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Be your own publisher

Self-publishing has taken on a whole new meaning in the virtual world, with dozens of websites offering free design and desktop publishing utilities.

Brinda Vasudevan        Print Edition: November 1, 2007

So, you’ve written a best-selling, Bookerwinning type of book. Are publishers able to see your inner John Grisham? Or are you getting more rejection slips than fan mail? You could always publish your oeuvre on your own. But you’ll have to foot those bills — design, printing, distribution... And what if, like JK Rowling before Harry Potter, you’re broke? There’s hope online.

Self-publishing has taken on a whole new meaning in the virtual world, with dozens of websites offering free design and desktop publishing utilities. They even offer tips on how to design book covers. Some, like www.lulu.com, also serve as a networking space for aspiring authors.

These sites also help in publicising your book—writing and placing press releases and web banners. Sites like www.authorhouse. com also offer tips on writing. You can even get an independent review service to review your book. And many of these services are free. (Some come at a price or as part of a paid package; check the sites for details.)

Virtual publishers make their money by charging for specific services. Like www.troubador.co.uk, which charges £650 (around Rs 50,000) for pre-press work and £400 to print 100 copies. Then there’s www.lulu.com, which prints and binds a single book for around $20 (around Rs 800). Or www.iuniverse.com, which charges a flat rate, starting at $399, for a comprehensive package, which does not include printing charges.

Most sites also sell your book online for a small royalty. Many of these sites also have distribution networks; www.lulu.com, for instance, claims to distribute to over 100 countries; www.authorhouse .com promises to get your book to 25,000 real-world and online distributors.

Strangely, there are no known Indian self-publishing sites as yet. Till that happens, you’ll have to trust the American or European sites to serve your needs. That shouldn’t stop your writing, though, should it?

www.lulu.com

Free services: Online book publishing tools; forums; blogs; press release guide; price and royalty calculators

Paid services: Marketing kits ($30 plus); distribution (starting price $50); independent book review ($400 plus); eBook optimisation— for iPhone and Sony readers ($25)

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