An occasional and mostly self-serving record of self-publishing my debut novel, A Hole in the Ground, with possible tips (or warnings) for others thinking of doing the same.
It was a bit of a struggle to get my books here in the first place. Ordered from Blurb in the United States, my shipment was expected to take about a week. A week went by and nothing. Another week and still nothing. Finally, I contacted the company. After a bit of customer-service head-scratching, they discovered that my shipment had… disappeared, probably because I had listed my town not as “Stanstead” but “Stanstad.” Someone at UPS is a stickler.
Blurb agreed to reprint at their cost, but because of the delay, I missed the deadline for a writing contest that, though a long shot, was part of my marketing strategy. On the plus side, the company agreed to waive the shipping costs, so I saved about $650. This is good, because I had failed to take into account the fees and taxes involved in bringing the shipment across the border.
This brings up two points in the self-publishing adventure. One, you should have some basic accounting skills to track your expenses and revenues. (Excel has some simple templates for basic accounting.) Two, be prepared for things to go awry.
Prior to placing my big order, I had a couple of sample copies shipped for one final proofread and to determine mailing costs per book. With my book in a padded envelope, I went to the post office and determined that it was just thin enough to get the letter rate. This amount was then factored into the pledges people made to my Kickstarter campaign to cover the cost of shipping the book to them. Simple accounting.
However, somewhere between my sample printing and the final printing, the paper changed slightly, resulting in a book that was mere millimetres thicker, just thick enough that when I brought my 50 sealed and labelled bubble envelopes to the post office, they no longer slid through the slot that determined whether they qualified for letter rate. Parcel rate was approximately triple the amount I had accounted for. Simple accounting, bad bottom line.
After scraping my morale off the floor, I tried this:
Fifty times I did that in the post office lobby. Self-publishing is good cardio.
Whatever. It worked, and people received their promised books and my budget remained intact.
Between this and learning how to do e-transfer, there’s been a bit of a curve. I won’t even get into describing the look on the face of retailers when you walk into their store to ask if they would like to carry your self-published book.
Next time, I’ll talk about the need to constantly (on the verge of obnoxiously) publicize yourself. Like this!
Order your copy of A Hole in the Ground and read a sample at Blurb. Here’s what people (okay, person) are saying: “You put together a story that made me look forward to being done with everyday life so that I could dive into the book – that is a huge present.”