The digital revolution rolls on!
Here are a few quick notes on my self-publishing experience.
I started out with a simple goal. Learn how publishing works and become a publisher.
To keep things simple, I took an item whose copyright I own and which I thought there may be a small niche market for. The PhD thesis I slaved over seemed like a good choice!
Step One: It was only in loose paper sheets. When I left England in 1990 I was broke so I could not afford to get it bound. Also I had lost the computer file. Arrgghhh…
Scanning 161 pages by hand would be a bummer and not very professional. So I looked around for a scanning company. Guess what? The best firms are the Law guys. I found a Sydney company called Law-In-Order and they did a very professional digital scan to CD-ROM for a total cost of about $45 AUD.
Step Two: How to get the PDF printed?
I looked around at different sites like Smashwords and Lulu. These are all good but cater more for the novelist. I chose Createspace instead because the book is very niche and I wanted a high quality print job with flexible distribution options.
Step Three: Designing the book and loading the files.
Register at CreateSpace with an account and create a book project. Follow the online instructions, upload your PDF, design your cover and write your own third-person book description for marketing purposes. Total time: about 4 hours!
Step Four: Printers proofs and small gotchas.
I had to rescale my PDF to US paper size since it was UK A4. This required a fair bit of finessing on choice of book size. The cover art was a scan of the most eye-catching figure inside the thesis, which I had to re-size and retouch to 300 DPI. Finally, I had to add one additional blank page at the start to make up a multiple of four pages for the book.
None of this is hard, but it is frustrating. Spend time to get a good result.
Step Five: Receiving proofs and final checks.
I ordered five proof copies, because I thought that would be cheaper and I could give some of these away. Actually, you really only need one since they are marked PROOF and you will find it cheaper to buy copies online and ship direct to your recipient anyway.
The process of proof checking is very important as you don’t want to be charging people for a dud product. Take time over it and allow a few days to a week for this part.
Step Six: Marketing your work. The only hard bit.
Create a shop at CreateSpace and setup a discount voucher code. Your online store will be password protected and you can share the coupon with anybody you think would appreciate a discount. This is important as a way of getting started. However, as my career in research taught me, marketing is the be all and end all of success.
So far so good. At least we have a quality product out there.
As I said to begin with. The goal of this exercise was to understand digital publishing from front to back, since I want to use it in my regular line of business.
However, this process was so easy and the quality so good that I will now use it for other purposes. Creating books of photos for example, or other mementos.
All up cost. About $150 AUD including scan, 5 proof copies and extended distribution. These are the sort of numbers to keep in mind for a commercial project, like an extended white paper or (in my case) industry report.
The extended distribution is an experiment, but it is the way to make the work available to academic libraries. I want to understand how this part of the industry operates.
There are some more things to consider if you have a really valuable work, like the registration of copyright, getting your own ISBNs etc
I will deal with those at another time since they touch on what it means to be a publisher.
In the above CreateSpace is the publisher, whereas in future my firm will be.
Technology is a wonderful thing.
Be your own Gutenberg, people!