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firmly believe the key to true independence lies in the ability to create and control the publication of your own work... Here are 3 easy ways to get your work into books that SELL!

Rich Tells Us "HOW-TO" - Copyrights, Bar Codes & ISBN!

Pete Tells Us "HOW-TO" - .PDF Books with Adobe Acrobat!

Joe Tells Us "HOW-TO" - Painless Publishing with Print-On-Demand!

^ LEARN MORE ^

How to Self-Publish
Your Book (or E-Book)

by Rich Diesslin

 Finding an established publisher who will pick up your book and print it at their expense is getting more and more difficult. Publishers are closing themselves off to the creators by not accepting unsolicited proposals, requiring that you use a 3rd-party listing service, or only allowing contact to them through an agent. So, unless you have access to their ear directly (via booksellers meetings, seminars, forums or just know someone in the business) or an agent, it's a hard sell, but it is still the first thing you should try. Established publishers have marketing and distribution channels that make it much easier get your book out there, but they also keep most of the profits <g>! Once all avenues to being published from an established book publisher have been tried ... then it's time to make a go of it for yourself. Here are some steps that I have used ....

Steps to Self-Publication:

1. - Copyright Your Work

Description - I think most of you already do this anyway, but just in case - by adding the copyright symbol &COPY;, your initials, name or signature and a date automatically (&COPY;RLD 02, RDiesslin &COPY; 2002, etc.) provides copyright protection in the US. It's still a good idea to invest the $30 fee to make it official - in case of problems later. Most cartoonists are actually getting a visual copyright which protects the graphics/cartoons in a work but not the gag. To get character or text copyrights requires more effort. You might need to trademark characters. Things like gags are unlikely to be copyrighted ... as it says in Ecclesiasties there's "nothing new under the sun." Kind of limited, but still some protection. However, I'm no legal analyst, so have fun reading the small print for yourself at the copyright web site (below).

References: US Copyright Office

2. - Obtaining an ISBN for Your Publication

Description - ISBN stands for International Standard Book Numbers. This is the easy part. There is one official registration agent in the US for ISBNs and that is Bowker and Associates. Last I checked they were selling blocks of 10 ISBNs for $200. You are basically a small independent press and they are issuing you your first 10 ISBNs, for use at any point in the future. You then add all the pertinent information on your books through their web site. They also publish the reference book "Books In Print" which is a bookstore's bible for finding anything under the sun.

The ISBN therefore becomes the unique identifier for your book and is what the publishing and book selling world use to reference your book.

References: BowkerLink

3. - Packaging Your Product - Desktop to Doorstep

Description - Medium (or media) and Packaging. Vanity Press, printing house, or do-it-yourself e-books on CD.

As mentioned at the top of the page, these are options available to you if you cannot find a publisher to do it. A vanity press is any press that will print the book for a fee and "claims" to provide marketing of your book (sometimes included, sometimes separately priced). A printing house prints your book for a fee, but does not get involved in the marketing. Usually the latter is more realistic, since the limited marketing of vanity presses seldom nets much sales ... you are really on you own (IMHO).

I'll go into more detail on do-it-yourself e-books, since that's what I do when I can't find an established publisher. (There are sites that will e-publisher for you, but use them at your own risk, I haven't found a good one yet) Here are the my steps for self e-publishing ...

