18 May 2010

Community Living

From the time we have started our business, we realized that we needed to actively engage with our customers so that their feedback could, to the extent possible, be incorporated into the services we offer. While this may sound cliched, there was an ulterior motive: listening to customer feedback kept us in business.

The best feedback we have got from our customers is communicated through email or by phone. It is usually in response to a particular set of issues the customer has faced. However, there are some well-meaning customers who have gone out of their way and pointed out ways in which we could improve ourselves.

Many of the services we now offer, after close to three years in operation, are a result of such feedback. After our customers told us that that is what they'd rather have, we have worked upon providing streamlined shipping options, enhanced our book marketing services, vastly improved the quality of our hardcovers and introduced e-book and audio-book services. Those of you who have visited our website and found all the information you need there must know that it is in response to our customers' preference for full disclosure.

We believe we can go one step further. While we have only our side of the story to tell, we believe that many of our customers, especially the new ones, can benefit from the experiences of those who have already worked with us. We have therefore sought to develop a "community" where authors can freely discuss their books, the self-publishing process, the challenges faced in the process of self-publishing, the do's and don'ts and points to remember. This community is an attempt to tap into the collective wisdom of those participating. In the process, we feel that we too might gain from the candid feedback that emerges.

So I welcome you to our community. I request you to set aside your inhibitions and freely discuss here. No question is frowned upon, no query too rudimentary. We hope you will all enjoy participating here and that you will participate in the spirit we have sought to develop - that of unbridled curiosity.

6 May 2010

The Cost of Self Publishing

One question that is often asked by authors contacting us is that related to the cost of publishing. I have attempted to answer that question here although it is nearly impossible to give an exact figure considering the fact that almost every book is unique in some aspects. What follows is an approximation.

Please note: These are approximate costs charged by CinnamonTeal Publishing. Rates at other publishers/printing houses may vary. Rates will also vary depending on the specifications of the book you choose to publish.

a. Editing: Assuming you are done writing, the first step would be to have the book edited. In fact, at CinnamonTeal, we insist on one round of editing. This service costs Rs. 85 per A4 page (13 Garamond with 1" margins) for copy editing and proof reading, Rs. 65 per A4 page for proof reading alone and Rs. 125 per A4 page for substantive editing. Assuming a manuscript of 35,000 words and 350 words to an A4 page, having the book edited and proof read will cost Rs. 8,500.

b. Cover Design: The service costs you Rs. 5000/-. You get three unique covers to choose from and three iterations to improve the cover you have chosen.
Total Cost so far: Rs. 13,500

c. Interior Page Design: The service costs Rs. 20 per page for text-only pages. The above word count translates roughly into 150 pages of A5 dimensions (i.e 5.83"x8.27"). Interior page design will therefore cost Rs. 3000/-
Total Cost so far: Rs. 16,500

d. Printing: A single copy of the book, having specifications mentioned as before and with only black and white pages, with perfect binding will cost Rs. 157.50. For the sake of this article, assuming 50 books are printed, the cost of printing totals Rs. 7,875
Total Cost so far: 24,375

e. ISBN: While the ISBN and the associated barcode is provided for free, government regulations require that a copy of the book be deposited at each of the four national libraries. The cost of four copies totals Rs. 630 while postage and paperwork costs Rs. 300. Hence the cost of printing and sending these books totals Rs. 930.
Total Cost so far: Rs. 25,305

f. That's pretty much it. There are no setup costs, no fulfillment costs (except the cost of printing the book and postage) and no "manuscript changing cost". One might decide to have a website designed and we charge Rs. 5000 for that service. 

So we are still talking about a total cost of Rs. 30,305.

Roughly translates into US $ 700.00

You might also consider the cost of the time you will spend marketing your book and tracking your sales. While the amount mentioned above is definitely not a small one, it is an investment in yourself. The time and effort you have put in while writing your book and fine-tuning it is definitely the single-largest investment you have made. This later investment just sustains it.

Note: If you choose the "do-it-yourself" route, you could save on most of these costs. The only cost you'd have to bear is that of printing. Assuming you choose to print 50 copies, that cost would amount to Rs. 7875. Roughly $180.00