Guest Expert: Dino Simonetti
Consider this-when a writer asks you to buy a book, they’re asking you to trust them. They’re asking you to part with hard-earned dollar (well unless its an e-book). When a reader buys the book, we’re hopeful they’ll love it enough to tell their friends etc. to buy/read it as well.
My topic today will be about independent publishing and my experiences ￼with it. I will also discuss my choice of publish-on-demand services.
Here’s the typical writing scenario we all dream about: We sit down to write our monumental best-selling novel. We dream of the day a big publisher will pick up the manuscript and say
“Eureka-I think you’ve got it!”
Has that happened to your yet? Yes at least twice—-right?
￼Well the dream, once you get to know what color the lining truly is, can be ￼fraught with all sorts of trip-ups-unless you have a high-paid savvy lawyer reading your agreement. As always, it’s about money. Well it seems there are as many Indi-publishers as there are writers. It has become a lucrative business for some indie-publishers that offer book set up, artwork, reviews and ghost writing etc. The average poor Joe, such as myself, cannot and will not fall for it. Why? Let me share a little horror from days gone by.
I was in the music industry for over twelve years and spent tons of money on fancy equipment and web sites with streaming music–and tons of publishing. I also got sucked into the promoter game where they supposedly promote you nationally for five-hundred dollars a month. I analyzed what I was doing I realized that I could do exactly what they do, for free and by only adding twenty hours a week to my already hectic work/family life. Truly-promotion is a full time job if you’re trying to make market share. The energy I expended did pay off to some degree; gosh I spent a ton on stamps and fax paper. I ended up producing thirteen disks of music of various types. The musical got rave reviews from the critics. Did you know if you buy advertising space and schmooze enough you can get a 5-star review? Well, I did make a pretty good splash and was noticed by lots of larger labels that I was hoping to license with. They have marginal budgets too (inside tip) and the only ones who make any money are the owners unless you’re an absolute wonder. I rubbed elbows with a few luminaries and one was kind enough to tell me “the world isn’t ready for you yet-give it about 10 years. I guess that’s why I’m a visionary. I also managed to flood the college radio market and made many play lists and a bit of notoriety; I was invited in for several interviews.
Three years after leaving the game, I still received a play list from a Canadian radio station that played at least one of my tracks every night. The lesson learned? How incestuous the industry is and how record deals are actually run and all the pitfalls of getting wrapped up with the big guys. How does this equate to the literary world-we try to keep it tight but there is a certain percentage of ‘stuff’ going on.
One day I was sharing with a dear friend back east how I thought it was finally time to release my series of not-so-short stories. I explained to him the style of my writings and how five books will end up being over three-thousand pages when all is said and done. He was happy to share how he had self-published 11 books-short stories-about monsters and such. He expounded on how he used Create Space dot com. He further explained that it’s free and they do a good job.
I contacted them-they really are a nice bunch and are tied in with Amazon. Since joining them about three-years ago, they’ve grown to a 24/7 operation. They answer all of your questions whether on the phone or e-mail. If you don’t understand something-they will explain it so that even me, Roger Rabbit, can understand-no I don’t smoke mari****na. I recall having a book cover issue and after a phone call they accepted my cover. Most book publishers that offer cover services want bleed around the edges etc. I got them to understand the black edges where my pictures fade out are designed to flow off the edge of the page. I do my own covers and even Createspace say they’re unique and wonderfully wild-that’s a subtle marketing hint.
Createspace offer all sorts of templates and services and if you’re patient you CAN do the entire thing yourself without enlisting their pro’s which requires a fee. It took me no time to figure out how to make it all work. I called and they gave me the math formula to figure binding width etc.-it’s really easy once you have the page thickness.
￼Some of the nice things they evolved was the 3-D version of the book, you can get a complete view of what it will look like when it hits the stands. Also, you can now digitally proof your book with their handy tool-you get a screen shot of your manuscript and it will show if you’re outside the margins etc.(coloring outside the box). It used to be, you’d send the manuscript via PDF and all the set up, they’d okay it, you’d order a copy and sometimes it would be right, sometimes not. I tend to be anal so it was never right and it would cost me 2-3 books-now its none.
They will issue you a unique ISBN number, both 10 and 13 digit if you like. You can do your own sales-copy on the site because you have access to do your own web space. Mine is createspace.com/3599541. I created the entire thing in an hour or so.
Now here’s the rub. If you use the web space, you can make decent royalties. Example, take a 458-page book, and price it at 12.95, you can make almost four-dollars. If you use Amazon, they take forty-percent and still make over two-dollars. The pros and cons are this: A) You can drive people to your web-space, make lots of money but it will take a while before people will know who you are. B) you can use the Amazon channel not make as much, but you have the opportunity to be noticed in the rankings. It’s best to use both.
You can also use the expanded distribution system feature, such as libraries, book re-sellers. The only caveat is you must price the book out of sight to make a few cents-some where in the neighbor hood of sixteen-dollars. I myself plan to use my own marketing and agency to get wholesalers to buy my books at much less than the aforementioned process. I can sell them for less and we both make money. Yes it’s a bit labor intensive to buy your own books and have them dropped shipped but worth every buck if you have a book that is moving already.
They now offer Kindle set-up for $69.00 and they will take your PDF and convert it-or you can go to the Amazon site and do it your self-(Yup, I’m a terminal DIY’er). Same with B&N Nook, they have a site to do it yourself. There are challenges to all of this but if you really want to make money, pull out a few hairs and figure it out.
￼￼A sidebar here, I want to use a portion of the royalty paid per book to raise ten-thousand dollars by years end to donate to the Autism Foundation to assist in researching this affliction; it afflicts my youngest boy Connor.
If you’d like to know more, just write me at
I have other links I’d like you to visit as well.
Dino Simonetti hails from Winthrop Massachusetts, a small town east of Boston. Simonetti lived his first 28 years in this historical town and can recall stories told by Edward Roe Snow, a neighbor at the time. Simonetti can spin a yarn that will definitely scare you. He is a father to four- children, all fully grown and living in Salem MA. Mr. Simonetti currently lives in Midvale Utah; contact him there by e- mail for readings, signings and tours.