I’ve Written A Book – What Do I Do Now?

July 12, 2010

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I was originally brought aboard The Soap Boxers to write articles about writing.  Over the months, my ramblings have been all over the map; politics, science, sports and relationships to name a few.  I have also touched on writing.  To get back to what I was drafted to do, this article is about what to do once you have written your book.

Last year I participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.org).  This is a world wide competition to write a novel during the 30 days of November.  The only rules are to get 50,000 words written down as part of a novel within the 30 days.  The rewards are recognition.  I completed the 50,000 words in November, but then spent December and January making the work into a ‘real’ and ‘complete’ novel.  So I had written a book, what do I do now?

The first step after completing your work is to get the book edited.  I have spent the last 5 months revising and update my book.  I have now learned that you really need a professional, non-partisan editor.  I have had 5 people look at the book and now realize that it was 4 people too many.  I chose people close to me to review and edit.  This was not a good idea.  They were either too nice, so as not to hurt my feelings, or tried to rewrite the book to what they wanted.  When being edited you need a tough skin.  You have put a lot of work into this book, it is almost like someone is criticizing your child.  Well I am done with editing, so what is next?

I am lucky in that I know someone who has actually published a book.  You do not have to have a publisher to get your book to market.  If you really want to sell your work, you should look at the major publishers.  If they like your work, they have the advertising and distributing mechanisms in place to sell.  To get published by one of these companies, you have to provide a summary and a chapter (don’t send them your whole book right off the bat, they will not read it).  If you get selected based on that input, they will request the full manuscript.  After that review, they will decide whether of not to offer to publish.  Even then, don’t get too excited.  They will go through an editing process, set up and market plan, all taking many months, before they ever offer you any money.  And remember, if they publish and take on the risk, they own the work along with you.

You can also self publish.  This just means you are doing all of the work.  You have to get an ISBN. You have to get a Library of Congress number.  You have to find the printing and binding house.  You have to market your work, going to book sellers like Barnes & Noble and trying to convince them to sell for you.  This can takes months or even years, and you have to pay up front, so you may never make a profit.

You can also simply distribute your work.  This means no official numbering, so no wide scale professional distribution.  You will be selling on line or on the street corner.  All book stores require an ISBN, even on line book stores.

Now, I do not expect to make a profit any time soon, so I am taking care of the up front costs for identification, but plan on starting sales on line to limit my out of pocket costs.  The identification helps provide copy right protection world wide and provides assurance to my customers that they are getting what they paid for.  The ISBN is specific to a type of publication, so I will have different numbers for the paper back, hard back, large print and electronic versions.  The official site for United States ISBN is www.isbn.org.  The official United States ISBN agency is R. R. Bowker (www.myidentifiers.com).  They charge $125US for a basic kit, and $185US for on line sales assistance.  You can get a package of from other sources such as www.isbn-us.com for $55US for self publishing (listed as independent in the book catalogue), or $129US if you want to have a publishing name (create your own publishing company).

Obtaining a Library of Congress number is only necessary if you are publishing in the United States and intend on distribution through libraries in the United States.  You have to have a publisher (even if you are your own publisher, so create your own publishing company) to get an account.  Once you have an account you can get a pre-assigned number (PCN) that will eventually become the control number(LCCN).  These numbers are controlled by the Library of Congress (http://pcn.loc.gov/). You have to provide a copy of the work for free to the Library of Congress (you will not get this copy back, consider it a gift to the United States government). The good news is that a PCN/LCCN is free.

All of these numbers have specific formats and must be placed on the Copy Right page (generally the back of the cover).  The ISBN also comes with a bar code (for selling/scanning) that you put on the back cover of the book.

Copy right is a completely different beast than ISBN or LCCN in that it is in effect even if you do not apply for it.  By law, your work is copy right as soon as you right it down and date it.  Registering at the copy right office (www.copyright.gov) is only required for legal contests.  It is recommended that you register your copy right as soon as you are ready to publish to make sure no one else sells your work (such as an unscrupulous editor or publisher).  The cost today is $35US for an electronic registration.  You can also have paper registrations, but those take longer and cost more.  I do not see any benefit to these paper applications, unless it is required, such as the design of a new ship hull (not something that should be coming from an author).

So, what do I do next?  I will be spending just about $165US to get ready to publish.  To actually get a book in print will be a bit more.  My novel is 224 pages.  There are plenty of self publishing houses available.  For this example (I still haven’t made my final choice) I am using Morris Publishing (www.morrispublishing.com).  They were the first listing on my search engine.  Based on a 5.5 x 8.5 print and 224 pages, it will cost $5.36US each for a 100 copy buy.  The price per book goes down with more purchased ($1.86US each if I buy 5000).  Of course selling an electronic copy here will be no additional cost.

So my first publication will cost me roughly $700.  Not too bad when considering the cost of other hobbies.  And I do mean hobby.  If you are writing as a profession, get a publisher.  Share the risk, let them sell for you, and get a check periodically.  That is of course if anyone wants to pay to read your work.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. poch
    Jul 12, 2010 @ 22:43:30

    Congrats Martin! It always cheers me up when a writer has finally
    finished his book.
    .-= poch´s last blog ..Panic Button- Facebook Concedes =-.


  2. Carlos
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 22:28:29

    Valuable information for first time self publishers like me. Thank you for sharing.


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