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Step: Self Publishing
by Sandy Tritt
So, after a lot
of soul-searching, you’ve decided to self-publish. Or maybe you intended
to do so all along. A few years ago self-publishing was looked upon as
“vanity” publishing—only those with money to buy immortality considered
it. However, things have changed. For one thing, many of the publishing
houses have merged and it has become even more difficult and more time
consuming to land a traditional publisher. For another, some authors
prefer to maintain control over their manuscript and want to keep all the
proceeds from it. And some people have intentionally written their books
for a small audience: a memoir, for instance, in which they’ve simply
wanted to leave something to their descendents. Therefore, self-publishing
has become widely acceptable. So much so that the major Internet book
sellers (like Amazon.com and BarnesandNobel.com) now sell self-published
So how do you go about it? Again, there are many ways and entire books are
devoted to the process. Your first consideration is probably your budget
and your goal. How much can you afford to spend and what do you expect in
return? If you have the financial resources, you can hire a full-service
publisher who will do everything for you. All you do is provide a readable
version of your manuscript and a check. The publisher will typeset it,
help you design or choose a cover, get an ISBN and UPC code for you, print
it, and then, if you want, even help you market it.
The opposite end is doing all the work yourself and simply hiring a
printer. This is the least expensive way to go. However, you must supply
the printer with a type-set version of your manuscript (this isn’t
difficult, but you must either have type-setting software, such as Adobe
Pagemaker, or hire someone to typeset your work for you). If you are
wanting to sell your book at bookstores (physical or Internet), you’ll
have to get an ISBN and a UPC code for it.
The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a unique,
machine-readable identification number. You can get these (in sets of
ten—you can’t order just one number) at:
U.S. ISBN Agency
630 Central Avenue
New Providence, NJ 07974
As of this printing, the fee for ordering ten ISBN numbers is $225 and
takes about ten days to receive.
The UPC code is the Universal Product Code. In the United States, call the
Uniform Code Council at1-937-435-3870, or visit their website at https://catalog.webec.uc-council.org/application.
To get a UPC code, you must become a member of the Uniform Code Council,
and the fee is based upon the size of your “company.”
Another consideration in self-publishing is the copyright. By law, you
automatically own the copyright to any work you have created. However, you
should place a copyright notice on the back of your title page. The
copyright symbol ( © ) should be printed (or you can spell out the word
“copyright”), followed by the year and the owner of the copyright (your
name or company). It should also include the statement: “All rights
reserved.” An example of how this should look: “© 2002 Sandy Tritt. All
rights reserved.” To register your copyright, you must first get an
application from the Copyright Office website (www.loc.gov/copyright), or
by calling the Forms and Publications Hotline at 202-707-9100 (You will
want Form TX). Once you’ve completely filled out the application, send it
with a $30 filing fee and two copies of your book to:
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
Now, if I haven’t confused you yet, let me keep trying. Besides just
having a UPC code and an ISBN number, you also need to have them in
barcode format. Unless you have a printer that prints barcodes (or know
someone who does), you’ll probably be at the mercy of your printer to do
this for you. This service should not cost more than ten to twenty dollars
Once you’ve finally gotten all the necessary paperwork done and have
gotten your book printed, it’s time to market it. As I mentioned earlier,
most Internet bookstores will accept your book. However, most want to keep
50% of the selling price. But half is better than none, and you need the
exposure. But they aren’t going to do anything for you as far as making
you more visible. You’re going to have to do this yourself. You should
contact bookstores and see if they will allow you to come and do
booksignings. Contact the newspaper and see if they will write a feature
article about you. How many books you sell will depend upon how much work
you put into selling them.
Of course, if all you want is a memoir to pass on to your grandchildren,
send your work to a printer, skip the UPC, ISBN and copyright notices, and
just do it.
There are books devoted to self-publishing, and if you are serious about
going this route, I suggest you pick up one or two and study them.
(from Section 5, Workbook)
Want more great tips and techniques? Our
Inspiration for Writers
Tips and Techniques Workbook is now available. Expanded tips, more
topics, reproducible worksheets, exercises to practice what you learn and
much more--check it out! Free shipping anywhere in the United States.
(c) copyright 2002 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved,
except for those listed here. September be reproduced for educational purposes
(such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in
conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt
for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.
