15 February 2015

To print or not to print?

One of my goals this year is to see at least one of my books in print, so I've been doing research on print-on-demand options for self-publishing.

Pretty early in my research I narrowed it down to three options based on price and packages: Xlibris, Outskirts and CreateSpace. Both Xlibris and Outskirts offer packages with features I was looking for - ISBN assignment, interior design, cover design with price-embedded barcode, and worldwide distribution - for $699. The Xlibris package also includes a set of promotional materials (bookmarks, posters, etc.), but I was leaning in the Outskirts direction because I have a client who used them and her book is beautiful, whereas I've never held an Xlibris book in my hand so I don't know what it's like.

CreateSpace, on the other hand, is free and they'll assign an ISBN, but I'd still have to hire someone to help me with the cover and interior design aspects. I was also leaning away from this option because the royalty calculator revealed that anything lower than a $9.99 list price would result in my actually losing money on sales through expanded distribution.

But then I looked into what the list price would need to be for Xlibris and Outskirts. I'd need to charge $15.99 at Xlibris to make $1 off of each book. It's a similar situation with Outskirts: I know someone who published a book less than 200 pages and sells it for $9.99 and she makes 50¢ royalties off each sale. Maybe $1 a book in royalties isn't so bad, but the point is that these are both paid services, so in order to recoup expenses I'd need to sell 700 print books, and I'm not at all confident I could do that. It seems to me, too, that the more expensive the book is, the less likely I am to sell it. Who wants to pay $15.99 for 250-page paperback from an indie author? Not I, unless it's like a collector's item or something.

CreateSpace is looking like the best POD option, but because I'll need to pay for interior and cover design, I still need to think about how much money I'm willing to invest in a print option given that I'm not at all certain to sell any print books. I do like that I could buy author copies of my book for about $5 each, including shipping and handling.

Another option for me, at least for the poetry books I'll be working on in the second half of the year, would be to use the IPRC or a printer like Minuteman Press to make copies and then sell them in person at readings. Still considering.

That's the news so far on my self-publishing in print research. Now for this week's...

ROW80 Update
"A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life."

[Note: This update only includes the past week's tasks and the coming week's tasks. If you'd like to know how they relate to my goals for this round, you can read my 2015 Round 1 Goals post.] 

Creative projects 
Past week's tasks: Stay away from WIP1; write 1st drafts of sf shorts "Remembered" and "Conformity II;" continue print-on-demand research. Did all this except for the draft of "Conformity II." I spent the majority of my writing time this week doing envisioning stuff, and I feel satisfied with my progress. I also did a little bit of work on the pseudonym's WIP2, which I'll start working on in earnest in June or July.
Coming week's tasks: My beta reader feedback on the pseudonym's WIP1 should be coming in this week, so one of my tasks is to read it, think about it, and discuss it with my developmental editor, Diane. I still need two more first drafts of stories for my SF project, so I'm going to take another crack at the first draft of "One Book" this week.

Past week's tasks:
Post on Wednesday and Friday. Done! Posted about book betrayal on Wednesday and added my two cents to the conversation about what it means to be a successful writer on Friday.

Coming week's tasks: Publish the next guest post in the writing success series on Friday.

Reading for fun
Past week's tasks:
Get The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson from the library. Did not do this because House of Leaves finally came in, so I picked that up instead. Haven't started it yet, but I did read a few stories from A Bestiary of My Heart by Victoria Nelson and enjoyed them very much. They're very surrealist, dream-like stories (some of which have their roots in dreams she had) that deal with some of the same themes I explore in some of my writing.

Coming week's tasks: Begin reading House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. Might need 2 weeks to finish this one because I've heard it's a challenging read.

Community participation
Past week's tasks:
Comment on 2-3 ROWer posts; participate in #writeclub on Twitter on Friday. Commented on 4 ROWer posts. Did not participate in #writeclub because "Remembered" ended up being a flash fiction piece and I finished the draft on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Coming week's tasks: Comment on 2-3 ROWer posts; participate in #writeclub on Friday if I don't already have the "One Book" first draft done by then.

