Indie Publishing #2: The unintentional paperback

In my last post I extolled the virtues of indie publishing, based on my experience of launching a short story as an ebook.

My second ebook (full-length novel, Baby Farm) was equally easy to manage, thanks to the wonderful tools supplied by Smashwords and Kindle Direct (Amazon). These online distribution companies are designed to help would-be authors do it themselves. Their websites have lots of easy instructions and templates and advice to make self-publishing ebooks a cinch.

All that was so last week.

When I started distributing my lovely little flyers to tell people (mainly people I knew) about Baby Farm, the first response was Can I get it in hard copy?

‘Why do you want a hard copy?’ I’d ask. ‘You’ve got an e-reader, haven’t you?’

‘Ah … well … not exactly.’

‘But I’ve seen you with an iPad.’

At this point there’d be an apologetic shrug and an explanation that it was much nicer to snuggle up in bed with a real book  than a cold hard rectangle of luminous plastic.

I have a confession to make: I too am a bibliophile. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – like the smell and feel of a new book when you’re all alone late at night, tucked up under the doona.

I was going to have to do the very thing I’d vowed not to do. Have my book printed.

I took a deep breath. How hard could it be? The virtual variety had emerged without a hiccup. A day to strip out the formatting and prepare the file. My graphic designer had done a great job of the FRONT cover.

Okay. I’d need a back cover and a spine. And I’d need a printing firm to do the work.

I started looking on the internet and that’s where it became very, very confusing.

What did I learn? It’s all about the SIZE.

Dimensions are the key. After measuring all the novels in my library, I concluded that all books are different, sometimes by mere millimetres. The more recent ones added to my collection have large ‘face’ dimensions. They’re a bit like packets of breakfast cereal: all front and not a lot of depth.

Some are in inches (for example 6 inch by 9 inch) and some are metric (for example A5). If you go to your local printing company with a non-standard size (by their definition, not mine), they’ll quote you heaps more to print.

In my next post, I’ll share my hard earned tips for print-on-demand (POD).

Until then, may your writing be inspired.


About Debbie Terranova

Debbie Terranova is an Australian author of contemporary and historical fiction. 'The Scarlet Key' published in 2016 is the second Seth VerBeek mystery. The crime-busting reporter is back with a new cast of unforgettable characters and a new puzzle to solve. It's about live, love, death, and tattoos, with a touch of the mystical. 'Baby Farm', her debut novel, is a cozy crime mystery about forced adoptions of the 1970s, and a surrogacy and baby trafficking racket. It is the first of the Seth VerBeek series. Debbie Terranova is a prizewinning author of short stories: 'Mowbray Brothers' about growing up in East Brisbane in the 1920s; and 'Mischief' about reinventing yourself and in the process falling in love ... with an adorable but mischievous cat.
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