Hi Teresa,
Thought you may be interested in this self-publishing article in the Sac Bee.  Ken Umbach is in the article and gives great advice!
Margie Yee Webb
Thanks, Margie!  What a helpful article by Allen Pierleoni at The Sacramento Bee. . . which answers the questions “How do I self publish? Is it difficult?  Is it costly?” beautifully.

After you read the article, please check out these organizations

Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA)  http://www.baipa.org/

Northern California Publishers & Authors (NCPA)   http://www.norcalpa.org/

California Writers Club  18 branches in California  http://calwriters.org/

Women’s National Book Association   http://www.wnba-books.org/

http://wnba-sfchapter.org/

ZEN AND THE ART OF THE BOOK DEAL

Publishing Panel: Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010 • 2-5 p.m.

San Francisco Main Public Library

Details:   http://wnba-sfchapter.org/

Sincerely,
Writing Career Coach Teresa LeYung Ryan
*****

Self-publishing gets easier with online tools

By Allen Pierleoni
apierleoni@sacbee.com
Published: Monday, Aug. 9, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1D
Last Modified: Monday, Aug. 9, 2010 – 1:09 pm

You, too, can be an author.

In print and online, self-published authors have never had so many choices of where and how to place their memoirs, novels, cookbooks, essays and poetry.

Among those there to help them is Bob Young, co-founder of the giant online publishing company Lulu. Young says “the new publishing model” will not be dependent on best-sellers – the lifeblood of traditional publishing – but on niche publications.

“Our most successful authors generally fit into specialized knowledge-based categories,” said Lulu spokesman Jonathan Cox. “They write about business, economics, computers, the Internet, art.”

Among the major players accommodating aspiring writers – in a few cases, established authors as well, such as John Edgar Wideman (“Briefs”) – are Amazon (CreateSpace and Digital Text Platform), Author Solutions (parent company of AuthorHouse, Xlibris and iUniverse), Barnes & Noble (PubIt!), Apple (iBookstore), Lulu, Smashwords, Scribd and Fastpencil.

Profits from sales are split between publisher and author, with publishers getting 20 percent to 30 percent and writers getting 70 percent to 80 percent.

Self-published authors can choose to have their finished products as e-books downloadable to a variety of e-readers (including Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPad), other mobile devices and PCs, or in traditional book form, or both.

They’re doing so in viral numbers. Last year, 764,448 self-published titles appeared – an increase of 181 percent from 2008. That compares with 289,729 titles from traditional publishing houses, according to the R.R. Bowker Co., which compiles bibliographic data.

Ideal for untested writers; not great for literary stars

E-books account for an estimated 5 percent to 10 percent of all U.S. book sales, according to book industry consultants, but within five years they could account for up to 25 percent.

On Friday, Dorchester Publishing announced that it will abandon its traditional print publishing business in favor of “an e-book/print-on-demand model.”

The decision came after sales of its mass-market paperbacks, its specialty, fell by 25 percent last year and have been even worse in 2010.

Jim Milliot, co-editorial director of Publishers Weekly, said the self-publishing movement “isn’t making any of the big publishers nervous, but they’re certainly watching it.”

“If they have a fear, it’s that one of their large-name authors will go out on his or her own,” Milliot said. “But what keeps the big authors tied to their houses is big advances. You’re not going to see a John Grisham go running to Smashwords.”

As e-readers, e-books and e-bookstores become more ingrained in our culture, the digital self-publishing model gets the most buzz.

Usually, the digital model works in conjunction with print on demand, in which a paper book isn’t physically printed until it’s been presold. That’s a double whammy for an author – an e-book and a paper version of the same title.

Start typing

How does a writer turn an electronic manuscript into an e-book? The process is simple.At www.barnesandnoble/pubit, for instance, the directions for the digital self-publishing template advise: “Set up your account (with us), then start loading files and cover art for … your e-books. PubIt! converts digital files to ePub format, the most widely accepted format for e-reader and mobile devices. … Now millions of readers can buy your e-books” through online bookstores.

Kenneth Umbach of Citrus Heights uses Lulu as a publishing platform for paper and digital books.

Through his Umbach Consulting and Publishing, he has produced his own titles (a collection of columns from the weekly newspaper Senior Spectrum, and a how-to-publish handbook) and those of others. Sales have been “modest,” he said.

Probably his company’s biggest seller was “Capitol Crimes,” a collection of mystery stories by members of the Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime, published partly as a fundraiser.

Umbach advises aspiring self-publishers to be aware of add-on services for sale by tech publishers, from editing to promotional packages.

“Hire someone with expertise in laying out your book, and have a set of competent eyes editing it,” he said.

Publishing is just one step

One of the conceits of self-publishing is that it democratizes the process, allowing anyone to put a book in the marketplace and name his or her price. There is no longer the need for an agent, an editor or a monolithic publishing house.The nature of success changes, too.

“For successful authors, writing the book is the beginning,” said Cox of Lulu. “They maintain blogs, speak at conferences, stay active in online forums that potential readers are likely to visit.”

“Success is different for every author,” he added. “Some just want to share an idea with the world, so they give away their books or sell them at cost. Others want to build a personal brand. Many want to make money.”

Lulu has paid “millions of dollars in royalties to our authors,” Cox said. “Some earn a couple of dollars over the lifetime of their books. Others earn thousands of dollars every year. We have one author who has earned more than $196,000″ from a technical book.

“The market is broad and diverse,” said Amazon spokeswoman Sarah Gelman. “We think that our Digital Text Platform makes it possible for authors and publishers to offer more titles, at better prices, to Kindle customers. We also think this will allow more authors to make a living at their craft.”

Milliot of Publishers Weekly cautions: “For a new author with no established audience, the chances of succeeding are not very high.”

Some find fame

But there are success stories.Unable to break into traditional publishing, Boyd Morrison placed “The Ark” on Amazon’s Kindle bookstore. Sales were so great that Simon & Schuster – one of the publishers that had rejected the thriller – bought it and printed it in hardback.

Frustrated by publishers who turned down her novel “A Scattered Life,” Karen McQuestion published it online. The e-book sold nearly 40,000 copies and now McQuestion has a movie option.

J.A. Konrath says he’ll make $100,000 this year from Kindle sales of his thriller “Whiskey Sour.” That despite book critics calling the title “formulaic” and “cliché-ridden.”

Which brings up the issue of quality. If anybody can publish anything, how good will most of it be?

“In the ‘old days,’ after 30 rejection letters, you’d stick the manuscript in a drawer,” said Milliot. “Today you send it to (an online publisher). By far the lion’s share of self-published material – both print or digital – would never be published (in a traditional way) because, frankly, it’s not professional grade. That said, there is some good stuff out there.”

Laura Miller, co-founder of the online magazine Salon.com, took self- publishing to task from the perspective of a former book editor who worked in the mainstream New York publishing industry.

In a brutal yet telling essay for Salon.com, she wrote in part, “Civilians … can talk as much trash as they want about the supposedly low standards of traditional publishing. They haven’t seen the vast majority of what didn’t get published. Believe me, if you have, it’s enough to make your blood run cold, thinking about (it) being introduced into the general population.”

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128

http://www.sacbee.com/2010/08/09/2945533/self-publishing-gets-easier-with.html

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