Self-Publishing Blog

Publishing Books in Color

Most Self-publishers are publishing novels or non-fiction books in black and white.  Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is still my favorite place to publish black and white.  I’ve been working with an author who wants to publish a book of poetry and include color pictures with the poems.  There are publishers out there who do publish in color.  Two of the bigger companies out there are Lulu and Ingram Sparks.  Both companies offer options for authors wanting to publish in color.  Lulu will print a 50-page, 8.5 x 8.5 inch full color book for about $10.90. Here is Lulu’s cost per book calculator.  Ingram Sparks will publish a similar book for $3.20.  Here is where you have to look at some other factors.  Lulu’s process from start to finish seems to be simpler and cheaper initially.  Ingram Sparks has some initial fees that are charged.  $49 set up fee and they charge $150 for an ISBN number.  Here is the price sheet PDF for Ingram Sparks.    You can start your project with Lulu without a set up fee and they will provide a free ISBN number and bar code.  The trade off is that the costs at Lulu are distributed over time, but are considerably higher than Ingram Sparks.  The quality at both is reported to be similar.

I have not personally used either of these two companies to publish a book, but there are reviews of both on the Internet. Here is a review comparing Createspce (now KDP), Lulu and Ingram Sparks that is somewhat dated, but still seems valid.

Leave a comment if you’ve used either Lulu or Ingram Sparks.  I’d like to hear about your experience.

Keep on writing!


It’s Never Too Late to Publish Your Book, Harry Bernstein Did it At 98!

What is keeping you from publishing your book?  Never to LateHarry Bernstein wrote 40 books but destroyed all of them because publishers wouldn’t publish them. Bernstein was 93 when his wife died and started writing to help cope with his grief. He spent three years writing his memoir called “The Invisible Wall.”

He sent the manuscript to many New York publishers, They all turned it down. Then he sent it to Random House in the UK, where it sat in a pile of manuscripts for a year before it was read by a publishing director who recognized it as inspired writing. It was published in 2007 when Mr. Bernstein was 98. He would write three more highly acclaimed books, all were published, up until his death at 101. Bernstein called his 90s, “the most productive years of my life.”

What a waste to have those first 40 books lost forever.  Can you imagine if he was able to self-publish them and keep the majority of the royalties from his book.  There are so many of you out there like Harry Bernstein who have books that the traditional publishing houses reject.  Now is the time to publish your first book.  Use the information on our website or buy our book, A Handyman’s Guide to Self-Publishing Your First Book for Free (or Almost Free).  It’s available online at Amazon and through our website Handyman Publishing.

Keep on writing.

Is Self Publishing Here to Stay?

According to Bowker, in 2008, the production of print-on-demand books surpassed traditional book publishing for the first time and since then its growth has been staggering. Now more than twice the output of traditional titles, the market is dominated by a handful of publishers. In fact, the top 10 publishers overall accounted for an astounding 74% of total titles produced in 2009.

Data Taken From Bowker

Based on the data, I don’t think that self publishing is going anywhere soon. It is here to stay.  If you don’t think that you can pull it off by yourself there are companies out there who call themselves self publishing companies, but they are really non traditional publishing companies who help authors publish their own books.  There are the big ones out there, but there are many up and coming smaller companies who may be able to assist. That’s why I call it assisted self publishing when you pay for services through another company.

In non traditional publishing the spectrum runs from doing everything yourself for free to  paying as you go for services you might need (kind of like ordering a la carte) and all the way to paying up to $5,000 or more for package deals.  As you might suspect, I encourage authors to do it yourself or purchase only the service that you cannot do yourself.  In another post I will list some of the many companies that will provide you with these varied services. For now, I think it’s safe to say that self publishing is here to stay.

Go out there and publish your book.

Upcoming Self-Publishing Workshop

If you are in northern California on Saturday, January 10th, please join me for a self-publishing workshop.  It will be hosted by the Unity of the Valley Spiritual Center, in Vacaville, between Sacramento and San Francisco, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Registration for the workshop is only $20.00.  The book, A Handyman’s Guide to Self-Publishing Your First Book for Free (or Almost Free) will be available to purchase at the workshop.  This is a hands-on, interactive workshop and a wireless tablet or laptop will be helpful, but not necessary.

In this workshop participants will be lead through step-by-step instructions on how to publish their book in paperback with Amazon’s CreateSpace and their e-book with Smashwords. Participants will be asked to answer questions that will guide them through the publishing process.

I hope to see you there.

Please contact the church office to register for the workshop, 707-447-0521.  The center is located at 350 North Orchard in Vacaville.



Need a Flyer Advertising Your Event? Use Poster My Wall

I am always loofinal flyer with watermarkking for easy to use graphic programs.  If they are online that is even better, nothing to download.  I was sitting down to create a flyer for an upcoming workshop and I ran across a simple, yet powerful website called PosterMyWall.  On this site you can use templates or create your own media from scratch.

The website says it is “The Best Online Custom Poster and Photo Collage Maker” and after using it I tend to agree.  I am sure there are others out there, but this is simple and if you are ok with a watermark it’s free.  I downloaded the flyer shown here for $2.99 without a watermark.  I am planning on buying a matte finish poster size of this for $7.99 and get twenty-five 4″ X 6″ cards with envelopes to mail out for $14.95.

What I really like about this site is that the interface is very simple.  You can upload your own pictures, place them where you want them, size them exactly how you want and add text anywhere on the document.

They have many templates and backgrounds.  I started with the background and just created text and graphics exactly where I wanted it.

