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Publishing for Small Press Runs: How to Print and Market from 20 to 200 Copies of Your Book.

Publishing for Small Press Runs: How to Print and Market from 20 to 200 Copies of Your Book

Gary Michael Smith. 2002. 2nd ed. New Orleans, LA: Chatgris Press. [ISBN 0-9658380-8-0. 336 pages, including index. $19.95 USD (softcover).]


There have always been two basic barriers to self-publishing. The first is the significant investment that one used to have to make in the production of books. To get a low enough production cost per book, the self-publisher had to print thousands of books and invest thousands of dollars up front. The second hurdle is the cost of marketing a book.

With advances in digital pre-press and printing technology, the first barrier has been reduced significantly. Although the marketing of books still presents a significant challenge, reduced production costs have brought self-publishing within the reach of anyone willing to put in the work.

Publishing for small press runs focuses on exploiting the economics of this new publishing paradigm. The author wrote (and, of course, self-published) this book as a guide to help authors develop, write, design, print, register, and market their books with a minimal investment.

The book is divided into five parts. Part One focuses on the publishing industry. The author provides an excellent overview of the current state of the publishing industry and proposes some reasons that self-publishing is becoming so popular. He also discusses the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing and defines various publishing operations.

Part Two zeros in on setting up your publishing venture. This includes legal issues such as naming your company, choosing a logo, and deciding whether to incorporate. This section also discusses practical issues such as exhibiting professionalism, developing a unique idea, deciding what to publish, and creating your work environment.

Part Three details preproduction tasks. Its three chapters cover copyrighting and other registration, identifying a target market, and finding outside sponsors and funding support.

Part Four focuses on writing and producing a book. The first two chapters of this section delve into content development. They provide ideas for developing your ideas, working with copy editors, indexing, using desktop publishing software, and developing cover and interior artwork. The second half of this section details the options for producing a book. It comprehensively covers printing options and includes a well-researched chapter on printing on demand (POD). One useful feature of Chapter 14 in this section is a publishing timetable, which the reader can use as a checklist when planning a publishing project.

Part Five encompasses five chapters that cover several critical issues, including marketing, accounting, and distribution. Marketing issues explored include press releases, publicity, reviews, and literary festivals. The chapter on accounting delves into software for tracking sales and monitoring income and expenses. Another chapter includes a procedures template for filling orders. The final chapter in the book touches on electronic publishing through e-books.

Smith is a competent writer, and it's evident he is very well versed in the intricacies of the publishing industry. This is aptly demonstrated in Chapter 1 when he's discussing the current state of the publishing industry and again in Chapter 15 when he's describing print on demand.

However, I do have some problems with the book. Sometimes the text spends too much time exploring tangential subjects. For example, pages 48-49 go into explicit detail about the expansion of Internet access, including two paragraphs describing the history of airlines' attempts to add Internet access to air flights. And Chapter 8, "Creating your writing environment," delves into such detail about the placement of office equipment that the author includes a map showing the exact location of his office furniture. Do self-publishers really need this level of detail?

Despite these excursions, this book is a useful sourcebook for self-publishers seeking to reduce the risk and cost of the publishing process by investing in small print runs.

DOUG FLORZAK is founder of Logical Directions, self-publisher of The Free Agent Marketing Guide, and contributor to Contract professional magazine. Major publications have interviewed Doug for advice on independent consulting. An STC associate fellow and past Chicago Chapter president, he has presented at the STC Annual Conference on independent consulting.
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Title Annotation:Book Reviews
Author:Florzak, Doug
Publication:Technical Communication
Date:Aug 1, 2004
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