June 23, 2017

Why I self-publish

Sometimes I start longhand for a headstart.

True, I’ve self-published each of my books.

But what does this mean exactly?

Finding a conventional publisher can take a long time and finally fail. At my age, not wise to dawdle. So, with all my books I’ve worked with the nice folks at Infinity Publishing, who did a fine job on my first book, “Around the World at 75. Alone, Dammit!” Then on my Around Asia book, and on my most recent, my Peace Corps book.

Most books bear the name of a single author but are really a team effort involving a cadre of specialists, all anonymous, from editors to proofreaders to graphic artists to marketing experts with other sandwiched in.

As a matter of plain journalistic reporting, I must tell you that I created my books alone. There has been no team. I have been it!

I hatched the ideas for my books and organized the projects. I did the research and the interviews, made the notes, took most of the hundreds of pictures by far, wrote the e-mail reports which became the foundation. I planned each book in detail, including special sections of tips and advice.

I mapped out the books, laid out the chapters.  This is entirely normal for any author.

But my job wasn’t finished. I took on all the jobs usually the province of a regular publisher. I  chose the type fonts and gfave the chapters their distinctive style. I wrote the headlines. I selected the final photos, enhanced and cropped them, changed them to black and white from their original colr and converted them to the required 200 dpi (dots per inch). I laid out all the photo pages and wrote all the captions, a particularly nasty job because of the limited space.

I designed and created the map page in each one. I wrote the many tips. And I designed the front and back covers and wrote the words for them. I gave each book its title and its voice.

Finally I created the single, enormous digital file of the book mandated by Infinity and e-mailed it to them “camera ready,” to use the expression from an earlier technology. They converted my digital file into the final printed book.

There is a great benefit to this. I’ve gotten the books finished the way I wanted them.

I have not had to make concessions to a publisher who wanted something added or deleted, who gave the book a different title perhaps, or insisted on thorny clauses in our contract.

All of which means that each of my books is truly my book, from A to Z. Which means that I take credit for whatever is good about it, and responsibility for any deficiency.

But the job still is not finished once published. Writers write to be read. That involves publicity and marketing and public-speaking. All these have been a part of my life.

One thing may confuse you at this moment. I am telling you that I self-published, and in the next breath tell you I used Infinity Publishing.  This needs explaining. Infinity is a new breed of publisher.

Traditional book publishers seek out new authors by inducing them to submit their book scripts for consideration. If it finds a promising book, it will contract with the author to publish it. It will take on the risk the book may be a commercial failure, It will edit it to its satisfaction—may insist on drastic revisions, may change the title, will have a say in every aspect of the book, in fact, often the final say.

Will decide on how many books to print. It will do some advertising and promotion of the book, often much less than the author hopes for. It will distribute the book to bookstores. It will pay royalties to the author for copies sold. This process can take many months. It will decide whether to reprint the book or let it die.

Infinity, and the numerous publishers like it, charge authors to print their book for them. Authors pay Infinity a fee to get their books into print. It will take on any comer with any book on any subject practically. It makes no judgment about whether the book is good enough to publish or not.

Infinity does all the technical and mechanical work needed from the digital file on. It will design a cover for the book, or the author may provide a design of his own.

It also offers specialized add-on services to authors who need them, such as copyediting, proofreading, even marketing services. I used none of these extra services. With one exception. E-books have become important. I paid Infinity a fee to convert my three books into e-books.

Infinity will also give the book an all-important ISBN number (the multi-striped barcode that appears on every book. It will also get the book listed on the major book databases around the country—essential for the marketing of the book. An important one is Amazon.com. Others will be wholesalers who sell books to bookstores and libraries, say.

The upfront fee will include a limited number of copies for the author. The author may buy additional copies at pre-set prices. Infinity will also handle orders for copies from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Even from ordinary people through its own online bookstore that includes all the titles it publishes.

Infinity makes a profit on each book sold. And it pays royalties to the author for all books sold.

I am pleased to say that Infinity enjoys a fine reputation.

Companies like Infinity have made it much easier for authors to get a book into print, and much faster, at quite acceptable prices, and with decent quality.

What I must mention also is that the author retains the rights to the book. Can pass the title on to his heirs. Can submit the book to a traditional publisher in the hope of getting it published in the old, established way. These are my books. Not Infinity’s.

As I explained, I created all my books on my computer. My computer skills are improving but I have needed technical assistance now and then. I have been lucky to get such help. In fact, from friends at times. I am pleased to acknowledge this.

Each book has been a huge job. I worked at it day after day. I am not complaining, just reporting. I found it all very rewarding—once I had gotten the book done! I am proud of my books. They entertain people, and that’s important. They also, encourage them to travel–to add a bit of adventure to their life. So important.

The books help them by my example and through my many tips, and thus make their travels more pleasant and rewarding.  My Peace Corps may get people to join Peace Corps. I hope so. I take satisfaction in that.

You can help me in getting my books out and read.  If you enjoy one or another of my books, please recommend it to others!

Thank you.

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