Monday, March 25, 2013

The Book Patch, Part 2: Advantages & Disadvantages

A friend of mine recently asked me to share my experience with self-publishing for another friend of his who was looking to publish a book poems (my first book was also poetry). My book came out in May 2012, so now that a number of months had gone by, I was able to look at my publishing choices more objectively, and with less of the, "WHOOHOOO! MY BOOK IS IN PRINT!!!" ecstatic emotion, which tended to blanket everything else.

I still feel that The Book Patch was a good choice for me. And if I were to publish a second book of poems, or another type of specialty book, I may go through them again, but for traditional size and print books, I'm considering other options.

This is what I sent to my friend to pass along:

I self-published my book of poetry, Echoes, through a small California-based company called The Book Patch ( I was originally going to go through, but their prices went up shortly before I was ready to publish, and since my book was poetry and art, and therefore, full color cover and insides, the price I’d have to list it at to make even a few dollars profit was ridiculous. No one would pay that cost; not even family members. So, I went looking for someone else.

Like any company, TBP has advantages and disadvantages.


1. Their ISBN prices are the best I’ve seen.

2. You can buy & register your ISBN through TBP, and then use it elsewhere.

3. You can even print your book on your own computer, if you so choose.

4. You retain all rights.

5. You get 100% of your royalty. Ex: If the manufacturing cost of your book is $5.00, and you list it as $12.00, you will earn and keep that $7.00 difference for every book sold. Amazon and Lulu both take a percentage of your royalties.

6. Their print quality is excellent.

7. Their s&h time is fast, even if you use their cheapest option. (Ex: I live in southwest Virginia. Lulu is in Raleigh, NC. TBP is in California. I paid for fast shipping with Lulu and slow shipping with TBP. My proof copy from TBP made it to me faster than from Lulu.)

8. You pay wholesale, not retail, costs for copies of your book.

9. Great customer service.


1. They are a small company.

a. Their s&h costs outside of the US are cost prohibitive.

b. Many people haven’t heard of them, so even though their site is protected via SSL, many people I know wouldn’t order from them.

c. They only take credit/debit at this time, not PayPal or Google Checkout, which further deterred my potential customers.

2. Not easy or cost effective (at least for me) to get your books to Amazon, B&N, or other book retailers.

3. Limited book size templates.

4. No hardcover. (This was not a disadvantage for me, but I know some writers want the option.) 

With my next book, I think that I will probably try Amazon’s Create Space. I’ve heard a lot of good things about them from various self-published authors. Even though you don’t get 100% of your royalty, a lot of the benefits seem to outweigh that fact. I may still go through TBP to purchase my ISBN, however.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Self Promotion

You're published! You went through a self-publishing company, rather than an agent, however, so you're going to  have to do a lot of your own promotion. Some self-publishing companies do offer marketing/promotion assistance, but from what I've observed, you better have a lot of financiaing available to go that route.

What can you do on your own? A lot!

1. Set a reasonable retail price for your book. If your book costs more than the average book of whichever genre you're writing in, don't expect a lot of sales.
2. Create an author page for yourself on Facebook. It's free and easy.
3. If you already have your own website, either redesign it solely as an author page, or add a prominent section about your book(s).
4. Carry the final proof copy of your book with you! Show it to everyone! Don't give them enough time to read the entire book though! You just want to tease them enough to get them to buy their own copy!
5. Learn to use Twitter. Twitter about your book.
6. Blog about your book. (If you're at all familiar with MSWord, Open Office, or other similar word processing programs, you'll probably find WordPress the easiest blogging software to use.)
7. Tell your family.
8. Tell your friends.
9. Tell your coworkers.
10. Tell your classmates (or your fellow alumni).
11. Announce your publication to your alumni groups (high school and college).
12. Most college will publish class notes about their alumni for free in their next alumni magazine. Make sure your publication announcement is in there. It's an accomplishment of an alum, so they should be happy to share the news.
13. Some people still use MySpace, so advertise there, too.
14. Unless your book content would be inappropriate to share on your LinkedIn profile, make it a status update. Add it to your LinkedIn Publications widget.
15. Join GoodReads and set yourself up an author profile (just make sure you meet their requirements to join). GoodReads has several options to help you promote your book.
16. If you are an Amazon author, you can also join Shelfari's author program.

