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Wednesday 12 October 2011

Books, Blogs and Publishing too - Part Two

Having made the decision to go down the self-publishing route rather than try and navigate the numerous submission processes of the traditional publishing houses, my first point of call was Lulu, the self publishing website that offers both electronic and hard copy versions of your books, which can be sold through their site, or your own if you have one. Although it took quite a while to figure the uploading process, especially when creating the front cover file for each book, Lulu’s system was relatively easy to use and effortlessly converted my computers MS Word files to PDF, along with the cover files I managed to create in a very basic format. The electronic version of the books looked quite good initially, although largely due to my own fault, when I ordered hard copies of each one and had them delivered to me, they didn’t look quite so hot, although most of the unsightly errors were quickly undone and revised copies ordered from the printer.

To be fair, I was quite happy with the finished result, so much so, that in order to make marketing my books a little bit easier I even decided to purchase a block of ISBN numbers, so that I could get them recorded on the official ISBN listing sheets that the likes of Amazon, Waterstones, etc use to order books from suppliers. However, having worked out the actual costs of ordering printed copies from Lulu and then realised the sorts of discounts demanded by the high street stores, it quickly became apparent that the figures didn’t add up and either the selling price would need to be so extortionate that nobody in their right mind would buy them, or perhaps more seriously I would end up making little or nothing from each sale. As it turned out I made a few sales to local outlets where I was able to dictate the selling and purchase prices for each book, so that the retailers made a decent margin and so did I, but eventually realised that unless I was going to retrain as some sort of super salesman, then this particular route to self publishing was gong to end in complete and utter failure. Since then, although I have continued to utilise Lulu’s online services and created books in both print and electronic versions, I haven’t ordered any more printed copies, preferring instead for any potential customers to buy direct off Lulu and save me the headache of having to stock, transfer and post items to each individual customer. As it’s turned out I still get occasional book sales through Lulu’s website and all without having to worry about cost, discounts or trying to get paid.

With that particular scheme being both troublesome and unprofitable, bearing in mind I want to be writing, not “dicking” about with administration and marketing all day long, I turned my attention to trying to get my books onto Amazon’s Kindle device. However, as with most things on the internet, this wasn’t a straightforward process, as Amazon would only accept certain file types for the Kindle; and I’d never even heard of a PRC file, let alone created one. Fortunately, having posed the question on Google, I was easily able to find a cracking little program called Mobipocket Creator, which convert HTML files into suitable files for the kindle, even though it meant that I had to rearrange my MS Word files into Frontpage HTML files, along with all the relevant image files that my book manuscripts contained. Although it had its limitations in respect to page layout, etc. Mobipocket turned out to be a fantastic little package, which ultimately allowed me to format all six books into Kindle files and put them up for sale throughout the Amazon network. I have to say that I have been more than impressed with the results from this particular exercise; and where sales have been less than brilliany, this is entirely the result of subject matter rather than anything else, after all not everyone is interested in the history of my home city, though I can’t imagine why?

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