#99–Publishing questions . . .

I’m late getting my blog written. Here’s my excuse . . .

We had a break in the rain for a few hours Friday and most of Saturday. So I used that time to catch up with my rhodies. I have several and with the rain—heavy at times—and hail this past week, the blossoms on many have lost their luster and fallen to the ground. I wanted to get them cleaned up before they blow all over the yard. I can clean up all my rhodies in a few short hours except for my three large ‘Jean Marie de Montague’ that have thousands of blossoms each. They take a couple of days to deadhead the blossoms, break off the left over trusses, and then cleanup under the plants. I came in about 6 p.m. yesterday, exhausted but happy to have one of my least favorite jobs of the year done. After dinner, all I wanted to do was to go to bed. So I did. I was asleep by 8 p.m. Couldn’t believe it; it was still light outside. Since I normally go to bed between 11 and midnight, this was most unusual. I got up early this morning to write my blog.

Rhodies in bloom are spectacular such as these––'Windsor Lad,' 'Leo,' and 'Pink Walloper' in my yard.

Rhodies in bloom are spectacular such as these––’Windsor Lad,’ ‘Leo,’ and ‘Pink Walloper’––in my yard.

Up close and personal with 'Creole Belle.' None of my photos of 'Jean Marie' are digital.

Up close and personal with ‘Creole Belle.’ None of my photos of ‘Jean Marie’ are digital I just discovered.

There are so many ways to publish a book these days. As I get into the final stages of writing my third book, which is totally different than my first two, I’m starting to think about how to publish it and how to print it.

Yes, while I was in California, I did get the last animal story finished. And since I’ve been home, I’ve fine-tuned it. Now I need to get the introduction and connective sections written, and then I can submit it to my publisher for editing.

Do I go the CreateSpace print-on-demand route where I can have them do the editing and design or just the printing and either way have the Amazon marketing capability? Do I stick with my wonderful, small, independent publisher and the same terrific printer and have my 500 or 1000 books right here where I can see them and know that each one is the same as the last one because it’s all the same print run? Do I do an inexpensive chapbook that I can design and run off and assemble myself right here in town at a copy and shipping business? Or do I go up to Portland and use the Espresso Book Machine at Powell’s Books, a print-on-demand, book-making machine that I should be able to do myself, is inexpensive, but of a much higher quality than a chapbook. Or a combination of these. Hmm! So many choices.

Way back in August 2010 when Dick Smith and I were making these decisions regarding Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges, it was between a university press, CreateSpace, which we considered the best choice among the PODs, or various small publishers. Our first choice had been Oregon State University Press, but we had a deadline of May 2011. They let us know right away that they could not meet that deadline because of their peer review process.

Before long CreateSpace was also out of the running. We had decided that we wanted a horizontal book that was 10 by 7 inches, they could do a 10- by-7-inch vertical book, but not horizontal. That was a killer right there. Duh! Bridges are horizontal. And they would only do 25 photos; additional ones would be $15 apiece. We had approximately 167 photos. So for more than one reason, we could not possibly go with CreateSpace.

That left us with traditional publishers. We checked out about six and received quotes and had major discussions with three before making our decision. Although it was the first book for Bob Serra of Pacific Publishing (who does the local phone book) to publish, it was the best choice ever! Bob had been my first choice to edit the book. And we discovered that he is also an excellent photographer. He did the cover photo and 25 inside photos, and he spent twice as much time as he thought he would on design. Dick and I loved every aspect of the finished book.

So since my second book, The Crossings Guide to Oregon’s Coastal Spans, was also about bridges and needed to be horizontal and was filled with photos, it was a given to stick with the same publisher. We had become a great team. And the same printer.

Jetson, here playing with a toy mouse, is one of my rescue animals featured in my third book.

Jetson, here playing with a toy mouse, is one of my rescue animals featured in my third book.

But my third book is not about bridges. It is a collection of stories about animals of which all but two are rescue animals. This book can be vertical. This book will have at least one drawing or photo for each animal story, but nothing like the amount of photos in my first two books. So this book will be more of a traditional book, which means CreateSpace may be a possibility this time around. And they don’t have as many restrictions as they used to.

My tentative first thoughts are to have Bob do the editing and design of the book. And then go the CreateSpace or Espresso Book Machine printing route. I need to do my homework and learn more about the quality, costs, and current restrictions of each.

Having 500 or 1,000 books printed at a traditional printer, is expensive—especially color. Color has come down in price, but it is still expensive. Both of my books have been expensive. The first one, at 224 pages, had a sturdy color cover and 70-pound weight paper inside. Sixty-pound is normal, but we wanted to make sure there was no bleed through with all the photos. The second one, at 48 pages, also had a color cover and color photos throughout inside. The cover was even heavier than the first book and every single page inside was lightweight cover stock. Because it was a guide, we wanted each page to be sturdy. This was a very expensive way to go. These books are priced at $24.95 for Crossings and $15 for The Crossings Guide. They are priced to sell. According to William Sullivan, “Price your books at five to ten times the cost to publish them.” Had we done that, we would have priced ourselves out of the market.

For my third book, I want a color cover and color for the photos/illustrations inside. I may have an illustrator do drawings for each animal. I have photos of some, but not all. So I have lots of decisions to make. I am very proud of my first two books, and I want this one to be of a similar quality, but can I afford it? Can I afford not to?

Decisions! Decisions . . .

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About crossingsauthor

Freelance writer/editor and author of Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges, The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans, and Around Florence. Spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.
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2 Responses to #99–Publishing questions . . .

  1. Carolyn Parker says:

    I’m sure you’ll get all the data you need to succeed again at publishing. It’s a horrible toss-up re pricing book and being able to market it. Usually the author is the one who works the hardest and gets the least monetary return on investment. Very much like farming, etc….the one who works the most gets the least. I’d suggest, since you have so much energy, that you become a publisher, agent, distributor….for your own books!! You have the connections to make it work.
    Carolyn

    • Thanks for your input, Carolyn. I do the marketing and distibution now, but I’m not the publisher. I really like my publisher, and we work well together. So I’ll probably stick with him. The printing is where the cost comes in. If I can lower that and still have a quality product, I’ll be happy.

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