Hello Monster Hunters,
As announced on the Emby Facebook page, The Ghost Papers received many more submissions than expected – far too many for me to choose for one book. In fact, there are far too many for me to squeeze into a super book, and far too many even to split into a double volume. Thus, I have decided that THE GHOST PAPERS will appear in 4 volumes throughout 2015. I am selecting the stories for Volume I as we speak, with a release date of March 31st in mind. After Volume I, I’ll begin on Volume II and so on. This means that authors will have to wait a bit longer for word on the status of your story and while waiting is an excruciating part of this process, I believe that four volumes worth of ghost stories is worth it. As always, authors shopping stories to multiple markets (or whom cannot sleep) are welcome to contact me for an early decision through email or Facebook.
In other news, this past week has been tumultuous (to say the least) for authors of another press. Who and why are not relevant to this post and my only comment in that direction will be to say that I will buy books from authors that wish for me to buy them. If an author makes an announcement to boycott a book, I’ll honor their wish. If an author wants me to buy their book, I’ll purchase it and read it with pleasure. This post is for the authors who planned to have a book out and have since learned that those plans have been scuttled. Many of these authors have commented on the time it will take to shop their book to another publisher, be accepted, go through that publisher’s production-to-release process and finally see their work appear for sale. This is a legitimate concern. Many of these authors have also commented on the great reduction of that timetable if they choose to self-publish their work. This is legitimate observation. But, some of the math I’ve witnessed in reference to the self-pubbing option does not add up, and that is where I’d like to comment.
I’ve seen some itemized lists that soar into the range of thousands of dollars – amounts that are discouraging at best and inaccessible at worst. I’ve seen plans that low-ball costs and skip vital steps in the publishing process that will result in poor quality releases. As I look at these posts and comments, many by acquaintances and friends, I feel I can offer something by providing accurate information, a few suggestions and a couple of providers of services.
And yes, I’m a publisher supporting self-publishing. Simply put, the option is out there and the marketplace likes it. My business models and practices reflect these realities and I enjoy reading well put together works. As a small press, I work within sub-genres and am confident that as long as I offer contracts that appeal to folks, I’ll have business. But, those folks need to make a living by having other work out there, through other presses, and more and more often through self-publishing. Those works should be all that they can be, and that option is attainable.
It does cost money to produce your book. If you do it on the cheap (less than a few hundred bucks) it will, in most cases, look cheap. However, every author can have a book that looks and feels just as good as any other professionally produced book and here are a few of the ways to do that:
One your manuscript is ready, have that manuscript edited. This cost is variable. Check with your writing groups and friends to find out what freelance editors they recommend, and shop around for one that has worked on books that you like. I won’t recommend any that I’ve not personally worked with (and mine are all busy at the moment…) but there are plenty of editors out there and your book will absolutely be better after a good edit. Trade editing duties with another author if you need to, but get other pairs of eyes on your book – they will see things that you can’t, every time, guaranteed.
Then you need to have your manuscript formatted and translated into the versions that you wish to sell it in. This seems to be a source of debate and confusion, and it is a complex process where mistakes can be made that will look terrible on screen or in print. You can do it yourself, but you will need to know a myriad of details such as what fonts are legal to use, copyright matter and a hundred other things at least. The good news is, professional services are available and at a completely manageable cost. I recommend BB eBooks – I’ve worked with them a lot and they are fast, precise and a pleasure to deal with. Check out their site to learn a lot about our industry and process. In addition, they provide lots of information about marketing your work. Again, I won’t recommend folks I haven’t worked with, but there are other organizations who do the same thing and the bottom line is, you can have your work translated and looking great in any and all formats you desire, all for under $150 in most cases.
ISBN numbers. You’ve just seen what BB has to say about them in the above link. Bowker sells them and they do cost a lot for a string of digits (less if you buy them in bulk). There are second-hand suppliers. There are author-groups that buy them to split. A little due diligence goes a long way toward making the right decision for you and promoting your work.
Next, it’s time to have a cover produced. This is another complex step that goes far beyond mashing up a few photos in that free version of Photoshop. Font copyrights are again important, visibility of the title, colors, spacing and layers all play a vital role in creating a cover that will sell your book. The good news here is that there are cover artists that are reasonable and well worth the money. One of the artists I work with is Conzpiracy Digital Arts (The Whitechapel Demon, The Jade Suit of Death, Coppertown Red and Black Fox in Thin Places are all covers by CDA). Conz specializes in horror covers and works with major publishers, small presses and self-pub clients. For a flat rate of $300, you can have a cover from the same guy that does re-print covers for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, which is to say, the man knows his business.
After these steps, the book is built and you are ready to go to market. There are a lot of options here, but Amazon is still the big dog and it’s easy – really easy, as in a matter of minutes – to put a Kindle book out there for sale. They ask for 12 hours or so before that book is live. Smashwords will have your book up instantly, and they’ll distribute it to other sellers in some cases. There are other options, the key being that you are making decisions about where your book goes based on how you want to sell it and having the royalties deposited straight into your account, all on your schedule.
So, for those authors that have seen other numbers, here’s the straight shot on two of your largest costs:
Formatting and translating: $150
Cover cost: $300
You can get an ISBN and some editorial work done, still come in well under a thousand bucks and have your book up for sale when you want to.
I share this information because I like to read, I want to see authors do well for themselves and because nobody enjoys reading poorly built books. If you have a monster-hunting novel you want to pitch me, I’ve got a pitch link on this site. If you want to go for publication with other publishers, all of the way up to the Big 5, I say go for it and will cheer you on. And, if you want to do it yourself because you can and it makes a lot of sense in a lot of cases, hit me with a link and I’ll buy your book.
As long as the books are getting out there, we’re all winning. Business begets business, so forth and so on.
I’ll have another book to release this week – the first Emby Kids book. I have some new anthology announcements to make and The Jade Suit of Death will be the big Emby treat in time for Halloween this year.
So stay tuned, sharpen your stakes and keep those silver bullets close to hand.