With the release of Vander's Magic Carpet in hard copy it's the third time I've published a book in ink and paper. Here's my journey of getting actually published.
I finished Optimus: Praetorian Guard in 2004 after ten years of writing it over summers. I spent years on Writer's digests, Writer's bible, and other sources of how to get published. I found there wasn't much of a market for historical novels. I spent $200 for a Christian Writer's Workshop in Glorieta, NM so I could get ten minutes with a Zondervan publisher. He gave me five. Told me my opening was too flat and re-write it. I took him at his word and the opening scene where Optimus is in bed with an intimate description of a beautiful woman and he can't perform is taking him at his word that I needed a hook.
I heard about Southwest Writer's Workshop in town that met on the first Saturday of every month. I went to one in August on 2006. The authors who came in with published work placed their books on a table where others could buy them. I sat next to a man with a number of books on the table and asked him how he got published. He enlightened me about Publish America.
This is one of many known as Print On Demand. He gave me the information to contact them. I proceeded to e-mail PA and they asked for a copy of the story. I e-mailed it to them and in September they accepted the book and wanted my idea for a cover. I told them what they wanted and in a week they sent me the beautiful cover that was better than I envisioned. They wanted to edit the story for a fairly steep fee. I declined.
In early October they sent me back a pdf as a galley and my wife and I proofed it. My wife is an excellent proof reader. (It's true, but if I didn't say that she'd brain me.) I sent back a list of pages and lines with corrections.
In early November I received two free copies of the book in the mail. (I had to send those copies the copywrite office.)
In early December fifty copies of Optimus came in a box. That's how fast it was published. Those fifty copies cost me $200. I gave a free copy to my friends who were beta readers, family and friends. I sold four books at my first book signing. A Hastings on Coors and Montano. I set up a book signing in Cottonwood Mall and the picture above has them advertising an on the front table. I sold four books that day. At $21.95 per book that was pretty good.
Over the next three years I bought more books and had more book signings with fewer and fewer sales. I spent $70 dollars for eight hours at the state fair with 0 sales. After a year of not buying any books from PA they offered to sell me the publishing rights. I bought it back as I discovered e-publishing. Optimus has been on Amazon as an e-book since 2011.
I did a revision of Optimus and ran out of the paper books. I bought a few used ones off Amazon usually for about five bucks each and resold some of them. I found out about a printing company in town that would print books. I contacted them and paid $50 for an ISBN number and about three dollars a book for ten books. $80 for ten books was a lot better than the 12 to 13 dollars per book I was paying for them at PA.
I retired from teaching and started working as a legal assistant, glorified gofer in a law office. I had lots of time to write and e-publish in an office.
Amazon for awhile had their own POD called Create Space. I looked into it and they would publish in both paper and e-book, but they set the price at about 20 bucks per book with the e-book at the same price. No thanks.
I don't know when it started but Amazon now has an easier way to publish in paper. When you publish an e-book you can now get it published in paper for only the printing cost. You set the price after that.
I chose Vander's Magic Carpet as it's my shortest book at only 61,000 words. It's my trial run. I ran into trouble trying to use the cover for the e-book. The OCR on my pdf software wouldn't take it. Bummer. Amazon has a cover creator so I used that. Problem solved. Next came getting the layout the way I wanted it. When you're working on it and make a mistake or change your mind there's not back button! You have to start all over again. Then the book was not big enough for a spine. I found Word had switched my usual Arial 14 for New Roman 12. I hate Word when it does that. Switching font and size was still not enough. I added excerpts from Optimus and Stephanus. Met their width requirement. That kink worked out I sent it for publication and the printing cost was less than three dollars. It said if only for U.S. distribution the minimum price per book was $4.99 for international it was $6.99. I set it for international and priced it at $9.99.
Here's the good part. I was able to buy from 1 to 499 copies for printing cost + shipping. I bought 20 copies for a little over $70. If I sell all twenty, very unlikely, that's $130.00 profit. Not counting if I sell any through Amazon. My royalty is only about two bucks per book there. My first 20 books should arrive at the first of the month. Amazon is putting this on hold so people can hoard more toilet paper for he time being.
I'm now doing a complete proofread of Optimus and will combine it with Stephanus into a single e-book and paper. Then Human Sacrifices, then Fan Plan. I can buy books for book signings. If things return to normal.