Problems! Problems! Publishing

ALL OF MY books have been self-published. Until recently, I used a ‘print-on-demand’ website called lulu. The process involved first writing my manuscript and formatting the text and any illustrations on Microsoft’s Word software, using a template (for the size of the book) downloaded from lulu. When I was happy with what I had produced, I was able to upload it to lulu’s website. Then, the fun began. Lulu converted my Word document into a .pdf file and when that was done, I could download the .pdf to proofread and make other checks. Almost always, something was lost in translation: what appeared in the .pdf was far from what I wanted. So, endlessly I had to keep adjusting my Word file and uploading it to see whether the latest version produced what I wanted in the lulu generated .pdf. It was tedious and somewhat nerve-wracking to say the least. Then, last summer, disaster struck.

I had just completed the manuscript for a book about west London and was looking forward to uploading it to lulu. It did not take more than a couple of minutes to discover that lulu was no longer accepting manuscripts in the form of Word files. The requirement was to prepare a correctly formatted .pdf file. I was stumped. I had no idea how to do this and felt despondent because I then believed that I might not be able to publish another paperback myself.

Many months passed. Then, while I was perusing some articles on the lulu website, I discovered that one can format .pdf files using software such as Adobe’s InDesign. I investigated this and found it to be quite costly. However, soon I became aware that there is a cheaper option, Serif’s Affinity Publisher, which I bought and downloaded.

At first, Affinity looked impenetrable but there are many on-line tutorials, which I watched before tackling the software. After a few false starts, I began to get the hang of the programme’s basics. Using the relevant template downloaded from lulu, I then inserted the text from my Word manuscript into the Affinity system. After several days of moving the text about and inserting some illustrations and the page numbering, I produced something that looked acceptable. I converted the Affinity file into a .pdf file using the software’s ‘export’ function. Then, with some trepidation, I uploaded my new Affinity-generated .pdf file on to the lulu site. To my great joy, the proof that lulu produced was exactly as I wanted it. So, the Affinity software has proved to be up to the job.

Having found a method to upload to lulu without the problems caused by lulu’s conversion from Word to .pdf, I moved on to finishing and pricing the book. To my horror, I discovered that lulu has increased its prices dramatically. The book, which I created could not be sold to the public for less than £ X plus at least £3.99 postage, which in my opinion was forbiddingly excessive for a book of the size I had made.

Then, I looked at Amazon, which has a book publishing service. Using a new ISBN, I uploaded my .pdf, and after looking at the proof they generated, I looked into the pricing. To my great delight, they can sell the paperback at 58% of lulu’s price excluding postage, which does not always need to be paid. I have seen a copy of the book produced by Amazon and I am happy with its quality. Amazon have captured me from lulu when it comes to book publishing.

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