Where did June go?

I mean the month of June, of course. Apart from the plunge in temperature in Melbourne, a lot’s happened. My book of short stories, Out of Nowhere was published. My webpage had a makeover. I held my first radio interview. My book was officially launched and I’ve made a further dent into my current novel. Whew!

Publishing a book means getting it out there to let readers know. I shot off a bunch of emails to libraries, distributors, and book stores. The two book stores who have my first book happily agreed to stock my second. Goodreads held a giveaway for five copies and 853 people from around the world entered; 300 put it on their book shelf to read. I did a couple of ads on Facebook with mixed results but overall got some good exposure. How that translates into sales is too early to say.

The radio interview was done a few weeks ago on 3SER 97.7 Casey community radio on a show called Viewpoints. I chose to pre-record it and was surprised how easy it was to talk about my work. Of course the host, Henry Grossek was the consummate professional and made it very easy by asking all the right questions.

Soon after I held my book launch on June 24th at the Wheelers Hill library with a good crowd in attendance. Book sales helped to defray the costs of publication. Award winning YA author, Nicole Hayes launched my collection with a wonderful speech. The support and encouragement I received from everyone was nothing short of phenomenal and the reviews so far have been very complimentary.

Amongst this feverish activity, I finally worked out the ending of my next novel, A Perfect Stone. Now on to finish my second draft then constant rework for the next few months.
Yes, it’s been busy.

The Cost/Benefit of Self-Publishing


Some people have asked me if it costs much to self-publish. To be honest I hadn’t costed it initially as I didn’t really have much of a plan. Now that my book has hit the market I’ve started to add it all up and was surprised that it wasn’t as much as I thought.

Editing and Formatting

If you decide to do your own book cover, self edit and go with Amazons CreateSpace, then it costs you nothing other than your own time. You don’t even need an ISBN with CreateSpace.

In my case, my book cover design and editing cost was a valuable investment for me. I was a bit scared when I saw  quotes for $2000-$4000 which I’d seen advertised and heard stories that authors had spent tens of thousands of dollars. I spent not much more than AUD$1000  but I’d advise you to shop around. I would highly recommend a good editor and book cover designer. See my earlier post on this at the link below.

(https://sckarakaltsas.wordpress.com/2015/12/15/so-you-think-youve-finished-your-book/)

I decided to buy a set of ISBN’s so spent just over $100 because it was more cost effective and I wanted to have control.

If you have expertise with word formatting, then there’s no reason to spend hundreds of dollars. I managed to format my own for CreateSpace but I wasn’t confident and made mistakes. I used Pressbooks to format my book for IngramSpark as an ebook and paperback for USD$99. If you are familiar with WordPress then Pressbooks is for you but otherwise it can be a bit tricky but not insurmountable. I managed to get a half price deal of US$49 and Pressbooks seem to have offers every now and then. I couldn’t have used IngramSpark without them. Of course, IngramSpark charge US$49 for publishing your book but they have a much wider reach than Amazon. So you need to weigh this up.

Then there’s the proof prints. These are very expensive and I found they cost on average US$25 each for CreateSpace and about AUD$25 for IngramSpark. The proofs are a necessity, so try to make sure your book is perfect first before you publish – that’s a given. Check out what I think of proofs in my earlier post at the link below.

(https://sckarakaltsas.wordpress.com/2016/02/24/the-proof-is-in-the-hand/)

Printing Costs

Firstly, you’ll need books if you intend to sell them yourself or for your launch. If you order books via Amazons CreateSpace, then they’ll cost you a lot depending on the exchange rate.

I woke up one night and suddenly realised that CreateSpace was quoting the USD for the printed book and an equal amount in shipping. If you live in USA then it’s not an issue. But if you live somewhere like Australia then you have to consider this:  exchange rate + bank fees + shipping = three quarters of the total cost for each book.

If you print with IngramSpark (Lightning Source) then in Australia, the cost is almost halved because they print in Australia and other parts of the world. Of course the downside is, that they are not as easy to deal with and I would allow a good two months in your timeline with them.

Book Launch

So you’ve got your books – check out the shipping times carefully with CreateSpace and IngramSpark as this may cause you additional stress and cost if delivery is not within your expected timeline.

You can go as big or small as you like here.

Other costs to consider at your launch is the venue, wine and nibbles. I wouldn’t bother printing invitations – email, Facebook and phone worked the best for me. Is it worth it? I would say yes.

I covered my costs with the sales at the launch, created a buzz and have continued to receive orders as well as sales online. It’s a great starting point in your marketing campaign. Each person at your launch becomes your advocate and can pass the word around. Naturally this will only happen if you have a good book.

Alternatively, if you do a launch at a book shop then they can take care of ordering your books. Some independent bookstores can do this and all you do is provide the wine and nibbles. Of course they take care of the sales and you get a smaller percentage. You just have to ask.

