Recently, one of my con buddies from Cairo asked about finding an English-language publisher for his novel. (Working on that, but he wants to go more traditional than I do, so a longer task.)
However, it got me to thinking about how him and his buddies could go about doing it. The tools necessary are relatively simple and cheap these days (at least by US prices, not sure how things convert elsewhere.)
The world has changed.
Print that and stick it to your bathroom mirror. Or post it on a sticky note on the side of your screen.
At the most recent OryCon (40th), I presented this new case, separate from the old days of finding a publishing house, or starting a publishing cooperative, or just doing it entirely yourself. It saves you from a number of problems, and lets you offload the work as much as possible.
Ten years ago, the only organizations equipped to put out pretty books were the Traditional Publishing houses (what we refer to as TradPub or “NewYork” in shorthand). Indies like me could put things up, but doing good covers, good blurbs, pretty interiors, etc is difficult. Or was.
The world has changed.
If you would like to take your work (in English or translated) and put it in front of a global market (Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, B&N, etc.), here are a set of steps you can follow. And feel free to reach out to me directly with questions. And needs. I have many friends who you can hire for certain chunks of the work, if it is an expertise you do not have yet. (You need to learn these things eventually, or find the right people to hire.)
So let’s start with your manuscript.
If you can format it as a .docx type file (modern Microsoft Word formatting, regardless of source), then you can import that manuscript into a new program called Vellum. This is a Mac-only program at present (and probably forever). You can apparently rent virtual macbooks that come with Vellum installed in order to do the work. If you write slowly, that might be an economical choice. I write fast, so I’m always formatting something. It was worth acquiring an old Mac Air 13″.
Apple just released the new Macbook Air, so a whole LOT of people will be upgrading their old machines for Christmas. That means that you should be able to get a good refurbed machine (with warranty) for under $500 US. (link goes to random search on Amazon.com) Last year, I cashed in all my points from my Amazon Visa card, and got a machine WAY cheap as a result. You might ask for cash for Xmas so you can buy yourself such a tool. And remember that (for US folks at least) this is a business expense, as it all directly affects your burgeoning publishing empire.
Vellum makes pretty ebooks and pretty print books. It is not as perfect as you can achieve with Adobe InDesign, but it is also about 1/100th as much work to do. Time = Money in this instance. Do you want to spend a week or more formatting your book, or writing?
My buddy Chuck wrote a pretty good book on the process.
So you can get it all in there and get the machine ready to spit out pretty ebook, mobi, and pdf for you.
You can get get good stock art at cheap prices (pay attention to your licensing when you sign the contract and get the right one) on places like Dreamstime and Shutterstock. This might be the place where you find the art and then pay a cover specialist to make you something pretty, because you’ll need to generate the ebook cover, as well as the full wrap for the print book. There are folks out there, and the going price seems to be $100-$300 US for something professional looking as a wrap, depending. (You can also negotiate deals with folks. I’d happily trade my time to some friends for things translated into other languages, for example.)
A good cover nails genre. The reader knows exactly what to expect, just from the thumbnail on Amazon. Look at my Jessica Keller books and you’ll see the spaceship on it. You know what you’re getting. This is where expertise is worth the money, to get the right font, the right color, the right “feel.”
So now you need a blurb.
Present tense. Four sentences, pretty much. Action from the first page of a short story or the first chapter of a novel. Nothing more. Don’t describe the whole plot. Don’t use the word “and” or any version of “is” when you write it. Short, hard, pithy. Leave them breathless and demanding to open the book to read it.
Okay, then you put all that into Vellum and you have a book. Ready to publish. Easy as that (yeah, I know.)
But publishing it is complex as well.
The world has changed.
I know, as of summer 2018, that Egypt now allows Paypal. That means that someone in the US can send you money pretty easily. Worth the effort, as far as I’m concerned.
So we’re going to talk about the Bunny.
You can create an account for yourself on BundleRabbit and link in your paypal information so you can get paid later. Major revolution.
Now you create a new Project. (I’ve detailed a lot of these steps in my book on creating your own magazine, because I use the same process there. You should consider starting a magazine as well. The world has changed.)
You can invite yourself into the project, and put your name at 100% for payout. You can also put down an editor and artist,and give them a share of the proceeds instead, if you want to do that rather than paying them upfront. Up to you and them.
When you fill in all the information, you can then have BundleRabbit act as your publisher of record (Kydala Press, technically). Chuck will push the book out to Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Draft2Digital, and others for you. And handle some of the crap that publishers have to go through with the middlemen. (shit happens.)
He will take 10% off the top, after the publisher’s cut, but that means that you functionally get a publisher and accountant working for you on a royalty-share method. You’ll note, it is possible that everyone goes in royalty-share, including an editor and cover artist, if you negotiate such a deal, so very little money has to come from you up front.
DO NOT LISTEN TO THE CHISELERS who tell you that they can publish your book for you for thousands of dollars US up front. You can hire professionals sure, and I can give you a list of people I trust to talk to. It might cost you some money, but the thieves don’t need to make any of it from you. Editors want to be paid. Cover artists need to put food on the table. But there are entire ecosystems now dedicated to some aspect of this major task, and they work fast at good rates.
Fabulous Publisher Babe ™ and I are talking about starting up our own service soon for certain folks where we will take a manuscript for maybe $100-$200US, depending. We’ll run it through the process I detailed above and then get it published on the Bunny, and we won’t take a percentage. You’ll get the 100% after Amazon and the Bunny take their cuts. You won’t get much choice in the overall process (we’ll pick the cover and write the blurb, with a little input from you, but no prima donnas need apply).
You’ll deal with Bundlerabbit at that point and all points going forward. We’re just mechanics helping with that middle process. What is still a little messy, at least for the next two years. And we won’t take many clients, but I’m also planning to train a few other people on the process, and once they are ready, they’ll start their own publishing support gigs.
As an Indie, there is no marketing budget except what I put in. Sweat and time. But most small to medium publishers don’t really have much more money, time, and expertise to dedicate to your book, either. They got their cash in the past by being the professional gateway you required to actually get your book on a shelf somewhere.
The world has changed.
Let me know what questions you have.