Do it yourself?

saturday market 2 - 1

Self-publishing is a double edge sword. You can design your cover, have your book printed and ready within weeks. You can get it printed in hard cover and/or soft cover. There are many companies now that offer these services so it pays to shop a bit and look at the quality of their printing as well as read the reviews by people who have used them. It is a fairly quick process but can be expensive.

A copyright will cost about $35 per book, plus the cost of an ISBN number. Usually there is a set up fee for the publisher to put your manuscript in printable format. Then there is the cost of purchasing the copies you want to sell. In looking at the various places that do that work it seems that it’s often about 1/2 the price you’ll be selling them for. The best price break seems to be if you buy 500 to 1000 editions. You don’t have to be a math whiz to see the costs adding up.

Then there’s the actual selling. With most bookstores disappearing it’s hard to find the little corner shop anymore that will carry your work. You can go to book fairs, county fairs, craft shows, Saturday markets and a million places like that though. We sold our photography for years at craft shows. We found it was easier to find 50 people who wanted to spend $25 at a craft show than two who wanted to spend $500 at a gallery.

stack of boxes - 1I have a friend who self-publishes non-fiction all the time and he said the biggest drawbacks are storing his books and then carting those heavy things to the shows he sells at. He usually had no less than 500 printed at a time. Then there is the problem of potentially being stuck with books that don’t sell well.

Another local writer used to take his novels that he self-publishes to the State Fair. That’s ten days straight of 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Think about the difficulties with a commitment that intense before you consider such events. I’m too antsy for something like that.

You almost always will pay a fee for a space at any venue you sell at. In the past I have paid as little as $15 for a 10‘x10’ space in an outdoor show that was one day, to $50 for a table space in an indoor event.

The bigger the event, the more money you will be charged. Something like a multi-day county fair or state fair you can expect to pay upwards of $100 per space. Of course the trade-off is, usually the bigger the event the more sales you’ll make. The local writer used to make several hundred dollars at the State Fair each year, that’s why he kept going.

At one of the county craft sales  I met a woman who does children’s books. She makes quite a good living doing the circuit of craft shows with her self-published books.

Self-publishing is one of the methods that I have not tried. In my next blog I’ll talk about the option I did try and why, the print on demand publishing system.


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