Self Publishing: Printing Problems!
by Caitlind Alexander
(Los Angeles, CA)
One of many books on my site
This author tried self-publishing but found printing was the problem.
I was having trouble finding a traditional publisher for my first children's books, even though I had successfully published adult books. Part of my problem was that I wasn't real good at self-promoting myself to publishers, or to agents.
That, of course, was going to be my downfall in self-publishing as well.
I sent the book around to a number of places.
After awhile, I gave up and decided to publish it myself. I paid someone to illustrate it, did the layout and design myself, then paid a local print shop to do the printing.
I won't tell you the problems I had with printing. Let's just say that it's best to go with a company that is very experienced at doing books, especially if you aren't!
There are so many stupid little things that I never knew about (i.e., use only one space after a period to save space, find out how many pages fit on the printer's signature (printing plate) and make your book multiples of that or you will be paying for blank pages at the end of your book, etc.).
This approach also meant that I was the main person to do the editing on my book. I thought I was ready, because I had worked as an editor before.
Then I picked up the book six months after it was printed to reread it and found I had messed up on a plot point. I had my characters (teenagers) reading a specific book in their car, then they toss the book into the back seat, then lose their brakes and jump from the car before it goes over the cliff. A chapter and a half later, the book shows up again!
Yeah, the book was important to them, but I don't think anyone would have climbed into the back seat during a life and death moment to get it! A simple stop at a bookstore to buy a new copy could have solved the problem, but....
Anyway, since I wasn't that good at self-promotion, the book flopped. I thought all I had to do was offer it to bookstores and go on a few radio talk shows or something. Yeah, right. I did a few radio talk shows and went to quite a few elementary schools to do free talks. It resulted in a few sales, but believe me, I was making far less than minimum wage!
To make a long story short (yeah, I know, too late!) I gave up on writing for a bit. Then I found out I couldn't quit. Now I just put my books up for free on a children's book website.
Anybody can print them out and read them (as long as they don't sell them or steal them, and yes, I have a brother who's a lawyer). I'm working at locking the pages down and charging a subscription price to the site, but all in all this works for me. I satisfy my need to write, I feel like I'm helping children improve their literacy by having fun books to read, and a few dollars a year for website hosting is a WHOLE LOT cheaper than what I was paying to have my books printed. Now I just have to work on that self-promotion thing....
Visit Caitlind's site, Learning Island, featuring books YOU download and print (or read on a device), not Caitlind!