Self Publishing a Book for Almost Free
A post by writer Bill Holland (goes by billybuc on HubPages.com), How Hard Is It to Get Published in the Real World, started some lively comments and discussion on today's publishing possibilities for writers. The article inspired me to share my experience of self publishing a book and ebook... and how to do it for almost free using the Amazon Createspace platform.
I remember the bad old days of self publishing: vanity presses, homemade print jobs, paying for advertising... Glad we now have so many resources to help get our message published to the world.
Self Publishing a Book for Almost Free
Amazon Createspace Tips
Amazon Createspace allows self publishers the opportunity to publish physical print-on-demand trade paperback books, ebooks (for Amazon Kindle and mobile devices with the free Kindle app) and audio books or music. This helps publishers reach wider audiences with both books and multimedia offerings.
Here are several tips for saving aggravation, time and money when using this publishing platform:
- Use Provided Word Templates, then Create Your Own. Download the free template for print books for Microsoft Word from Createspace. As of this writing, it is in an old MS Word 1997-2003 format which may cause some issues for those working with later versions of Word. Watch formatting of section breaks, page numbers and headers. If not correct, your final manuscript will experience problems such as skipped page numbers and headers appearing where they should not. Turn on the formatting view in Word to see where problems may be occurring with paragraph or section breaks. Also watch the headers and footers carefully when proofing, especially for page breaks, section breaks and page numbers. Those can be very trick at times! Once you've published your first book in this manner, and all the formatting works to your satisfaction, make a copy of that Word document and use it as a template for future books, simply copying and pasting your new text into your template document.
- Use the Free Createspace Tools to Create Your Cover. Createspace has several cover layouts to choose from for your cover that will automatically be sized to accommodate the number of pages and trim size of your book. These are professionally designed and allow you to customize the colors, fonts, cover photos and text. Why would you want to go through the frustration of creating a super custom cover and getting it to print ready specs if Createspace will do it for you... for free? Be careful with your back cover copy! On some layouts, the system will hyphenate words in the worst possible places. Carefully proof the cover and edit the text to work around the hyphenating if needed before you go final.
- Let Createspace Create Your Amazon Kindle Ebook. Previously, authors would have to create the physical version of their books on Createspace and then go through the process all over again on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Now, as you create your printed book, there is an option to create your Kindle version. Do it! The system will automatically create it for you and link it up with your Kindle publishing account and reporting. When you log in to KDP, you'll see the Createspace icon next to the books you've created there. An added bonus is that it creates a cover image for your Kindle book from your cover created in Createspace.
The Business of Being a Self Publisher
Many wannabe authors are shocked to find out that even if a mainstream publisher gives them a contract to write a book, they still have to do a lot of their own marketing to get copies sold. Other authors are shocked or frustrated when mainstream editors slice and dice their manuscripts or ask for never ending rewrites. That's the business of publishing.
Do not be disillusioned! Self publishing is a business, too! Books and other information products do not sell themselves.
- Offer Your Book on Amazon. When you publish your book on Createspace, a special webpage to sell your book will be created. You'll gain the highest royalties from selling through this page. That's all good and you can use the link to that page for your promotions and on your website. But it does not offer the Kindle ebook version for sale on that page. So you'll have to provide a second link to the sales page on Amazon for the Kindle version. This frustrates customers! Plus, at this point in time, most people are accustomed to buying everything and anything on Amazon. Make sure your book and Kindle book are there for them. So when the Createspace system asks if you want to offer it on Amazon, saying yes is recommended and doesn't cost you any more money.
- Select Expanded Distribution Channels. During the Createspace publishing process, the system will ask if you want Expanded Distribution in addition to the Standard Distribution on Amazon and Createspace. Again, selecting Yes is recommended. This makes your books available to other online bookstores through the retail book buying channels, schools and libraries. The more places that can access your books, the more chances for you to makes sales.
- Talk it Up! Use your social media and offline networks to get the word out about your book. Send email notices to your most supportive folks. They may not buy directly, but they may pass the word on to those who will.
- Use Your Book as a Business Card. If you are writing a book to build your professional reputation, send information about it to your best prospects. Instant credibility! Also send it to local business groups who might want you to speak to their members about your book's topic. Because you can buy physical copies of the print book very cheaply through Createspace, this can be a very effective sales tool.
- Connect with Book Clubs. If your book is fiction, send information to book clubs and other organizations interested in the types of stories you're spinning. Tell them that you are available to discuss the book at a club meeting (in person or via online broadcast). Who knows? They might even choose your book as one of their club selections, which means more sales for you.
Ready to Self Publish?
After reading this article, which of the following describes you?
The YouTube Video that Got Me Using Createspace
When I was searching for a self publishing platform to use, the following video showed up on a "Recommended for You" list I saw while watching a friend's video. After I viewed it, everything just clicked!
The video is a few years old and the information about Createspace has changed in terms of formatting for upload (PDFs not required). But the ideas about creating a book by recording your ideas, using books as lead generators, choosing a title and domain name are interesting ideas.
Though Mike in the video used a private individual for transcribing his audio, I have had great success using Speechpad.com (non-affiliate link) for audio transcription at very reasonable rates.
Disclaimer: Any examples used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.
Questions & Answers
Can I just get Createspace to print the book? I sell my late BF’s other books on his website and Amazon marketplace. Amazon’s royalties are just too low.
This may be possible. When you publish through Createspace, a Createspace sales page is created. You will make more money through that page and Amazon still conveniently handles the Print On Demand and fulfillment for you. You choose the marketplaces where you want to sell the book during the publishing process.
You can also purchase copies of the book in bulk at very reasonable prices.
I'd also suggest reaching out to the Createspace customer service folks to see if you can just print only without selling through them.
© 2013 Heidi Thorne