Free Independent (Self) Publishing Workshop

Free Self Publishing Workshop on Wednesday, September 27th, 6 to 9 p.m. at Sententia Vera Cultural Hub, 4002 E. Hwy 290 in Dripping Springs, TX! Bill Benitez of Positive Imaging, LLC, independent publisher of over forty books and ebooks, will answer all your publishing questions. Q and A and Workshop is free with no obligation or pressure to purchase anything. Details at http://workshop.publishingsimplified.com/ , bill@positive-imaging.com , or Call Bill at 512-217-4803.

My Tools For Books and eBooks

Reading books, blogs, and websites about self publishing reveal a long list of excellent tools you can use to create the files needed to self publish a book or ebook. I use three tools for publishing my books and those of other authors.

My main tool is Microsoft Word which I always use to create my original manuscript. For the Kindle version or Smashwords version, this is the basic tool I need to create the final file for upload and publication. Used correctly, Word will produce excellent results. You can also create your print books with Word, but I prefer a publishing software for this purpose.

For my print version, I prefer to use PagePlus, an excellent desktop publishing software that I began using in 2007. The first version I used was X4, and I am now using X9. Even though there have been improvements with each new version, for print books PagePlusX4, X5, X6, and X7 are perfectly adequate and can be purchased from Amazon.com inexpensively. Serif is a British company, and they are now into a new software called Affinity, and they are selling PagePlusX9 as a legacy application for only 19.99 British Pounds which is $25.74, a great bargain. I may try their Affinity product at some future date, but for now, I’m fine with PagePlusX9. Questions, bill@positive-imaging.com.

The third tool, Adobe Photoshop, I use to create covers and manage other images. There are options including Serif PhotoPlus, which is not available at low cost, and GIMP which is an excellent free software.

Print or eBook?

Another step in publishing a book is to determine if it will be an ebook or a print book. I believe the best decision is to do both. Today most self published authors publish ebooks because it seems simpler and much less costly. If you know the steps involved it’s not really simpler and the cost is only more after the book is published.

Some still believe that print books are dead, replaced by digital ebooks in various versions but that’s untrue. Print books are alive and well and experiencing somewhat of a resurgence. I always publish both ebooks and print versions of my books and those of other authors. Usually I create the manuscript for the ebook version because the Word document is perfect for either Kindle or Smashwords. Then I use the manuscript to copy and paste into my publishing software.

While there are many options for publishing software, and you can use Word for this purpose, I prefer to use Serif PagePlus. I started using version X4 and am now on X9 and it’s still my favorite.

For those interested in self publishing or as I call it, independent publishing, I’ve written two books and you can check them out at http://booksfor.publishingsimplified.com/. Contact me at bill@positive-imaging.com with any questions. Thanks.

ISBN – International Standard Book Number

ISBN is a critical part of publishing a book. The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric book identifier that is assigned to every book to be sold commercially. And, it’s assigned to every edition or variation of a book. For example, if you will be publishing an ebook and paperback version, each one would have a different ISBN.

ISBNs are normally 10 digits or 13 digits. The 10 and 13 digit ISBN are the same except for a 3 digit prefix normally 978 or 979. ISBNs are critical because no commercial reseller will handle a book without it. ISBNs are country specific and in the United States they are issues by R. R. Bowker.

ISBNs can be costly if purchased individually but much less costly if purchased in quantity. Purchasing a single ISBN from R. R. Bowker can cost $125. You can purchase 10 for $250. I purchased 100 for $575, only $5.75 each. They are even less expensive in larger quantities.

For more information about ISBN go to https://www.myidentifiers.com/. Contact me with any questions. Thanks.

Is Anything Really Free?

We’ve all heard, “There’s no free lunch!” To a large extent that true, but not always. For example, there’s some great software applications that are free with no catches. A great example of that is Open Office, an excellent office productivity software and GIMP, a great graphic software to name just two that don’t attempt to sell you anything. And, I’ve attended some valuable webinars and tutorials that were free even though they did try to sell me something at the end. I made good use of the information and purchased nothing. I’m sharing this because I’m encountering something interesting.

For the past two weeks I have been placing posts on Facebook, Linkin, Twitter, and my blogs for a free self publishing workshop that’s coming up on January 28th in Austin. I placed one on this blog also. The workshop is in a small room so I can only accommodate ten attendees. At first, I thought because it was free my problem would be selecting ten from many. Well, here we are on the 20th, eight days before the event, and I have three.

I’m trying to figure out what’s happening. Perhaps no one believes it’s free because there’s a catch to everything. That’s often true but the only catch with this workshop is that I can only take ten. The workshop is free, short (three hours), and includes two books that cover everything in case you forget something. You can check them out at http://booksfor.publishingsimplified.com/

Maybe they can’t believe that I would do this for free and I must have some motive that will come as a surprise at the workshop. Well, I do have a motive but it’s no surprise. I’m an independent publisher and my business depends on authors accepting and trusting my expertise, reliability, and honesty. By conducting this workshop I get to know the attendees and share my expertise with them and they may tell their author friends about me perhaps bring me some future business. It’s even possible that an attendee may contact me for help in the future but there is nothing to purchase at the workshop nor any sales pitch. It’s the same as this blog and my other blogs and websites, just an opportunity to share my expertise so others get to know and trust me.

I guess it’s also possible that the response has been poor because I don’t promise that publishing a book will make you rich or even increase your income. I definitely want attendees but not enough to make those statements. No one knows what your book or any book will do once it’s published.

