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interested in Self publishing?

If you are interested in publishing your own material but don't know all the details involved or even where to start, you've come to the right place. Publishing your own material isn't all that difficult but there are some very important rules that need to be followed concerning the design.

There are both benefits and downsides to self publishing. the following is a list of some of the major points to consider:

Control - no one can chop up or change your idea or manuscript. You get to decide what goes into the publication exactly the way you want it. You also decide how big the print run will be so you know the initial investment before you start.
Timeline - You don't have to wait for a publisher to discover you or except your work. If you have a deadline and have all of your materials ready, a book can be put together and in your hands in a matter of weeks.
Profits - when you self publish, You get all of the money from sales minus the cost of production. If it costs you $4 to produce a book and you have a retail price of $15, you make $11 per book profit. if you have a small project for family and friends or any project you are willing to peddle yourself, the per unit profit margin you get will be vastly higher than using an outside publisher/distributor.

control - While this is also an advantage, you must consider that you are responsible for all of the decisions including design, publishing, print runs, marketing and distribution. People who do this for a living and have a finger on the pulse of what sells and what doesn't (publishers) can provide a valuable service by reducing your investment risk. That said, there are lots of publications that are passed on by publishers and end up being huge sellers.
Investment - You get all the profits when you self publish but you also have to come up with all the production money before you can even start. Costs include design, printing, shipping, and various other considerations. You will also have a much larger time investment when it comes to getting your product in the public eye. Unless you hire a distributor, you will be peddling your books to retail stores yourself. This can be fine if you have a niche target audience like quilters or stamp collectors as you can take your product to specialized stores and hit most of your target. With broader topics like fishing or music, a distributor will take the bulk of your profits but may find you an audience you wouldn't otherwise reach by yourself.
Risk - When it's your money on the table, it's your money to lose if the book doesn't sell. You have to strike a balance between how many copies you think you can sell and how much you are able or willing to invest at the start. per unit production costs go down exponentially by volume. therefore, the bigger the print run, the higher the profit margin. Also, keep in mind that the bigger the print run, the higher the risk if you can't sell out.

I want to self publish, what do i need to provide?

Luckily, you don't have to be too hi-tech or computer savvy to have a graphic designer put a book together for you. By the time you contact your designer, you will already have most of the contact and a general idea of how you want your book to look.

Text - the first thing you will need is to have your chapters typed out in some kind of electronic format. There is really no sense in paying me $60/hr to typeset your pages from a hand written manuscript. It will also help you with editing as most word processors have some kind of spellcheck. In my experience, it is a huge timesaver to have your text content entirely edited and triple checked before you submit it. Nothing bogs down a project more than needing to make changes halfway into a design. It changes page flow and makes for a lot of re-doing. I highly suggest getting a good editor to look over your script before design starts.

Photos - If you are designing a biography or book of stories, You may want some photos to include among the pages. Digital photos are fine as long as they are of adequate resolution for press. that usually means 300dpi at whatever size they will print. If you don't know what that means you can send me a sample and i'll tell you if they will work. Alternately, you can provide snapshots/prints. Usually, I can scan photos adequately for use in these kinds of books. If you are doing a photo book from film shots, you may want to have your slides scanned by a professional drum scanner. This will yeild much better results when quality and color are of the highest importance.

Illustrations - If you would like sketches or illustrations added to your pages, you may want to find a specialized artist and have them provide them to me. I'm ok coming up with certain things (see logos) but there are a whole lot of people who can draw cartoons or pencil sketches a lot faster and better than i can.

Samples - One of the easiest ways to decide on how to design a book is by finding other books that you like and bringing them along. If you like the size or dimensions of one book and the text style of another and the binding of a third, we can quickly get on the same page (so to speak) and design something that uses the things you like and doesn't use the things you don't.

other - The rest comes down to any basic draft ideas you may have in mind for the design. Some people have a good idea of exactly what they want and use the designer just as a technician to turn that idea into their finished product. Others leave much of the layout to the designer.the choice is up to the individual. personally, I prefer clients to have a basic idea of what they want but aren't: (A) so rigid that if complications arise, they can't be adapted to. or (B) so undecided that they expect 3 different designs and hope to choose their favorite. remember, 3 designs means paying for 3 even though you only choose one.

Now what?

Once i have all the materials, i'll start putting together a template and layout the first chapter or two. then i'll send you a proof and we can decide what you like and what you don't and take it from there. Once you are happy with the design I'll layout the rest of the book and try to come up with something for the covers, endpapers, inserts, dustjackets or whatever else you need in your publication.

Usually, when I am hired to design a book, the job does not include editing. I will point out obvious problems I come across but i seldom check line by line and often only skim over the text to make sure it flows correctly from page to page.

When we are both happy with the design, i'll build it to specs and output a press-ready (camera-ready) final PDF that we can send electronically to a printer of your choice. If you need help finding a printer, i know several print brokers who would be happy to provide quotes based on different quantities and shipping options.

the printer will then output the file and send us a press proof to go over. It is usually an unbound hardcopy of all of the pages and covers printed on the quoted media (paper). It represents exactly what your book will look like when it comes off the press so it is very important to take your time and make sure there are no mistakes. Mistakes at this point can still be fixed but the printer will charge a premium for changes so keep that in mind. It is always best to go over everything multiple times and find all of the mistakes before the printer ever sees the file. that said, there is hardly a book in the store that doesn't have at least a few small mistakes somewhere so it's not the end of the world if you miss something.

Once we sign off on the press proof, the printer will make a press run and send us a few advanced copies. these are to use for marketing until the main shipment arrives. the time it takes to receive the entire shipment depends on where the job is printed. Domestic jobs are generally more expensive but can be turned around much faster. Foreign print jobs (usually China or Korea) can take a couple of months to tunr around considering barging and customs but they are usually significantly more inexpensive, particularly for large full-color publications.

When the books arrive you pick them up and head off to the bookstores and/or distributors and you are on your way! other than the small things like registering with the Library of Congress and aquiring barcodes, It's really not much more complicated that that. As always, if you have any questions or are uncomfortable with anything feel free to ask.

Here is a sample pdf of a self-published book layout

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