Self-Publishing: Pulling the Trigger

by Joel Friedlander on March 15, 2011 · 10 comments

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One of the most common reactions people have when they decide to buy a new house is called “buyer’s remorse.”

They’ve searched for a while, looked at houses, finally found the one that’s right for their family. They made an offer, maybe there was a counter offer, so there was plenty of time to project all their good feeling onto the house.

Then the offer was accepted. What was, in the morning, just one of many possibilities has narrowed down to the reality staring them in the face. That’s when they start to notice the parts they overlooked in the euphoria of buying.

They feel trapped. What have they done? It’s all wrong, why didn’t they see it before? This is a natural human reaction, and many people go through it.

Finger on the Trigger

I’m sitting here with the proof that arrived from Lightning Source today for A Self-Publisher’s Companion. It looks exactly as it should.

The proof came with a lovely card from Ingram, Lightning Source’s parent company. It’s addressed “To our valued publisher” and contains step-by-step instructions on what to do next, whether you want to approve the proof or revise it, or if you just don’t like it and want to talk it over.

It also contains this excellent list of items to “carefully consider before approving:”

  • Have your latest changes been incorporated?
  • Is the pagination correct: odd page numbers on the right/recto pages and even page numbers on the left/verso side?
  • Does your proof contain spelling errors, grammatical errors, or typos that need correction with revision files?
  • Are the text block and page items positioned correctly on the page?
  • ISBN is included and correct: identical on both the cover and copyright pages?
  • Please verify the price you set your title up as and the price on your cover match.

A very practical and thorough checklist, suitable for bookmarking.

The card has my Client Services Coordinator’s card attached to it, and all in all it’s a well thought-out and effective communication.

The book itself looks exactly as expected. Since I already had digital copies from 48hrbooks.com I knew what it would look like. The books from LSI are not the same as those from 48hrbooks.com, but the differences are fairly minor.

I sold a bunch of them at the BAIPA Institute this weekend, but they were the 48hrbooks.com version. This one is the production version, the one that will be used to fill orders from online retailers.

Publisher’s Remorse?

Like the homebuyer, what was until now a world of possibilities has shrunk to this reality sitting on my desk. I could have added a few other articles. I could have organized it differently. I’m worried it’s not helpful enough, that I haven’t given enough.

It was insane to do a print on demand book with that border, I wouldn’t let a client do that. What was I thinking?

Is the book error-free? I’ve produced many books over the years, and some of them are error free. It doesn’t seem as urgent as it used to for some reason. Maybe its all those ebooks changing fonts and slithering around inside the ereaders, but there seems to be more tolerance for small mistakes these days. Where is perfection in an ebook anyway?

The cure for buyer’s remorse is to move into the house. Every house is a balance of comforts and annoyances, and you learn to deal with it. Books become what they are through one process or another, then are set in that form.

When I approve the proof, the metadata will flow down Ingram’s data stream and out into the world. I flip through the pages one more time. This is the book I made, and it’s time to ship.

Extra Credit

I’d like to leave you with this excellent video interview by Digital Book World with David (Skip) Prichard, President and CEO of Ingram Content Group. In it he discusses the changes in content delivery, print on demand, the growth of Lightning Source, and his vision for the future. It’s well worth watching.

Photo by Brian Teutsch

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    { 9 comments… read them below or add one }

    Michael N. Marcus March 15, 2011 at 1:09 am

    Congratulations on receiving the proof.

    The best cure for Publisher’s Remorse is to see the books from other publishers that are much worse than your book and have received great reviews. Sadly, it will be easy to find them.

    Michael N. Marcus
    http://www.BookMakingBlog.blogspot.com
    http://www.Self-Pub.info
    – Create Better Books, with the Silver Sands Publishing Series: http://www.silversandsbooks.com/booksaboutpublishing.html
    – “Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults),” http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661750

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 15, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Thanks, Michael. Actually, I found one of those books on your blog today. I’ve been saying for quite a while that the way to avoid these kinds of catastrophes is through education.

    I thought of you while I was looking over the proof. I noticed a couple of things I might have done differently, or could have tweaked a bit, generating another proof. But I didn’t. “The perfect is the enemy of the good,” I guess.

    Reply

    Jay Cookingham March 15, 2011 at 6:56 am

    Thanks Joel, that was a great read!

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 15, 2011 at 7:52 am

    You’re welcome, Jay, thanks for stopping by.

    Reply

    Stephen W. March 15, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Nice article, Joel, and congratulations. One question: what “border” would you be referring to, on the cover or inside? Thanks, SW

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 15, 2011 at 9:48 am

    The red border around the front cover, usually not a good idea with print on demand books, whose publishing tolerances are looser than offset books.
    A Self-Publisher's Companion by Joel Friedlander

    Reply

    maggie March 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    It’s a stunning cover, Joel. But you’re right about the border. Looks great when you design it, but a beast when it comes to production, no matter what type you choose.

    Is the title Bodoni Poster, by any chance?

    Just wondering.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Thanks, Maggie. It’s Onyx and the rest of the cover is in Baskerville. I don’t know what came over me but, so far, all the copies I’ve had printed, proofing copies, ARCs and the proof from LSI look great. The spine is even more difficult, by the way, but I’ll spare you the details. The look I was going for was “classic” as in, everybody should have a copy. A guy can hope.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander March 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    The other thing you have to remember is that this book is designed strictly to sell online, not in bookstores. Consequently, the image you see here is actually what the book will look like to anyone who hasn’t bought it.

    Reply

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