It is a big book world out there, and it would be easy to get ate up in it! Before self publishing I did quite a bit of research and looked into different venues for printing my book. I researched literary agents and big house publishers, but soon realized that I knew I wasn't emotionally strong enough to handle the rigorous process of submissions and rejections. I did submit to one agency, and sent books to the big publishers, but only received a few form letters saying they were not accepting new projects or no reply at all.
Since I was confident that writing and sharing Trent's story was of God, and many doors appeared to be opening in that direction, we went ahead with self publishing.
Our first edition was printed with WestBow Press. I don't have alot of good things to say about WestBow. My gripes: you feel like just a number and soon find that you are treated as such. I bought into their advertising that you could be the next big author and picked up by Thomas Nelson, and also thought (due to their advertisiements) that they would be very helpful in promoting my Christian view. In the end, I found very little personal help as a newbie author, and soon became very frustrated by the lack of communication as well as the cost of every service that seemed should have been covered in the package price.
I purchased their Pro Format package, which included amongst other things, Interior Book Design and Page Layout, plus Standard Cover Design Including Personalized Back Cover. The promises soon became tarnished when I learned that my options were limited to 1-3 choices and then a fee of $150+ was added to change anything (fonts, etc.). Which meant that I could submit an idea (choice 1) for the cover and they would come up with their own design (choice 2), if there was a font or color change requested to either of those designs that would be choice three. At that point you would be required to pay the additional fee to see any other options. The same for interior fonts, details, designs. Even to request changing the size of the book required an additional fee.
I also had several problems with getting the book printed on the correct color of paper (more than 500 books in multiple orders were printed on the wrong color), and wasn't all that impressed with the final printing quality.
My book representative was very quick to reply to both phone calls and emails, but the communication was very poor between him and the team that actually did the work on my book. Soon, there was a turn over in personnel and my file seemed to be laid by the curbside with no personal contact representative.
After several months I ended up with a book that I really didn't like, was very disappointed in their cover options and art work and would be unable to financially consider any changes, besides looking at $700+ more to correct new-found typo's (after already investing over $2,000 initially with them, besides out-sourced editor fees).
Maybe my expectations were too high: I expected that we would work together to create a quality book, but found that they mostly turned out to just be a very expensive printer.
Which all led us to choose CreateSpace to reprint the book only three months later.
What I liked about CreateSpace:
(If Blogger would let me upload images I would attempt to place a photo of the book cover and interior here, but since it won't, you'll have to check out the Amazon page to see an example- and while you're there, if you want to leave a review or a "like" Amazon appreciates that, and so do I:))
They were half the price of WestBow for a better quality book. I could have attempted to format the whole book myself, but I knew that I wasn't capable, nor did I want to try. For $900 I purchased their interior and cover formatting option and they did all the work. They were much more flexible with actually designing a book that I liked, instead of giving me a couple of options and then charging to change anything.
Example: For the cover design I filled out a questionnaire, they designed two mock up covers,
and then allowed me to choose one to start creating with. If you don't like either option, they redesign, or allow the choice of making changes to color, font, etc., until the author is happy with the result. The interior also received royal treatment and design work continued until it met my satisfaction, with no further charges.
With CreateSpace they worked with me until I actually liked the book. Their design team was fabulous, they replied and worked very fast, and the quality and printing of the book was so much better. The option of fonts and layout was superior to WestBow, and the design team was particular to attention and seemed to want to meet your desired expectations. Printing with WestBow took about six months, and with CreateSpace about four months to publish the books.
Actual book printing cost with CreateSpace is also half price: about $3.50 per book compared to about $6.50 with WestBow, which means higher author royalties with CreateSpace, or the ability to charge less for the book. Both companies offered similar options as far as ISBN numbers, availability of additional services (marketing, editors, etc.), retaining author rights, and distribution.
If you are computer savvy, and are willing to do the research and work yourself, you can format and design your entire book for no cost at all with CreateSpace and only pay for the cost of printing the books. I have done this for a little booklet that we had printed for some fishing scholarships in honor of Trent in our community, as well as a children's book that Alexis wrote.
One consideration with CreateSpaces' Self Publishing is that you have no publisher to list. One option is that you can open your own publishing enterprise (you'd have to check into local legal requirements). We chose to print under the name of More Glory Ministries for our CreateSpace books. We applied for a non-profit status for all of the donations after Trent's death and have committed to using all book proceeds and funds as well for sharing the gospel. Having the More Glory Ministries name on the book directs people back to our blog where the books are advertised as well as Trent's story and the gospel is shared.
So how is the book doing?
After being available for fourteen months between the two publishers, we have distributed over 1,000 books. Nearly two-thirds of those have been given away as gifts. God has continued to provide the resources through book sales and donations to make it possible to share the gospel and the hope of eternity with many hurting souls.Nearly weekly we receive emails or notes about how God is using Trent's story for His glory.
For our family, personally, the book is a huge comfort and encouragement as well on those days when we can't quite see past the pain of missing a son. I can't recall how many times I have been convicted by my own words, or had my eyes turned back to the cross through it - so even if it never makes the best seller list, that is enough of a reason to have wrote it.
So... there's my ramblings about self publishing. If there are any other specific questions I can answer, let me know.
For cover work, I would highly recommend Design Crowd,
who did an awesome job to create the books final cover.