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Sabrina deSouza author of The Catarbie Conspiracy.

Sabrina deSouza talks about the practical realities of self-publishing The Catarbie Conspiracy, like printing problems and logistics...

READERSVOICE.COM: I like the way you’ve self-published the book. How many places did you contact for quotes on the printing and what places and countries did you look into?

SABRINA deSOUZA: Once I realised that I was going to have to wait for upwards of a year before a publisher would even consider looking at my manuscript and that I may not be allowed to have any input into the illustrations within the book or on the cover, I decided that I’d have to self-publish. This was actually a lot harder than I thought as I needed to get a loan and then do some Yellow Paging.

I pretty much just Googled printers in Australia, America, China and even India – I didn’t keep track of how many I contacted, but upwards of 20 different publishing/printing houses. In some cases I called them up.

The ones in Australia were astronomically higher, with quotes around $40,000 minimum for 5,000 copies. One company which was an outlet for a printer in China gave me a very reasonable quote of around $11,000 AUD and would ship all 5,000 of them to my door, but they didn’t include any distribution elements.

In the end I went with an American printing place (BookMasters) who printed them for about $14,000 USD that could offer distribution as well. I decided to import 2,000 copies to Australia and leave the remaining 3,000 in America.

RV: What other steps are involved, like organising a barcode for the cover of the book etc?

SdS: The printers were actually quite helpful. They advised that I needed to get the barcode myself. I Googled and found out that Thorpe –Bowker issue ISBN’s in Australia and can create the barcodes for me.

I also needed to get an ABN so that I could distribute my book and not get into trouble with the tax office. This was a very simple and free process online.

I needed the ABN for my ISBN details, only because I was self-publishing and I wanted to use a business name for the publishing name for all of the ISBN’s instead of my own.

I always wanted to put illustrations in the book to help visualise some of the scenes. I went to Google (I love Google) and entered freelance illustrator. Turns out there’s a website called www.ifreelance.com which specialises in bringing freelance services to the main stream public.

Essentially I registered myself on the website (for free), and placed a tender out saying that I wanted an illustrator to do a cover for a book. I wrote the details out of what I wanted to have in the illustration and even drew a stick figure representation. Then all the illustrators from around the world (including some who illustrated covers for famous Sci-Fi Fantasy authors) placed bids on how much they would charge and included samples of their portfolios. The prices were so diverse from $10 to $5,000.

In the end I settled on Michael Lindsey from Cordova Graphics – he illustrated a scene in a forest and included how the sunlight can sometimes be seen like a diamond winking in the sky. It was just the style that I wanted and we negotiated a fee to include the additional chapter illustrations.

I couldn’t have been more pleased with Michael’s abilities – fast, imaginative, professional and sometimes better than what I wanted.

When I went to get the book printed, I essentially had three different components: The cover, the bookmark and the book itself.

The book was the easiest part. I had to create a high quality pdf file that had all the pictures at a minimum 300 dpi resolution and the paper sizes had to include a bleed component – this is so that when the printer slices the pages, they don’t chop of the words/pictures.

The cover was the most complex. Because Michael Lindsey had made the cover so that the words were part of the picture, the Printer thought they were separate and insisted on sending them separately. The cover initially had two red vertical lines running down on either side of the spine like a frame and it looked spectacular, but we couldn’t get the right size dimensions so we ended up removing the vertical lines.

When I created the pdf, I had to create it in a split CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key black). The printers print one colour component at a time. The size of the book was also bigger than I had thought.

The dimensions that I thought I’d given were an Australian paperback standard size but the American standard size was bigger, so poor Michael had to adjust the dimensions of the cover so that they were the same size as the book. (This is actually the reason why the font of the book is larger than normal – purely an accident on my part).

When we went to do the bookmarks, we had to resize everything so that it had a black border around it and then I had to create CMYK pdf files of the front and backs of the files.

To create CMYK pdfs can be easy, however, to create CMYK pdfs that are acceptable by professional printers, you need a professional pdf creator or distiller. I had to buy Adobe Distiller and install the right settings.

Transferring the files across to the printers in America was quite simple in the end. I had to log into their online store and upload the files across. Michael and I could even review what the book would look like as a finished product.

After they printed a sample set out, they posted it out to me in snail mail. They wouldn’t proceed until I saw the actual copies.

They were great and after giving them the go ahead, they had all 5,000 copies printed (with the bookmarks at the same time) within a week.

After they were printed, I imported 2,000 copies into Australia. This meant filling out a custom entry form and a quarantine entry form and sending the right forms to the right sections. At the time they finally arrived into Australia I was overseas and had to do a lot of international calls to try and sort it out and organise a delivery truck to pick them up from Sydney and deliver them to me at home.

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