if you’d like to find out more about the books.

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Self-Publishing, ‘The House in the Clearing’

I wrote in the previous blog about my fascination over the years regarding a medieval moated site in an area of ancient woodland where we regularly walk our Labradors.

It was no exaggeration when I said that very little information is available about the site, any buildings which may have existed there, and the people who lived in the moated area. But by knitting together snippets from around fifty sources, I have ended up with a 32 page A5 booklet!

The question is: What do I do with it now?

Because the topic is very local to Stevenage, it is unlikely that many people outside the area would be interested. On the other hand, medieval moated sites seem to hold a mysterious attraction for historians and archaeologists so there could be more widespread curiosity. For instance, Hertfordshire Association for Local History have said they would be interested to see a short article on the subject for publication in their journal.

It is tempting to take the plunge and have a go at getting it published. Although I have had articles in print in magazines and journals, the idea of publishing a booklet which is all mine is quite exciting. It could also act as a learning exercise should my two NaNoWriMo novels ever get re-drafted and polished up !

First, though, there are problems to overcome and decisions to be made:

It’s a 32 page booklet, so no-one is going to pay a lot of money to buy it. Colour printing is expensive and would probably price it completely out of the market. Trouble is, when I print the booklet on my laser in black and white, the lovely photographs I have included come out as smudgy rectangles. I’m going to try converting them all to greyscale images, but if they still don’t print then I shall have to consider leaving out the illustrations. That would make the booklet less attractive for a general audience, though, so I really want to keep the pictures in.

Should I use a Print on Demand house like Lulu or Create Space? I checked out a paperback on Amazon which had been made available through Lulu and it quoted 1-4 weeks for delivery. Four weeks sounds a real put-off to me. Create Space seems to print and ship from the US so I imagine that postage costs would figure highly with that option. The upside of using places like these is that they also provide marketing (to some extent) and distribution. The author doesn’t have to do anything. Consequently, the author doesn’t seem to be left with much either after everyone has taken their cut. Not that I’m looking to make money; it would be nice to get some of my investment in time and resources back though!

Maybe I should get a heap of copies printed from one of those self-publishing houses like York Publishing? How big a heap? Twenty? Fifty? One hundred? They would have to be stored somewhere warm and dry. And marketed. And I’d have to keep careful accounts, package the booklets and post off copies, chase up late payers. I don’t mind doing any of those things, though, so it is an option.

Perhaps I should simply print the booklets on my own laser. Be my own POD house, in other words. The results are quite good actually, and because it can print colour photographs that particular problem of image quality goes away. This could work for a smallish quantity, maybe twenty or so. I think even the cost of the laser cartridges could be accommodated in the price when I get around to thinking about that. But could I still sell them on Amazon, and arrange for e-Book sales, without someone like Lulu being involved?

Should I submit an abridged version of the booklet to Hertfordshire Association for Local History as requested? It might dilute the sales potential, but on the other hand it would be free advertising as well! If there were juicy bits, I could leave them out so people had to buy a paid for copy to get them. Alas, medieval moated homesteads don’t offer any juicy bits!

If anyone has some advice to offer about any of this, it would be most welcome.

In the meantime, a writer friend has kindly offered to read the booklet through, and I have also asked the curator at the local museum if she might do the same (no decision on that yet, though!). With the exception of any revisions being needed as a result, and sorting out the image quality, I could be ready to move forward in a week or two.

If only I knew in which direction I was going to move !

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