It’s 102 degrees out….. it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. – How was your summer? In case you haven’t looked at the calendar lately, it’s almost over. Around the Pramschufer household we’re busy packing bottles of shampoo and cases of “cup of noodles” in preparation for the trip back to Ohio to take my youngest son back to college. When that is done, it’s time to finish up a publishing project I have been bouncing around in my head for the last month or so and, yes, get it ready for the Christmas buying season. Sound familiar? Don’t think you have time? (Click here to read more)
Conventional wisdom tells you that traditional publishers have long finished anything they plan on having available for sale for Christmas. As self-publishers, we could care less about conventional wisdom. August is as good a time as any to kick a publishing project into high gear and create the perfect gift for family and friends…. Maybe even get some sales. Like everything else in self-publishing, it is a matter of directing all efforts towards a decisive obtainable goal and going in with your eyes open.
First let’s work our way backwards on this. Christmas is on a Saturday this year. From a delivery standpoint, this works in your favor. Friday the 24th is Christmas Eve; all the delivery services have regular delivery that day. Printers tend to have Christmas Eve as a holiday so it means they are naturally pushing to have all work done by the close of business on the 23rd. Perfect. Not that you generally want to get involved with overnight shipping, it’s good to know that you can. For those of you in the Metro New York area, the least expensive ground UPS/FedEx delivery is overnight on digital quantities.
Now that we have established the final delivery date for “books under the tree”, lets back it up to see when materials are needed to make that date. Final, pre-flighted PDF files need to be to the printer by Tuesday December 7th in order to have paperback books shipped by the 24th. December 7th is easy to remember because it’s Pearl Harbor Day. I think they still make mention of that day in the regular newspaper. The only thing you need to do on your end to make the delivery happen is to not hold your proof, or make any changes to the proof. If you are the type who tends to make changes, and you know who you are, change that December 7th date to December 1st and keep in mind… this date is the day the files have passed preflight and are officially at the printer. The typical DIY file seldom passes preflight, the first time through which is a good reason to use a professional graphic artist to prepare your text and cover, whether it is SelfPublising.com or another designer.
The layout and design process can run as quickly as two weeks and as long as four to six weeks, and beyond. Once again it is important to look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are the type who generally likes things professionally done, on this first pass or are you the type who loves to nitpick and micro-manage every minute detail? The designers at SelfPublishing.com have been doing what they do for over 30 years each. IE: You will get a professionally prepared product right from the start. While we are still in August, let’s pencil in a November 1 date on our calendars to have all materials to the designer. If your material is organized, you can probably move that date forward a week but no need to right now. You can help your designer a great deal by browsing Amazon, looking at different covers. If there are one of two that you really like, be ready to share them with the designer. Keep in mind you are not doing the “design” by submitting samples of things you like. You are just increasing the odds that you will be happy with what the designer does, right out of the chute. My favorite cover design story involves my son and me. I would sit with MS Word for hours, making word art titles, subtitles and playing with cover pictures until I felt pretty good with my “design”. I would then proudly send off what I had done to him and within a very short period of time, receive a completed cover that made mine look like my two year old grandson had done it. Same thing when I send one of my “creations” to Jonathan Gullery, here in the office. Giving the designer some idea, is good but leave the actual designing up to them. That’s what they do.
OK, so the last date I mentioned is November 1st and it’s not even September 1st yet. What’s the big deal? How about editing? Even if you are only planning to give your book to friends and family, you should still have someone else look at the manuscript from an editorial standpoint. Many people believe if they get rid of the squiggly lines in their MS Word document, they have a print ready manuscript. I’ll leave it up to the editorial types to convince you otherwise. If the final audience is small enough that approach to editing is probably fine but….. Bill Gates is not an editor. If you want your manuscript edited, you need an editor.
Much like design and layout, the amount of time needed to edit a manuscript can vary from a few weeks to months. A basic mechanical edit takes two weeks for under 100,000 words and three weeks for over 100,000 words. From there it is up to you to accept or reject any changes suggested by the editor. This can be a bit of a daunting task, no matter how good of a writer you are. The temptation is to click the “accept all” change button, but you really shouldn’t. Figure that part of the process is going to take a week or so. This means you need to have the original word document in the hands of the editor by October 4th or 5th. Still, that leaves a month.
Well, that is absolutely correct if you are looking for books under the tree but how about if you want to take it one step forward. Black Friday is November 26th. This is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Forget about getting books onto the shelves of your local bookstore. That’s where that conventional wisdom from paragraph one comes into play. But… how about having your book available on Amazon and some 20 thousand other retailers? This is where the SelfPublishing.com Thor program comes in. There is nothing magical about Thor. Thor is vehicle for having your title available in the Ingram database on a POD basis. The long and the short of POD is that it appears as if your book is everywhere, yet it is nowhere… but on a server in Tennessee. When a book is ordered from an online store like Amazon, an electronic signal is sent to the Ingram printer; a single book is printed and mailed out to the consumer in an Amazon envelope. It’s pretty neat. The author receives the retail price minus 50% minus a preset printing price. A 256 page book that retails at $14.95, nets the author about $3.25/book.
Normally files are not uploaded to Thor until after the author receives their initial print run of books. Once the file is uploaded, it takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to appear on the Amazon website. Unfortunately, there is no real control on that… It’s a few computers talking to each other. It’s great when it works but when it doesn’t…try finding a phone number on the Amazon website. With Selfpublishing.com’s new Direct to POD program the author can shortcut the system a bit, and have a coach to help you through the entire process. With this program, you can be made available on Amazon and the rest of the Thor outlets, as well as have some books for under the tree, all in not much more than a month, without editing, and two months, with editing. If we use the Black Friday date of Nov 26th as our target “on sale” date, it means that you need to have your manuscript ready for layout by the week of October 18th. In short…. It’s time to get started. For info on the Direct to POD program, visit www.directtopod.com.
Dates to Remember
- December 23rd – Last day to ship books for receipt by December 24th.
- December 7th – Preflighted files to printer for printed paperback books to ship by 12/23
- November 1st – Final manuscript (under 100,000 words) to SelfPublishing.com for text layout, cover design and printed paperback books to ship by 12/23
- October 4-5th – Final manuscript to SelfPublishing.com for mechanical editing, text layout, cover design and printed paperback books to ship by 12/23
- For books by Black Friday, November 26th, subtract one month
Direct to POD
- Dedicated book coach to see you through the process
- Layout of text and cover (5X8 or 6X9 fiction)
- 1 Paperback copy
- EBook (EPub and Mobi Kindle file)
- Inclusion in the Thor POD distribution program
Start to finish – 4-5 weeks
Visit www.DirectToPOD.com for more information.
NOTE: 1st Night of Hanukkah is December 1st