Thursday, January 15, 2009

The More I Learn the Less I Know

That pretty much sums up how I feel about self publishing. I have finished my book on how to research the history of a St. Louis County home, and had hoped that a local publisher would take it on. After all, they specialize in local authors or stories of local interest. My book satisfies both of those requirements. Alas, the owner does not feel that he can sell enough of my books to make it worth his while. I hate to admit that he is probably right. My book has a really narrow market by design. There are a lot of books out there on how to research a house's history. While some of the content is universal, those books do not help with the quirky steps which need to be taken in St. Louis County. So it looks like I will need to self publish. Sounds easy enough; people do it every day. However it is one thing to self publish when you know you have a potentially large audience. And it's another thing to self publish when you only want a small quantity to hand out to friends and family. But what if you want a book that needs to look polished enough to go into libraries for research and to be used as a textbook when teaching a class, yet still only requires a small print quantity? People are telling me that a book cover and layout design will cost me aroung $1,000. Then there is the professional copy editing to be done. How about purchasing ISBN numbers, possibly having to set up a corporation to become my own "publishing" company? How many books do I need to sell to recoup those expenses? I didn't write this book to make a lot of money. I did it because I want to help other people open the door to their house's history. But that doesn't mean I want to see my investment go the way of my 401k either. So how I do I turn out a professional-looking yet user friendly book without selling my first born? Well, okay, my second born since the first one is married off.

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