If you have ideas to add, please comment and I'll add them to this list!

The Book Patch

The Book Patch is a website which allows authors to self-publish their work. I migrated from the better known to TBP at the last minute. Lulu had been, at best, a difficult site to work with, but a lot of people used them, and the end product looked nice (in color, at least - b&w, not so much).

And then, I went to set the retail price for my 78-page book of poetry and art, and discovered that to see even a few dollars profit, I'd have to set the retail price at a minimum of $27.00! I decided that was ridiculous. Who was going to pay that?

A few months before this, Ruth had suggested a site called TheBookPatch to me. I'd taken a look and signed up, but I hadn't done anything beyond setting up a profile and skimming through their FAQ.

On my way back to TBP, I also took a look at Amazon's CreateSpace, but I wasn't all that thrilled with them either. 1) I'd have to redesign my book. They didn't have the book size I was using (but TBP did). 2) Although they had some fairer prices than Lulu, they still took a hit of your profits. Yes, I want to write for the love of writing, but I'd also be beyond thrilled if I could earn a living for myself by doing what I love most: writing. So I went back to TBP.

Three things really sold me on this site. 1) Their printing costs are much lower, even for a full color book. 2) They don't take ANY of your profit. Whatever markup you add to their printing costs is yours! 3) Their print costs may be lower but their print quality is WAY better than Lulu. The paper was heavier and brighter, and the colors were brighter.

Okay, four things. 4) When I ordered from Lulu, even with fast shipping, it took a long time for that book to show up, and they were in the state below mine! TBP is on the other side of the country, but their printing (even that first copy) and ship time, using MEDIA MAIL, no less, way faster.

With TBP, you can upload a ready to go, already layed out, manuscript (as long as it fits with one of their book sizes), or you can write your book directly on their website! Instant (cloud) back-up.

Let's talk about ISBNs. I can't speak for other countries, but if you are an independent author in the US, and you try to go through Bowker's (ISBN agency) on your own, you can expect to spend around $200, give or take, on just ONE ISBN! Most of us don't have that kind of money handy.

TBP has several options for you, the most expensive of which is $50.00. When you go to buy your ISBN through them, you'll get a chance to look over the different options and decide what's best for you. If you're putting together a family history book, for example, and you don't plan to have it available in libraries, large book stores, etc, a cheaper ISBN option may work for you.

Also, you can use that ISBN at TBP, or Amazon, or B&N, or your home printer! Their customer service is really great, too.

TheBookPatch is definitely the friendliest, most flexible self-publishing site I've seen to date, and I've already started my next book with them! This time, I'll be writing directly on their site instead of using a preformatted layout on my computer. Once I know what I'm doing there, I'll write about that experience as well.

Please let me know if you have any questions!
--Amanda Grabler

Self-Publishing Companies

There is a growing number of companies available to authors who wish to self-publish. No matter how great one company is, not everyone will have a good experience with them. What company will work best for you will really depend on what you need. This may change from book to book!

I have written about my experience with The Book Patch, and will post about it shortly. If you'd like to share your experience with them, Lulu, Create Space, or another company altogether, please let us know! We'll be in touch with you about where you can send your company's review, and we'll post it to the blog and credit it to you.


Welcome to "Promoting Your Book". Ruth & I started this group on Facebook, but quickly realized that we were going to need a proper way to really get the word out about all the great authors we were getting to know through our group/page.

Ruth suggested we find some way to feature links to all these great people, their websites, blogs, and where people can buy their books. Blogspot came to mind, and I quickly found out that several of our members had some sort of Google account, which meant they could easily follow Blogger. Using a blog, we could also reach out to authors who are not on Facebook.

We particularly want to help authors, who, like ourselves, have self-published, but we're open to traditionally published authors as well, and authors who haven't made it all the way to publishing yet! We believe that everyone has good ideas and experiences to share about the writing and publishing process, and we'd like to bring those minds together.

In addition to finding new promotion ideas, you may also find someone with graphic design talent who can help you with the cover for your next book! Maybe a fellow editor is out there too.

I have been very impressed with the new authors who have friended me on Facebook, and I hope to read and review their work as soon as I can. This is also a way we can help each other, because it can be very difficult for new authors to garner enough reviews to really get noticed.

I hope that you will find what you need here, and if you have any questions or suggestions, please let us know!