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Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Experiment 3: ALWAYS Read The Fine Print


I've been searching through lists of printers and POD printers, trying to find one that I feel comfortable entrusting The Artifact, and my hard-earned money with.

Although I am trying as much as possible to minimize my costs, it does seem likely that I will have to outlay some serious cash for the self-publishing quest to be successful. However, my objective is to spend as little money as possible on the actual printing/publishing as the book, so that I could spend more money on the marketing part of the equation; I feel very strongly that as important as a quality print run is going to be for the success of this project, that marketing the book, creating a buzz, a curiosity, a demand for the product is going to be at least as important, if not more so.

But the problem is, as I have posted previously, the expense of most POD printers/DIY publishers is, at least from my perspective, prohibitive: between $300 and $1500 USD. Well, having done my research a little more that figure should be revised upwards: the best services I've found would run me between $750 and $2000 USD.

Okay; this isn't going to be that big a deal. Yes, it means that I have to push back my schedule until I get my annual bonus from the phone company in February; it also means I have to really start chiselling down my credit card debt (because additional expenses are going to drive it back up there after). I mean, yeah, it's discouraging news. However, one of the things I've come to realize since deciding (long before now) to self-publish, is that the one, all-pervasive and overriding theme of self-publishing is HURRY UP AND WAIT.

Armed with this knowledge, I becan searching in earnest through my lists of POD printers and DIY publishers. One of the problems I came across in my search for a printer/publisher is book formatting. Obviously, the first thing you want is a printer that does perfect binding, and, where possible, offset printing. But another concern is the size of the book being printed.

Paperback format, the "pulp" format we're all used to picking up at the bookstores or from the local pharmacy book rack is 4" x 7" in size.

However, not a single POD printer or DIY publisher I came across offers this format.

The most common formats offered are 6" x 9" or 5.5" x 8.5" both of which are a little bit larger than the 5.25" x 8.25" trade paperback format.

The problem with 6" x 9" is that it is unwieldy; When Irvine Welsh's Glue came out a couple of years back, my wife got me a copy for Christmas. The odd size of the book made it very difficult to read, and sometimes made it distracting to the reading process.

5.5" x 8.5" and 5.25" x 8.25"trade paperback formats are easier to deal with and more common. Realistically, as 4" x 7" isn't commonly available from POD or DIY, the ideal is to aim for the trade paperback format.

I went to several different sites, and ordered information kits and cost quotes. Through the process I hit on what I thought was an ideal company: Xlibris Press. They offered not only POD printing of my book, but also a full range of services: they would format the book from my original Word files; they would acquire the barcode for me; they would help with the cover design, marketing and placing it not only with a distributor but onto Amazon.com.

I asked for a publishing kit. When it arrived and I read over the contract I was more than a little disappointed when I read the clauses concerning payment to the author and indemnity.

It seems that despite the fact that the author pays 100% of the cost of printing and marketing the book, he only gets 10% of the profits. And, the author indemnifies the publisher against any legal liability. So, basically I pay the full cost of printing, marketing and distributing the book, assume full liability, but Xlibris gets 90% of what my book earns.

Like the title says: always read the fine print.

So, needless to say I'm still shopping around for a printer. And a marketing service. And a distributor.

It's discouraging, to be honest. I thought I was closer to my goal than this; I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I can't get mired down; this is one setback, and I know I should expect many more before reaching my goal. So, I'm going to carry on, continue looking for the POD or DIY printer that I can work with. I still have a lot of info packs wending their way through the mail to me; I still have a requests for price quotes to come back to me.

I keep reminding myself that I want to do this right; that I want this book to be the start of something. I keep reminding myself that if I cut corners or look for the easy route it won't be.

Mind you, I wouldn't say "no" to a serious influx of cash.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hehehe... always up for a subtle beg, eh Steve. Who knows, ToJ might start feeling generous one of these days... ;). Keep at it, man, the whole world is watching you! I just wanted to know why it tells me to "always red the fine print". Do you mean get a red texta and highlight it or something?

Steve Karmazenuk said...

Erm...Sorry...typo.

Should have bean READ the fine print; READ...not RED...READ...