A novel idea: Print it yourself

YOU’VE spent weeks, months, years, pouring your heart into your novel.

A novel idea: Print it yourself

It is your passion and now that it’s written you dream of holding the first hard-backed copy of it — but it has to be published first.

So next is the daunting task of looking for a publisher and literary agent. If you get one or both, you’ll probably have to sign the rights over to them, losing control of your baby — and watch as your hard-earned cash gets split a million ways. Your novel becomes a nightmare.

Now, at last, there is another way — publish yourself and damn the rest of them.

Four out of ten of this year’s top-25 bestselling list have been self-published.

Wouldn’t you prefer to be the one calling all of the shots, retaining the rights to your own book, taking home a bigger royalty? Well, there’s really only one thing you need to know, and that is: self-publishing is easy.

Just as You Tube has become the shop window for budding pop stars, self-publishing has spawned some star writers.

The biggest-selling book of the summer, in fact one of the biggest-selling books ever, the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, by EL James, started off as online fan fiction, which shows you can be successful without the backing of a big agent.

But you might want more than seeing it in lights on the web. How about an actual, physical copy of the book that you can sell to friends, family and hopefully fans?

Just like self-publishing, self-printing is now becoming easier, and cheaper.

The independent approach is becoming easier than ever and has some big advantages, says book printer, Frank Kelly, of Lettertec.

“What started as a few enquiries for us has become a torrent,” he says. “We suspected there was a demand, did some research, and found that we could produce low print-runs at low costs.

“The response has been amazing. Since then, we produced a simple price list, built our website, selfpublishbooks.ie, and the enquiries have continued pouring in from there.”

So why should authors self-publish. “At a fundamental level, it allows you to get your book into print quickly, at very low cost,” says Frank.

“From there, you can launch it, sell it, distribute to friends and family, come back for more reprints or send it off to publishing houses if you think you have a bestseller on your hands.

“More specifically, if you wish to test the market, or only require 50 or 100 copies, you can get a short print run and reprint at any time,” Frank says.

“Also, you retain all rights to your book and complete control, without being limited by third parties with interests and intentions that differ from your own.

“Choosing to self-publish is much quicker than going through a publishing house. In as little as two weeks, your book could be ready for market.”

“We get all types of people, of all different ages and from all walks of life, coming to us to have their book printed; from poetry books and fiction to family histories, autobiographies, and anthologies of short stories,” says Frank.

“We’ve had a 12-year-old primary school student, who wrote a short book of fiction, and an octogenarian who came to us to print a review of his life.

“I admire anyone who takes the time and trouble to put their thoughts or experiences into print, and it is wonderful getting to present them with the first, finished copy of their book.”

Most books cost between €4 and €6 each to produce. In bookshops, they will sell for between €13 and €15, allowing for a margin for the seller that still leaves a solid profit.

“My advice to any self-publisher is always to get your costs covered as quickly as possible. So, if you order 500 books, try to hit break-even with the sales of 200 copies, and all sales after that are pure profit.

“However, do not print more than you need or can reasonably expect to sell.

You can always come back for more. There is no point in ordering 500 copies of a book and ending up with 300 pristine copies sitting in your attic.

“I always give this advice to my customers, and it has worked very well, with one customer coming back for three reprints. He is delighted that all of his books sold out each time and he made a profit, with no unused stock on his hands,” Frank says.

Both the author and printer want a quality product of which they can be proud.

Handing your pride and joy over to the printer to take it through that next, important step can be nerve-wracking, but choosing the right printer, who provides a personalised service, price transparency, and high level of engagement with you is the key to ending up with the perfect, finished book.

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