Great Newsletter for Self-Publishers

Networking, Reading/Researching No Comments »

Sometime in the last couple years when I was heavily into researching and learning about all things publishing-related, I signed up for the free Publishing Basics Newsletter put out by Ron Pramschufer. I’ve been so swamped this spring that I’ve just been deleting it when it arrives in my inbox at the beginning of each month, but today I took a few minutes to peruse the July issue and realized what a treasure trove of tips and ideas it is!

If you’re looking for some good, solid information from other authors and publishers who have been down the publishing road, you’ll want to subscribe to this newsletter. In my initial perusal, this quote in Carolyn Madison’s article, Is It Possible to Over Edit? caught my attention:

Oscar Wilde expressed a similar view: β€œI was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”

I can so relate! Maybe that’s why I’m such a slow writer… πŸ™‚

Obviously, as with any publication that is comprised of content from a wide variety of individuals, you will have to take some things and leave others. With that in mind, though, you’re sure to find a good dose of information (like this article, Why the Obsession to “Protect” Your Writing is Misguided by Fred Gleeck) and inspiration (like this article, How long did it take you to find a publisher? by Charles Noland) in each issue!

Business and Marketing Resources

Marketing, Reading/Researching No Comments »

For years I’ve loved studying and discussing business ideas and related issues. (In fact, if you’ve read my book, you know that when my sisters and I were little we eschewed traditional toys in favor of setting up offices and running imaginary businesses! πŸ™‚ ) There are an overwhelming amount of resources related to business topics, but here are a couple that I’ve come across recently and thought I would share:

New Venture Lab – I became acquainted with this company last year when some friends of mine organized a Christian Family Entrepreneurship seminar with the founder, Wade Myers, as the featured speaker. I signed up for a free account at that time to gain access to all the great content on the website. This also adds your name to the e-newsletter list, which is a fabulous collection of success stories, blog posts, business profiles, and more! I enjoy skimming through the newsletter each month and reading the content that grabs my attention.

Pushing Kingdom Business – A guest blog post that was linked to in the New Venture Lab e-newsletter caught my attention because I presented a similarly titled workshop to a music teachers association a couple weeks ago: How to Build Your Brand Through Effective Marketing. The post was written by R.E. Plaskett. His byline was intriguing, so I clicked over to his website. Once there, you can sign up for 10 Must Know Kingdom Lifestyle Business Success Strategies and browse a collection of what appear to be insightful and helpful articles. I haven’t looked over it in depth yet, but at first glance it definitely looks promising!

Carnivals of Self-Publishing

Marketing, Reading/Researching, Writing/Editing 1 Comment »

For the past three months, Bryce Beattie, of the StoryHack blog, has been compiling and posting The Self Published Carnival. I’ve been a bit delinquent (as if you all didn’t already know that), so I just finally got around to looking over them in greater detail. They are fabulous! From writing to editing to marketing and more, the links on these carnivals are a treasure trove of helpful tips and tools for the self-publisher:

The Self Published Carnival #1

The Self Published Carnival #2

The Self Published Carnival #3

Payment Processing

Reading/Researching, Selling 7 Comments »

One of the things I have been doing some research into over the past several weeks is payment processing options. As long as I am doing on-line sales, what I’ve currently got set up through PayPal works just fine. But I’m also going to be doing some off-line sales and need a working solution for those who would want to pay via credit or debit card.

I had heard of a Christian company called Cornerstone Payment Systems that sounded promising, but after a week of failed attempts to submit their on-line form, and having two e-mails returned as undeliverable I gave up on that option. So today I started investigating the options through PayPal. The Virtual Terminal was looking like a viable option until I saw the pricing chart – $30/mo. fee + a per transaction fee of 3.1% + $0.30. Eek! Perhaps I will find that the pricing is competitive with what I would have to pay to use a credit card processing company, but I still have no idea. I can’t imagine making enough in book sales at this point for that to be a cost-effective solution!

