The Horribly Incomplete DIY Book Publishing Guide - Part 5
Updated: Nov 5, 2020
As you learned in Part 4, reacting to a bad review by filling the reviewers car with goat's urine or American beer is probably a bad idea. But only if you get caught!
Today in Part 5, I want to discuss one of the basics of DIY #bookpublishing and that's 'where to sell your book?'
After all the blood, sweat and tears you spent writing your baby, where do you want to post it for sale. Who do you trust? How much money do you have in your wallet? Is there any danger of being splashed with goat urine? The answer to the last question is maybe.
Again, I warn you that I am by no means an expert on DIY book publishing. I merely, want to relate my experience to help those who may benefit from my journey and mistakes that were made. So, if you are an inexperienced DIY book publisher or you haven't yet begun then read on.
Why on earth would you want to self-publish and do it all yourself? So many reasons! Perhaps you're a history aficionado and miss the good ole days of public floggings or getting pelted with rotten vegetables while fully secured in the stocks?
Perhaps, you're financially challenged and trying to publish on a budget? You're bored out of your mind? Or if you're like me, you're one of those people who would rather figure things out by yourself rather than being lead along by the hand - while the other hand empties your bank account?
I've always preferred the rush and thrill and satisfaction of DIY! Whether that be music or video software or building an inquisition era replica stockade. I find the process quite fun and as long as I have the time, that's the way I roll.
When I first thought about DIY self-publishing, I naturally searched the internet and man oh man are there ever a ton of websites, blogs and articles. One could spend days, reading through the plethora. Some sites are great and very helpful, others not so much and others counter intuitive and contradictory. But what I did get was a sense that I could do it. I could, in fact, self-publish my book and with all the information on the internet, it would be easy.
For any authors out there with some life experience - remember The Brady Bunch? Remember when Jann used to whine, "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!" Well, just replace Marsha with Amazon.
"Amazon, Amazon, Amazon!"
#Amazon was and is everywhere and one would think that it was the only place to sell your book. And so they would have you believe.
The Amazon model (KDP) https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/ is very appealing. Publish both your ebook and paperback with us with no muss and no fuss and for free. Pretty good so far.
As I Canadian, I get to brag that Canadians don't have to pay for an ISBN(International Standard Book Number) - we get them free with a coupon for Tim Horton's and a steaming bowl of poutine! As many ISBN's as we want(maniacal laughter)!
Anyone, in the US has to pay for an ISBN and through the teeth!!
This is where Amazon really lures you in - think King Cobra mesmerizing it's prey! Amazon has their own ISBN-like number called an ASIN(Amazon Standard Identification Number) and it's free. This is both good and bad. Good for the pocketbook but bad if you want to sell your paperback in a bricks and mortar bookstore because their ASIN won't work like an ISBN.
Another perk from Amazon is their very limiting but functional book cover creator which is also free. I recommend that you either create your own cover and then load it into the Amazon cover templates or get a graphic designer to create one for you. The cover is tricky for a DIY oriented person because of all the stringent printing measurements and restrictions. So invest some time in learning about covers because your cover speaks volumes and I'll talk more about that in another blog.
If you don't know a graphic designer but you want to spend some money to create a great cover - I recommend checking out https://www.fiverr.com/.
So, Amazon seems from the outset to be a pretty good one stop shop and the KDP site offers lots of tutorials and videos. They also have a community question and answer section where you can bitch and complain with thousands of other KDP users.
One other thing that might interest you, is that you can also decide if you want your book to appear in other markets, like the UK, Australia etc. You can and this is also free and quite easy to set-up.
Does Amazon have a monopoly on self-publishing - you might be asking?
The answer is no, not at all.
However, to go elsewhere, you will have to pay to play.
Personally, I had some issues and frustration with Amazon, some of which like shipping my paperback took 6 months to sort out. I will go into more detail on another blog.
At this point I should point out that you need to think about who will be reading your book and what format they will be reading on.
I have found that most of my friends and many colleagues, cringe at the idea of reading an ebook. Even more cringe-worthy is the idea of supporting a company such as Amazon.
Learning this took the wind out of my sails as I had never thought about their preferences. It had never occurred to me that they might want alternatives or the ability to choose which company to support. And as I mentioned, I was having trouble getting my paperback out the door. So, back to the internet and more searching and I found many people talking about Ingram Sparks.
#IngramSparks offers a similar model but you have to pay to get started and set-up. It's not a huge investment but the sum increases if you don't have your ducks all lined up in a row. For example, every time you change something on your book, you pay for the update service.
Anyone, but Canadians, will have to buy an ISBN to use Ingram Sparks. And you have to buy one for each format. For example, you need an ISBN for the ebook and another for the paperback.
Like Amazon, Ingram Sparks https://www.ingramspark.com/ will publish your book and ebook in one no fuss no muss procedure but unlike Amazon, your cover must be uploaded as a PDF and in a very specific format. If you are not a graphic designer who is familiar with book publishing - don't even attempt this. There isn't a cover template tool like there is on Amazon, so chances are you are going to have to shell out some doe on cover design.
Now here's the good part.
Ingram Sparks opens up many doors you cannot open on Amazon.
You can now sell your book on Nook, Apple Books, Kobo and Barnes and Noble - just to name a few. And actual brick and mortar bookstores can order your book from Ingram Sparks from their catalogue and stuff their bookshelves with your book.
Your readership now has options on where to purchase your book and most importantly from whom.
Now, I haven't covered all the other alternatives out there as my experience is limited to Amazon and Ingram Sparks. So, have a look at the other sites and do your own investigation.
In upcoming blogs, I will explore more DIY self-publishing topics, but today I just wanted to get you thinking about your readership, financial outlay and options to get your book out there and exposed to as many folks as possible.
Until next time, happy writing and self-publishing and stay in the shadows and away from the cctv cameras with your buckets of goat urine!