I’m a self-publisher. This is because I don’t have an agent. By choice I’d let agents and publishers do their thing and I’d do the stuff I was good at – wining and dining the literati /going to conferences and talks / chatting nicely to librarians / heck even writing – good old fashioned division of labour.
Needs must, so I self publish. As a self-publisher, I’m going to talk a bit about it.
What do I use?
A: I use Lulu. Lulu is a POD (Print-on-Demand) service. I’ve been tempted by other POD service providers (such as CreateSpace) – but not much.
What is a POD service?
A: You prepare your product. In my case, I make sure I produce a PDF. Other formats are possible but I don’t use them. Once your product is loaded into their system, for each on-line purchase of your book, a hard copy will be printed and mailed out.
I’ve trialled Lulu and I’ve been impressed with the quality of books. It works; the product looks professional. But you need to have a good understanding of formatting to get the best from it. I use Open Office Writer in preference to Word. There’s a number of reasons for this, the chief one being the fiddly Microsoft interface since Word 2007.
Are there any considerations?
POD is best for personal projects – you don’t need to worry how it will get to market… because the market is you!!! and you choose how it’s finished.
It’s also good when you publish to a very specific market e.g. a private report for your clients to buy. In this case you know the market, although you do need to pay more attention to the finish.
The main snag is one that faces a first time self-publisher, who has a general market offering. How does product get to market? Lulu have a number of packages: Publicity Services / Book Reviews / Promotional Materials / Book Fairs. These all cost money. You can pay £000’s, but is your product worth the investment?
The other challenge is the finish. Do you fancy going the whole hog and spending on Cover Design / Editing / Formatting, and even eBook Publishing?
And finally be aware that Lulu takes a 20% royalty from the net profit. Does that seem a lot? Well at least the author gets the other 80%. Contrast that with normal royalty rates.