Still need to do some more research, but I would love to know if anyone has any recommendations for credit card processing companies. Also, I’d love to get some input on whether you think it would mean a significant loss in sales if I opted not to accept credit/debit cards at this point for offline sales. I just have a single book, priced at $14.99. Is it unreasonable in this day and age to limit people to paying with only cash or check? Any advice or opinions?

Interview with a Self-Publisher

Reading/Researching, Shipping No Comments »

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!).Β  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

Getting Down to Business

Marketing, Networking, Reading/Researching 1 Comment »

Since my book is in the hands of editors right now, I haven’t been focusing at all on the writing aspect of the project. I finally sat down and made a list of the top things that I need to do right now business-wise in preparation for the launch of my book. These are things that will be necessary further down the road and I’ve been putting them off because, well, frankly because I didn’t want to do them. πŸ™‚

But last night I assigned numbers to the list so that I had an order to work from and this morning I set about to tackle the first item on the list: Research and set up affiliate program. I used the open source Joomla CMS to develop my website and have installed VirtueMart as my e-commerce solution. There is supposedly a built-in functionality for an affiliate program in VirtueMart, but it doesn’t work. So I’ve been scouring the forums and extension offerings for the past couple of hours trying to figure out if there is a solution that has been developed to handle an affiliate program. It appears that there is a lot of demand for such a product, but only a couple in development or available and I’m a little leery of forking over the money before I know for sure that the company behind it is legitimate and the product works as advertised.

So, I’m still researching. Some of the more well-known affiliate programs are exclusive to downloadable content, so that’s no good. The search continues and hopefully I’ll have this figured out soon so I can move to the next item on my list. That’s my favorite part – crossing items off my list! πŸ™‚

Purchase ISBN Block – Done!

Designing, Reading/Researching No Comments »

Thanks to the very prompt and gracious advice of Morris Rosenthal of the Self Publishing Blog, I finally felt some semblance of confidence to make the next step – purchase a block of ISBNs. I knew that Bowker was the place to go, but when I went to place my order, I had the option to also purchase an EAN Bar Code through them and an SAN, which they say many retailers and wholesalers require you to have. There were additional fees, of course, to add these items to the order and I had no idea whether I really needed them or not. Here’s what Mr. Rosenthal has to say:

Run, do not walk, from all additional Bowker offerings, beyond the basic ISBN block. Self publishers do not need SAN numbers, and I’m darned if I know who does:-)

Finally, I felt like I was getting somewhere! The only other thing I wanted to know before proceeding with my order was what other options I had for getting an EAN Bar Code. This was Mr. Rosenthal’s response to my query:

I’ve been using Milgram’s free barcode generator since 2002 (I really owe him a donation now that I see he’s finally put up a donation button:-)

The only trick is you want the EPS (Embedded Postscript File) but it comes without a preview, so when you stick it in your cover design, it will probably show up as a rectangular block without showing the barcode. But as soon as you generate the PDF, the barcode will appear.

It’s here: Bar Code Generator

Yes! That’s what I needed to know. So, thanks to Mr. Rosenthal’s timely assistance and an unexpected and generous contribution from a friend, I was able to place my order last night. As soon as the ISBN blocks arrive I will be able to move to the next step of generating a bar code and applying for a Library of Congress number. I’ll keep compiling a step-by-step list as I go to hopefully spare others from having to engage in the same extensive searching and subsequent head-banging as me to figure all this out. πŸ™‚

[Not] Making Sense of All These Forms and Applications

Reading/Researching 2 Comments »

My brain hurts. I’ve just spent the last several hours pouring over website pages and downloadable files trying to figure out what forms I need to file, what bar codes I need, in what order to make applications for the numbers, etc. The evening started with a simple plan to purchase my block of ISBNs. Haha. It was anything but simple. Now I have to decide: do I want an EAN Bar Code? Is a UPC also necessary? Should I add an SAN to the order? It says it’s 50% off if I order it when I order my ISBN, but do I really need it? Numerous on-line searches yielded little in the way of helpful advice.

