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Independent Authoring with Amazon

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Jan• 03•14

Independent authorship is growing in popularity – and rightly so. An independent author has complete control over Stack of Bookstheir work, all the rights, and doesn’t have to alter their message to fit the will of publishers. Independent authors can target a niche audience, and this is much more difficult with traditional publishing – and sometimes impossible. Publishers are interested in mass appeal, but if your focus is more specific than this, it’s nearly impossible to get a publisher to touch your manuscript.

The stigma of independent publishing is slowly fading, thanks in part to Amazon’s focus on independent writers.

The industry as a whole is still hostile to ebook publishing. Even more so, the industry is hostile to independent writers. Amazon has embraced both, and this is why they are running away with the book market. On my first book, I focused on getting my work into as many markets as possible. With Amazon, it was a cinch, but with others it was a pain. For example, when I tried to get Barnes and Noble to carry my book, I had to jump through many hoops, and once approved, I could send them two books. If they sold, B&N would ‘allow’ me to send them more books. However, when doing a book launch, having books on-hand was important. It would take nearly two months to get listed, and then by the time I found out my books had sold and could get them new ones, and then wait for them to make it into inventory, the book launch was over and the big marketing push was behind.

I discovered something interesting during that first book. Out of the first 1500 books I sold, all but three were through Amazon. I was jumping through hoops, begging for the right to sell, and fighting through restrictions – all for three books. My net profit was about $3. I wonder what the hourly wage net result was on that one?

Amazon has taken a different approach. They have embraced the author. In fact, they have courted the author. Tools that were once out of reach without going through publishers and printers are now available to the author at the click of a mouse. Amazon has provided services that allow independent authors to publish both print and ebooks.

One of the most common questions I get from authors considering going independent is, how do I publish and how much does it cost?

Ten years ago, when I was first considering publishing, I looked into several publishing houses that were marketing their services to inde authors. The lowest cost I found was more than $4,000. Then they set the book price between $18 – $24.95. Some of these publishing companies set the book price based on how expensive of a package the author paid for. So authors were paying thousands, and still could not get a book that was priced within the market norm. I recently met a man who published his book for $20,000. Unless he happens into fame, he will never recoup the cost he paid to get published. Many other authors I’ve met have paid $4,000-10,000 dollars for publishing.

Don’t do that! Your out of pocket cost for publishing should be $0. The ONLY expense you should have would be to pay for services you are not able to do yourself. For example, book cover design, typesetting, and editing. Never pay a publisher to do these services – unless they have quality work within the market standard cost. To find out what that price is, find professionals who offer these services and compare their prices. Book cover designers can vary from $30 – $300 or more, depending on the complexity and quality of the work. Editing will be your greatest cost, for anyone reading the entire book will expect to be paid for all their time.

Many of the work can be done yourself. Basic book design is not difficult if you are technical or have graphic design software. A free template that matches your book size and page count can be downloaded at CreateSpace. Typesetting can be done by anyone with Word. I have a book that walks you through typesetting your manuscript. Your out of pocket cost is .99 for the ebook, or $5.39 for a print copy. << Click here to see this book. >>

Once your book is prepared, the only cost will be each individual book. As of this writing, the cost of printing a 200 page novel is $3.25 a copy. That’s the author cost. The cost will go up as retailers take their commission out of the book each step of the way. Compare this to the author $9.50 to $12.50 a copy cost of most vanity presses. Generally speaking, they charge the author half the retail price. A price that is over inflated to begin with.

If an author is willing to front the cost of a full print run (usually around 4000 copies), they can do this cheaper. A print run can bring the author cost down to around .90 cents a copy. However, you would then have 4,000 books to sell on your own. A print run is cheaper per copy, but Print on Demand (POD) is an overall lower cost option for most authors. Unless you plan to do a lot of direct selling, a full print run is overkill. However, as an independent author, you can still present your book to a printer should you need a full print run for an event. CreateSpace will provide you with the cover and manuscript PDF files for your book. Still at no cost.

In the next few days, I’ll discuss the advantages of using KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and will post videos on both how to publish on CreateSpace and Kindle.

Do not pay a vanity press thousands. The market has changed, and there is no advantage to paying for a publishing package. These packages are a lot of hype and a little value. There is nothing they offer than you can’t do yourself for a fraction of the cost. And when you publish yourself, you get to set the price of your book.

Get informed and get to work!

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Eddie Snipes 2014

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3 Comments

  1. Eddie, thanks for sharing this post. I totally agree with you. I’ve published all of my books through Amazon and Create Space. I’ve looked into other options and like you said, they wanted me to pay them for the privilege of publishing my book. I’m not willing to spend thousands of dollars to do something I can do myself. Bet wishes with your publishing endeavors.
    Blessings,
    Deborah H. Bateman

    • Eddie Snipes says:

      You would be surprised at how many people are getting taken because they don’t know this option is available. One thing I forgot to mention is that CreateSpace now makes expanded distribution a standard part of publishing with them. So the book is available anywhere a book can be special ordered – which is the same as any other inde service offers, but at no author cost. Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂

  2. Thanks for this information Eddie; very helpful. I’ve been writing my book but don’t have the funds to spend on publishing. Full speed ahead …

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