Perhaps the world needs to get over its love of fondling an actual paper creation. Books are expensive, cost trees and carbon in their transport and get dusty and smelly in your bookshelves.
Self publishing can be very satisfying. And you will keep the entire cover price of any book minus your printing costs.
Marketing is another story. This is very difficult for the solo writer. However, say you want to print a book for the family for a Christmas gift? Or perhaps you have the energy to handle the marketing yourself?
There are many ways of doing this:
When books are printed, there is usually a massive run for economy of scale, depending on the projections of sale made by the publishers. For instance, back in 1983, I was encouraged to have 12,000 copies of my book, ‘Kulture Vulture – prize pickings for Artists’ printed. When they arrived at my house I was staggered. It was a full pallet of books in boxes. Where was I to put all these? For many months they lived under beds, under the house, in the ceiling and everywhere I could stash them until I gradually sold around a third, donating some to schools and pulping the rest. These days, it is possible to upload your book, once written and carefully proof read, to a Adobe pdf file to be downloaded as an ebook, and you can set up a merchant portal and sell it on line. These books can be read on line or downloaded by purchasers and you can pocket the entire sales amount (minus the printing cost) as opposed to the 7.5% royalty you get on the old-fashioned printing service.
I would recommend a professional editor and proof-reader to check it out before you upload. But of course, because it is not printed, you can fine-tune it later. Mind you, your sales can be affected by sloppiness and poor formatting.
Alternatively, you can upload it for one of the electronic formats such as the Nook reader.
Then there is the print on demand phenomenon that is sweeping the bookstores clean.
This is a really practical discussion of all the formats and has some excellent contacts in it. Look for an Australian-based business if you live here as this is the best way to go for local sales – postage of books is still a hefty and carbon guzzling effort.
This is the best Aussie site for publishing or print on demand. Read it ALL before getting involved. Their fees are very reasonable. There is nothing to stop you doing a version for Australia and one for America through Amazon.com. You just have to pay the setup/printing fee.
These sites are self-publishing, print-on-demand sites but American and the first is owned by amazon.com. Both will link to things such as Facebook for marketing and the first puts your book up for same on amazon.com. What you have to do is make sure that people know that your book is there, so it’s a good idea to have it reviewed, and send off a stack of copies to known reviewers. In this way, your book climbs the ladder of awareness! Amazon then will advance it to a higher status and hopefully, eventually you will be Oprah’s book of the month.
For cover design (or any illustrations) make sure that your pictures and layout are impactful and fall well into the genre of your story. A friend’s book has ended up in the porn section due to his title and he is now considering changing it. You can use a photo but it is better to put some money into a terrific cover design as it can make or break a book’s success.
Print on demand and the Nook (or its alternatives) are fantastic ways to cut down not just the printing, paper and effort but also the storage of books is huge. A Kindle or electronic book is a lot easier to keep dust-free than a wall of books and they are just as easy to read in bed! Besides, you can ALWAYS search for words and these bits you don’t quite ‘get’ so that you can revise and research. Wonderful!