I have recently self-published a memoir. First I published the e-book because publishing an e-book is, let’s face it, pretty easy. Prepare the file for the text and the file for the cover and upload them to the distributor of your choice (I used Bookbaby) and within a few days your publication is available on Amazon, iTunes and shortly thereafter most of the other digital book retailers.
For some genres that is about all you need. Memoir, though, is a genre not really snapped up in e-book format. Memoir readers are still rather attached to having a book they can hold and I don’t mean hold in iPad form!
I then set about self-publishing a paperback edition using print-on-demand. Again, this is not too difficult: prepare the files, upload them, check the proofs. All reasonably easy. The problem is actually selling the paperback. There is no publishing company to “release” your work of art through established channels.
What I didn’t know, but discovered very quickly when I started visiting book shops myself, is shops will sell on consignment. This means you have to have enough financial backing to actually buy the books yourself from the printer, but it is one way to get your book out there.
As I write this, I have five book shops reading my memoir to determine if they will be prepared to stock the book. Book shops don’t accept just any book: they do read and assess the book themselves. Book shops don’t always do this in a timely manner. One book shop has had my book for over a month and keeps asking for another week to finalise the review. Another book shop got back to me within three days.
The question of financial backing is the big one, at least for me. My book is printed in colour which means higher quality paper has to be used. I have also chosen to print with a blank line between paragraphs. This uses more paper. Those three factors mean my book is three times more expensive to print than a black and white edition. Consequently, it costs me quite a lot to finance sales by consignment. If your book is black and white, financing sales by consignment would quite possibly be a viable option for you.
I used Lightning Source as my print-on-demand provider because they have operations in the UK, USA and Australia and channel partners in each location. I didn’t want to be restricted to just the Australian market. The downside is Lightning Source do not yet print in colour in Australia, my books are printed in the USA and shipped here, meaning the Australian wholesale price is higher than the wholesale price in the USA or the UK.
I had never published anything before: the process has been a huge learning experience for me but as a novice I have managed to produce a e-book edition and a paperback edition and both are gaining traction in the market. I am hoping consignment sales will be the next step into a wider market.