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What service(s) do you recommend for printing a self-published book?
Last activity 6 days ago  |  14 answers
Print on demand has higher unit costs, lower financial risk, and doesn't require a lot of money up-front. If you end up needing more than 500 copies for rewards, consider getting quotes from some offset printers. I've used Worzalla http://www.worzalla.com/, but there are tons of options out there. The downside to offset is that there typically isn't an option to handle distribution, like there is with POD. You need a distributor to get books into Amazon, B&N, etc. If you get a distributor, be prepared for the big ugly secret of publishing... returns. You can sell 1000 copies and get a nice check and then a few months later 600 are returned and you could end up owing money back to your distributor PLUS returns fees. (Getting a distributor is hard. Particularly if you only have a single title scheduled.)Ingram and Createspace are the two big players in POD. It pays to look at the prices and terms and figure out which (or what combination) works best for you. Keep in mind that books through a POD printer/distributor are harder to get into brick and mortar bookstores. Most will only take them as special orders, particularly if you have them set as non-returnable. It does get you into the big online stores. Here, Amazon is critical. You'll make most of your sales here. Sadly, your per-unit profit is lowest with POD, but at least it's all profit and almost no risk.You should be releasing a print book with a digital edition. If you don't know how to make an ebook, find someone who does (same goes for the print book or cover). It's important to put your best foot forward with a book, so work with people who know what they are doing or the project will suffer for it. The last thing you want is to look amateur and you may not be the best judge of that.Once again, Amazon is the big player for ebooks, but other places may be big too (talk to people in your genre). There is no excuse not to put it everywhere. By the way, if you manage to get an offset title into bookstores that will drive ebook sales. I've done both and can speak from experience. Consider the bookstore a marketing opportunity for the ebook. Sometimes that can offset any smaller returns costs.And of course, none of this works without marketing... and that's an even bigger topic for discussion.
Neil Clarke

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I have no community. And it feels fake to actively build one. Thoughts?
Last activity on  |  19 answers
I've been reading "The Art of Community" by Jono Bacon, and it's made me realize I had been carrying a fundamentally flawed conception of what community is ha. When I heard that word, I for some reason always thought of a group of people who all liked each other from a friendship perspective, who actually knew each other and had invested in one another. That isn't what community is, and frankly I'm a little surprised at myself that I had such an inaccurate and unrealistic picture of it. I'm far from being a community expert, but I'm going to share my updated thoughts and how they relate to my original question.Community is a group of people who share a common goal or belief and who regularly participate or collaborate with one another in some way to further that goal or belief. That's it. No more is required ha, they don't have to be friends, they don't have to know deep details of each other's lives, they don't even strictly speaking have to like each other, as long as they can work together in their common goal or belief then they're a community (at least this is the definition for our purposes).The way this relates to my original question is really important. I thought that in order to bring a person into your community you had to have some sort of personal relationship with them, you had to be interested and aware in the details of their life, how they're mother's doing and what their childhood was like etc etc. To me, since I'm a little more of an introvert and am very logical and goal oriented, it seemed like for me to actively build community in that way required that I reach out to valuable people and feign interest in their personal lives (let's face it, if the only thing you know about a complete stranger is that they could potentially be valuable to your ambitions, you have absolutely no good reason to really be interested in their personal life). I of course recoiled from that whole idea, because, well, that's a dick move. So I simply thought that this whole "community" thing was for extroverts and mine would always stay as small as my family and close friends.You don't have to pretend or be fake in any way to build a community, but you do have to stand for something that other people can be involved in somehow. With things like big collaborative projects like open source software or political movements it's obvious how that would work. With things like art or business pursuits it's less obvious, but it can still absolutely work. I'm going to use myself as an example.I'm a Classical Pianist, I have been since I was little and it's arguably the thing closest to my heart. I also believe in Classical Music, it has a set of values and outlooks that I think are very unique and could be really valuable if they were applied to other genres. Classical Music values complexity and depth, it focuses on the "surprise" side of the surprise/repetition balance, it places craftsmanship and discipline in a central role, and I think most importantly it has a very high emphasis on the written score and live performances rather than just recordings, which means each piece of Classical Music can create a perpetual dialogue between the composer and the various performers, and is given new life with each performer rather than being crystallized forever by the original recording like modern music very often is. Those are the things I believe are really special about Classical Music.I also think the genre isn't living up to it's potential in our time, and I would love to update those values and outlooks in a way that was emotionally relevant to our lives by composing new music along those lines.That's how I would build community. Simply sharing those values in a public way and creating work that furthers them would be the seeds of the community. Then anyone who could share those values would be interested in my work because they would want to see that change happen in the world as well, and that would give them a reason to invest in me and my work. If they chose to make derivative works based on mine, if they were evangelists for my projects, if they volunteered to help with events, hosted get-togethers, or even if they just shared my work with others, all of what would help the community grow. And none of that would be inauthentic at all. We would simply be sharing in a common goal and furthering it.When I asked my original question I was really worried about being selfish under the guise of being selfless. It seemed to me like community building was just the term people used when they marketed for more fans to make more money, fooling people into paying up while believing they were part of a cause. Is it really "community" if it's all essentially focused on one person or company that's making all the money? Well, it all depends on how honest that one person or company is. It's okay to want to make money, as long as you're upfront about what it's for and where it's going. And if you legitimately have beliefs motivating your work, that gives people a real cause to join and a reason to engage with your work beyond just paying you. Yes the selfish motivations exist, but if we're honest about them existing, and if they exist alongside real beliefs, everything's okay. And if you're open about your work and allow people to freely share in it then people can utilize it for their own goals as well.As for community and friendship, just because there's a big goal doesn't mean you can't form friendships with people. The goal will be the original reason for people to talk, but of course eventually friendships will form and people will gain more personal knowledge of each other. This is where the more selfless behavior starts popping up. Appreciate the people who've joined your community, invest in them and care about them. You should never pretend of course, but allow the foundation of the practical goal to build a more emotional network.So there you go, I guess you can consider this an explanation of community for the skeptical or confused ha.(I actually think a big chunk of my misconception came from Amanda Palmer's "The Art of Asking", because she's a super emotional extrovert who loves getting to know new people, so this was the way she naturally approached community building. She's great, but not everyone has her personality and outlook so not everyone can have her methods.)
Blaine Hansen

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