Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Sorry I've been away for the last few weeks. Just got busy with holiday madness, plus I have taken on a second job. I just have not had much spare time this month for much of anything connected with the Civil War. Hopefully things will settle down again after the first of the year.

Happy holidays to all of my friends and readers out there.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


The other day I received a review copy of “Chatfield Story.” There were a few oddities in how endnotes were done which made me wonder who the publisher was. It turned out to be booksurge, a do it yourself publisher. Booksurge has since become createspace. So that cleared up why there were a few oddities in endnotes (and in a few other minor areas), it was because the author had 100% control over the product and decided that this was the way they wanted to do endnotes. I’m not a huge fan of their endnotes but I’ve seen publishers do even odder things so its not a huge issue. Personally I prefer footnotes but there are nearly as many ways to do notes as there are publishers so I don’t get worked up when publishers don’t use footnotes or do something else odd.

Anyway the book made me curious about createspace. The book itself is wonderfully put together, if the endnotes had been done a little differently I don’t think I would have ever known this was a do it yourself book otherwise.

It prompted me to find out more about createspace because I’ve had my own issues getting my work published. A brief review of my manuscript’s status; the peer review came back positive, suggesting some changes (which have been made) before publishing but not needing another peer review before then. But the head ranger at the one battlefield indicated that he would never allow the book to be sold in his book store, I’ve since found out that basically he blocks all new books on his battle from appearing in his bookstore (unless he published them, which he has not yet done). The other two battlefield parks I’ve worked on have been enthusiastic about the project. I’ve received tremendous support from both and have completed two other manuscripts along the way, only one of the battlefields has yet to be done and only because I have not had the time to get there and put in the leg work needed (and probably won’t now for the foreseeable future).

But that one park ranger scared my first publisher to the point that they decided not to do any of the books, even though they also thought all the projects were worthwhile. I have not sent the manuscripts to any other publishers because they will eventually run into the same road block with the ranger. In my mind it seems like why bothering to send a manuscript off, get good peer reviews and then have it all end when they try to get it sold in the park. So the fact that createspace books have an ISBN number and can be ordered by any book store, and by anyone on amazon made me very interested. Yes, I would like to walk into the battlefield book store and see my book, it probably would also be a great source of sales, but on the other hand I tend to buy few books at battlefield book stores, instead buying them at home online. I support the battlefield stores by buying t-shirts, maps, pins, hats and the like, things that I cannot find online. So maybe not being sold in the battlefield book store is not such a horrible thing.

The tough part of going through createspace will be not having a publisher’s marketing team working with me. I’ll have to do it all myself. I’ll have to do all the marketing myself. As I’ve learned through some publisher’s blogs (Ted Savas’ in particular) the author needs to do a lot of that work anyway, the publishers do what they can but if the author sits back waiting for the sales to roll in they will wait in vain. The publishers do help with some of the major advertising and helping to focus the efforts, but if Savas Beatie published my book I’d probably have to work just as hard to get people to buy it than if I published it myself through createspace.

The financials at createspace do seem pretty good. For example if my book was 350 pages (a reasonably accurate figure) it would cost me $8.50 to print a book, or if I upgraded to the pro plan it would cost $5.05 per book. The pro plan costs $39 per title and if you sell more than a dozen it pays for itself. If I then sold the book for $20 I would get paid $7.50 per sale at the createspace estore, or $3.50 per sale through amazon. On the pro plan those figures jump to $10.95 at createspace and $6.95 at amazon. I don’t really know what royalty figures are at other publishers but from what I’ve heard I don’t think $6.95 is a horrible royalty, although I could be wrong.

So I’m really considering publishing these three books through createspace. They are all not 100% ready to go so I could stagger them a bit, print one every 4-6 months or so, to make sure they are perfect. One other major roadblock doing it this way is that there is no copy editor to check my work, nor is there any peer review. I can accomplish both on my own by sending it to people (and having to pay them as well), its just one more thing that is not done for me. That’s part of the reason I think getting one out every 6 months is a reasonable goal as it allows time for me to get it in the hands of other readers.

Do you all think I’m crazy for going this route? Any advice to give, pro or con about the createspace versus established publisher route?