Review of 'Pressions
by Linda Alexander
Edith Holmes came to me via the
internet, and at
first I wasn't sure how to handle
her blatant honesty and deep,
searching words and questions. She
became personal almost immediately
and, in many cases, this would've
turned me off. However, because I
she contacted me and understood the
bond she felt, a bond I was, in
turn, beginning to feel with her, I
was not only drawn closer to this
straightforward, honest and caring
woman, I also saw and shared her
vision -- because it was, in
essence, identical to my own
long-standing dream. Our vision, our
dream, was so closely aligned --
without us ever having met in person
or even had any sort of previous
contact -- that it was both
downright eerie, otherworldly, and
I tell you this, as Edith's readers,
to introduce you to her creativity
as the author of 'Pressions, an
mazing book, and also to forewarn
you about her internal eye. It is a
supernatural tool which she uses to
not only weave an intricate tale of
fiction, but also to invigorate it
with a blatant, deep, soul-searching
reality. This reality may make you
wonder, as you read her story,
whether it is, indeed, fiction.
Seems far too real to be simply a
product of a healthy imagination.
Here is where I must explain the
connection between me and Edith
Holmes, a writer, an extraordinary
storyteller, a soothsayer, and a
historical spokeswoman for people of
color -- no matter the color or how
many drops of it that may be in a
person's make-up. We are all people
of color, and Edith understands
Edith found me through an internet
writing site to
which we both contribute. She
learned that my great-grandmother
was a secretive woman. I knew her
when I was a child and even at such
a young age I knew she was
"different." How she was different
was the mystery, a mystery no one in
my family seemed interested in
discussing with a precocious child.
Besides, I believe they thought I
was only dreaming up stories.
Indeed, I was, stories that were to
become the truth behind questions I
had about my family heritage. The
questions lingered, remaining
unanswered for over 30 years until
one day, as I searched census
records at the National Archives, I
discovered the missing piece
to my personal historical puzzle: my
grandmother had been seen as a
"mulatto" in early life in New
Orleans. A mulatto! A shock, because
I am about as white as a white
person can be. I, and those before
me, were "People of Color." Varying
shades, but colors, nonetheless.
Because I'm about as honest as my
new friend, Edith, and because I
hate hypocrisy and racism, from that
point on I made it my mission to
tell my family story to anyone who'd
listen. I gave speeches, wrote
articles, put letters in
publications. Edith read one of my
articles, contacted me, and, as the
ol' saying goes, the rest will
eventually be history -- the past.
Her past. My past. Your past. And it
all contributes to our present, and
our collective future.
All of us are mixed, part of a
greater (and larger)
whole, and we must begin to truly
don't mean a passing "hello" to our
brother or sister; I mean deep,
painful give-and-take communication.
We might say things in love that the
other person won't at first
understand, or even like to hear,
but even that, with continuing
discourse, will help to bridge the
very real color gap still between
the races so we can actually
ultimately DO what we keep saying we
want to do . . . but rarely
What is that? Share life, in truth
and light and
openness. This sort of communication
will bring about love, real love,
between all of us, no matter skin
color, or even race or religion or
orientation. It's crucial. It's the
answer to all of
society's ills, both all too simple
and far too
And this is what Edith is doing with
'Pressions. Read on. Read and enjoy
the well-written and very creative
story, while also soaking in its
message, because there most
definitely is a message, one not to
be missed. It's a novel. It's a book
of truth. It's both, all in one. The
best storytellers over the scope of
time have written this way, giving
readers a tale too engrossing to do
without, while also imparting a
truth too crucial to all humanity to
I thank Edith for contacting me, and
for everything that's happened
since. I'm blessed that she's
crossed my path, and very happy to
be acquainted with her talent, a
talent that's only now becoming
known to the world. Remember the
name: Edith Holmes, Storyteller.
You'll hear it again, and again.
-- Linda Alexander
Critiques by Sandy
Unlike most editors, I consider my role
to be a mentor or a coach. Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I
explain how to correct the problem, and I work with you to teach you how
to write effective prose. More than 50% of my business is repeat
business, and I relish establishing long-term relationships with other
Treat you with respect and compassion.
All criticism will be of the "constructive" sort. My purpose is to
improve your writing, not to destroy your confidence.
