On the Quest to Publish a Coffee Table Book; Prepublishing Woes
I have always wanted to publish a book but lacked the self-worth. When my boyfriend decided to take me on the craziest adventure of my life, dragging me across 48 states and more than 20,000 miles in one 74 day burst of insanity, I suddenly found myself with a story I felt was worth publishing! During the trip I had kept up a daily blog about all the destinations we found ourselves visiting and we took boatloads of pictures to put aside each entry. This on its own was an enormous accomplishment, which took many hours of work as we sat at many dozens of strange McDonald’s using their free WiFi and electricity. It was a work of art… but somehow it wasn’t enough. When I returned home people started to ask why I wasn’t making a book of this little jaunt of ours. Eventually I agreed, it would make a beautiful coffee table book.
Immediately I had glorious daydreams of a shiny hardcover book with lustrous vividly colored pages, and my blog entries reading over them like an intricate scrapbook. I wondered what it would take to make my visions come true. Of course the first thing I did was make a broad estimate of how many pages it might be (250?) and how many photos I could afford (one for each entry, 125.) These numbers would be important when asking for publishing prices.
The company I first across was Creative Continuum and boy, their coffee table books looked gorgeous. They even had the option of making dust jackets or embossed covers. Strangely enough they did not list any of their prices so I had to e-mail them. I got a super bubbly e-mail back. They offered to design the whole thing for me for $7.50-15.00 per page. They claimed to have absolutely no marketing services and actually admitted these books aren’t even given an ISBN (making them impossible to sell through any bookstores.) After going through in glorious detail what they wanted to do with my idea they then said it’d cost around $4,700 and the finished book would cost anywhere between $75-95, to buy depending if I bought 50 or 500. This is probably where I started puking. Are you kidding me?! $4,700 to print an inanely overpriced book I can’t sell anyway?! Uh, pass. That’s almost half of the entire expense of our trip. They must be out of their minds if they think I am going to pay that!
I told this to a writer friend of mine who suggested I should check out Amazon, they publish people for free or for very small amounts of money. So I checked out their royalty calculator. I found a lot of problems, for one this program seemed to be set up for novels and other books that don’t require color printing. There was a color printing option but I found out in order to make any money whatsoever on my book I had scant few options. I could decide to only sell it through the publisher, CreateSpace, and Amazon and price it at $31. This would mean I would get over $6 profit whenever it was sold through the publisher and a whole shiny quarter whenever it sold through Amazon. That’s not great but I guess it’s still somewhat OK. However I did want it to be sold in as many places as possible and if I did decide to make it available through other stores outside of Amazon I would have to hike the price up to $39 and receive a whole shiny nickel every time it sold through one of the third party stores. In addition to this I looked up what other people were saying about the quality of their photo printing… though there were rave reviews for novels, the people that used this to publish photographs didn’t seem at all pleased. They more or less said you got what you paid for… SIGH. No Amazon for me.
Eventually I meandered back to Infinity Publishing, a publishing company I had flirted with before when considering publishing my unseen novels. They had a lot of great services, mostly in marketing. They published all their books with an ISBN, gave instructions on how to submit your book to the Library of Congress, offered discounts to authors buying their own books, and allowed bookstores to return any books they could not sell (which has enormous benefits when you’re thinking about attending book signings.) They weren’t free like Amazon but they weren’t ridiculously priced either. After e-mailing them they told me my book sounded like it would cost only a little over a grand. However that was for soft-cover books, it’d be more for hardcover books, and the books themselves would only be 8.5 by 11 inches. Apparently this is the largest book you can make that’s still easily sold to distributors, as it’s a “standard size.” I am waiting now to buy one of their photo books to see if I am approving of their quality. In the meantime I continue my search and continue to work on this manuscript, proofreading, choosing photos, and designing pages. I also have started blogging again about more local destinations and have even joined Twitter, which I find chaotic and horrible, but if it'll help me market than so be it! This is going to be a looong process, one I will probably update here every once in a while.
If you're interested in reading the blog this book will be based on please check out http://www.ChasingMarbles.com