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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Great online resources for self-publishers (pt. 1)

Never before in the history of the universe has there been such a time as this for self-publishers. The power to make and sell books is ours!

Reality check: yes, publishing has been democratized, but that means you've got a lot of work to do. The good news is that there are a ton of resources on the web to help you take your place among the self-publishing superstars.

1. One of my clients self-published his book (Hip Hop Hypocrisy: When Lies Sound Like the Truth) with iUniverse.com. In addition to co-writing and editing the book, I managed the production process for him. There are pros and cons to working with services like this (it can get pricey), but for the most part our experience was positive and painless. HHH has an index at the back of the book, and even that was easy to do. iUniverse chooses the retail price for your book and pays royalties. We thought the original retail price was way too high, and I negotiated it down $1. I had to really fight for that dollar reduction.

2. My sister edited a novel that was published through Lulu.com. Although services are available, there's a real do-it-yourself spirit there. If you do everything yourself (editing, proofing, layout, design, ISBN, copyright, etc.), you don't pay until you place your first order ("Free To Publish; No Setup Fees"). For the design impaired, the site offers helpful templates. Also, you decide on the price of your book, not the service.

3. A client published 3 books through SelfPublishing.com. To call them a broker doesn't seem fair because they do so much for their authors. "We deal with a group of offset, offset web and digital book printers...We buy book printing in large enough bulk that we can print and sell the self publisher books for less than the printer can sell to the self publisher direct." They offer a ton of information about the self-publishing process. You decide on the price of your book, not the service. I wish they offered a wider range of book sizes, but still, I like them.

By the way... A client self-published her book through what we now know was a broker, not an actual printer. The broker was recommended to my client, and when I tried to do some due diligence on this person, I was blocked at every turn. That was a foreshadowing of all the unnecessary and costly problems that followed. You can't mess with my client, though. Even though she needed the books for a big upcoming conference, she refused to pay one dime beyond the original agreement. A tense couple of days (a lifetime when you're on deadline) followed the showdown, but the broker finally relented. The many problems that kept arising did cost us time. Moral of the story: SELF-PUBLISHER BEWARE. Do your homework before deciding on a service because bottom line, you're going to have to pay something. Make sure your dollars are well spent.

4.  Thanks to GalleyCat, I discovered 2 sources of public domain (a.k.a. FREE) images: the Library of Congress and the American Memory project. Also, Google "public domain images" for a list of sites. These sites are great resources for creating your book covers. Just make sure the images are really in the public domain.

5. Here are some dictionaries you'll probably need from time to time: Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster.com, UrbanDictionary.com (interesting).

6. I use BibleGateway.com a lot. This site lists many biblical versions, from the traditional King James to the Message. Excellent for fact checking scripture.

7. Unless your publishing service provides ISBN's, you'll need to purchase your own from the U.S. ISBN Agency.

8. Go to the U.S. Copyright Office to get a copyright for your book and to get your copyright questions answered.

I love this business because my superstar clients keep challenging me to grow and expand my knowledge base. Seriously, everyday I learn something new. As I find more helpful resources, I'll pass them on to you.

Donna Marie


  1. Donna Marie,
    This is so useful to remind prospective self-publishers that they really need to find suppliers that suit their own goals, and to understand their choices clearly before they sign anything. For instance, if you want to start your own microprress or think you might change printers or print on demand suppliers someday, it pays to have your own ISBNs. Thanks for gathering these great links.