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Publishing Your Photo Book

I wrote a a concept book for children. Now what?

There are so many "book" publishers out there. If all you want is a single copy of all your photos in a book, than things like Shutterfly, Snapfish, Walmart or even Costco will do a fine job.

If you wish to engage in the business of selling your book, whether it be just photos, photos and text, stories or documentaries, then these photo book publishers will be too expensive.

I would be happy if a publisher like Scholastic Books or Penguin Books USA to publish my books for me. However, that is a long road full of sending out queries to agents, not getting any responses and feeling rejected. Add to that, if you do get picked up, it's often a year or more before the book actually hits the market. Probably, you will get a sum of money as an advance and once that has been reached by sales, you will get some teeny, tiny percentage of sales.

I started my journey creating and selling Jazzy Books by approaching a few agents via email submissions. You have to do your research and look at the agent's website and see what they are accepting. This is when I learned that my "concept book" is not a "picturebook" (even though it is a picture book, ha ha ha ha). I sent out about 24 queries, had one stock response and one really nice note saying they thought my book was adorable but it wasn't what they wanted.

I haven't the patience for that, so I searched for alternate methods. I researched self publishing and sites like Blurb & Lulu all say the same thing, my book will cost me about $15.00 each to produce. Some sites offer distributing services and marketing services, but for an added fee. I called up Archway Self Publishing and for about $6,000 they could: 1. Edit my book and reformat, by their team of experts, the book in a way they think will sell better. 2. Produce my book 3. Allow me to purchase copies of my book at cost. 4. Place me on some lists that libraries may or may not look at 5. For an extra amount, market my book. My first question after hearing all that was: How many years will it take to get my $6,000 back?

Lucky for me, my daughter worked at a print company in Baltimore: PCA, an RRD Company

15 West Aylesbury Road | Timonium, MD 21093. The advantages are: My soft cover photo books look great -not perfect- and I can purchase the quantities I want (it gets cheaper as you order more, but then you are stuck with that bill and lots of books to get rid of) and it's less expensive than Blurb. Still, with advertising, Square and Paypal fees, marketing flyers and banners, I have to charge 11.95 to make, maybe $2.00 per book.

But wait, I started approaching bookstores to see if they would carry my book and nobody will even look at me without and ISBN number. "The 13 digit ISBN links to essential information used in sales tracking, retail inventory systems, library catalogs, bookstores, online stores, and for new digital editions for old books." (from bowker website) I could order one number at a time for $150.00 each, order Ten ISBN numbers for $295.00 (If I wanted to purchase one thousand the price goes down significantly but that's a lot of books to write in one lifetime, it's really for Publishers to assign to new books.)

Well, the site is not working, some kind of cc fraud has frozen their online sales. I could fax my completed order form, but I don't have a fax and don't want to fax my cc info over a public fax machine. So I wait for an answer to my email inquiry to have someone call me so I can give them my info over the phone.

Anyway, then you have to figure out barcodes. You can buy those as well or find free barcode makers online. It's not something I've investigated yet since I have no ISBN numbers to print and link to my barcode.

Now I've learned there are book publishers in China that can produce a book much cheaper than here. I have emailed an representative of Shenzhen Jinhao Color Printing Co.,Ltd and I am waiting for an estimate. The people who are members of an online Book Selling and Marketing page seem to think the books are quality. We'll see.

I could go Amazon. But then if I want copies I still have to purchase them. Book baby and maybe a few other self publishing sites, seem to have partnerships for on demand printing with Amazon. It seems a good way to go, but then Amazon will take a cut and you still have to charge enough for those expensively printed books.

My goal is to produce and market my concept books at a price that is reasonable so that children can enjoy reading a book that is also educational, encourages conversation, and is fun to read.

Is that too much to ask?

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