Last week this large box of 200 bubble mailers arrived. It fits just fine under the table in the back corner of my studio.
But there’s a problem. That’s where I was planning to store the cases of books. 2,500 books to be exact. I think I have a problem. The bubble mailers are 1/4-inch thick. My book is 3/4-inch thick. Now I know why my business-savvy friend raised her eyebrows when she asked me where I was planning to store my books and I said “a back corner of my studio.” I don’t think I really have any concept of how much space these books are going to require. But I’m starting to get the picture that maybe I should formulate a Plan B.
So, Plan B – Please, everyone go pre-order Pajama School – stories from the life of a homeschool graduate so that I don’t have to find a place to store 2,500 of them!!! Do you think that will work? 🙂
In case it doesn’t, uh, help!? Anyone have any brilliant suggestions for storing an inventory of this many books?
All the bubble mailers and labels arrived at the end of last week, so I designed a shipping label template and printed off several dozen. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been contacting people (and people who know people!) to line up potential endorsers for my book, Pajama School – stories from the life of a homeschool graduate. I printed off all the letters yesterday, wrote names and addresses on the shipping labels, and got the packages ready to go.
Now all I have to do is…wait. The short run of books should arrive today or tomorrow. When they do, I’ll be ready to drop them in each package, and run them over to the post office. Then, all I’ll have to do is…wait. I’ve set a deadline of March 15 for the endorsements. Whatever I receive back by then will be incorporated into the final design, and everything will be off to the off-set printer. Then all I’ll have to do is…wait. About one month, to be approximate, until the books are all printed and ready for distribution. I really want everything to be done right now. But instead, I’m working on developing patience. I’m learning that successful self-publishing requires lots of praying, lots of working, and lots of…waiting. 🙂
Just think, as a self-publisher, by the time you finish all the writing, editing, re-writing, proofing, designing, laying out, securing endorsements, developing a marketing plan, and generating publicity, the work has only begun! Next comes the day-in-day-out job of processing all the orders and making sure that you provide prompt and excellent service for your customers. Since I have never had any involvement in a product-based business, I am pretty clueless about how to set all of this up for the greatest level of efficiency. I’ve met with several friends who have experience in this area, and received some helpful tips, but I have a suspicion that the bulk of my learning will come from actually doing it. (Why do so many things in life have to be that way?!)
For starters, I just finished ordering bubble mailers and labels. I still don’t have an actual book yet, so I determined what size to order by perusing my bookshelves until I found a book that is the same dimensions and has approximately the same number of pages as my book. Then I dug through my Dad’s stash of mailers (the ones he has received over many years and saved for reuse – I guess being a pack rat does have some advantages…) until I found one that seemed like the ideal fit for the book. Plenty of room for it to slide in without bending the cover, but tight enough so that it won’t get beaten up during the delivery process.
I did some price comparing on-line at different office and mailing stores, and eventually ended up at ebay where I ordered a case of 200 #2 Poly 8.5″ x 12″ Self-Seal Bubble Mailers. While I was checking out, I also decided to add a package of 200 mailing labels that were considerably less expensive than several other outlets I checked. I really have no idea if these items are going to best meet my shipping needs or not, but I’m eager to give them a try in a couple of weeks when I start sending out the Advance Review Copies of Pajama School – stories from the life of a homeschool graduate. Hopefully I’ll get the system tweaked at that time so that I am ready to roll when all the other orders start pouring in! 🙂
Tonight, I spent a good deal of time making adjustments to my Sibro Publishing website. You probably won’t see any of them, though, because they are all in the backend! I’m using the Open Source Joomla CMS for the website, and have installed the VirtueMart Shopping Cart component to handle the orders. I highly recommend both of these! They have a bit of a learning curve, but it can be done. It’s well worth it in the long run for a variety of reasons:
1. It is free!
2. It is a very customizable and flexible structure that allows for expansion if you decide to grow your self-publishing business.
3. Both of these have excellent support communities where you are almost guaranteed to find answers to your questions.
4. There are tons of additional components and plugins that can be installed. (I’m also using the free Acajoom mailing list component to manage subscribers, and send out a regular e-newsletter.)
I will say, this option is best suited for the more serious web developer. I’m a huge fan of Open Source (when it suits my purposes), so I don’t mind investing the time to work through some of the headaches involved with getting everything set up, customized, and ready for business. The real test will come, though, once the orders start pouring in! 🙂
(I have been trying to work through some cross-browser inconsistency issues, so if you see anything that doesn’t look quite right, please don’t hesitate to let me know!)
One of the things that I have found most helpful in this whole process of writing and self-publishing is hearing from others who have traveled the path already. It’s so helpful to know what worked, what didn’t work, what they would do differently, etc. This wonderful interview with Sandra Tayler is no exception.
I also found this collection of posts on the shipping process instructive. This is one area that is way outside of my expertise or past experience! I’ve briefly tried to figure out how to anticipate sales and prepare for orders and shipping, but I’m pretty much shooting in the dark (of course, that’s how I feel about almost every aspect of this self-publishing process!). I still have numerous questions, but I am so grateful for others who have taken the time to record and share their experiences to lessen the learning curve for some of the rest of us!
HT: Authors on the Net
Several people have mentioned Lulu.com to me as a publishing option, so I’ve been checking into it in more detail today. This FAQ page was especially helpful to me in understanding how the process works. In a nutshell, Lulu makes it “free” to publish your book through them and then they assume all the costs of printing, binding and shipping it. In some ways, they are kind of like a print broker in that they partner with several Print-On-Demand (POD) vendors, so you are paying them to handle all the printing details for you. For an additional $99.95 you can purchase either their Published By You or Published By Lulu packages. Then they also take care of purchasing an ISBN and EAN Barcode and making your book available through their distribution channels, which feed into several major on-line booksellers.
Lulu gives a book pricing example that helped me better understand the setup. Basically, out of the cover price that you set for the book, Lulu subtracts the production costs ($.02/page for printing and a fixed cost of $4.53 for the cover (paperback), binding and setup) and a 20% commission off of the remaining profit margin.
In my opinion, one of the big downsides to this is the high cost the author has to pay for their own copies of the book. According to the Lulu Cost Calculator, if I wanted to purchase 25 copies of my book (at 250 pages per book), it would cost me $238.25 (or $9.53 per book). I think this is typical in the publishing world, but if I’m self-publishing, it would be nice to produce and purchase my own books for less. It could be that the trade-off in the other services they provide (distribution, shipping, marketing, etc.) are worth it, though. I guess I’ll find out as I continue my research.
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