"SELF PUBLISHING OR TRADITIONAL - PART TWO"
I'm back this week continuing the series of questions with KC Frantzen about her journey into the self-publishing world with her debut mid-grade novel May on the Way featuring May, the K9 spy dog.
Q: Hi KC - good to be back with you. I have more questions our readers might also be thinking about. Did you research companies like Create Space or Create Here with Amazon?
A: I did. And others… Oh! You want more detail?! With my husband's support (a tremendous blessing), we chose to form a publishing company and tackle this ourselves. It's less expensive per book, but a LOT more work. However, we have control over the story and how it is presented. This ultimately helped us make our decision. (Regardless of which way someone goes, there are no guarantees. And another thing while I'm thinking about it, I actually read a publishing contract from one of the big houses. The author receives such a small percentage. It was rather shocking. With the amount of work expected for the author to perform after the sale, for me at least, doing it ourselves is the way to go.) This is my third entrepreneurial venture, though this is the first time I've worked with a specific product. I'm well aware it could fall flat. Exposure to readers, like this opportunity, is GOLD. Thank you!
I've had to take off my author hat and look at May on the Way objectively - as a product - and decide how best to let people know about it. One of the first things I concluded: the manuscript wasn't where it needed to be. So, I hired a writing coach. I had to find an illustrator, find a book manufacturer, find someone to design the book and cover which ended up - WOW - being the illustrator - WOW - how amazing is that! Then there's the matter of what to put ON the cover, including blurbs and placement of bar code, design a logo, write an author bio, etc. What about the spine design? Meaning, I had to think about how the book will appear on the shelf among hundreds of other books.
I had to figure out what would best enhance our May, the K9 Spy brand. (We decided on a plush Schnauzer, complete with custom collar and sunglasses. SO CUTE!!) I had to decide how to price the book, find out how to get the ISBN/bar code, how to apply for a Library of Congress number, what to do about shipping… I have to know going in that, more than likely, May on the Way will never be sold in large bookstores. Details go on and we're still not finished. But we're almost there. WAHOO! Book Two will have its own challenges but in many respects is going to be SO much easier!!!!
Q: That's a lot to think about, much less juggle. You decided to start your own publishing company. Can you tell us about the process and how difficult is this to accomplish? Incorporate? Or not? And of course, I'm sure May was right along for the car ride to all these meetings and put her WOOF! into all of the decisions about her book...
A: Certainly! We already had an LLC. Our company, RushJoy Press is an imprint of that LLC. Interestingly perhaps, was the task of finding a suitable name for the imprint. It took quite awhile but we're happy with it. We are blessed with a good accountant who also helped advise us. That is a MUST. Other than that, it's making sure forms are completed, taxes and registrations paid and the like, including getting a resale number for your state, check on city/county issues, etc. It's not hard, just make sure you do all of it.
Q: I agree with having a good accountant. Saves you a lot of headaches down the road. Once you had your publishing in place, what was the next step?
A: I've been working with Carol Bell at Sheridan Books in Michigan for months. Using the analogy of custom house building, you start with an idea and translate it into a structure. Where do you place all the plugs, where should the doors be, what style of doors, what are they made of… What type fixtures and how many, what kind of windows, what are they made of, how tall are the ceilings, what treatment will the walls and floors have, etc. In other words - when you say "book" what do you mean? Is it paperback or hardcover or perhaps an e-book? If hard cover, will it have a dustjacket or will it be printed case? What about colored endpapers, or hey - maybe print those endpapers? What size is the book? What kind of binding, color for the binding tape? What color paper will the text be printed on? How much extra will it cost to do that? What font will you use and do you have to buy it? What size? Where do the page numbers go? What embellishments will you use, if any? Where will you store the books when they come? Or… are you going to use print on demand? Take a breath! And while I'm taking a breath, May is still undercover and hard at work cracking cases that will be included in future books. There's a lot going on for sure!
So I spent a LOT of time in bookstores and at libraries, seeing what was available. I spoke to librarians, young readers, older readers, other authors. Carol at Sheridan sent a variety of samples too, and has been such a help guiding me. This has been a great experience from start to (almost) finish. I say that because we turned in the file May 31st.
I researched probably a dozen companies before deciding upon Sheridan. Vicki Allen has used them for over a decade, which also helped with our decision. They produce beautiful work and manufacture for major publishing houses. What most people don't know is they will do short runs (2000), like ours. : One of our objectives (the illustrator's and mine) is to show what TRUE self-publishing can produce. We hope the quality of the book itself will knock your socks off, and we hope the story and illustrations will have May, the K9 Spy's audience begging for more! Check her page out on Facebook Facebook MaytheK9Spy and sign up for May updates at MaytheK9Spy .
Thanks for helping bring awareness to this venture, Vicki. I look forward to answering questions from your readers as we go.
You're welcome KC. I find yours answers informative and hopefully, your willingness to share with my readers will help anyone else who is thinking about traveling the route of self-publishing.
Stay tuned next Sunday because KC will be back sharing more tidbits about the self-publishing world.
KC and May will be available for questions/comments - email me firstname.lastname@example.org
KC Frantzen owns photography copyright on all photos in this article.
May's birthday is June 13th so - we're having a birthday party all weekend through Monday on Facebook! But we are giving the gift! :)
Here's May to tell you about it: Bring FURiends and tell them to sign up for my May updates on my website and like my FB page and tell them you sent me. If you have the most FURiends by Monday night at 11:59PM - you win a PAWographed copy of my book and 3 boxes of my favorite treats from Joshua's Pet Treat Bakery! YUM!