Our “best practices” for general market book publishing in mid-2013

Isn’t the idea to get your book out right now so the words are available for immediate purchase by others? Your PDF ebook downloads first, the Kindle-Nook kind of reader ebooks can see light in minutes once their submission is completed. And your core printed paperback, plus CreateSpace’s version, are a week or two behind.

I was reminded to blog this because of a book publication discussion on Linkedin, and how or whether that involves BookBaby.

Last first: I have no problems with BookBaby and I used them, in a test, for a popular book we sell to K-12 administrators. It was still new then and they must have been working out the kinks because I sent the form, money, and book text/cover, etc. and nothing happened. I wrote asking if they had sent it to the houses they suggested. No reply, so I called and a lass said yes, it was sent out but they didn’t confirm that nor did they send a copy of the book that was sent. (Maybe they do both now, but I stopped the test there.) Later, I checked on the book’s availability directly on a particular open publisher’s list and it wasn’t there. I wrote again and it was added. BookBaby has also paid me twice.

But why the hassle, the $99, and the $19 annual fee when I can do all of this free without applying and wondering? But that’s my choice. I recommend BookBaby to several new writers/publishers a week who have one fledgling book just hatched and are seeking more sales outlets. For them, it’s faster and safer than what I am about to admit that we do.

When we bring a new book into existence, I focus on the bigger houses in this order: Kindle first (they sell most), then Pubit (Nook reader, or its replacement) for Barnes & Noble, then Smashwords (so I can get into Apple, but we’ve also reached Kobo, Sony, and Diesel that way too), all with the same ebook Word file. If we have adjustment problems converting into other’s software from Word, I see it in the monitor proof and fix it. Pubit is great, Kindle usually requires some tinkering, and Smashwords is becoming a giant pain to get into their premium catalog (and not selling much either). Sometimes I add in Scribd too, I guess because it’s so easy and they do advertise 80 zillion (I think) readers. But I never expect to get paid there (though once they surprised me.)

It’s all pretty fast because by the time I’m ready to submit, my interior text file is ready-to-go, the cover file is too, and I have written my descriptions and bio, plus devined the best keywords and a starter price. Then it’s just fill-in-the-blanks for the open publishers. It may take, max, two hours to get all three services to get my gems up and available.

Since almost every regular market book we produce now starts with a paperback book and full cover, and we submit it to CreateSpace first in PDF, that book is the core of all that follows. We might buy 50 CreateSpace books to meet first promises, but if the book has legs we either go directly to McNaughton & Gunn for a run of 1000+, or their POD house for less. Those are our direct-sale shrinkwrapped books, for libraries and bookstores. (We might use LSI for a short run later, mostly for backlist, but they don’t shrinkwrap.)

While we wait for CreateSpace to post that core book, we add the PDF version of the book to our order form as a directly downloadable PDF ebook sold to our customers and the public. (We also use that PDF ebook for a lot of early promotion and for testimonials from field leaders.) The PDF ebook goes on our order form first, and the bound paperback book is listed a few days later. (How much later depends on how long the bound copies dawdle en route.)

All that remains with that core manuscript is to “ebook” it: get rid of the numbers, resize it, change font sizes, delete or reposition the images, make it flush left, and so on, so it will reproduce in the free-flow ebook way.

That’s when I decide whether to handle the open publishing myself or call in BookBaby. (In 2013 we do it ourselves.) Which means we set aside a day or so to create the basic promo material. then we submit the new “ebooked” file and front cover (modified a bit) to Kindle, Pubit, and Smashwords.

We did this process to two new general market books in the past two weeks. The first marched through the steps without a flaw. It was called Surviving Prostate Cancer… and it’s now in print, horrifying or amusing nervous readers. The second is awaiting a box of printed bound copies to complete this cycle. We hope it will be out next Monday, 7/29/23). It’s called 100 Ready-to-Use Treasure Hunt Clues. For its eager to-be buyers, their hunt is over!


Some folks know me as a niche publisher, probably because of my book Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time. My firm has published general books and niche products since 1981. The process is very different for niche books. For one thing, the open publishing system is hardly used at all. And we never sell to the general public, except by chance when they see one of our niche titles listed somewhere. (We will gladly sell the item to them, but we discourage it becoming their habit.) We pretest and sell directly to our niche. We have two books on the docket. I’ll explain the niche publishing path they take in a couple of months. (Niche publishing is far more profitable and less risky.)

I hope this helps you create a production order that helps restore your sanity.

Gordon Burgett