  • Create an Acrobat file. Some word processors and most desktop  publishing programs can do this - some better than others. FrameMaker does  very well at this, including generating a great set of bookmarks. I also  use Acrobat for any editing or security features I want to add to the e-book.
  • Create an HTML version. Word processors and desktop publishing  software can be used to create an html file, but often a fair bit of editing  is needed in an html editor to get your book into final shape. I also replace  my print-resolution graphics with "web" resolution ones. This  speeds up browser response time and improves the quality of the resized  images (otherwise large files are reduced for viewing by your browser ...  and are only as good as your browser is at reducing them). Since I do all  my work in Photoshop, resizing graphics is quick and easy. It's also good  to take advantage of the hypertext linking features and create navigation  aids for on-screen reading. Might as well make technology work to your  advantage.
  • Add other perks! Face it, reading on the computer screen isn't  as nice as a book in print (IMHO), but there are things you can do to make  it a good investment for your customer. Some of the things I've done is  provide high resolution artwork for use in bulletins, newsletters and greeting  cards; provide a slide show of the cartoons, add links to related online  sites; and provide some other features that only the CD buyer could get  (a glimpse into the process of cartooning, some excerpts from other works,  etc.).
  • Then you need to burn your CDs. Easy CD Creator, or NERO are  good choices for creating "data" CDs for your content. I add  a program that autoloads the start-up file in the user's default html browser  (referenced below).
  • Finally, package your CD. Often the CD-burning software comes  with a cover-making program, templates and a library of covers and inserts  for your CD jewel case and CD itself. The templates are handy, and you  can load your own graphics in to make a nice cover. I sometimes use my  desktop publisher to get more control of the process, but either way works  well. I use medium or heavy card stock for my front/inside cover, any paper  for my back cover and buy white stick-on "donut" labels (that  you can run through your printer) for the CD itself. You can make your  own stomper (a stomper is a device that makes putting the label on easier)  or buy one. They sell for around $25, but cost is just about nothing if  you make your own. You can buy CDs, jewel cases, labels, shrink wrappers,  etc. very inexpensively from on-line stores (or more costly from you local  office supply store). I estimate the cost at about $2/CD for a complete  do-it-yourself.
  • Don't forget the barcode! How do you get a barcode you ask?  An internet search will net you quite a few barcode providers, some free,  some for sale. The barcode is simply of your ISBN. I usually integrate  my barcode with the back cover of the CD. Then with a clear shrink-wrap  cover (which I never bother to shrink) it's readable right through. Also  have the number underneath in case the scanner doesn't work properly. You  can also buy or make barcode labels, and put it on the outside of the wrapper  (thus not infringing on your back cover space). Barcodes are quite simple,  so if you can't find a free site you can probably find a book at the library  and make your own.

References: Search the net for barcode generation sites and software, CD burning software (Easy CD Creator, NERO ), CD equipment and labels, autostart program


Back and Outside Front Cover for CD Jewel Case


Inside Front Cover and CD with CD "Donut" Label


Homemade CD Label Stomper. Made from an old CD spindle case. You put the label upside-
down on the spindle (it's held by the post-it glue) and then drop the CD on upside-down. Then
place the old CDs on top to push the label against the good CD. Viola - a labelled CD.


Shrink-wrap labels work well without shrinking them (in fact, they don't shrink too well anyway).

4. - List your book with Online Bookstores

Description - Online booksellers want to carry your books. Unlike publishers who have to figure return-on-investment for every book they publish, booksellers just want to sell as many books as possible - the more they have available to customers the better. Amazon.com has a program called Amazon Advantage and Amazon Associates for small and independent presses to use. I recommend their program highly. They keep a hefty percentage, but it is very nice to be listed on Amazon. Their site provides all the instructions you need to get set-up. You need your ISBN listing to be up-to-date at Bowker, but otherwise you have lots of listing options, including making buttons for your own web pages. Other online bookstores, such as barnesandnoble.com, may list your books as well.

On my own web site, customers can buy books via paypal shopping cart OR link to Amazon.com. Many buyers are more comfortable using the established booksellers over a small independent's web site. However, they only get an autographed copy if they order from me directly <g>!

References: Amazon.com - Advantage and Associates programs , barnesandnoble.com, etc ...

You can see what I'm talking about by browsing my site which includes an online order form, book summaries, downloadable excerpts, etc.

5. - Promote Your Book

Description - All I can say here is, try your hardest to get the word out that your work is for sale! The references below are a good starting point. I'd give you more tips, but I'm still trying to figure this out myself. All I can say is, being listed online doesn't equate to automatic book sales. You still need to get the word out. The press release is one good tool, but you'll find this and lots of other suggestions using the references below.

References:

  • Press the Flesh - Market your book to brick and mortar bookstores -  special niche, local stores, national chains. It's not easy on a national  level, but locally bookstores often have a local author section.
  • Pound the Pavement - Guerrilla Marketing (refer to Amazon  Advantage Marketing Resource tips) - Press Releases and other media  leveraging ideas.
  • Do Your Homework - the local library should have a dozen different  books on getting published and promoting your work and yourself, including  helpful articles in books like Writer's/Author's Market.

Well good luck and I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions, comments or great techniques that should be added on this page!

 


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