Well, in the back of my mind, in the bottom of my heart, in the pit of my stomach… I knew this day was coming. For the better part of a year, my publishing agent and I have been shopping around Dad@Home to dozens of publishing houses across Canada and the U.S. Forty-six to be exact. Some of them didn’t even respond to our query, others sent a terse note rejecting us outright and a select few gave us incredibly positive feedback, while they ultimately let us down easy. As I’ve reported earlier, there was one publisher in California that was tentatively interested in offering us a book deal, but after a month of leaving us hanging, they finally backed out. So after all of that… now what the hell do I do?
What’s the next step? What’s the next chapter for Dad@Home? Well, that’s easy: in a word, self-publishing. Or is that two words with a hyphen? Dammit, I think that’s two words. Oh, never mind, the bottom line is, I’ve got to take matters into my own hands and bring this book to the masses all by myself. And that’s exactly what I’m gonna do. The only question that I have is… HOW?
Here’s the good news. Self-publishing has never been easier and authors have never had as many good options on how to do it. So, for the past several weeks, I’ve been doing some research into various methods of self-publishing, and have weighed the pros and cons. I’ve looked into the requirements of doing a small print run on my own. While the cost can vary, depending on the exact method of printing, I am probably looking at a couple thousand bucks to print up 500 copies. After that, I would be on my own as to how I would ultimately market and sell my inventory of books.
I’ve also looked at “hybrid-publishing”, which is kind of hard to describe, but in general terms it means the author will pay for some or all of their production and print costs in exchange for higher royalty rates. It’s like self-publishing, as you have to pay to get your book printed, but at least you’ve got the backing of a publishing house, so you benefit from their industry relationships as well as their ability to push sales. And because you paid up front for print and production costs, you will keep more of the profits on the back end.
Another great option is print-on-demand publishing, and there’s no bigger player in that field than Amazon.com. They started up a division called “CreateSpace” several years ago to offer quality print-on-demand services for authors who didn’t want to pay anything up front but wanted to see their work professionally published. CreateSpace will print up your book, one book at a time if necessary, and keep about half of the profits. That may seem like a lot, but it’s actually nothing compared to traditional publishing, where royalties are about 7-10% for a paperback and 25% for an e-book. If I upload my book to Amazon’s Kindle service, I will keep roughly 70% of the profits from my digital sales. Not too shabby.
At this point, much of my deliberation on the matter at hand comes down to financial considerations. I really don’t want to invest much more cash into getting my book out there. Before I see even one book printed up, I will have spent over $2,000. That includes hiring a professional proofreader, paying my agent for her initial manuscript evaluation and the cost of a graphic designer to cook up the book cover and layout. So, I know that me shelling out more dough for a small press run will effectively double the cost of producing this masterpiece of mine. I’m also not crazy about having to hustle around to market and push sales of those physical books. My biggest fear is having several boxes of my unsold books taking up space and collecting dust in my basement for years to come!
I’m fairly confident that unless I’ve completely underestimated the demand for my product, I won’t be making a profit on this venture… and that’s more than OK! This book has been a labour or love and I never expected it would become a serious source of income. I always knew it would very likely cost me money to bring my pet project to the masses. I’m now at the point where I’d like to limit how much money it will cost. So, the idea of me paying zero more dollars to Amazon’s CreateSpace to publish my book is pretty darn appealing, and while I’m fully aware that they keep significantly more of the profits than other forms of self-publishing, I like the idea of having Amazon as the primary source for potential buyers of my book. In the digital age, it’s safe to say that a lot of people think of Amazon when they think of books. So, that’s what I’ve decided to do.
So long: dream of getting a book deal. Hello: creating my own dream.
I also really like the idea of having zero inventory on my hands. I can make both a paperback and digital version available on Amazon.com, and then 4 weeks later, they will also be available on Amazon.ca, plus all of the European Amazon sites. These days, there are very few people who are either unwilling or unable to shop online, so I don’t feel I’m sacrificing a huge part of the book-buying market by making my product available “online only”. Hell, even my 82-year-old father can shop online. Once I have a cover designed and the files prepped, the process is surprisingly simple. Once CreateSpace has the file, they can either send a digital proof within 24 hours, or a physical one via courier within 3-4 days. Once approved, it only takes a few more days before the book is made available on Amazon.com. I can also purchase “author copies” at a deep discount, so I can buy a whole bunch to hand out to family, close friends and media-types for marketing purposes.
I’m confident I can release Dad@Home before Christmas, and take advantage of the busy book-buying season, so I’m actually getting pretty excited to finally see this project to its completion. I actually started writing this damn book almost three years ago, so to say that it’s been a slow process would be an understatement.
Now that I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel, do I have any regrets or feel like a failure because I couldn’t snag a traditional publishing deal? Not really. I knew that the odds of a first-time author securing a book deal were incredibly slim. In fact, it’s almost unheard of, so the fact that I had one publisher interested and several who gave me great feedback was a small victory in itself. Would I have loved to have that feather in my cap, and the prestige of being a “real” published author? Absolutely! Anybody can self-publish, and so once you do that, you are lumped (fairly or unfairly) with everyone else who can’t get a deal.
In the end, I’m actually happy with how it all turned out. This way, I have complete creative control over the cover, content and marketing of Dad@Home. A traditional publisher would have retained all editorial control, and I would have zero input into the cover art. It’s possible the first time I would lay eyes on it would be when it hit the book stores.
So, there you have it… the next chapter for Dad@Home is finally here, and you will all have to wait a little bit longer to see the finished product. I’m very excited to be this close to finally bringing my book to life, and I sincerely hope each and every one of you wants to read it. And by “read it”, I actually mean buy it. 😉