Self-publishing

Posted on December 16, 2009 (Subscribe to Blog)

I've been busy the last couple of days sending out thousands of copies of Labyrinth of Fire to eager fans. Well, all right, hundreds of copies to keen readers. Okay, about twenty-five copies to those who have read Island of Fog and are sorta-kinda wanting to know what happens next.

Included in this batch was a copy to Piers Anthony, my famous writing buddy. Well, when I say buddy, I mean acquaintance. Well, someone I conversed with via email a couple of times. Anyway, the point is, he seemed to like the first book (see his review here, second paragraph) so I thought he'd be interested in the second. Since he doesn't tend to mince words, I await his response (if he gives one) with bated breath. My face is turning blue as I write this...

I've started to "think big" lately. Using CreateSpace for my book printing has been great and I certainly recommend them to novices, because the prices are so reasonable and the service fairly straightforward. Lulu is better in many ways, but their prices are a little silly. But the big problem with CreateSpace is distribution. It doesn't help that I took the "cheap" option and used CreateSpace's ISBN numbers, which means that I'm not listed as the publisher and therefore I have no control over distribution channels (ie, getting the books listed in nationwide, and even worldwide book databases, which bookshops order from). But even if I used my own ISBNs at CreateSpace, distribution is limited because CreateSpace only print in the USA.

So the other day I took the plunge and bought my own ISBNs. You have to buy these in bulk, with a minimum of ten for the price of $275.00. So I now have ten brand spanking new ISBN numbers which I can assign to my own titles whenever I want. The first two will be assigned to Island of Fog and Labyrinth of Fire, to replace the existing ISBNs.

But more than that, I plan to "move my operation" to Lightning Source, which is a very well respected printing company. They specialize in print-on-demand digital and offset printing. Their price-per-book is just a little more than CreateSpace but I hear their quality and service is exceptional, the cream of the crop. And their distribution is better than most companies can offer, with the best part being that they have a UK operation – so in theory my books can be ordered by bookshops in the UK as well as in the US.

This is a major step for me and just setting up an account with Lightning Source is an ordeal, but I'm through the application process and just need to send the forms. Once fully approved I'll be able to start moving my titles across. I expect to overlap them with the current CreateSpace editions, but eventually will remove the CreateSpace editions altogether. The books will look identical in terms of size, format, and so on, but the production should be better – CreateSpace are acceptable, but I have to work at getting good copies from them, which involves calling for replacements. Out of a box of fifty books, I'll typically have to call for a replacement of ten due to poor binding or sloppy packaging. Or for a box that never arrived!

Another change will be that I'll be listed as the publisher, and for that I can choose my own publishing name – which is Unearthly Tales.

More on this another time. But in the next six months I'm hoping that my books will be available in the UK for the legions of fans I have there. :-)

Comment by VANESSA ROBINSON on Thursday, December 17, 2009...

So glad you decided to take the plunge, hubby! Your books certainly deserve to have a wider availability.

Comment by SAKET SURYESH on Tuesday, March 30, 2010...

Hi, I have self-published a book called "If Truth were to be told" on www.serenewoods.com. while the services were quite good and hassle-free in terms of proof cover -designing and print (done by Oxford press), promoting the book is a challenge, Do not know how to get the book reviewed, now however, set up kindle version on Amazon and recently also set a print copy on Createspace with expanded channel. Still am not very clear on the right way to pushing the book into pulic domain, your advise will be of help.

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