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CJ Heck

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By CJ Heck   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Sunday, September 25, 2011
Posted: Sunday, September 25, 2011

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what a job ...

I have been published, and I have self-published. It's been interesting, difficult, grueling, and yet even exhilarating at times. There are pluses and minuses with each way, but the end result is the same -- you have a book "out there" and, in a very small way, you are immortal -- well, at least your words are. Your words will live on, long after you're gone.

When you have a publisher, a lot of the work is done by them -- formatting, editing, cover design, interior set up, distribution, ISBN numbers, copyrights, advertising, marketing, and in the case of a children's book, they have staff artists who do your book illustrations. None of this is so, when you self-publish.

When you make the decision to self-publish, you will ultimately have to decide how much of the burden you want to, (or can), carry on your own. There are self-publishing companies online that will gladly sell you publishing packages, some costing thousands of dollars. They will do most of the work I'm told, however, you have to ask yourself how long it will take to recoup the money you've spent -- not to mention, your cost per book is about $20. To make any money -- this is a business, remember -- you would have to set your selling price in excess of $25-35! Robert and I quickly decided this was not for us.

A further search into self-publishing brought us to P.O.D., which means "print on demand". There are several of these online, notably and Createspace which is owned by With each, you do almost all of the work and upload your formatted pdf or ePub book to them for printing or publishing online as an ebook. You should also do your homework here -- research, study, check out complaints on the Better Business Bureau's website for each, and then decide which company you will ultimately entrust with the birth of your book.

You have to also decide if you want the P.O.D. publisher to assign an ISBN number to your book -- understand, this will make them the publisher -- or if you will obtain your own ISBN number for your book. This is daunting, trust me. There is only one place to get ISBN numbers, Bowker, and they're expensive. Robert and I decided this was the way to go -- damn, we're doing all the work so we ARE the publishers. Since we each have several books we want to self-publish, we went to Bowker and jointly bought a block of ten ISBN numbers for $250 -- far less expensive than buying one ISBN number at a time, which is $125 per ISBN. Keep in mind, in most cases, you also need to purchase a separate bar code for each ISBN number. That's for the back of your book. This carries the price you're charging per book, and has the ISBN number, as well. Each bar code costs $25.

As you can see, when you self-publish, you've made a concrete decision to BE the publisher of your book. You take on the whole exhausting process, beginning with learning everything you have to do to publish a book, and then learning how to do each step. Believe me when I say, it's a mind-boggling, tedious and frustrating process. I don't know how many times Robert and I felt we had a handle on something, only to find out we had done it wrong and had to start over. There are even times when you wonder if your book is even worth all the trouble.

In our case, we felt our books were worth the work of self-publishing, daunting as we knew it was going to be. Deciding who to go with was relatively easy. Since we both belong to AuthorsDen, we initially went with a P.O.D. company that AuthorsDen had a working affiliation with:

Whoever you ultimately go with, please never, ever assume anything ... trust me. All I'm going to say is, just be sure when you get to the end point -- that of ordering a proof of your book to check whether it's the way you ultimately want it to look -- that you do just that. You will also be offered the chance to order bulk copies of your book. Make sure you do not order personal copies at the same time you order your proof and then make the mistake of assuming your proof will be sent first -- it won't. Enough said.

Robert and I are self-publishing our print books with Createspace. We highly recommend them.

Have a great week!

Web Site: Barking Spiders Poetry for Children

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Reviewed by Debbie Lacy 9/28/2011
This is great information. I've self-published e-books with LuLu and just several days ago I've looked into Createspace. It's interesting I ran across this article which is full of information. Thanks CJ for sharing! :)

Reviewed by Mark Lichterman 9/25/2011
I have a publisher for all three of my books but found this article to be very interesting. As one that has a very hard time with complications and instructions, I doubt that I would ever be able to self publish. I did find something interesting, though. When I hired a show business attorney to re-write my option contract for "The Climbing Boy", I was told that a ISBN does not fully protect you and he told me to get a copyright number, which I did and will for my other two books also.

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