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I originally published the article back in and have updated it a few times, most recently on June 13, This article primarily addresses self-publishing a print book, though many of the tips apply to e-books as well. For specific information about publishing an e-book, see my companion article, " How to self-publish an ebook.
This is a column about cutting-edge electronics. So, apologies to gadget-heads as I take a brief sojourn into the land of self-publishing, which has become a lot more high-tech than a lot of people realize. A few years ago I wrote a book. Publishing Perspectives Its short history is this: I worked on it for several years, acquired a high-powered agent, had some brushes with major publishers, then, crickets.
I could have tried to go for a small publisher, but I was told mine was "a bigger book" with more commercial aspirations and prestigious small publishers were interested in more literary tomes.
I also learned that many small publishers were being wiped out by the "self-publishing revolution," a movement that's not so unlike the "citizen journalism" or bloggers' revolt of recent years that's had a major impact on mainstream media, including this publication.
The basic premise is anyone can become a small publisher. You call the shots. You retain the rights to your book.
And you take home a bigger royalty than you'd normally get from a traditional publisher--if you sell any books. Against the advice of my agent, I began perusing the big self-publishing companies' Web sites and evaluating what they had to offer. Then I started poking around blogs and message boards to get customer testimonials.
What I found was a veritable minefield with roads that forked in every direction and very few clear answers. For those new to self-publishing, it's worth noting that CreateSpace is considered a subsidy press or author-services company.
The key to these companies is that books are printed only when someone orders a copy; neither author nor publisher is forced into buying a bunch of books and having to hawk them.
Royalties are better than what "real" publishers offer, but there are caveats, and true self-publishing pros prefer to cut out the subsidy press which takes a cut and go straight to a POD printer like Lightning Source to maximize profits.
But I was less concerned about making money from this venture and more interested in putting together a well-packaged product that I wouldn't be embarrassed to sell and some strangers might be willing to buy.
If I did it right, I thought, and managed to get it some attention, some "real" publisher might come along and discover what a gem those 20 some odd publishers had passed on. Well, thanks to a little publicity courtesy of Apple and a rejected -- then accepted -- free iPhone app, four and half months after I self-published "Knife Music," my agent sold it to The Overlook Pressan independent publisher that put the book out in hardcover in July A few months later it came out as an e-book and did very well, rising to as high as No.
Later this year Overlook will publish my second novel, "The Big Exit. But most of what I learned along the way and what I picked up from other people who've also self-published, applies more than ever.
As always, feel free to add your own experiences to the comments section, and thanks to all the readers who've e-mailed in the past. Amazon Kindle Oasis hands-on:Congratulations!
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