Filed under: Technology & Camping, Working From Home
Publish A Book From Your RV!
My colleague, Patti Faustini, is our resident expert on writing about making money from home, or from your RV, as the case may be and has shared many great ideas for how to do so. Without stepping on her esteemed toes, I would like to complement her work by sharing an idea that I stumbled upon relatively recently that may not occur to many of you: book publishing.
They say there is a book inside of each of us. Many of us have a dream of writing a book and getting ourselves published. As difficult as it is to write a manuscript, it is much harder to find an agent and have your work accepted by a major publisher only to be distributed so it can reach millions of readers. My own experience bears this out.
In 2002, I had an idea for a book—a manual for divorcing parents to help them help their children weather this experience, at a time when many parents are so taken up with their own pain and frustration that it is hard to imagine how to help those young ones in their care. My book would be a guide for even the most emburdened and overwhelmed parent.
I sent letters to more than 20 agents and, over a period of months, found one who agreed to take me on. My topic was within her area of expertise and she believed in my project. Over the next year, we worked together. I made changes she suggested, then re-submitted the proposal to her a number of times. Finally, it was done. She instructed me to send her 10 bound copies and my work was in her hands. After several interminable months, my agent again contacted me and told me our project was a no-go. She had shopped the manuscript around to all of her major connections in the publishing industry and we’d had no takers. The reason? There were already too many divorce books on the market. That was it; we were done!? I was incredulous!
I had been devoted to this project for over two years! Now, I was supposed to give it up? Well, I refused. There had to be another way.
It was then I discovered self-publishing. Now, back in 2003, I did things the hard way; from the ground up. I created an LLC, Blue Waters Publications, and contacted, then contracted with a cover designer and paid her a handsome price to create the perfect cover for my book. I also hired her husband to format and prepare the interior of my book. I went on to purchase a series of 10 ISBN numbers and engaged the Library of Congress to provide an LCCN number for my book. I then paid Quality Books to prepare cataloging in publication data for my new project. I contacted a number of printers for estimates and selected Bang Printing in Minnesota to do the job. Once the book was printed, I contacted the copyright office to establish my claim to the book. Then I began the marketing by entering a number of competitions and sending 50 copies to various magazines and reviewers and entered the book with Amazon and B & N.com. It was nearly a full-time job. That first book, Child Friendly Divorce: A Divorce(d) Therapist’s Guide to Helping Your Children Thrive was published in 2004. I am now down to just two copies of the initial 2000 I’d paid to print.
I went on to write, print and publish two additional books: Romancing the Web: A Therapist’s Guide to the Finer Points of Online Dating in 2005 and A Peace of My Mind: A Therapist’s Guide to Handling Anger and Other Difficult Emotions in 2008. As the numbers of Child Friendly Divorce and Romancing the Web had continued to dwindle, the time had come to think about reprinting. In 2009, I contacted the printer and was informed that it would cost in excess of $3000 to print an additional 1000 copies of Child Friendly Divorce exactly as it was. If I wanted to make any changes, even just a few words, that fee would double. That information was neither appealing, nor possible at that point.
I happened to have a conversation at that time, with an acquaintance who had just published his own book. I had provided him with my contacts and, after it came out, I asked how he had produced his book. He told me about a new program available through Amazon.com called “Create Space,” (www.createspace.com) a print-on-demand division that is designed to assist self-publishers.
Book authors and publishers can do as much or as little of the work as they want and can have as much or as little assistance as they choose. In gathering information about this company and speaking with my friend, I decided this was the direction I would take with my 2nd editions. I am now at the point that I have one of the 2nd editions (Romancing the Web) ready to publish on 1/1/2012 and another, Child Friendly Divorce, scheduled to publish on 7/1/2012. The first is nearly ready to go as I have received the second proof copy this week and it looks good. I was not sure what to expect and am quite pleased with the quality of the book. Further, the cover for the second is complete and uploaded to create space; the interior needs a great deal of work but that’s how I will spend the first four months of 2012.
There are a few things I have learned about working with Create Space that it is important to know:
- The first step is gathering information, then setting up an account with Create Space. This is very easy to do and the website will walk you through the steps.
- If you would like some help in setting up your project, Create Space has professionals available to speak with you at your convenience. You can email them and set up a mutually convenient appointment to talk; they also have an option in which you may elect “Call me now”; you will be asked to enter a telephone number and within minutes a staff member will call you (it really does happen this way; both my friend and I took advantage of this option). Email consultation, via Member Support, is also available but a response generally takes between 24 and 48 hours.
- Once you have a project in mind, the next step is to decide how much help you will want. Create Space has resources to help you design your cover so it meets their specifications. You can also hire a private cover designer who will send you a file you can simply upload to Create Space. A third option is to hire Create Space professionals to design a cover for you. For both of my books, I went the route of contacting the cover designer I had worked with for the first edition of the books as I wanted to make only minor changes and the cost to do so was minimal. In the future, when I publish an as yet unpublished manuscript, I will try my hand at the cover design tools Create Space provides.
- The interior of your book must also be designed; you will need to choose font styles and sizes, heading styles and the like. If you are familiar with doing this, it is easy enough to manage these choices yourself. Create Space also has specialists you may choose to hire to design your interior. When preparing the interior of your text, you will also want to employ a template which Create Space will provide for the size of your finished book. This is important to do sooner, rather than later. With my first Create Space book, I had finished the entire interior, only to discover the downloadable templates which I then had to configure my interior into. This adjustment took many hours so hopefully you can learn from my experience. Do it right from the start. When your interior is complete, simply create a PDF of the interior and upload it to your project on the Create Space site. (You will need Adobe Acrobat software to do this) All of this is simple to do, whether you are living and working from your home or your RV. As long as you have an internet connection, you, too, can publish your book!
- Once your interior and cover files have been uploaded you can indicate that you are ready for the review process. Create Space’s technical team will review your files and let you know of any problems you would encounter in the production process. Once the files pass review (generally 24-48 hours), you will be prompted to order a review copy. You will receive your book within a week or so, then you must look it over carefully and, if you want to make changes, re-upload the files you have changed. If the book is acceptable to you, you may approve it. Shortly thereafter your book will be available for customers to purchase from Amazon. You can also choose to purchase copies from Create Space at a very reasonable cost to distribute to other booksellers or give to people you want to share it with. The beauty of this process is, when I paid thousands of dollars to print 2000 books, it was my responsibility to store them, then ship them out when ordered. With print-on-demand, you have no stock to store, which would be a little difficult for you full-timers out there, and when someone orders a book, Create Space prints and ships it. You are then paid a commission on each purchase, which is simply directly deposited into your bank account. Simple!
- The final decision you need to make is how you want to market your print-on-demand book. Amazon and Create Space have a number of different programs available, some involving cost, others leading to a larger commission paid to you. Review your options and make your choices.
- For any ebook aficionados out there, it is also easy to upload your text to Kindle for ebook publication once your files are ready and approved. Or, if you prefer, Create Space provides the option of having their Technical Staff upload it to Kindle for you for a mere $69. Not a bad deal.
For those aspiring book writers out there, this is the publishing process of the future. As I have told you, I am at the point where I will go live with my first Create Space publication on the cusp of the New Year. All files have been uploaded, the text and cover have been reviewed and the only reason I am waiting to approve the final copy is that I want it first released on January 1st. I will post updates as I continue this experience and perhaps encounter new kinks. I will also let you know about the commission process and any additional information I uncover. For any of you familiar with Create Space or print on demand with tips and ideas to share, please feel free to enlighten us. We would love to hear your thoughts! For those of you inspired to write, good luck! You can do this! Please let us know how it goes.