We have lift off!
Last time I wrote I was stuck on the printing and distributing part of the self-publishing process. I’ve got the printing part done, but I’m still working on the distribution part. So what I have learned so far…
Printing is expensive, especially in small quantities. Despite not having cut-throat pricing, some printing companies are quite competitive in other aspects of their business. My advice is to shop around and to go with what works best for you (sage advice that should be applied to every aspect of life!).
I’ve learned all sorts of print jargon, such as ‘bleed’ (making sure your pictures, including your cover, are actually bigger than the page size so if the alignment isn’t quite right there won’t be a small white line around the edge), ‘stock’ is another word for paper (no surprise to my scrapbooking friends) and paper is quantified by gsm (grams per square metre).
I’ve learned how to format a book in Microsoft Word. This took me a long time, but when one company offered to charge me $3 per page for the privilege of doing it (which adds up quite quickly for a 300+ page book!) I decided it would be a better investment of my time and money to learn how to do it myself.
I’ve learned that B-format is not a standard measure of the size of a book and you need to specify the height and width in millimetres.
The saddest thing I’ve learned is that if you want a review in Books + Publishing, the industry magazine, you have to send in a copy of your book 3 months in advance of publication date. Missed that boat…
As far as distribution goes, rather than marketing to bookshops, I’ve been focusing on getting my books into libraries. With over 1500 public library branches in Australia and over 7000 primary school libraries (which is great news if you’re a children’s author), there’s a good chance your first print run will more than sell out to this customer base alone!
Regarding bookshops, I’ve only contacted a couple of the big chains, but neither of them have deigned to call me back. I’ll pursue this at a later date. In the meantime, the Brisbane children’s specialist bookshop, Where the Wild Things Are, was kind enough to host my book launch yesterday. I read a few passages from my book, and the audience laughed at the appropriate bits (phew!), then I gave them a couple of exercises to do, so they could experience what it’s like to be a trainee PEP Squad agent.
If this sounds like fun, then come along again on September 29 as I’ll be doing a few more secret code activities at a day camp, and at selected Brisbane City Council libraries during the summer holidays.