I hope to have ten to make it worthwhile but the workshop will go on regardless of the final number. If you interested or know anyone who may be please check it out at http://workshop.publishingsimplified.com/ or email me at bill@positive-imaging.com. Thanks.

Print Books or Ebooks?

With the advent of Kindle and other digital books, there were many predicting the end of print books. As creating digital books (ebooks) became easier many authors opted out of print books to publish quickly and inexpensively. As it turns out the popularity of print books has rebounded; and it’s a mistake to ignore that market.

As an independent publisher of both print and digital books, I work with authors every day. It’s been surprising how many still believe that the ebook is the only way to go without making a large financial investment. The truth is that, if you do the work yourself, the initial investment for either a print book or an ebook is quite similar.

For either print or ebook you must start with a good book that is well edited and has a great, attention-grabbing cover. Either books or ebooks require concise formatting for uploading to the printer or distributor. Admittedly, the formatting for print books and the cover creation are much more complex requiring a much longer learning curve and specialized software, but the steps involved are similar.

Often the main concern to authors of print books is the cost of books for order fulfillment. They sometimes envision a large financial investment and a garage full of books. Print-on-demand (POD) eliminates all that. When someone purchases a book, the printer processes the order, prints the book, and ships it to the customer while maintaining an accounting for the publisher.
The author does need to buy copies of their book for readings, signings and bookstore consignment if he or she chooses to do that.

Promotion of books or ebooks can be costly and time-consuming, but the cost is the same for either one. With print books, you do have the cost of sending copies to reviewers, but sending them an ebook version is an option.

I always advise authors to create both versions. Have questions about print or ebooks, email bill@positive-imaging.com.

Publishing – Step Two – The Title

I like to determine the best possible title for the book as soon as possible. Often the author already has a title in mind. We need to spend time discussing the title to make certain that it peaks the interest of potential readers enough so they open the book or just look inside online.

The length of the title and font size are critical. Too long a title with a small font will be unreadable as an Amazon thumbnail. Even on the small size online the title should be clear and large enough to read and understand.

A good title can sell books so it’s important to take time to develop the best title for the book.

Publishing or Printing – Part Two

In the previous post I explained printing. In this post I will outline all the steps involved in publishing a print book and the future posts will explain each step in detail.

Step One – This involves consultation with the author to determine his or her goals for the book and the readiness of the manuscript.

Step Two – Determine the best possible title for the book if the author hasn’t already completed that step.

Step Three – Preparing the design of the book including the size, fonts, and many other things.

Step Four – Deciding if the book will be just a print book or also a digital version.

Step Five – Assigning an ISBN to the book.

Step Six – Format and layout the book in preparation for printing

Step Seven – Decide on the cover design, both front and back.

Step Eight – Create files to upload to the printer.

Step Nine – Upload all the completed files to the printer for review.

Step Ten – Review the online proof and then order a proof copy to check it out in print form.

Step Eleven – Make any corrections and resubmit for a second proof.

Step Twelve – Publish your book for worldwide distribution.

As you can see, printing is just one small part of the publishing process. And, this list doesn’t include one of the most important aspects of publishing a book for sale and that is promotion and marketing. This is a subject on to itself and is critical to the financial success of any book. These posts will only touch on this topic since not everyone publishes for profit.

Check back for more posts covering each step in complete detail.

Promoting My Books

It is important to have a web site for your book but it’s not enough. If all you have is a site telling folks about your book and about you prospects may leave before you’ve convinced them to buy your book. My expertise has been with nonfiction and to interest reader in your nonfiction you need valuable content that is free. The purpose of the content is to establish your expertise in your topic. In addition to the sale site for every book I also have blogs and I post as often as possible and sometimes with extensive information.

In all honesty, I don’t post nearly as often as I would like but I definitely work at it. This blog, Publishing Simplified, is intended to provide valuable content to anyone interested in self publishing. I sometimes mention one of my books but the goal is to establish that I am an experienced publisher and can be of help.

Another form of free content is creating free ebooks for your various topics. For example, I have a free ebook about publishing ebooks and it available at http://selfpublishingworkbook.com/freespebook.html . The important thing with content is that it must be of real value not just another “buy my book” ad.

Fiction seems more difficult. I have to work on that also even though I don’t write fiction because I’m promoting books that my company Positive Imaging, LLC has published. One of those includes my wife’s novel Like I Used to dance. You can check the blog for her book at http://likeiusedtodance.com . I’m always working to improve that one.

In the next post I’ll share more things that I’m doing to promote my books. I would also appreciate hearing from anyone wishing to share what they are doing to promote their books. Thanks.

Book Promotion and/or Marketing

As an author who wishes to sell books, I have to take steps everyday to promote my books. As a publisher for other authors I have to help them promote their books. In these efforts I’ve noticed that the words promotion and marketing are often used. In the past I’ve mostly used “marketing” for my efforts to sell my books but I’m sure that I’m promoting my books also.

Just out of curiosity I decided to check the dictionary for the definitions of promotion and marketing and I listed both below:

Promotion – something devised to publicize or advertise a product, cause, institution, etc., as a brochure, free sample, poster, television or radio commercial, or personal appearance.

Marketing – the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.

In carefully reading both my feeling is that promotion is better suited to selling books but marketing would work just as well. So, whether you promote your books or market them, the important thing is to sell as many books as possible. If your promotion or marketing efforts are working well then your books are selling. If they aren’t working, well you know.

It’s possible there are authors who don’t care whether their books sell but I’m not one of those and almost all of the authors I know would like to sell many copies of their book. Because of that I’ve decided to share some of things I’m doing to help sell my books and I hope that some of you will share what you are doing. Check back often for more posts on this topic. Thanks.