Independent publishing / self publishing is a fast growing part of the publishing landscape. New technology, specifically print on demand (POD) printing, now allows self publishers and small independent publishers to produce quality books and market them worldwide in a way that was not possible before. The Interesting Fact of the Day Blog says that “In the U.S. total books sold is about 840 million unit sales, with about 20% being e-books and 80% being print books. A huge area of growth has been the “self-publishing” industry. Self-publishing means that that author mainly uses his/her own resources to publish the book without use of an established publishing house.” The 840 million figure seems to be based on 2017 statistics.
Indie-publishing is a bit like the craft beer industry in that it is transforming traditional publishing and bring new ‘flavors’ to what is available to be read. As a DYI Author you have both a lot of control and a lot of responsibility for your book and the publishing process.
A book created on Amazon KDP ( https://kdp.amazon.com/ ) or Ingram Spark ( https://www.ingramspark.com ) is almost immediately available online and in most book stores for special order. It is also the most cost effective way to get a poetry book or memoir printed for a small local direct sale, because there is no minimum print run required.
For a highly graphical book such as a picture book for children, Print on demand printing for color pages provides the same advantages in that it too gets world wide distribution online with royalties for online sales sent directly to the author.
Ten things to consider.
- As a print-on-demand author - one person needs to ‘own’ the relationship with Amazon KDP or Ingram Spark. This includes giving them tax information, a bank account where royalties will go, and a charge card where author copies of the book will be paid for.
- Because Print-on-Demand (POD) is a technological and internet based process, the Author or some one they are working with needs to have a good working ability to do things on line such as filling out forms and uploading files.
- The two major POD printers are Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark. Both have similar, though not the same, requirements for interior and cover files. Both companies offer some online tools to allow creating of simple texts and cover designs using their tools.
- Amazon KDP and Ingram Spark allow for e-book, or print-on-demand printed books, or both. The design requirements for printed books is quite different from e-books. To issue you book as both requires two separate sets of files. One designed for print and one designed for e-book.
- People do judge a book by its cover. Professional cover designers can help improve the look of your book.
- Amazon is probably the worlds largest book seller but not everyone loves Amazon. Some indie-authors prefer Ingram Spark because they get international distribution ( including listing on Amazon) without being printed by Amazon.
- ISBN - International Standard Book Number. The ISBN is the thirteen digits long identifier used for identifying a specific book and format of that book. Both Amazon and Ingram Spark offer free in-house ISBN numbers. If you use the free ISBNs the book publisher is identifies as Amazon or Ingram. If you purchase your ISBN for your book you create your own publisher name / imprint just like the big guys. ISBNs in the US are supplied by Bowker ( https://www.myidentifiers.com/ )
- Author copies – books you buy to sell directly. As a print-on-demand author, you can purchase any amount of author copies at printing cost. Unlike traditional printers there is no minimum purchase and no discount for buying more books than you need.
- While a simple novel or poetry book can be submitted to Amazon using just a word file and their online tools, a really professional quality book needs more than that. Most professional books are designed using Adobe InDesign or Scribus. These two programs provide the tools for carefully crafting the look of the book interior. Adobe Indesign ( https://www.adobe.com/products/indesign.html ) is the current standard for page layout design tools. While very capable it is also expensive. Scribus ( https://www.scribus.net/ ) is an open source and free software package that provides the tools for professional page layout and design. Both are good. Scribus is a traditional software install where you download and install the software. Adobe is “sold” as a yearly rental and will stop working if you don’t pay the rent.
- Fonts are another item that needs some thought. The fonts that come with your word processor are not always the best fonts for printed books. There are lots of print quality fonts for sale and also some very good fonts that are free.
- Proof reading is the authors responsibility! Proof read early and often. While there are pdf online reviews at both companies, I strongly recommend getting a printed proof of your book from Amazon KDP or Ingram Spark prior to making it go live. Amazon currently has nearly free proof copies (you pay for them at print cost).
- International shipping is expensive! Often more than the value of the book. Because print-on-demand books are printed locally as needed all around the world, sales to other countries print and ship locally. This makes selling a book world wide a cost effective reality.