I think this could also be used as a tool for creating book covers and a multitude of marketing materials.  The posters and cards that you purchase are all printed on photo stock and can also be mounted and framed.  I’ll try to update my post after the poster I order arrives.

P.S.  If you’re in Northern California on January 10th feel free to come to my workshop on self-publishing for free (or almost free.)  There’s a $20 donation for the workshop and my book will be available for $9.95 at the workshop.

Keep on writing!

PicMonkey, More Thank Just an Awesome Place to Make Free (or almost free) Book Covers

PicMonkeyIf you haven’t used PicMonkey, you haven’t lived. It’s way more than just a super-easy online editing tool. I have to admit, I didn’t know about PicMonkey when I made the cover for my wife’s book. I used Gimp. It is also free, but I had to download it and it’s not-super easy to use. There was a learning curve. With PicMonkey, you just upload a picture from your computer and you can begin adding cover text immediately. They have plenty of fonts in the free version and you can upgrade for $4.99 a month or $33.00 a year.

You don’t need to create an account, it’s literally as fast as you can click the edit button, upload your picture, and add the cover text.

sample cover

The sample at the right took me three minutes to create.  I just picked a photo from a backpacking trip and uploaded from my computer and added the text. I would increase the font size (another simple task and orient on the page for best visual appear.)

Beyond the simple editing, there is the PicMonkey blog which has all kinds of useful posts from tips on Facebook to visual marketing ideas. You have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the navigation links. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Keep on writing!

What is Wattpad?

How about the “world’s largest community of readers and writers.”  According to Wattpad there are 35 millions “wattpaders” reading 75 million stories, spending 9 billion minutes on Wattpad every month.  According to Wikipedia over 1000 stories are being uploaded every day.  The Wattpad website describes itself  as “a place to discover and share stories: a social platform that connects people through words. It is a community that spans borders, interests, languages. With Wattpad, anyone can read or write on any device: phone, tablet, or computer.”  This is a unique relationship in real-time between the author and his or her readers.

Ashleigh Gardner, the Head of Content at, describes Wattpad as “a very popular site for teens 13-18, but 35% of the site is 18-30. If you write YA or New Adult, you should be on Wattpad! Romance and sci-fi communities are very large. Without the gatekeepers, new trends and genres are also emerging. Urban fiction is a flourishing example. Fan fiction is hugely popular e.g. anything with One Direction.”

No matter what you write, this might be biggest well kept secret that no one knows about.  Wattpad is kind of like Facebook, but without the minute by minute descriptions of meaningless dribble.  Not to be dissing Facebook; there is definitely  a place in your author platform for Facebook.  Wattpad, on the other hand, is a platform that is used by readers.  Ninety percent of the 35 million people who use Wattpad are readers.  That means that only one out of ten people visiting Wattpad for those 9 billion minutes are readers.  The average time spent on Wattpad is 30 minutes.  There is plenty of room for writers.

It’s a simple process and free to join.  As a writer, you can upload your writing as you write or upload installments of your writing.  Readers find your writing and follow you, much like other social networks.  After following the readers receive notifications whenever a new chapter of a story is posted. Many writers share their work serially: posting stories one chapter at a time, so readers keep coming back.

I’m going to give it a try with my first novel, The Checkbook.

Here is a link to my story

Keep on writing!

Google Gets Into the E-book Business with Google Play


Move over Amazon, Kindle and iStore, Google has made it easy to offer your e-books on Android devices with Google play Books Partners.  Anyone with a phone or tablet running using the Android operating system can buy your book at the Google apps store.  All you need is a Google account and then just upload your e-books for free.  Check out the quick steps below and then get started.  Here is the link to Get Started.

Quick steps

  1. If you don’t already have one, create a new account at
  2. Agree to the Google Books Terms and Conditions and the Google Editions Addendum.
  3. Add a new payment profile.
  4. Add the book to your Book Catalog.
  5. Enter bibliographic information for the book.
  6. On the Content tab, upload the book content and cover files.
  7. On the book’s Prices tab, add a new price.
  8. Enter the currency, value, and the applicable countries for the price.
  9. On the Settings tab, provide additional metadata and configure distribution and Google Search preview settings.
  10. Go to the Publish tab.
  11. Publish the book on Google Play.
  12. In the Payment Center, edit your payment profile.
  13. Add a bank account.
  14. If you plan to sell books in the U.S., submit tax information.

For all the detailed steps go to the Google play website by clicking here.

It’s too early to tell how they are going to do in the e-book business but Google doesn’t give up easily and they will be around for a while.  At the very least, it’s another option for getting your book out there in front of your readers.

Nature, Creativity and Writing

I normally don’t post about writing, but this is a topic in which I have a great deal of interest.  More and more we hear how disconnected we are from nature.  In fact, there is a new term called, Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD).

The term was coined by author Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder in order to explain how our societal disconnect with nature is affecting today’s children. We have become a digitally enhanced, suburban, urban-centric, society.  Our lives are so filled with scurrying to and fro that we seldom take time to smell anything let alone the roses.

I came across a great blog post that illustrated this by Nelson Suit, author of a book of poems, The Songs of Galangal, and a children’s book titled Els Oot and the Mapmaker.  He writes about research that was done that seemed to indicate people who had been on a 4-6 day hike performed better on assessments that measured their creativity.  This validates what I have believed all along, I am way more creative if I get my dose of nature that connects me to the universe.  He says it so well in his blog,

“Even if nature is not always “gentle” or “soft”, it seems true that our brains engage differently between the digital (on/off) choices of the computers that we have manufactured and the fluid dynamics of walks in nature.”

Take a minute and visit his blog, Wordcapering; I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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