The other day I wrote an article here about book publishing. I want to write some books and have been exploring the idea of how to handle the publishing end of it. I have also been thinking about the format that the books should take, electronic or paper.
I have come up with some answers, thanks to my friend Dave. Of course, the comments on my last article were very helpful too. Dave left a comment there, but he also took the much-appreciated step of sending me a book from his personal library to assist me in making the decisions needed.
The book that Dave sent to me (via LBC) is entitled “How to Write, Publish, & Sell Your Own How-To Book” by John T. Reed. John has been a self-publisher for decades now, and a lot of the things in the book really enforced things that were already in my mind. I believe that I have now made a decision on what path I will pursue when it comes to writing.
In his book, John talks about one method of shoestring publishing that appeals to me. Write your book using typesetting software (heck, even with Microsoft Word, or Open Office you can accomplish this these days), then start advertising it. When you get an order for the book print it on your laser printer, bind it with an Ibico Comb Binder, and send it off! After a while, you will have an idea of how the book sells, and if necessary you can then order a run of printed/bound books to sell. Alternatively, you can always still just print the books out at your house, bind them and send them off.
One of the reasons why this method appeals to me is that it kind of mirrors a business that I was doing some 20 years ago (wow, was it that long already?!?). Back in those days, I had designed a series of maps that showed the location of Amateur Radio repeaters all over the USA. I self-published these maps, printing them on one of the earliest models of a color inkjet printer. I would then laminate the maps in plastic, and sell them myself. They were very professional looking and sold very well too. I advertised the maps in Amateur Radio Magazines, and also sold them through Amateur Radio stores around the USA. I even went to trade shows around the country selling these maps. What John Reed describes in his book practically mirrors what I was doing with the maps, and it worked well. The idea of doing this with books really appeals to me.
So, what about the digital vs. paper debate? I’ve decided on that too… I’ll do both! Whoever orders can take their choice between paper or electronic. Each method has advantages for the customer, so it will be their choice as to what will be best for them!
Because I am in the Philippines, and my target customer will be abroad, I am toying with the idea of also using Print on Demand to fulfill orders. Companies like Lightning Source or Lulu come to mind. Having them do the printing will be more costly than having the printing done here in the Philippines (or doing it, my self), but there is also an advantage in that it would save immensely on postage costs, and also speed up delivery time. One advantage, though, of shipping from here in the Philippines is that I can then offer signed copies of the books too, which I feel some people will want.
So, what do you think about my publishing ideas? Let me know by leaving a comment. Pro or con, I want to hear your opinion – it’s just one more thing for me to consider!
Glad you found that useful, Bob. Indeed the comb binding idea is something a lot of folks don’t consider. One may have specialized knowledge on certain subjects which is worth a _lot_ to someone who needs it … but which will never sell to a mass audience. Do the whole thing from your desk at home and reap all the profits. Empowering retirement/making your income potable is the name of the game.
POD is certainly a viable and rapidly growing option. There is, however, a lot to be said for controlling the entire production “in house”. If a POD supplier screws up, your customers do not wnat to know, they blame you, and using such a service adds time, complexity and cost … but also ads convenience. The options are there, either way.
The main thing, in my view, is to aviod the outfits like Amazon who think and author should earn perhaps 10% … 90% would be a better goal.
Hi Dave Starr – Thanks for your comment! You were very helpful in assisting my decision making process on this front.
I agree with your thoughts about POD, although, I also see advantages too particularly when it comes to deliver, since I am far removed from my customer base.
Based on reading John Reed’s book, I agree wholeheartedly about Amazon. I would have ever thought that a few days ago, but John’s explanation on why to not sell to Amazon makes a great deal of sense!
If it’s POD you are after and not Lulu in particular, you should probably try us, CinnamonTeal Print & Publishing Services. We are based in India, accept print runs of one just like Lulu and have many satisfied customers to vouch for our quality.
If you are in the Philippines, having a supplier based in India should help I think – given the low costs of postage that India enjoys.
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Hi Leonard – I would be willing to consider you for POD services. Tell me, though… my main reason for considering POD at all is that my customer base would primarily be in the USA, Europe and Australia. If my customers order single copies and you print and ship to them, wouldn’t the shipping be prohibitive? Also, wouldn’t deliver time be too long?
We must be on the same wavelength. I had previously been thinking along the same lines as you on your last 3 posts. Then I come here and the same topics were written write in front of me. Ha-ha I started off with “one of those days”.
So where is your book signing going to be held? ha-ha free coffee and doughnuts?
Hi Mike K. – Ha ha… Dave Starr always tells me that I am “inside his mind” it sounds like I must be inside yours too! Book signing… hmm…. free coffee and doughnuts? How about free morning chocolate (a Mindanao specialty) and suman? 😆
1. Lightning Source, yes. Lulu, no. Cost and quality are better.
2. I would think again about Amazon. I sell a lot of books there and my profit margin is significantly better than what has been suggested.
3. Take a look at the book Aiming at Amazon (Aaron Shepard). It is the definitive guide to using digital printing and providing books to Amazon (and elsewhere).
4. Last time I checked, Amazon won’t sell comb binding. Do you really want to ignore the world’s largest bookstore?
P.S. I also encourage you to check out my SmallPress Blog at:
Hi Tom – thanks for passing along this information. I am going to check out your self-publishing blog right away!
I value your opinion, Tom, but I also feel (right now) that Amazon is not the right way to go. After reading the Reed book, I came away with some really good ideas, and Amazon was not part of it. However, it is something that i shall continue to consider. Hopefully your blog will help me open up other new thoughts.
We all have to follow our own paths. That is certain. What has worked well for me and for some others may not work as well for you.
It works really well for me, but I am in a niche within a niche. In other words, I’m the guy. 🙂
In other areas with more competition, I have seen people be quite successful with e-products (as you have suggested).
My one last word of advice would be to consider doing it all. While I sell books on Amazon, that is hardly the only place I sell books. Just because you are going in that other direction in no way means that you cannot *also* have it up on Amazon.
Amazon is now the de facto standard and people who are doing what you suggest still have it up there because it requires no work. Put it up, forget about it, cash the checks.
Isn’t the journey fun? 🙂
Hi Tom – Like you recently said on your blog – I like checks. Cashing them is something I really enjoy too! I’ll keep the Amazon thing in mind and see which direction works out best for me.
Thanks for your tips!
ha-ha my boys would love to get some of that stuff. guess we will have to travel all the way to Davao though. Or I could set you up for a book signing tour in Bohol. 😉