Since I was stuck, I moved on to the next task – figure out what exactly I need to do to register here in the state of Kansas. I know that if I set up the publishing company as a sole proprietorship (which is the most logical step at this point) that I don’t need to register the business with the state, but since I’ll be selling products, I’m pretty sure that I need to register something in order to pay sales tax on those orders. So, is that the Business Tax Application that I found and downloaded? If so, the application form indicates that I need an FEIN from the IRS. But the IRS information leads me to believe that perhaps an FEIN is not necessary after all. And just being on the IRS site reminded me that I’ll have more bookkeeping and tax filing to do with the formation of this new business, providing I can figure out when and what to file and whether I have to send in quarterly reports or payments, etc.

If I sound confused, it’s probably because I am. Tonight’s hours of work yielded far more questions than answers. But I’m determined to sort through all of this and put together a step-by-step guide for self-publishers covering all these things once I’ve got it all figured out. And if anyone knows of such a guide already in existence, please have a heart and tell me where I can find it…then perhaps I can still preserve a measure of my sanity. πŸ™‚

Bookstore Browsing

Designing, Reading/Researching 1 Comment »

Tonight a friend and I headed over to a new Barnes and Noble in town to browse the shelves. I had a few specific things I was looking for, but I was mostly interested in exploring for ideas. I also wanted to get a better feel for what is effective when it comes to titles and cover design. Here are some of the observations I made:

  • Short titles are good. Short titles fit well on the spine of a book and allow the type size to be large enough to be easily read. Short titles tend to be easier to remember.
  • Vague titles are not good. Vague titles don’t give enough information about the book. Vague titles don’t captivate you and make you want to pick the book up. Vague titles are not memorable.
  • Script type on the spine is not good. It looks pretty, but it doesn’t do the job. I passed over lots of books just because I didn’t want to go to the extra effort to contort my neck and squint my eyes to figure out what the book was titled.
  • Professionally designed book covers are good. There were two random books that I saw as I was browsing that made me wince and wonder if they were self-published. They were. Or at least they were published by very small publishing houses. The covers were bland and unappealing.
  • Full color covers are good. Maybe it’s just my personality and personal taste, but the better the use of color, the more likely I am to pick up a book. A cover with just one drab background color thrown behind the title or cover art is very blah and looks unprofessional.

How to Make Money Publishing From Home Review

Reading/Researching 1 Comment »

How to Make Money Publishing from Home by Lisa Shaw covers the broadest scope of self-publishing ideas of any of the books I’ve read thus far. Like several of the other books I’ve reviewed, this one is organized into three parts:

1. The Home-Based Publishing Industry – this section covers a lot of the preliminary considerations one should make before jumping into self-publishing. It discusses some of the pros and cons of running a home-based publishing businesses and helps the reader determine if they are really cut out for it or not.

2. Your Publishing Choices – from booklets to greeting cards to software to books, this section addresses many of the possibilities for the self-publisher. Each of the different areas was further broken into these points:

  • Description of Business
  • Ease of Startup – rated easy, moderate or difficult, followed by a rationale for the rating
  • Range of Initial Investment – specific dollar amounts to give the reader an idea of what they can expect to spend to start the business
  • Time Commitment – Part-time or Full-time with a few extra details
  • Success Potential – a realistic assessment of what the publisher can expect, what the competition is like and what direction the market is headed
  • How to Market the Business – a list of the best approaches based on the business type
  • The Pros – positive aspects to the particular business type
  • The Cons – specific drawbacks to the particular business type
  • Special Considerations – random useful notes to further educate the reader
  • Profile – a section telling the true story (with the one being profiled writing their story in the first person) of someone who is a self-publisher in the particular business type and thoughts on what worked and what didn’t work for them

3. The Business of Running Your Home-Based Publishing Business – this section covered a lot of the basics for both a publishing business specifically, but also for home-based businesses in general. Since I already run a home-based business, I skimmed over a lot of this part, but for someone just starting into a home-based business for the first time, it provides a lot of important considerations.

This book is both realistic and practical while still opening up the reader’s mind to the varied possibilities available in the self-publishing world. Although I am focusing solely on my book right now, I found myself growing excited about the possibility of also publishing booklets in the future. I kept thinking of all sorts of topics that would be perfect for a booklet and had to remind myself not to get carried away and start yet another project!

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