More and more writers are choosing to publish their own works using the technology that is Publish-on-Demand (POD). A system whereby the cover and interior files of paperbacks and hardbacks are held on PC servers until a consumer buys a book. The single copy is printed there and then and dispatched to the reader. No stock in warehouses, no overheads for the authors. POD is the mechanism that has allowed the rise of the independent author and made a quantum shift in the publishing world. So, if you want to publish your paperback and make it globally available, in as professional a way as possible, then the following seven steps will help you on your way.
1. ISBNs & ASINs
The International Standard Book Number is the strange number, under a barcode on the back of a paperback or hardback book. ISBNs are required for every different format of book. You, therefore, need one ISBN for a paperback that is 7inches by 4inches. A different one if you have an 8×5.25 paperback and a different one again if you have a hardback. You do not need to have a different ISBN to your original 8×5.25 if you simply reissue the same size with a different cover. Most POD companies will allow you to use one of their ISBNs for free. Don’t. Their ISBNs will be restrictive for you. Simply buy your own. Register yourself as the Publisher of Record. Be professional. Buy your own. The barcodes, on the other hand, will be provided by the likes of Ingram Spark and Createspace. Use them. Don’t buy your own barcodes. You don’t need to.
2. Briefing a Cover Designer
You can, if you are a professional artist, design your own cover. If you are not, then don’t. It’s that simple. You write books and stories. You do not paint artwork of any type, so just don’t. Learn to accept the fact that you need to pay someone to design a professional, book specific, genre specific cover for your book. Don’t be tempted to use any of the online Book “cover creators” as they use stock layouts and stock photos and stock font. They look amateurish at best and yes, it does matter. Also, remember that one of the most important parts of your physical book cover is the spine. Look at the spines of books in shops and in libraries – especially libraries – they will cover the bottom of the spine with a location sticker, so beware the placement of titles and names. Take a good and critical look at other covers in your genre and then brief a cover designer.
3. Choose your Size
Download a template from the likes of Createspace. Ensure, if you are going to use Ingram Spark, that they support the size you want. Setup your page size and margins (which are CRITICAL) in your word processing software.
4. Format Your Interior
If you are using Microsoft Word then learn how to use it effectively and harness the power of Word Styles to format the interior of your book properly and efficiently. Word works. Yes, there are lots of other programs out there that you can buy and use to write your book, but as Word is the most widely used word processor, it is likely you already have it on your computer. So use it and save yourself money. It doesn’t take long to learn to master the more advanced properties of Word. Google and Youtube are your friends. Do not use tabs to set inserts. Do use section breaks. Do use page numbers.
5. Get a Createspace account on Amazon
Amazon is by far the biggest seller of Books in the world. So if you want to be taken seriously as an independently published author, you need to be selling your books on there. The good news is the interface is relatively easy to navigate and although there are some tricky bits in and around the US Tax Interview, it is mostly straightforward. Their services are provided for free and their preview tools are exceptional. You can also take advantage of the Amazon Central Author Page functions as well. So, register on Amazon’s Createspace. Manage your Amazon distribution on there. DO NOT choose their extended distribution options. Leave them ‘unticked’. The royalty rates are not great and booksellers are VERY unlikely to buy your books from an Amazon source. To open up your prospects with booksellers, use Ingram Spark.
6. Get an IS Account
The Ingram Spark interface is a bit clunkier than Createspace and their preview options are limited. They will also charge you for setup fees unless you are a member of the Alliance of Independent Author (so if you aren’t already, join now). You may wonder why you should have an account then? Well, Ingram Spark is part of the Ingram Group, the biggest distributor of physical books in the world. They have tie-ins with all major suppliers. Ingram allows you to set discount options (but beware, they are not as transparent as you may think). They will also allow you to set Sale or Return options for your books. BE VERY CAREFUL. If a supplier takes 500 of your books and returns 400, you will have to pay for the costs of those 400. Discussions are ongoing about how this SOR versus Firm Sale option could be better managed, but for now, sale or return is a very risky prospect for most Indy Authors and once turned on, cannot be turned off quickly. However, the bottom line is that IS will sell your books and booksellers, if they wish to order your books, will get them from there.
7. Explore Marketing Opportunities
You are now a published author!! But no one knows about you or your book, so you will need to explore the marketing opportunities that are out there. Start LOCAL. You have a physical book. You can have a book launch. Contact your local bookshop. If they don’t want to know, go to your local library. They are always looking to host events. Contact your local paper (yes, they are still out there). Provide them the hook they need. “Join local ‘insert town’ woman for the launch of her first book, a tale of ….” Try to get a local interest item in there. Try, try and try again for you are your own PR company. You are the one that will do the legwork and the phone calls. You are your own salesperson. Get that local journalist to interview you about your writing journey. Give them a free copy of the book. Send copies to other journalists, reach out to the next town’s library. Then the next and the next. Expand out like a pebble’s ripple. Contact anyone and everyone who you think might be interested in your book. Is it set in the Scottish Highlands? Then contact a Scottish-based shop. Is it a horror based in Whitechapel? Then get yourself down to London. Network on Linked-In, setup an Author Page on Facebook. Tweet to your heart’s content. But DO NOT just post that you have a book and it is for sale. Engage with your audience and followers. If you have written a romance, find romantic stories on the net and repost them. Write a short story, write a poem, get a link to a florist? Be creative, because you are and stop, just every so often STOP… and remind yourself… YOU ARE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR.
8. Bonus 8th Step
Amazon Best-Selling, independently published author, Ian Andrew has launched the Book Reality Academy to explore these steps and more. The first course on E-Book Publishing is now available and the Paperback course is coming soon. To see what’s out there and to be kept informed, visit the www.bookrealityacademy.com
Above everything else, to become a published author, you need to finish your book. So, as Dory never said… “Just keep writing”…
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