With self publishing booming, where GooglePlay, Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble make it possible to easily self publish your books, I am surprised to find that some authors continue to approach the vanity publisher to publish their books.
The Dangers of Vanity Publishing
But once upon a time, vanity publishers used to be only alternative for the author crushed by rejection letters from literary agents. Times have now changed and the writer can self publish without having to employ anyone or pay a penny. Yet I have met and heard about other authors approaching the vanity publisher. Adverts from companies offering self publishing services still adorn magazines and I am surprised that anyone would spend hundreds and even thousands employing the service of a vanity publisher who actually does very little for the author.
How Not to Publish a Book
One author I met had used a vanity publisher who offered the following services for a huge sum of money:
To print a few hundred books from a POD company.
To open a KDP account on behalf of the author and publish the book on Kindle.
To hire a cover designer to cobble together a book cover.
To write a book blurb and put it on Amazon.
To ‘market’ the book by putting it on the vanity publisher’s website.
The vanity publisher robs the author of independence, for every time the author wants to make minor changes to the book blurb or change the book cover, he/she has to call up the vanity publisher and pay them to make these changes. Some vanity publishers are so careless, the book blurb is hastily conceived, comprising a token sentence or two, littered with typos. (I have seen this).
Other vanity publishers restrict the author on the fonts available and the book size. One author told me that she was denied the opportunity of using a particular book title for her book because the vanity publisher considered it too ‘rude’. She had to substitute it for another title. She was also denied use of a fancy font for the inner cover of her book.
My advice is: don’t employ someone else to publish the book for you, self publish yourself. It is easy and here is how.
Dos and Don’ts of Self Publishing
Let’s assume you have written your book. You have labored over it for years and it is now perfect and free of typos. You have saved it as a Word file.
1 Browse to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP Amazon) and open an account. KDP is not the same as your regular Amazon account. This is for authors who wish to self publish Kindle books.
2 Before uploading your book, Read KDP Amazon’s tutorial. Don’t worry if self publishing seems a little complicated. I have devised articles at the foot of this blog that explains things a little easier. Once you have published one book, others will seem easier.
3 If your novel has no internal images, the simplest way to upload it is by Word (the old or new version will do). You can also upload EPUB or MOBI file if you know how. Don’t upload PDF, it will not convert well on the Kindle. If the novel contains images, then read my other article on how to publish books with images.
4 You will need a book blurb. A blurb is a few sentences of what the book is about to entice readers. This will be seen on your Amazon book page. Find how to write a great book blurb on this blog.
5 You will need a book cover. Don’t worry if book cover designing is not your forte, Amazon’s ‘Design with Cover creator’ enables the author to design a book cover online quite easily. Otherwise, read my post on how to design a great book cover yourself.
6 Follow the simple steps on KDP’s Book Actions, which requires you to infil fields for the book title, author name (you can use a pseudonym), blurb, book cover and book file.
A field requires you to use up to seven key words, which are short tags that help buyers find your book (for example, ‘romantic thriller’ or ‘dystopian adventure’). Read my article on how to do keyword research for your book so more people will find it. Page forward to input your price and rights. Read my article on how to set the best price for your ebook.
Where you can Self Publish Your Book
Consider self publishing your book on other online book retailers too, such as GooglePlay, Google Books, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, Scribblr and more. Smashwords will enable the writer to publish to lots of online book retailers in one go via one account. But first, you will need to open an account on Smashwords.
Note: Smashwords do not distribute to Amazon or Googlebooks, so you will need to open accounts on these. A helpful self publishing guide on how to format books for all ereaders is Mark Coker’s ‘Smashwords Style Guide’. All his books are free from Smashwords or Kindle.
Self Publish Paperback Copies of Your Book for Free
The author does not have to purchase copies of his/her book in order to sell them on. The paperback novel can be distributed without spending a penny. Print on Demand (or POD) is the answer. Here’s how.
1 Browse to Createspace. Createspace is part of Amazon that publishes and distributes paperback versions of your book. Open an account with Createspace.
2 In similar fashion to the Kindle version of your book, you will need to have ready: the book file the title, author name, blurb and book price etc.
3 Files accepted on Createspace are Word or PDF. Read my article on how to prepare the interior file of your book for Createspace.
4 You can also read my article on how to prepare a large print version of your novel. A large print version will reach more readers.
5 If your interior file contains images, read my article on how to format images for Createspace.
6 In similar fashion to KDP Amazon, Createspace has ‘cover creator’, enabling the writer to design a book cover simply by using Amazon’s stock images and templates. Otherwise, you can design the cover yourself, or hire one of Createspace cover designers (this will cost).
7 Follow the other simple steps in creating a free ISBN, how you want the book distributed and pricing.
8 Wait a few days, after which, you will be notified to check over the interior file by launching an internal previewer. This is simple, pretty self-explanatory and helps give the author an idea of how the printed book will look.
9 I will order a one-off proof of my book so that I can read the hardcopy by hand. Nothing beats checking over a book in this way. Ordering a proof is the only expense the author can choose to pay (amounting to a few dollars plus postage).
10 Any typos? You will need to upload a fresh interior file and start over. Otherwise, you can approve the book for sale.
How to Earn Royalties on Your Book for Free
Createspace does not print hundreds of books at once and distribute them to shops in the manner of traditional publishing. They keep a file of your novel on their database. Every time someone purchases your book, Createspace prints a copy via print on demand. This means money is saved from numerous copies cluttering up the warehouse. Production costs are included in the price of your book, so you never have to pay to have your novel printed. You don’t have to do anything except market your book to make it discoverable to readers.
Make Money Selling Your Novels for Free
Another great print on demand book distributer that works in the same way as Createspace is Lulu. The author does not have to pay a penny to publish a book, only a one-off copy of a proof if need be.
Of course, if you have planned a book event, you may want to order a dozen copies to sell from POD. Ordering your book direct from Createspace is much cheaper than ordering copies from Amazon as a customer. This means the author can make a tidy profit, as the purchase price is lower than your book on Amazon’s book store.
No Need for Vanity Publishing
So here, it can be seen that the author does not need a vanity publisher to put your book out there. The author can easily DIY publish. Self publishing may seem complicated at first and snags may cause frustration. But knowledge equals empowerment. If something doesn’t suit, the author can make changes to the book blurb, cover or the book cover file without having to get a third party to do this. The author remains in complete control of the look and feel of the book.
One day, Vanity publishing will be a thing of the past.
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