I have gotten a few questions about how I was able to get my book published so quickly. I need to make it clear that "3 Weeks in Haiti" was self published, meaning that I took all the responsibility of writing, editing, as well as printing, publishing, etc. I also realize that many of you may wonder why I went this route.
From the research that I did, I learned that close to 10 Million manuscripts/ideas are submitted each year worldwide to publishers and nearly all of them were rejected, which meant that on the numbers alone, the chances of getting the book accepted by a publisher was practically nil. It just made more sense to me, that if I was writing in something that I believed in, to publish it myself, sell as many copies as I could and then take it to a publisher
as a proven book. Publishers want something that is marketable and that people want to read.
You have a much better chance of getting picked up by a publisher when you have something that has already sold a few thousand copies. (Another interesting fact is that some 95% of all books published will sell fewer than 100 copies, nearly all of which were purchased by friends and family members of the author). There is also a whole market of "vanity publishers" out there who cater to the idea of "helping" an author "write their story" simply for the sole purpose of helping this author become an author of a printed book. (Meaning the purpose is not to convey a message, nor tell a story, but simply as an ego stroke for the writer to have written a book). This is something else I wanted to avoid.
There are some real advantages and disadvantages with self-publishing:
1. The main advantage is that if you take it into your own hands and you are determined it will be published. You keep control of the rights.
2. The main second advantage is that you keep 100% of the sales and instead of receiving a 10-12% commission.
The disadvantages are mostly in marketing, distribution, and costs. I figured if I could get through those initial hurdles, the book would do well.
Having my own online store already, it was fairly reasonable for me to plan that once I had the physical books in stock, I could send them to my shipping company, list the book in my store and we could send the books out just as we do with the DVDs. There is one major catch… hiring a printer to copy and bind the books, is expensive
. (About $5,000 for a very small first run).
To help offset the physical print cost, I determined to release the book a month or two early as a digital download first. There is no physical product with an E-Book, and therefore the cost is much more manageable, it is also much easier/faster to get the book released. E-Book retailers typically keep about 30% of the sales, but at least it was a quick way to get the book out there. I figured if I did some very limited marketing on my blog, Facebook and soon Youtube, I could help get the word out, make some sales and use that money towards the physical print. I doubt it will cover the printing cost, but it should at least soften the blow.
There are many ways to get your book converted into an "E-Book". You can do it yourself (I heard it is a little tricky) or there are many companies and software programs you can get to help you. I decided on a company called "Book Baby" simply for the fact that they let you keep 100% of the profits. Other companies want a cut of the sales in addition to a set up fee, typically 10-20%.
Book Baby charges $99 for text only books under 250 pages, and will even insert a few images with that package. My book had about 60 images and was 321 pages in length so it was a little bit extra, but I think I paid like just over $300 for them to publish it on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble and Sony. This is a smoking good deal and essentially gives the power to just about anyone to write and publish a book, then get it on a very big stage. I will say, writing the book, as hard as it was, seems now to be the easy part, the trick now is marketing and getting the word out to those who would want to read it. I wont have the initial sales reports in until mid december, but so far of those who have read it the feedback has been positive.
If you have ever thought about writing a book and were not sure about how to get it published, this is a very viable, affordable alternative.
3 Weeks in Haiti -iTunes Bookstore
3 Weeks in Haiti - Amazon Kindle Store
3 Weeks in Haiti - Sony E-Reader Store
3 Weeks in Haiti - Barnes and Noble- Nook Store