You wrote your book. You had a professional editor help turn your bread knife into a blade. You are rocking a cover that is as professional as any on the shelf at Barnes and Noble. You are ready to get that book into the hands of the masses. But how? How do you get the book from your desk into their hands?
In the past authors would order a bunch from a printer and try to sell them. They might send a box over to Amazon to have online orders fulfilled. There are stories about guys driving around selling their book out of the trunk of their car. This is not author friendly. You have to front all the printing costs and hope you sell enough to cover those costs. Now, if you have a platform that has you out speaking in front of medium to large crowds, you could sell your books in the back and do pretty well for yourself. But if you are just a normal person working a job, you are going to end up with boxes of books in your basement. Unsold inventory.
And even if the book found an audience... If you have all the copies, that means every time someone buys one you have to take that book and ship it yourself. Holy annoying, Batman! Thankfully, inventory and distribution are two problems that have been solved by today’s technology.
Digital books are a real thing. There are authors who make an actual living and never sell a physical copy of their book. With the rise of smartphones and E-readers, digital reading has become part of the book industry. Now, I am going to talk about the Kindle Store in particular, but these realities can be applied across the platform to both Kobo and iBooks stores (and certain stores do better in certain genres, so do your homework!).
If you are selling a book digitally, there is no inventory needed. There is no physical copy to store. Not only that, but there is no need to worry about shipping. It happens across the internet. So you eliminate your two most difficult processes immediately.
When you sell a book on Amazon’s Kindle Store for $2.99 or more, you get to keep 70% of the profits. That is way better than terms you would get from a traditional publisher (where you could be getting 10-20%). If your book finds an audience, you are getting a couple bucks each time that bad boy is bought and downloaded.
To sell on Kindle, you must put your book in the correct format. This is not hard to do, but it is a painstaking process that you don’t want to mess up. You want this to read well across platforms, and if you don’t code it right you could have some very annoyed readers. You could do this yourself, or pay a professional $100-$200 to format it for you.
Print On Demand
NOTE: I am again sticking with Amazon's version of this, called CreateSpace. They are the biggest guys currently in the ring.
So, what about physical copies? You want to hold your book. You want to smell its pages. You have lots of family and friends who don’t use digital. Half of American readers still prefer physical copies of a book over their digital cousins. Enter Amazon’s CreateSpace.
CreateSpace and other print on demand companies have completely changed the game for self-publishers. There is a machine that is just sitting and waiting for someone to go to your book page on Amazon and order it. Once they purchase your book, the machine turns on. And this printer from the heavens will print off your entire book, bind it, and spit it out at the end. It is literally print on demand. No inventory is needed because the book is created for every order. Not only do you not need inventory, you need not worry about shipping. Amazon has mastered shipping, and they will bring their expertise to your book.
How do you get paid in this new print on demand world? Well, your book has three prices. There is the author’s cost, which is how much Amazon charges you to buy copies for personal sales. Then there is the MSRP, which is the price it must be sold on Amazon's website. Then you can add some money to the base price, which is what the book will actually sell for. Let’s say you write a book, and Amazon tells you you can buy personal copies for $3, but you must sell it on their store for $5. That $5 is all Amazon’s money. So you bump it up to $7.99, and you are getting $2.99 on every book sold. You can go more, or less, depending on the market you are selling to.
There is one drawback to the print on demand model. There is no discount based on volume. Which means if your book hits and begins to sell thousands of copies, you still only make the $2.99 per. A traditional book publisher could do a massive print run, and their per unit price would go down based on volume. So they are making each book for less, which would mean more profit for each book sold. But, for many of us, we are not there yet. We just want our book available to the masses. We can deal with success when it comes. For now, many of us just want our stories available to be read.
In order to put your book on CreateSpace you will have to format your book according to their rules. You are going to want to make sure this thing looks beautiful when it is opened across America. Doing a book layout is much more involved than its digital cousin. A professional could charge you $200-$400 for this service. If you are good with computers, there are programs to help you. Regardless, order the book yourself from CreateSpace and do a read-through when it arrives in the mail. It could save you from massive embarrassment.
What are you waiting for?
Print on demand and Digital E-readers have made self-publishing something accessible to most Americans. But I would remind you that it is a crowded market. You need a professional editor and a beautiful cover to show that your book deserves to be in the ring. If you need any help bringing your book to these platforms, I have a few professionals who have offered their services. Just go to my book’s Kickstarter and choose which package gives you the services you need.