Self-Publishing Q&A: Your Questions Answered

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There are lots of details, options, and paths you can take when self-publishing your book. We’ve fielded a lot of real questions from real authors, and this post might answer some of yours.

My latest BookBaby Live broadcast produced a lot of real-time viewers and a whole bunch of questions about the self-publishing process. I tried to answer a few while on-air, but this post-show blog post gives me an opportunity to answer many more.

Let’s get into it!

If I use BookBaby Bookshop for POD, how are cover prices set and how are shipping costs handled? —Danny Powell
Book pricing is completely your call. After you upload your book, you’ll be prompted to go to our Royalty Calculator tool to set a price that guarantees a return to you.

Shipping costs are extra for the reader and don’t affect your royalty payments. Single books are shipped for $4.99 by UPS in the lower 48 states, and $5.99 to Alaska and Hawaii. We can also ship two-day or next day air for an additional cost. And finally, we offer international shipping through DHL, and costs will vary by country.

My book is being launched soon. A film company is interested in the screenplay but wants to see how the book will do. Have any of your authors had their book made into a feature film? —Lee Shargel
Absolutely! Here’s a blog post that features the story of BookBaby author Carl Nicita. And while D. Eric Maikranz didn’t publish through BookBaby, his journey from self-published author to Hollywood film is very interesting.

My local bookstore wants to feature me with a signing event and carry my book — but not if I’m on Amazon. How can I get it into local bookstores and afterwards get in on the pre-launch on Amazon for those perks. —Valerie Naiman
I’ve got your solution, and it’s a real win-win. But it’s all in the timing.

First, get your book into BookBaby production as soon as possible. Then, and this is important, set your release date far out — say 120 days. While your book is in the pre-sale period, you can have BookBaby sign you up for the Kindle Select program that allows you to give your book away for free or offer discounts through the Kindle Countdown Deal.

In the meantime, your books are available to be purchased directly from BookBaby or through your BookShop page. You can share this link with anyone you choose during pre-sale.

This way, you or your retailer can buy books directly from BookBaby well in advance of the books being available on Amazon or anywhere else. They’ll have an exclusive for their signing — AND you get to enjoy everything Kindle Select can provide for you.

I just had my book produced and printed on-demand by BookBaby and am extremely happy with the results! (BookBaby people are wonderful to work with!) My question is, how long will it be before my book can be ordered from the BookBaby BookShop store? Will it be released on my stated release date? —Nancy Duncan
As soon as it is in production, your book is available on BookShop — even before your release date. It’s a great way to get it into the hands of reviewers or anyone else who needs a physical copy before launch. Otherwise, your book will be listed on Amazon and all the other stores in a pre-sale mode up until your designated release date.

What is the difference between KDP and BookBaby? They’re both with Amazon, right? —Debbie Laird Meeks
Well, no — and yes. BookBaby is a completely separate company from Amazon or the KDP brand. We’re not owned by Jeff Bezos! However, BookBaby partners with Amazon (as well as other retailers) in the distribution of our authors’ books. We upload both eBooks and printed books onto the KDP site, ship thousands of books into Amazon warehouses, and collect millions of dollars of royalties on behalf of authors through sales on their site. We’re two companies working on behalf of all authors.

What’s a good size for a nonfiction book? —Sherique Dill
What’s a good book trim size for an inspirational or motivational book? —Anthony Henderson
I can answer both with the trim size that’s commonly referred to as US Trade. You’ve seen this in all the bookstores — sized at 6” x 9” and is the dominant format for many genres. Most folks get it in softcover with perfect binding and printed on 60 lb. natural paper. It’s both popular AND economical.

What is the range of costs an author will experience to get their book off the ground using your services? —Wayne Cusack
After 10+ years in the self-publishing world, I know that one size NEVER fits all authors’ publishing dreams. Every author has a different set of needs to “get their book off the ground,” and BookBaby creates custom programs for every author.

If you’re looking to stick your toe in the water with an eBook, we offer a package that includes file conversation, global distribution through 60+ stores (including Amazon), and lifetime royalty collection services for just $299. On the other end of the spectrum, our Deluxe Publishing Package offers both eBook and printed book production, design, distribution, and marketing services for $2,590.

My best advice? Give our publishing specialists a call at 877-961-6878 and together you can explore every option.

How do your authors get connected with the Ingram wholesale feed? —Susan Dukow
Every author who opts into our global Print On Demand distribution services will have their books added to the Ingram feed PLUS Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books a Million, Powells, and many more!

How do I get my book featured on BookBaby’s BookShop main page? —Nick Mantis
When you select the Deluxe Publishing Package, you’ll enjoy all the benefits of the BookShop promotion kit, which includes emails to thousands of prospective readers, a feature slot on the front page of the store, and more. Check out BookBaby’s Self-Publishing Packages page for more information.

Should book titles be copyrighted? —Kimberly Pohl-Smith
Interesting question. Everything in a book can — and should — be copyrighted except one thing: Titles. I’m sure you’ve seen many books with the same title. They cannot be protected.

On the other hand, it’s very easy to copyright your book’s contents by adding a strong copyright page. Here’s a blog post that shows you how.

My daughter-in-law is providing my book cover. Does BookBaby work well with this? —Liz Kraus
I don’t want to cause a family rift, but, is your daughter-in-law a professional designer? If so — great. Yes, we work with authors’ supplied book covers every day and provide all the information designers need to make sure supplied design meets our specifications.

But, if she’s just doing you a favor, well… let me just say a great cover design is a critical element of any book’s success. I can’t stress this enough. Readers really do judge a book with a quick glance at a cover image.

Once I engage with BookBaby and upload my manuscript, do I get assigned a dedicated rep to walk me through the process? —Keith Baldwin
Yes! You’ll be working with a publishing specialist while your book is being prepared for production — from design to formatting and file prep. Once your book is in production and distribution, you’ll have other dedicated folks to guide and advise you. This is probably the number one reason why self-published authors choose to work with us — our experts are available both via phone (877-961-6878) and email (info@bookbaby.com).

Free BookBaby Catalog - Your path to publishing

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Print On Demand: The biggest advance in publishing since Gutenberg
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What To Include On Your Book’s Copyright Page

Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the President of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self publishing services company. Spatz’s professional writing career began at age 13, paid by the word to bang out little league baseball game stories on an ancient manual typewriter for southern Oregon weekly newspapers. His journalism career continued after graduation from the University of Oregon at several daily newspapers in Oregon. When his family took over a direct marketing food business, Spatz redirected his writing and design skills into producing catalogs. The Pinnacle Orchards catalog was named "Best Food Catalog," received dozens of other national awards, and the business grew into one of the nation’s largest gourmet fruit gift businesses. After the company was sold, Spatz continued his direct marketing career with Fortune 500 companies including Mattel and Hasbro. He joined AVL Digital in 2004 to lead the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. After serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Spatz was tapped to lead the company’s new publishing division in late 2014. In 2019, the AVL Digital Management team purchased the New Jersey brands, including BookBaby. The company is headquartered in Pennsauken, NJ (just outside Philadelphia, PA) and meets the printed book and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Spatz lives in Glenside, PA with his two children, a demented cat, and some well-used bicycles. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to steven@bookbaby.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for providing this space to ask questions. I am a new author and I put my book out there almost a year ago. Even though I was a finalist in the BookPipeline competition, and I thought that would get the attention of most of my readers, it seems like it’s not enough. I didn’t know much about book launching then and with the Coronavirus being so dangerous, I knew that I wouldn’t be doing any live book signing. Do authors ever do another book launching?

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