Mark your manuscript, correcting
grammatical and spelling errors and suggesting alternative wording where
Highlight areas that are especially
well-written, so you will know where your strengths are.
Where appropriate, offer suggestions for
plot development, character development or other areas that could be
Return a two-to-four page written
analysis of your work. This will include evaluation of: plot, setting,
characterization, dialogue, special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks,
etc.), voice, point of view and any other areas particular to your work.
If appropriate, recommend reading or
resources to strengthen your areas of weakness.
Answer any questions you have via
Provide my telephone number for a
personal follow-up, if you desire.
For Sandy's success stories, see
Write Sandy at
(See Sandy's article above.)
Visit our sister websites...
Publishing New Writers,
August, 2004 (no. 508)
Publisher: Bruce L. Cook, P.O. Box 451, Dundee, IL 60118.
Fax (847) 428-8974.
Submissions /comments firstname.lastname@example.org.
To subscribe and/or review our archive of past newsletters, go to
by Edith Holmes
The People at my
Self publishing Company are the nicest
people anyone could ever meet. They
have done their jobs well, and I am
very appreciative. However, I didn't
know what I know now, and that isn't
Remember, after writing your novel, you have maybe
three choices, self publishing, traditional publishing, or let your work
sit in the box where you placed it. All three have downsides and upsides.
Self Publishing is how I chose to publish my novel.
It was my rock and I personally struck it and stuck to it; I wasn't going
to stop until the last breath left my body. I wanted everyone to have a
copy of the novel.
The big joke is promotion, or marketing. There are
many books out there that tell you how. But none talks about the amount of
money you will need in order to get the job done well. Promotion costs
thousands of dollars. What?
I just finished drinking tears for water in order to
do the Self Publishing thing. The joke is that I am not self published. My
ISBN number belongs to my self publishing company only; therefore I am not
self published. I only paid my publisher to self publish me.
It makes no sense! The company works with you.
Stop??? You work with the self publishing company in order to get your
novel out to the public. What's the difference? You can do the same with a
printing company, which saves you money that you can use to promote your
My self publishing company has someone who prints the
book for them at a good price, cheap really. OH---Now I understand about
No, I don't understand about self publishing a novel
even after all this crap. It is the publisher who will make as much money
as they can off your work, while you try and come up with ways to buy your
book so you can make money. I don't even know this to be the truth.
What's real and even more heartfelt, is when you see
your book listed, and the company who will sell it, can sell it much
cheaper then what you as the Author can buy it for from your Self
Yes, it is POD. Part fiction, Off the Chain, and
DDDDDON'T do it until you have done the research needed to be successful.
It is your job to get out there and promote your book
so they can make even more money off your book. Stop!!!!!! If you are
going to self publish, you need to be able to place your own ISBN number
on your novel, and you need to be able to go to the same book publishing
company as the POD company you hired to get your book printed.
Don't put your money into the POD Publisher or a self
publisher of your novel that never will be yours. Do the research first.
Unless you are rich or maybe Bill Clinton, and can follow up on all the
things that need to be done, DON'T self publish with a POD Company of any
kind. And if you do go this way, make sure you have saved enough money to
do it with.
Now to the good stuff, I have a copy of my novel in my hand that I have
paid dearly to have published. It feels good and I want to sell-sell-sell.
I am so excited about this novel, the name of it is 'PRESSIONS
and that is what I am going through to get it out to the public. I wrote
it from my heart, and I want it to sell. If I could give it to everyone I
would, simply because I think it has the abilities to heal in some small
way. At least, it healed my soul.
And I think the Great Creator of all things has plans
for 'PRESSIONS, be it that it makes it or not. It is his plan that I am
Try to have a support system in place before you get started with the
publishing of your great work. It will help you when you are down and out.
I am lucky in that I have Authorme.com, Readincolor,
Disilgold, Sisterfriend, Bookings Matter, Linda Alexander, TEE C. Royal
with the Rawsisters club and on and on. I am a member of many writing
clubs who are there when you need someone.
I have met so many helpful people on this walk to
authorhood, and I thank each and everyone one of them. I think about those
people all the time, and often wonder what they saw in me, that I did not
Again, never give up on your dreams. Work like the ants, keep moving until
you have found your destination.
Edith M. Holmes
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