Studio Musings

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Almost a year...

Mid-September will be one year since I published Freeform Peyote Beading.  Since then, I've sold nearly 500 books on Amazon.  So I figured it was time to sit myself in a chair and finally finish up a series of blog posts sharing my experiences self-publishing.

Why Self Publish? 
For me there were several reasons.  The top three included:
  1. I knew there was an open niche for my book.  I'd taught freeform peyote beading for several years and frequent searches on Amazon and in bookstores had confirmed that there was little written about the subject, so I had no real book recommendations for my students.
  2. I wanted to start my project NOW, not later.  I had mailed query letters to a couple of publishers and hadn't received a response; I knew that the longer I waited, the greater the chance that I'd give up and never start.
  3. I discovered a print-on-demand publisher, where I could afford to do a full-color interior. This vitally was important, even if I only ever used my book as a glorified class handout. 

Why Publish through Createspace?
  1. They provided the most reasonably priced option I'd seen to purchase copies of a full color book.  
  2. I would retain all copyrights to the work, enabling me to try to sell it to a publisher or convert it to other uses/formats later if I wished.
  3. They would list my book on
Screenshot from 1/24/2011 
Up until a couple of month's after Freeform Peyote went live on Amazon, I fully expected that most of my book sales would be in person, when I taught workshops.  I really hadn't considered how easy Amazon's search engine makes it to find books, even obscure, self-published books like mine.

This was particularly true while Amazon still listed the top 100 bestsellers for individual craft categories, like jewelry and beadwork.  (For some unknown reason, they got rid of those late spring and now beadwork is lumped under the umbrella 'crafts' along with sewing, quilting, crocheting, etc.  Wish they'd go back to the good old days!)

The second is important because one day, I might just get up the courage to recontact a publisher with the idea of writing an expanded version of Freeform Peyote.  Since I retain all copyrights, this is still an option.  As is e-publishing if I could figure out how to make the file sizes smaller (all those pictures make for huge files).

What's Required to Publish through Createspace?
You can go one of two ways here.
  • You can do all of the work yourself and provide them with two print-ready pdfs, one of the covers and one of the interior.  
  • Or you can use one of their author services.  
Createspace's Author's Advantage Book Interior  ($299)
Their design services are not inexpensive because, as I discovered, page layout and design is neither fast nor easy.  But these services seem better suited to story layout than how-to books. Their design packages start with a standard 10 interior images, then charge an extra $10-25 per additional image.  I know this was way beyond my budget!

I chose to do all the work myself, using an older version of the Adobe Creative Suite(CS2).   Because I'd never tackled a project of this scale before, I went with Createspace's Supported Interior and Cover which provided me with phone support, and they reviewed my documents for potential printing problems (not proofreading). While I did use their phone support on several occasions, I won't use this service again.  They were very helpful and worked hard to answer my questions; I simply didn't use it enough for the price.  But I was happy to have it for the first go-round.

About three weeks after I uploaded my two pdfs, I received a proof copy of my book in the mail.  Once I had approved their printing, I could purchase additional copies for myself and was able to set up my 'sales channels' including Amazon and my own e-store via Createspace.

Next week I'll go into more detail on deciding on a book format and setting up files for desktop publishing.  I also plan to write about creating illustrations.  If there's a particular question you have or topic you'd like me address about self-publishing, let me know and I'll answer it if I can. 

1 comment:

  1. Very inspiring post. Thanks for sharing your experience of having your own book and the sales.

    Cassy from Learn Bass Guitar Online