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Print On Demand Self Publishing

Article Published in the American Amateur Press Association's "Amateur Journalist," 2010.

by David Griffin

www.windsweptpress.com


Although Iíve written creatively for my own satisfaction through the years, there was  never a serious intent to publish or become a sought after author.  But even an amateur like me needs an audience.  Hugh Singleton, a long time member of the AAPA, once told me that our writing is a gift that needs a recipient.  Readers also keep us on our toes and attentive to our craft.  My writing improved exponentially when I began to make it public. 

Writing to an audience was one of the reasons I joined the AAPA in the 1990ís, but  never got around to publishing in our monthly bundle until last year.  By the time I was ready to yield up my literary efforts the Internet had grown to maturity and offered the possibility of a much larger audience, as well as virtually no publishing costs.  I downloaded a free Web building program and began to put my stories on my own Website.  That led to the idea for More Stories, an adjunct to my site where budding authors are welcome to place their articles so anyone can read them on the Web. 

For the first months of my Internet career, friends and relatives found my stories and reportedly enjoyed them.  But many folks were hampered by their limited experience with computers, and some used only email.  When asked for hardcopy of the stories, I wore out my wifeís copy machine in short order before  discovering Print On Demand (POD) self publishing,  which was exactly what I wanted.  Each year, I compile my writing into a book of about thirty stories and essays, give it a title and self publish it.  Iíve also produced a fly fishing book that is used by a local chapter of Trout Unlimited in their fishing classes.

POD self publishing affords any author the ability to create a book at no cost, except for the copies he chooses to buy.  For example,  after uploading my work to either of the POD publishers Iíve used (Lulu.com and Createspace.com),  I buy a single copy for about five dollars, and soon a ridiculously complicated printing and binding machine spews it out and mails the copy to me for another four dollars.  Thatís it!  I open the box to find a perfect-bound six by nine inch soft cover book with a luscious color cover.  It looks exactly like any other so-called quality paperback for sale in a bookstore.  In fact, major publishers and distributors are now beginning to use the same Print On Demand process, rather than store thousands of books in warehouses.  I can buy any amount I want for my authorís price.  I can hand them out to friends or take them down to the bookstore to sell on consignment.  I helped a friend publish an historical military novel and he takes it to veteran conventions, selling each volume at a profit.  POD publishing companies can also handle hardcover editions, as well as black and white and color photo books and calendars.  Iíve been told of families who put together a photo book of a reunion or wedding and publish just a few copies.  One could make up such a book and order a dozen for the bridal party, making   available copies for sale to distant relatives via the POD publisherís Web site.  Another nice feature of POD is the ability to change the book after itís published.  Upload your modified text or graphics and the next book ordered will contain the changes.

To construct my books,  I use Microsoft Word for the basic text work.  I set the margins, choose fonts, and insert graphics to yield a file that on the computer screen will look exactly like the finished publication, including text,  table of contents, index, page numbering  Ö  absolutely everything that goes into the book, including the front and back endpapers.   On the computer screen, it appears exactly as it will look when printed.  Both Lulu and Createspace provide a facility to help you design the front and back covers.  The cover photo on my first book of stories, A Real Writer,  came from a walk around my back yard and a visit to the little shed where I tie fishing flies.  My cover on Storyteller borrows from Michaelangeloís art in the Sistine Chapel.  The photo gracing Heaven is from Photobucket.com, and was re-worked from a tourist shot of a stained glass window.  There are lots of copyright-free sources on the Internet. 

Although both Lulu and Createspace automatically place my books for sale on Amazon with my permission, Iíve sold few books to the general public.  When I get tired of giving them away, I simply tell anyone who asks where to find my books on Amazon.  I just received a royalty check covering the last few months for the impressive amount of $21.83!

If youíd like to see my books, you can go to Amazon.com, and search on ďDavid Griffin,Ē followed by Fly Fishing for the Beginner or any of my titles mentioned above.  POD self publishing may not be for everyone.  If you want your book marketed in a complete and professional manner, it's probably best to find a literary agent and have him sell your novel to mainstream publishers.  But if all you want is to produce a book you can give to friends and relatives, or just place it on your bookshelf and occasionally sell to a reader who finds you on Amazon,   this is a neat means to that end. 

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