Social media
Past week's tasks:
30 mins on Twitter, 3 times; 2 FB posts on the LLC page; promote #AskAnEditor, a live chat I'm holding on Twitter next Sunday, Feb. 15 at 9am Pacific time. Did all. The live chat only got interaction from one person. I think it's probably one of those things that I'd have to do regularly for a while to build a following, and I'm not sure yet that's how I want to spend my time. That said, I'm flirting with the idea of making the first Sunday of every month a day when anybody can ask me editing questions all day on Twitter.

Coming week's tasks: 30 mins on Twitter, 3 times; 2 FB posts on the LLC page.

Past week's tasks: S
pend at least 30 mins a day freewriting in response to business envisioning questions; write Wednesday's post about book betrayal. Did all, and I'm excited about what came out of the freewriting.

Coming week's tasks: My next step is to draft new copy for my website and write a list of blog post ideas that came out of the envisioning work I did last week. A good friend of mine who has a head for these kinds of things has agreed to give me feedback on the new website copy before it goes up. Yay!

Have you ever considered self-publishing in print? Why or why not?

This is a blog hop! Click here to read other ROW80ers Sunday updates.


  1. You have to set your price so high in extended distribution with Createspace because they themselves use a distributor to reach everyone but Amazon. Have you considered using Createspace just for Amazon (much higher royalties if you don't go extended) and someone else for extended distribution?

    There is a great comparison of Createspace and Ingram Spark here: http://giacomogiammatteo.com/2014/05/createspace-vs-ingram-spark-part-1/. It pretty much convinced me that that's the way to go, at least in my case.

    1. Thanks so much for the tip, Marina! This is definitely something to consider.

  2. Wow, it is complicated to print your work. Good luck with all the logistics. I have not thought of it, but have read the opinions of others frequently. I read Guy Kawasaki's AuthorPublisherEntrpenuer which was super informative and highly technical. You might get some guidance in the book to help you decide.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I'll check it out.

  3. I used to think that I wanted to publish print copies, but now I'm not so sure.I love reading on my Kindle, and that I can have many books, not in tipping stacks, but in one small device I can carry in my purse! Even more - I can read the same book on my laptop or my phone! All for one really low price.

    That feels cooler, to me - magical, almost!

    It looks like you're moving along on your goals. May this week be productive and useful! =)

    1. I completely agree with you about the advantages of an e-reader & am especially cognizant of the affordability of ebooks.

  4. Hello, Sione. Your post is NOT too long! Not only do you introduce a useful discussion on POD (with specifics), but your goals and progress is also presented clearly. Maybe this comment will be helpful as you consider which print-on-demand POD to use for forthcoming books. Well, I'm thinking that more people are reading e-book formats than paper (though many of us still love paper first). The expense is a big factor. I did self-publish through KDP and CreateSpace without using any extra services to keep costs low. I used fiverr for both my covers and earn about $3/book, whether I sell online e-books, PB, or out of my trunk. It was a bit daunting to tackle the e-book formatting, but good info is available. Tenacity helps. Now where to spend all that money we saved? Marketing. I did my first paid ad through BookBub and was flabbergasted at the ripple through book sales that continued the month after my five days of free promotion. So, I'd love to know what you finally decide and will look forward to saying, "Congratulations!" when your book is available. Have a great week. Beth
    PS Thanks for the idea of 'visioning' for blog topics (an area I need to work on!)

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Beth! About your paid ad on BookBub: are you saying it was worth it? I haven't really looked into paid ads yet. Have heard such mixed reviews of whether they're worth it.

  5. Not ready to get print published yet, but I like hearing about others journeys, trials, and triumphs. I will get there. I am sure of that. :-)

    I may have commented on House of Leaves before, but yes it's a long read (even if you are a fast reader). Really an entertain read.

    Oh, and going to read that Book Betrayal post since i had forgotten about it and I am still curious about.

    Have a great week, Sione!!