Box o' books!

Friday night, I came home to a box of books– my books! All of them were the print copy of Ruin. I’d ordered about 20 copies for friends, family, reviewers, and random marketing ideas. I think that may have been too many, but I’d prefer to have too many than not enough.

There are a lot of reasons why I love Createspace (here on out called CS for “efficiency”). Let me see if I can somehow organize this post into some sort of logical flow that will explain my reasoning and why I would suggest Createspace if you’re thinking of creating a print book.

First off, I think CS is the best place to start if you are making a print book for the first time or if you’re an unknown author without a lot of funds. It is very simple to create a book using their templates. You download this document for word, and then cut and paste your document into it, chapter by chapter.

Now, the template already comes with fonts selected for you that will work, but do NOT neglect designing the interior of your book! Even if the fonts only get changed, the interior of the book must be as unique as the story and the author. That doesn’t mean one needs to go crazy. Simple is best. But don’t just use the standard fonts that come with the template. DO spend some time researching interior design. (Start here, The Book Designer. Also, look here for a good list of suggested font pairs.)

It is easy to create a proof of a book with 200 pages for about $12. ($6 for shipping and $6 for printing.) The proof came in about three days, and I set to work right away. Because I’m a total newbie at this printing game, I ended up having three proof copies made. (The last of which is on its way to the giveaway winner as we speak!) Proof copies are a great way to do the final copy edits. They’re also great when the author is in their final self-editing stages or to hand off to beta readers.

For my 20 books, here is the price breakdown:

Books are $3.29 a piece. Twenty books came out to $65.80.

Shipping for 20 books (based on weight) was $13.00.

So shipping was about .60 per book. In total, that means my books are just under $4 a piece when I order them myself. This is great news for me, because it means that when I sell them myself, I can do it for reasonable prices.

But I’m in the US. I think this is important to note. CS is US-based, and because of that, I think it is easier and cheaper to deal with them for me than it might be if you were overseas.

Also, I have not selected extended distribution channels through Createspace. As I’m a newbie, and don’t expect high demand for my little ol’ book, I only went with Amazon as a distribution channel. For each other option, more money is taken by each of the distributors. Right now, my price threshold is a little over $8 in order for me to make money off each book sold.

It was important to keep the book within a decent price range for anyone wanting to purchase a physical copy online.. I feel I’ve done that. Online, the book is $12.95 for a 6×9 with 203 creme paper pages. If someone buys through CS, I earn $7. If bought through Amazon, I get $4.48.

Though I would get more money, I have not linked to the CS store anywhere. Catherine Ryan Howard brought up a good point a few weeks back– you may get more money from CS, but that’s all you get. Amazon takes their cut, so you get less money, but you also get ranking from them. It seems wise to take a hit on the money if it’ll possibly gain me more visibility.

But why make a print book in the first place? What is the benefit to a self publisher? This is where you need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. I set out from the start with the idea that I wanted a print book, and not just because I wanted to see myself in print (though that was a driving factor, I admit.)

I wanted a print version primarily because I want to sell my books at anime conventions. My audience happens to be those people who enjoy anime and manga. They like the strange and unusual, but they like it with a human twist. My book will hopefully be at home among that crowd, but it’s hard to sell an ebook to people while sitting at a table. So I decided that I’d try selling my own book. At $4 a piece, I can charge a “con special” of $10 per book, plus hand out coupons for Smashwords on the back of my business cards if I want.

The second benefit? Giveaways!  I have one going on Goodreads that sort of has me freaking out by this point. It’s month long, and already, one week in, I have nearly 600 people putting their names in. A small fraction of those (something like one-sixth now) have put Ruin on their “to read” shelf. That’s 100 extra people who had never heard of the book before, adding it. I did plan on getting the book out there– I mean, I want it to be read– but somehow I am still a little freaked out about it.

Most likely, not all of those people are going to even remember to get a copy anyway. But still, word is spreading. I did make one sale last night specifically because of Goodreads. (I know because she told me. That’ll be my next entry I think.)

So now I have a box of books for myself at the house. And I paid nearly $80 for it. Most of that, I’m already considering a loss.

I know– what? I honestly am. I might be able to convince friends and family to give me $10 for a copy. (One wonderful supportive friend did give me $10!) But for the most part, this box of books are giveaways (shipping at my expense), dropping loaner copies at local coffee houses, possibly handing out to bookshops and local hotel gift shops to see if they might be interested, and maybe even a few donor copies for the library.

I am doing all of this without expectations. I’m not expecting my book to become a hit, or for anyone to want to do more with the book than open it up and go, “Huh. That’s weird.” I’m just wanting word to spread, so that hopefully, by the second book– maybe even the third– I’ll start making some money back. Until then, I am in the red currently, though I have worked to keep my costs down as much as possible.

For another side to Createspace, I’d suggest looking at this blog post as well, Why I might Stop Self-Publishing Paperbacks.