So, anybody out there like to read? Have I got a book for you! The most important event in literature since King James re-released The Bible. Okay, that may be an exaggeration. But seriously, if you all need something to read, I could use some money and I get a couple bucks a book, so it would really help me out if you wanted to buy one or two or ten. They make great gifts.
Actually, about a month ago, I ran across a friend of mine who had a book self-published on a site called Lulu.com. I’d never really looked into such things, figuring that single, on-demand printing had to be cost-prohibitive. The entire idea was somewhat counter-intuitive to what I was used to, with savings coming through bulk print runs. And who was going to pay $20 for a regular paperback you could pick up in the store for $7 or $8? It might be good for vanity stuff, but serious, wide-spread distribution? Probably not.
Well, when I saw my friend’s book (or the book of his work with his name on it, anyway. There are rights issues involved and I’m not really sure he’s getting a cut of the sales, which is why I’m not linking to it right now or mentioning his name. If I do find out he’s getting a cut, I’ll be happy to promote the hell out of it.) I looked into the site’s specifics, trying out some possibilities on their cost calculator. I was pretty much shocked to discover that the price structure wasn’t all that bad, and it allowed for me to get a comfortable cut, Lulu to get theirs and still sell at a reasonable price in the regular established market range. Pretty impressive. And it does raise some possibilities I hadn’t considered before.
I started out as a fiction writer, back in the day. Mostly cheesy horror stories like guys getting suffocated by the leaves on their front lawn cause they were sick of being raked up and burnt every year, that kind of stuff. Eventually, I progressed to somewhat less-cheesy stuff with more of a point behind the weird stuff going on, and eventually reached the point where I could present actual emotional issues; fear, anger, laughter, heartbreak; and it not seem cheesy at all. But I couldn’t earn a living at it. Fiction, unless you’re one of the six top writers in the country, doesn’t pay worth a damn. That’s why I got into editing and the like in the first place. At least doing that, I could collect a paycheck. Of course, recently, that paycheck is getting smaller and smaller as the industry is collapsing in on itself, but that’s another matter.
I’ve had a stack of short stories I’ve been banging around on for years, always meaning to do something with them, but never really finding the time. About a week ago, I decided to put some of them together and give this thing a shot, just to see how it works, exactly. So, while being snowed in last weekend, I put this collection of 20 stories together. I picked out a format from their options (they have lots, just about everything), laid out my pages, dug up a cover image (get it? It’s a skeleton? “dug up”?), laid out a cover, processed them all and sent it off. Bang, now I’ve got a nearly 200 page paperback for open sale for $9 ($5 for a digital version; they have those, too). I don’t know if I’ll sell any, but that’s not the point, really. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to sell bunches of them, and I’m going to spend the next couple months playing around with different online marketing ideas to drum up some interest. But primarily, I’m thinking big picture. If it’s reasonable to produce actual books without the need for massive overhead for up-front print runs, then this is indeed a whole new ball game. In the meantime, I’ll have a copy for my personal book shelf, and I’ll get a pretty good feel for whether or not this Lulu thing is as useful as it might possibly be. I’ll let you know how it goes.
And if, perchance, you would like to buy, check it out here.