Self-Publishing Books

More from this show

Self-publishing a book has never been more possible with technology making funding sources, on-demand printing, marketing and distribution available to the average person. But with all that available, what are the chances your book will end up on the shelves of a bookstore? Local resident Tia Perkin will talk about her quest to publish “Two!” – a funny little board book about what it’s like to spend the day with a two-year-old, her decision to self-publish, and what it’s like to make a book in the new digital age.

TED SIMONS: Self-publishing is becoming an increasingly effective and affordable way for writers to get their work to the public. But what are the chances a self-published book will end up on bookstore shelves? Local resident Tia Perkin has been through that process with two -- "What its Like to Spend the Day With a Two Year Old". Tia Perkin joins us now to talk about her decision to self-publish, and what it takes to make a book in this digital age.

TIA PERKIN: It's growing all the time. You hear of "Fifty Shades of Gray" and how big that's gotten with the advent of Kindle, and you have a lot of self-published e-books. Somebody like me who wants to do something like a picture book, you have access to China, you have access to a lot of printing shops that are local. And you can catch them online, you can research them, you can upload all your files, you can hire somebody online to do all of your illustration. It's becoming more and more popular.

TED SIMONS: Compare this to the old vanity press, which is kind of a pejorative term here. I'll pay someone, I've got to get my book out -- . How does this differ? It's really a vast expanse of self-publishing, isn't it?

TIA PERKIN: As far as a comparison with the vanity press, I guess your options are not as limited. With the vanity press you kind of get your book out there, and there's maybe a perception that it's -- once you create that book it's done and out and there it is. With this self-publishing, like I said, you could go through kindle and do an E-book. You could do what I did which was make an actual physical book. And for me, I had to make a thousand copies to meet a printing minimum. That forced a level of commitment on my part to really try to promote it, to really try to get the word out there. And you can really -- I could have printed the thousand copies and I could have let those copies become a new couch in my house, or I could have done something about it and promoted it on social media, an avenue that you have available to you now. You can do FaceBook, you can do Twitter, you can do a Pinterest page. I think it really puts it in your hands. Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad.

TED SIMONS: Take us through the process from the beginning. Why did you decide to self-publish? What was each step? How did you get the money? How much did it cost? The whole nine yards.

TIA PERKIN: Originally this particular book was going to be a gift for my sons. I had twin boys and they had a head start on the terrible twos. I had created this birthday invitation party for them "Invasion of the Terrible Twos." And I thought you know, I'm gonna make a book for them. This is going to be something commemorative for them. But I started writing the first draft and then the second draft and it kind of evolved to a point where I said, you know, I'm going to make this a polished piece. It went past their birthday. I did some research as to what it would cost to get just two copies printed. There's not too many places that will do that. You have and they'll do one off books, but I wanted a board book. There's -- I think tiny press or tiny print, and they will do board books. You have a limitation of 16 pages and you have to fit within their template. I didn't want to write for a template. So I started doing some research. There's a lot of blogs out there, there's a lot of information.

TED SIMONS: I'll bet.

TIA PERKIN: One blog, I came across was a woman who had self-published her own board book. She sourced her book to China. I know that is kind of a dirty word. But if you look, that's kind of the way books are published for the most part anyway. So I looked into that. I looked into a printer to see how much that would cost. You have to do a minimum run of a thousand. So all of a sudden this little project for my kids was going cost me a couple thousand dollars and I'd have a thousand books. It's not economical but then I kind of decided, I'm going try to make a legacy about this. I started seeing some kick starter projects running across my FaceBook feed, so crowd-sourcing. I thought Maybe this would be a good way to find out if there's a demand for this book. I can make it for my kids, but I can make something they can be proud of cause I can make a successful book. So I ran a kick-starter campaign. It's not one of those ones you hear about on the news where all the sudden 10 days you raise $1 million dollars. I did have a lot of family and friends and friends of family who wanted to see me succeed. So I was able to raise $3500. My goal was $3400 to fund the printing and the shipping. Because shipping is not the lion's share, but it's close. -- There's a source for finding wholesale goods in China. That was not available until September of 2014. I launched the Kick-starter campaign in December. So three months later. And anyway, that little kick-starter campaign kind of helped to seed, you know, more people knowing about it. I got pre orders off of that and basically right now it's a matter of getting it into independent bookstores because there's less red tape, there's a lot of red tape if you want to get into -- Well, not as much Barnes and Noble but if you want to get into Target or Costco, that you have to be in with the wholesaler, that's kind of a whole different ballgame. But Amazon though is successful.

TED SIMONS: Amazon does work?

TIA PERKIN: Amazon works. It's expensive, but what it does give you is the entire country. Not that they will necessarily find you when you're on the ranking of No.2 million but you have your chance to climb up in the ranks when somebody searches for books for 2-year-olds they might find your book. The more who find you and review of you, the better it gets.

TED SIMONS: And every time someone finds you and reviews you it's on the web. It's there at a Google search somewhere along the line, correct?

TIA PERKIN: Correct. And that's one thing. I guess going back to your question about the vanity press, when you have something like Amazon, you have people, you have the feedback of people telling you, okay. They are going determine your fate a little bit. You're going to either succeed or you're not. And you have those star ratings to kind of get you to that point our give a little more credence to maybe the bookshop in town, who was unsure as to whether or not they would stock your book but maybe they might.

TED SIMONS: Well we have to stop right there. This is fascinating stuff. I think everybody who thinks they're going to write the next great American novel can figure out there's a chance for them. Congratulations on your success and continued good fortune.

TIA PERKIN: Thank you.

TED SIMONS: Thank you.

TED SIMONS: Wednesday on "Arizona Horizon," a debate over private prisons in the aftermath of recent unrest at a for-profit state prison in Kingman. And we'll find out about a new artistic initiative from Arizona opera. That's on the next "Arizona Horizon." That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, thank you so much for joining us, you have a great evening.

Tia Perkin : Local resident

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

An armed forces bugler playing the trumpet in front of the United States Capitol building.
airs May 26

National Memorial Day Concert 2024

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 26

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

Rachel Khong
May 29

Join us for PBS Books Readers Club!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: