Some Non-Fiction for Self-Publishers

   By Tim VanHouten


“Screaming Mad Dee” taken by self.

Self-publication is easy, if you have the time and will to do it.You do have to be aware of the pitfalls before you make the leap into the fray of eBooks and paperback visions.

First, you are in complete control. This means you are solely responsible for the print quality. You can use outside sources; turn-key places are great but come with a hefty price such as this option for self-publishers. These places offer to do most of the work for you: editing, design and distribution. The cost ranges from a few thousand dollars to upward of $25,000.

Self-publisher “Screaming Mad Dee” said, “when they say everything is in your control, that means everything: marketing, proofreading, layouts, artwork. “Screaming Mad Dee” also said that you have to be a shameless self promoter; self-publishers can hire marketers, but the expense and the hassle may not be worth it. So it comes down to money versus quality in many cases. These lessons were learned while writing his book Tales of the Screaming and Mad.

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Photo by Angela Beth Greenburg “Dee” Calhoun

The second thing to contemplate is the number of people currently self-publishing. Everyone who has ever strung a few words into a sentence seems to be self-publishing. There are too many sub-par books on the shelves, even ones written by well-known authors. “Reviews are available through Amazon,” said PSC Professor Eric Slivoskey. The downfall of Amazon reviews is that they are given by uncompensated reviewers who may not be trained in literature.


Photo courtesy of Potomac State College.

Knowing how to market your work is critical. “With no publisher having a stake in the project’s success, making people aware of it and even harder [getting people] interested in it, is our obligation,” said Dee.

Slivoskey had this advice “Try to write several books and link them together so if someone searches your book, another one will be displayed. Do not limit yourself to one brand of social media, you should utilize as many as possible.”

The third topic is profit. If you are planning to write a few books and retire, reconsider your plans. Even if you can get people to buy your book, your profit margin from each sale will be minuscule.

If you charge $14.99 per soft cover, you would only receive $4.54 in royalties if you use to publish. Remember you are paying for everything. CreateSpace has a royalty calculator to help set book prices that should help keep you grounded.