Self-Publishing via the Espresso Book Machine

Fragmentation of the book business has made it nearly impossible for writers to find publishers, unless, of course, they already have publishers who are willing to take chances on their new books. Publishers need to make money, and times are hard. As a result, conventional publication by major publishers has become nearly impossible for great numbers of aspiring writers who have no history of huge sales, or, quite possibly, no history of any sales at all. In an earlier post, The Dream of an Instant Book, I explored the promise of The Espresso Book Machine, a device that promises readers that it can give them any book in the world almost instantly. The same machine, as it happens, can pretty nearly promise writers instant copies of their new books, as well.

Not quite instant, but close. In December, 2009, my wife and I finished our new book, an account of our recent travels around the world. We had made a few fruitless attempts to find a publisher, either directly or through an agent, but we considered the book timely and wanted to get it out quickly. On November 23rd we contacted Shires Press in Vermont, a publisher who prints on demand with the use of an Espresso Machine. After numerous e-mails and a couple of phone calls, by December 18th we had settled details of format, cover, and pricing, and were ready to sign a contract. Copies arrived in December, in time for Christmas. It’s called AROUND THE WORLD ON THE QE2: The Last of the Great Ocean Liners, and looks like this:

So the book is now in print. For others who might be interested, it is useful to know that Shires has three publishing packages: Personal ($69 set-up), Publishing ($399 set-up), and Premier ($599 set-up). For each package there is also a reasonable per page fee, depending on the length of the book. Formats and sizes are nearly endless. Our book is 300 pages, perfect bound 6 X 9 paperback. Given the nearly endless possibilities for POD, it is very difficult to find out if our book could have been done for less elsewhere, or as well.

There remains the problem of marketing. If any reader can describe a quick, efficient, and reasonably priced way to solve that problem, it will be a boon to all of us.

George Perkins

  • To the best of my knowledge, a quick, easy and cost-effective way to market books does not exist. It’s a matter of slow, slogging hard work, step by step….

    • George Perkins

      Slogging is the right word, but the book business is changing so rapidly we can always hope for new ways to market.

  • Ray

    POD at least eliminates the full basements, but nothing guarantees sales.You might visit http://www.fonerbooks.com/ for ideas and suggestions, particularly since it’s non-fiction. Beyond that and social networking such as Facebook, do you have any platform? Are you known in any associations, conventions, forums?

    • George Perkins

      Thanks for the good thoughts. I already knew about Foner Books and Lightning Source (two of my books are already on Lightning Source). For this one, Shire Books (www.northshire.com) seemed like an alternative for a number of reasons, including speed. I am in the process of marketing to a number of mostly personal lists and am still looking for more.

  • George:

    It’s a travel book. The first people I would contact are the QE@ publicity department. If they don’t buy copies, they can at least recommend it to people who are considering the same trip. Then I would set up a Facebook page for the book and link it to the website for the book and buy an ad on Facebook. That’s just the shotgun approach off the top of my head. Search the internet for bookstores that specialize in travel books. Contact them. Send copies to Midwest Book Review. Contact everyone you know who ever took a cruise. Pay for Amazon Advantage, so you have it on Amazon.com’s system. And so on.

  • Whoops. I didn’t realize that the ship is no longer in service. That will limit your market but you might see if the crusise line will sell you their mailing list of previous passengers and try sending out post cards. And it is is being set up as a hotel museum, I would contact them and see how many copies they want for their souvenir shops. They may want to deal through a distributor rather than directly.