In the olden days, people self-published a book when they had no agent, no experience, no market and no hope of finding any of those necessary elements.
I exaggerate to make a point. There were other reasons for self-publshing, and not all self-published books were as pathetic as that sounded.
When Jane Coughran and I self-published The Cabins of Mineral King, we chose to go that route for multiple reasons: we knew exactly how we wanted our book to look, we wanted to make money and not share with a third party, and we knew our market and how to reach them.
The Cabins of Wilsonia is the same sort of project for me. Now days, there are many assisted self-publishing companies that didn’t exist back in 1998 so the options are much broader than simply going it alone.
Assisted self-publishing means that a company provides limited choices in paper, book shape and format, types of binding, types of covers, and numbers of pictures and pages allowed. They might provide an editor if you pay more, and often they print the books as you sell them. (This is called “Print On Demand”.) They provide an ISBN and a bar code, and they are listed as the publisher. They do limited marketing, using Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and their own company. Sometimes they provide a handful of bookmarkers, postcards and publicity posters. You may have heard of some of these companies: Blurb, Lulu,and Create-Space are a few of the biggies. This type of publishing works well for some, but won’t work for me, for the same reasons as when we did The Cabins of Mineral King.
So, I’m acting as a contractor and either doing all the pieces myself or finding experts to do the work. For example, I am doing my own book design, which includes deciding how it looks, typing out all the text, scanning the drawings, sizing and arranging it all, and using a complicated computer program to get it ready for a printer. Friends and Youtube have shown me how to do these things.
In addition, I’ve hired a professional editor and may rent the brain of The Book Designer. It is my hope that he will take the slack out of my design and point me to printers and binders and perhaps a cover designer so that I don’t make any gross errors, or even any minor ones.
Being my own contractor means I have to figure out all those steps. The type of cover design I used before won’t look good on Amazon, which may not have been in existence in 1998. The printing company I used is out of business, and I can’t remember who the binder was. Last time we had to find a shipping company with a loading dock so the books could be delivered from the bindery. Then Dad and my husband went to Fresno with their pickups to get the books. Now I have forgotten who the trucking company was, Dad is gone and so is his pickup. (Michael’s pickup has 310,000 miles on it but it could go to Fresno for a load if needed.)
Then I had to store all the books and mail them out to fill the orders.
So, still lots to do and figure out.
And that’s the current status on the book process.
Oh, and I have to plan a few book signings.
Wait, did I mention that I need to figure out how to presell the books so I can pay for this?
Excuse me, I need to go lie down now.