My first year in publishing has been nothing short of a crash course into the crazy and ever-changing business. Let me first say that I wanted to self-publish Trankarri – The Boy with a Magical Pen for two reasons. The first is that I wanted to have my own publishing business since I was about thirty years old and the second is that I know the publishing industry is continuing to change rapidly and that it could take me a year to two years to find an agent, then find a publisher, then go through the edits and formatting, then the release and marketing and so on. That process alone could take another two to three years. So I totaled about five years – worse case scenario, that it would take my book to be on the market making sales.
Well I didn’t want to leave my creative or financial future in the hands of literary agents or publishers. I don’t think it is right to put that responsibility on someone else no matter what industry you find yourself in. So I thought I could at least speed up the process and publish it myself and get it out there in the marketplace and then if it sells well and I attract the attention of a publisher then great or if it sells well and I am succeeding as a publisher then even better. Obviously starting my own publishing company was the better way to go for me.
After I had the book fully edited and illustrated (prior to me starting my publishing company) which I paid for out-of-pocket and cost me about $5,000.00 I now had, what I thought was a real marketable product and that is when I decided to set up Croft Regis Publishing. I knew I had some more expenses to go and the finalizing of the book before I could actually enter the market.
Here is my list of things I had to do once I started my business:
Build a website
Book formatting/isbn numbers/copyright/other
Book cover design
Create a paperback/hardcover/kindle
Create an animated book trailer
By this time Niall Farrell and I were already six months into our animated book trailer and we had about six months to go.
I then hired a publishing services company to handle the formatting, book cover, epub edition (for ebooks). That cost me another $1300.00. My advise on this is don’t waste your time. I hired them in the middle of August 2014 with a six weeks estimated turn-around and my paperback did not get finished until November 20; hardcover in December and Kindle version not until May 2015. And on top of that they used in-house isbn numbers, now I have to buy my own isbn numbers so I can distribute how and where I want to. I looked up and down on the internet to find a good publishing services companty, which I thought I did, but I was completely wrong. Yes the final product turned out good, but after six months, not six weeks.
In addition to this I had to do multiple corrections to the formatting, we created our own book cover and now I am having to pay out-of-pocket again for a high quality ebook. The epub version is crap and the kindle kid’s creator is great but the file sizes are too big which makes the electronic delivery too expensive so I cannot price the book high enough to make a profit. I should be able to profit on all ebooks starting at $.99 and going to $2.99. No one is going to pay $17.99 for an ebook. Now I am working with someone in Austin who can hopefully get my ebook file size down to about 6 mb. Anything larger Amazon charges too much in electronic deliveries. (That is good information for someone).
I will let you know how the new formatting works and how much it costs and the turn-around time once we are done.
I’m also supposed to be receiving a monthly report on sales from the publishing services company and they don’t issue them unless I hound them, even then I am not sure if the numbers they are sending me are accurate. Again do not waste your time even with reputable companies for this service.
Here is what you actually need to pay for once you have your book finished:
Formatting – should take less than one week with someone skilled and cost you no more than $500.00
ISBN – should cost about $125.00 to $295.00 if you buy ten. (and you own them not someone else)
Copyright – $35.00
Front and back cover – $500 for a really good one. (obviously you can go as cheap as you want or as expensive as you want)
E-version (not sure how much yet)
Find a book printer that can start you at print-on-demand or you can do print runs of 100 each be out of pocket about $2000.00
I can do all this on my own without the headache and time of a publishing services company.
I may in fact offer a consulting service for a flat fee of $125.00 for things to do so that if you are interested in self-publishing I can save you a lot of time and road hazards. I’m not there yet but I have been thinking about it.
Now on to exposure and sales.
Once I had my book I had to use the necessary platforms to help promote it.
Goodreads (one of the best for book exposure) – I became a goodreads author and managed and worked my profile along with goodreads giveaways.
Create an Amazon profile. This is a must.
A youtube video/Vimeo video
Connect all platforms so they all look cohesive.
Now I am on to the ongoing beast of marketing. This is where I am at right now so I do not have any proven strategies yet that will propel my book into the bestseller category but I did make it all the way to top 45 on Amazon in the kindle store under a subcategory and so that is the best I have done so far.
I will write another blog on my first year in marketing in January once we get through the back-to-school season and Christmas season and hopefully I will have something good to report.
That is it in a nutshell on my first year in publishing. As of today I am still ahead four years for my worse case scenario if I went the traditional route and I am making sales so that is a good start.
As I implement my market strategy I will note what works and what doesn’t so I can hopefully spare other authors a lot of time, energy and money.