Marketing

Again you can spend up here, but you should research how cost effective it is to get your book noticed.

If you decide to do none of the above and go with publishing on CreateSpace then you can launch your book via social media, have a blog site and try to generate sales which won’t cost you anything either. Will you get many sales? Probably just from your family and friends. If that’s your aim, then it’s easy.

If you’re looking to get your book out right there, then you might have to consider spending a lot of time on social media. Amazon, IngramSpark, Facebook and many others are all willing to take your money and advertise for you but you better make sure you have an eye-catching product easily explained to the reader who will take barely a second to notice.

Personally, I think your book sells when you speak to as many people as you can about it. Signing up for events, door knocking bookshops and libraries are better than a remote control campaign. Of course that means time, guts and confidence and  that in  itself maybe in short supply.

Summary

It can cost you as much as you want. It just depends what your goals and expectations are. The biggest cost is time and the lack of a good product.

But I look at it as an investment in yourself  and your book which can provide many more benefits than dollars. Let’s face it, most writers don’t expect to make a living from writing.  I guess the biggest benefit for me was that I had total control but wasn’t too proud  to seek help and expertise when I needed it. The fact that I did it all by myself outweighs all those other costs.

So what are you waiting for ? Give it a go!

 

 

My book is out. Now what?

20295-Sylvia K-Climbing the Coconut Tree-Cover Design-FA Ingram

You’re probably wondering what I’ve been doing since the book launch.

I mean it’s all done, published and out in the marketplace. Right?

Not at all. It’s only the middle of the process. Just because friends and family have been enthusiastic and kind enough to buy my book, this doesn’t translate into sales across the world. Although I do recommend a book launch as family and friends can and will spread the word for you too. A lot of writers think that all you have to do is release it and hey presto your book is found.

With a quagmire of books out there and thousands of new releases every day around the world, my one and only book is barely a spec in the world for readers. When I look for it online it doesn’t exactly come up screaming its name out from the many retailers out there.

I have no brand, public relations and marketing team behind me to work on selling my book. It’s just me and it is quite daunting. Part of me wants to stay obscure and another part wants to see how far I can go.

This is what I’ve done so far.

1.       I’ve expanded distribution beyond Amazon and have been working with Ingram Spark. So my book is for sale online to forty-nine other eBook retailers such as KOBO, Booktopia and Barnes and Noble. Bookstores will shortly be able to order paperback format via Lightning Spark. This last process has taken at least six weeks so the learning for me is to allow for a longer lead time next time.

2.       I’ve used social media such as Facebook, GoodReads, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I haven’t inundated this and I probably should as I have achieved a good reach.

3.       An email address list has been put together to provide updates.

This is what I still have left to do:

1.       Get my book into bookstores and libraries particularly in my city.

2.       Encourage more reviews

3.       Check out cost/benefits of promotional advertising online

4.       Seek out a reputable book distributor

5.       Explore interested media outlets eg local newspapers and community radio stations.

6.       And blog!

Somewhere in all this is writing the second book which is well under way.

 

My Adventure into Social Media

mazeApparently I needed an online presence to get my book out to a wider audience. Easier said than done!

I had no presence. Online, that is. I typed my name into the internet browser and found that there was absolutely nothing about me. It all seemed scary… but then the unknown often is.

Is this what people felt when Galileo declared that the world wasn’t actually flat? If I take the leap will I fall off the edge of the world wide web?

Like a modern day explorer, I set out off into the maze. I joined Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. That seemed easy.

Now for a webpage. I heard about WordPress. It seemed straightforward, but it was a minefield of inhospitable terminology. Well, for me anyway. For goodness sake -what on earth is a widget? I got as far as I could on my own and then got stuck. I sought help and luckily, my friend’s son, Theodore knew all about it. After a few pointers I got back on track.

It was exciting to set up my page. Like decorating a new house, I chose colours, pictures and themes. Now what?

I had to write something. What was I going to say? I looked at what other writers were doing. Some were writing about their daily lives. Some wrote stories; others wrote poetry. In fact, people seemed to write just about anything.

Finally, I typed my first post. My finger hovered over the publish button. I moved my hand away. Once I published where would it go? I was invited to make it sticky. What did that mean? Uncertainty and fear plagued me. Like Scarlett O’Hara, in Gone with the Wind, I too decided to think about it tomorrow.  I kept my first draft for a day or two or three.

After a week or so of procrastination, I took a deep breath and  pressed the publish button. Then waited and waited. Nothing. Funnily enough, I was relieved – there was no expectation, no feedback and it didn’t come crashing down all around me.

No news was good news as far as I was concerned so I decided give it another go. My next post was published. I got some likes and then some followers. Then I posted again and again.

It seems so long now since that first post but if you haven’t read it here it is… https://sckarakaltsas.wordpress.com/2015/05/19/the-letters/