It’s been a while since I’ve documented my publishing journey, so this post is to catch up. I’ve put the 3rd mystery, Border Wars, up on Smashwords. The title refers to two time frames: just before & during the Civil War along the Kansas and Missouri border and during modern times between India and Pakistan. Cliff has done a magnificent ebook cover shown below:
The book features the murder of an officer from India by a Pakistani bayonet while attending the US Army’s Command and General Staff College (CGSC) at Ft. Leavenworth. The Pakistani officer is arrested for the murder and Enos is hired to prove his innocence. The 4th mystery, Dog Days of Summer, will be going up as soon as Cliff has a chance to work on its cover.
In the meantime, I had 50 copies of Quad Delta printed by my local POD digital printer source while I worked through Lightning Source’s rather complex registration and application process. BTW, remember to get a sales tax certificate to sell direct to customers if you live in a sales tax state. If that number isn’t provided to Lightning Source, they will have to charge you sales tax. I ordered a proof of one book, which arrived yesterday for $30 including shipping. In addition, I ordered a minimum order of 38 (the number that will fit into one of their packing boxes) just to get the ball rolling. My local printer uses while paper and does not coat the cover with plastic. Lightning Source does coat. In addition, I asked for a cream colored paper stock, which is easier on the eyes. In polling customers with a comparison of the two book versions, all much preferred the Lightning Source version.
In all, it was more expensive to go through Lightning Source initially because of a $75 setup fee and the $30 proof; however, once those charges are paid, their per book price is cheaper than my local source, even with shipping charges. Their books are also better looking. The biggest advantage of them, however, is getting your books into Ingram’s distribution system and into their monthly catalog.
That’s it on the production side. Now let me address marketing. This Saturday from 11am to 1pm, I will be conducting a book chat and signing at my bookstore, The Book Barn. I’ve sent out an announcement email to 1,500+ of our active customers. I’ve started handselling at our store and sales have been steady. After this weekend, I will be placing my mystery in gift shops and museums around the area. Like my history of Leavenworth book, these mysteries will have long legs because of the large number of visitors and families moving in and out of our military community. I will also be seeking to gain distribution through Big River Distribution of St. Louis, who distribute books regionally.
As I gain a toe hold in our region with signings in Kansas City and other communities, I will then branch out nationally with emails, bookmarks, and postcards to independent bookstores throughout America. I will also expand to the military officer market with display and classified ads in the Army Times. Unlike many works of fiction, mine will have validity for much longer than the average novels, so I have the freedom of time.
If my mysteries begin selling steadily, I will then be encouraged to take on other authors who are willing to write to my specific standards that will create a recognizable model of entertaining books written for readers who don’t have enough time to read as much as they would like. I will consider a number of genres.