where the writers are
Why Print?

I'm continuing my "All About Characters" seminar at Coffee Time Romance with a discussion of the various types of characters today: Stars, Supporting Cast, Extras, Walk-ons and Spear Carriers. Please drop by. But don't forget to come back.

The big switch in publishing is into digital formats. Whereas a couple of years ago, people wanted to know if they could walk into a bookstore and buy my books, today I'm more likely to hear, "Is it on the Kindle?"

Side note: As a NOOK color owner, I don't really like the idea that everyone assumes an e-book reader is Kindle, but I think it's slowly becoming generic…kind of like Kleenex. But there ARE other readers.

When I decided to bypass the publisher for DANGER IN DEER RIDGE, another Blackthorne, Inc. novel, I formatted it for every digital outlet I could handle. Barnes & Noble, Amazon All Romance eBooks, and via Smashwords, also Sony, Apple, and more. I did it all myself, and I didn't find it too complicated, perhaps because I've been involved with publishers who required digital submissions. I knew enough about formatting a Word doc so I wasn't intimidated by the Smashwords formatting guidelines. And I definitely recommend starting there. Once you've mastered Smashwords, the rest is easy.

I also recommend the free program, Calibre, which will convert a document to most formats, since All Romance eBooks doesn't do the conversions the way the other shops do.

But I've digressed. I meant to talk about print books. I know there are still readers who want to read print. My mother, for example. Even though I know sales of my print version will be minuscule when compared with digital, the more formats, the more readers I can reach.

I chose Amazon's Create Space, which had a relatively easy learning curve. They have an easy-to-follow, step-by-step process. You decide what size book you want, the color of the paper, whether you want your own ISBN or use the free one from Smashwords (I chose that option because I don't really see this book as something that bookstores and libraries will be clamoring to purchase. I don't mind "Create Space" being listed as the publisher.

The cover art posed a minor challenge. Since it's an actual book, there has to be a front AND back cover, as well as a spine. Since I had a front cover, all I needed was a back cover and spine. But the dimensions are determined by Create Space (the longer your book, the bigger the spine will have to be), and they want a pdf file. I could handle that, but when they talked about layers, the cringes hit. However, thanks to my daughter who knows enough about Photoshop to deal with things like aspect ratios and creating a document from nothing (all I can do with Photoshop is crop images, resize them, and adjust things like color and contrast. Adding stuff that wasn't there, or taking out stuff that was isn't in my skill set), I got a cover for the perfect price. She ended up having to tweak the front cover a bit (that aspect ratio thing) but she kept it very close to the original. We went through a couple of trials before settling on the final cover.

Test #1 - just getting the feel of things:



Making the spine and back more distinctive:

Decided blue looked better on the spine - final cover image:

Next step is determining distribution which determines price. Since this is my first print endeavor, I didn't need to set up my own bookstore. Since I don't expect huge clamorings from bookstores, I don't need the "extended distribution." I don't need to deal with warehousing and shipping. All I wanted was to be able to say, "Yes, go to Amazon.com and you can buy my book."

The cost for this was $39, but the perks were higher royalties and lower price potential for both readers and authors. So, I can have a supply of books for book signings, AND I can keep the price at the Amazon store competitive. I decided to price DANGER IN DEER RIDGE at $10.99, which is low for a trade paperback, and only a little higher than a mass market paperback. Will I make a huge profit on each sale? No, but that wasn't my objective.

The last step is to purchase a proof (and, stupid me didn't remember that the welcome email I got when I first thought about Create Space and set up an account included a code for a free proof), I did pay a nominal fee to get a proof copy of the print book.

And, all in all, the quality is excellent. I sent a proof copy to my mother (thereby eliminating my one guaranteed sale). She called when it arrived, telling me she loved the crisp black ink on the white paper saying it was much easier to read than "regular" books.

So, that's why I chose to go print as well as digital, and a brief look at Create Space. If you have questions, I'll try to answer them.

How about you? What's your favorite format?