The restrictions based on geography, financing, tech knowledge and a host of other variables have all but disappeared in the modern publishing world. In fact, it’s never been easier to self-publish your book than it is now. The first and most important thing is to do the work and get it done. Get your book finished. After that it’s time to get it out to the world and don’t just sit on it at home. There are a few options that you may not have considered or may not be aware of that I’m going to bring to light in this chapter.
Free publishing options
That’s right free. When I say free, I mean free. As in no cost to you to get your book out there and available. You’ve got to get your book out to the world and to your future fans. Even for print format books, there are a number of options that you can use to make your book available for sale or purchase without ever laying down a dime.
Createspace: An Amazon company, Createspace is a print-on-demand publisher that allows you to upload your finished PDF files. After a short review to make sure there’s no spelling mistakes or problems with the print files, you can make your book available and print out a profit without ever spending a dime. The book becomes available online for purchase in the Createspace store as well as on Amazon.com. You can even select the free extended distribution to have it available on other retailer websites such as Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, and Books-A-Million to name a few. You can even set up a page on your website where people can click and buy the book directly from Amazon and guess what? You get a share of every copy that is sold. Amazon will suggest the list price or minimum price that you can set your book at. As I said, you never have to pay a dime. If you want copies for yourself in print, obviously you’ve got to pay for them, but you get them at a significant discount, often $2 to $3 each for a black-and-white book between 80 and 120 pages. That’s just an example; you have to look for yourself to find out more on pricing. Those same books will sell on Amazon for $8.99 on average. So when the book sells on Amazon, Amazon subtracts the basic cost for printing the book from the retail price, then with whatever is left over they will take a percentage for themselves for making the service available. The rest of that retail price will be sent to you as a royalty. This is really a great situation. It’s hard to get across the fact that you really don’t have to actually pay any money to make the book available. It’s something you should look into further and I will cover further on another chapter in this book.
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP): Another Amazon company, in this case you can publish a digital version of your book, again, for free, and split the sales with Amazon.
Drive-Thru Fiction and Drive-Thru Comics: A print-on-demand and digital publisher that has been around since the advent of ebooks. You can upload the same PDF and make your book available for instant print or digital download purchase to Drive-Thru users.
Kobo: Much like Kindle, Kobo is Amazon’s competitor in the ebook world. Kobo.com makes it easy to offer digital downloads of your books with no cost to you and offers a similar sales sharing arrangement.
There are other options and I will cover any of your publishing options in-depth in another chapter of this book and subsequent books in this series. In the meantime, I’ve done my job to make sure you’re aware that the financial barriers of offering your book for sale have disappeared—literally—in the modern publishing landscape.
Online Publishing and Web Comics: You may decide you want to publish as a web comic, maybe in small chunks as comic strips on a daily or weekly basis. This can also be done fairly inexpensively and on the cheap end. It’s up to you whether you want to create a paid website or hire a designer or not, but if you are comfortable with basic and free web design tools, websites such as Wix.com or Weebly.com allow you to make a free website where you can publish your web comic so that people can follow it on a regular basis. You can also use online web comic hosts like theduck.com or smackjeeves.com. These sites offer users the ability to upload their comic strips and web comics for free in an environment where people who are web comic enthusiasts come to look for new web comics to read. Maybe even host your web comics in both places with a hosting service and your own website so that readers who discover you on one can follow you to the other and find out more about your work. If you’re not into websites or web comic hosting, you can also look into creating your own blog where you can publish your comics as regular blog entries. Blog posts generally take a lot less technological knowledge to create and post. A simple web search can turn up a number of options in both the paid or free arenas.
This may sound hucksterish or cheesy, but if you think about it, there are ads in regular floppy comics every month. If you look closely, you’ll often find hardcovers or soft covers in your local bookstore that have a back list of books from the book publisher or a one page ad for a company associated with the subject of the book. These are ads and they can be quite profitable. Selling a few ads in the back of your book can actually help you finance it, giving you the money you need to live on while making it, or to hire others to help you finish it or to promote the book so that people are aware of it. You can work out all sorts of arrangements and special offers relating to the ads.
Gerry Roberts of Millionaire Mindset advises people to consider pricing a full-page ad at the back of your book at the retail price of 100 copies of your book. So if your book was $10, a hundred retail copies would sell for a thousand dollars. Contact a business that could benefit from having a lifelong ad in the back of your book. Use some common sense with this. Target businesses that are related to the subject matter of the book. Don’t just throw sponsorship offers out there willy-nilly. Grandma’s Wool Shack does not want to sponsor your heavy-metal manifesto. Think about your target audience demographic. Figure out the age, the financial status, gender, ethnicity or hobby interests and then research what other businesses would want to reach that same target audience and approach them. A handful of well-targeted sponsorship ads in the back of your book could finance its entire production. Gerry even suggests offering an extra incentive: offer 100 free copies of the book when it is printed for those advertising sponsors. How do you make money like that? Well if the cover price of your book were $10 and the printing cost on the book were $2 and you sold the ad for $1000 and give them 100 free books, that means you would collect $1000 and spend $200 on printing the free copies and still have $800 left. Not a fortune, but if you do it a few times over and you do it with a book that has a higher cover price point than my simplified example, you can generate enough money to live on for a few months while you actually make the book, or for whatever the reason, such as hiring other talented people or going on a vacation in Maui once you’re done writing and drawing the book and have the files sent off to the printer. Either way it’s a way to build good will and leaves your sponsors feeling like they got an ad for free because they got $1000 worth of books. It also proves to your sponsors that the book is widely available. It’s printed, it’s out there and there’s 100 copies. Let sponsors know that they can use those copies as they see fit; they could sell them at retail price and make back all of the money they spent on advertising, which is a great business proposition in itself. They can give out copies of the book for free, that way making sure that their ad is getting out there in the public and also spreading your work without costing you anything because you’ve actually made money on that transaction. You may even want to work out a deal with them where you could show up at an event that they are holding or sponsoring and you could sign each of those hundred copies to the first 100 people that come through the doors. You can even tie it together with a book launch party which I’ll talk about later. Either way, now there are 100 signed copies out there. Your work is out for free, you’ve made money on it, the people who advertised in the book are happy, and your new fans are happy because they’ve gotten a free book full of valuable stories, knowledge or entertainment, plus they got to meet a real live author and have their book signed. This is the beginning of building your fan base. If these people have a great experience meeting you, they are much more likely to look for your future books and buy them because they remember how much they enjoyed meeting that friendly comic creator at the book launch.