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Self Publishing Never Changes… Except it Changes All the Time

by Mark Levine author of The Fine Print of Self Publishing

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When the first edition of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing came out in 2004, it was only available as a PDF because I had no idea how to get it into a format that could be published as an actual print book. I have come a long way in the past 11 years and so has the book. I’ve learned about all aspects of book creation, and using what I learned while researching the book, I started a publishing company that has helped thousands of authors publish, distribute, market, and sell their books. The Fine Print, too, has evolved over that period of time. The sixth edition will be released in February 2016, and will have the most up to date information possible about an industry that is evolving quickly. So much has changed since that first edition, that in some ways, it is a totally new book.

 

Writing a book about an industry that is transforming so fast is challenging. One of the ways I’ve kept it relevant is by focusing on the concepts that never change. While self-publishing service providers come and go, some things that always remain the same are; the language in the contract terms and what it means for authors, how excessive printing markups can affect a book’s ability to compete in the marketplace, and how the royalty percentages retained by some self publishing providers take money right out an author’s pocket. While I have always covered these items in all editions of the book, I previously did so with individual detailed reviews of each publisher’s service offerings. This format was problematic because it was difficult for a reader to get a feel for how one company’s printing markups, for example, compared to that of another.

 

Attempting to compare all of the services in one company’s publishing package to that of another company can also be like comparing apples and oranges. Because of this, when I wrote the fifth (and currently available edition) of The Fine Print, I took out many of those details. Instead, I included comparison charts of specific aspects of major self-publishing companies so it’s obvious how they stack against each other in areas where it’s easy to compare them head-to-head. I also focused more on the information that matters most to me as an author (and hopefully to other authors) by thoroughly explaining the following items:

 

  • Printing Markups – given that most publishers use the exact same printer, you might like to know that some companies don’t mark up the printing at all while others mark it up in excess of 259%.
  • Royalties – for the exact same book (price, page count, binding, etc.) it’s possible that one company pays an author a royalty of $.94 while others pay $3.00 or more.
  • Return of Production Files – Some companies will return these to you for free while others won’t ever give them to you. Read my book to learn why having them matters.

 

Over the years, and through all editions of The Fine Print, I have noticed that what doesn’t change is how each company handles the crucial items mentioned above. Of all of the parts of the book that continually need updates based on a changing industry, printing markups, royalties, etc., have barely changed at all.

 

I not only try to keep The Fine Print relevant by updating information about publishers, in each edition I add new sections geared toward today’s author and market. For my upcoming edition, I decided to see how difficult (or easy) it was to submit my manuscript through some of the DIY providers like Createspace, Smashwords, and IngramSpark. I did it the same way many authors do, by just uploading a Word file and hoping for the best. The results were quite interesting to say the least. It would literally be a spoiler to give the results away, but it’ll be one of the most interesting parts of the sixth edition! So, stay tuned.

 

If you’re still reading this and you email at mark (at ) hillcrestmedia (dot) com with “I’d Love a Free Copy” in the subject line, I’ll mail you a copy of the fifth edition of The Fine Print for free. I have a few boxes left and I want the books to find a good home before the the sixth edition comes out. It’s like adopting a puppy, except way less work and totally different.