pickstock New Reader
12/7/10 6:00 p.m.

morning guys and girls ive been writing a book on performance for the older subaru engines EA82/81 to be precise

anyway more to the point does anyone know how to get a book published? i was thinking of as an E book but id prefer hardcopy any ideas??

Grtechguy SuperDork
12/7/10 6:02 p.m.

Talk to Keith, Tim, etc...

Pumpkin Escobar
Pumpkin Escobar SuperDork
12/7/10 6:20 p.m.
Grtechguy wrote: Talk to Keith, Tim, etc...


Marty! Dork
12/7/10 7:13 p.m.

Don't forget MadScientistMatt either....

Keith SuperDork
12/7/10 7:38 p.m.

There are two ways to go: self-publishing or through a publisher. The basic tradeoffs are the amount of work vs the amount of (potential) profit.

With a publisher, you'll agree on a royalty amount. They'll give you x percent of every copy sold. And they'll write you a check for some of those royalties in advance. Sweet! They'll even take care of all the publicity, marketing, etc for you. So it's pretty low-risk on your part.

The downside, of course, is that you don't have as much control and you don't make as much money. For example, with my latest book, the publishing company did the layout for me. Awesome. I got proofs, checked them, suggested moving a few pictures around to better illustrate the text and corrected some errors, then saw another proof. Then after it was all proofed and approved, some nameless weiner in the layout office decided to "fix" something and swapped two labels on a graph. Now the graph isn't just misleading, it actually contradicts the text. It'll get fixed in the next printing, of course. Whenever that is. It also took a full year to go from "here's the finished manuscript" to getting that first box of books.

Also, another of my books (the Locost one) is going out of print. It's simply not selling enough these days to justify another print run. It might go to ebook, but that's out of my control.

In the case of Motorbooks (my publisher), there can also be a bit of a formula to the book design. For example, my Performance Projects book was following a template. Of course, it was a proven template that helped make the book work, but not all templates are good ones. Even the title can be part of a template to make it fit into a series, which may mislead potential readers.

But like I said, it's low risk. I get paid in advance. I don't have to send review copies to magazines or clubs, or get it listed on Amazon, or added to the "NEW RELEASES!" listing that every bookseller gets. I get surprised by where the book shows up. All the hard work is done. And once that royalty advance is paid off, I get checks twice a year as the books continue to sell.

Self-publishing, on the other hand, is all you (more or less). You do the layout, you do the promotion and marketing, you pay up front to have the books printed. But you make a whole lot more per copy and you have full control. Want to put a picture of yourself making love to a Subaru motor on the cover? Go for it. Want all the pictures to be full page, or 1" across? Sure! Want it to be Tom Clancy in size? It's your choice. Of course, you don't get an editor to help you out - that can be a real problem. My Locost book benefited very greatly from one suggestion by my editor that caused a week-long rewrite of the whole book. Without that, it wouldn't have been anywhere near as good.

If you're marketing to a niche such as old Subaru performance nuts, the lack of marketing may not be an issue. You can go straight to your audience and use word of mouth.

Lulu.com is a good proposition for self publishers. It's a print-on-demand publisher, meaning you don't need to stump up front to print off a few thousand copies. The book never goes out of print. They offer marketing services as well. Kurt Bilinski went this route with his Kimini book. If he sees this, maybe he'll chime in on his experience.

Would Lulu have been a better option for me than Motorbooks? Good question. Having only experience writing under contract for a publishing house, I can't compare directly. I write very clean copy that doesn't need much correction, but editors have been very useful in both steering content and proving external motivation to reach deadlines. The marketing department at Motorbooks has done quite a bit of work on my behalf as well - and most importantly, once the book is done I don't have to worry about it at all.

Now, the very short description of your book sounds like one that might interest the guys at Motorbooks. PM me through the GRM board and I'll put you in touch with them. You'll need a solid outline and at least one completely finished sample chapter to talk to a publisher though.

Me, I got lucky. Motorbooks was looking for someone to write a particular book, and one of the editors was a Miata guy who knew some of my work. They approached me, and the nature of that first book was perfect for a first-time author. Then it just kept going...

Wow, that's a lot of writing.

EvanB Dork
12/7/10 10:40 p.m.

I saw the title of this thread and was going to suggest asking Keith about it but it seems he has already written a book in response .

I will second the Lulu recommendation. I used them for an Architecture portfolio and it is pretty easy to use. Uploading a book would be different than the photo and text format that I used but not too much.

pickstock New Reader
12/8/10 5:13 a.m.

wow i didnt expect such a reply, i thought it would be 'google it' or 'go to this person' didnt expect there to be people here doing it

Im not doing this to make money, although money would be good =)

ive only written 15 pages so far size 11 on word so im happy but still a lot of work with pictures and the like. whats the best way to copywrite my work in progress? I was thinking of passing some drafts around to my mentors, but im a little worried that it woould get out and yeah. i just want the credit and to be known for being the best

Keith SuperDork
12/8/10 8:46 a.m.

If you don't trust the people you're showing your manuscript to, don't show them your manuscript. Seems fairly straightforward to me. Even if pieces do get out, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It helps get people interested in the book. We're giving away a chapter of my new book online, it seems to be going well.

Get a chapter finished up, polished and photographed. Get an outline together. Don't worry about the word count at the moment, just make it good. Then you can approach a publisher. If you decide to self-publish, keep at it! Writing a book is pretty much like taking on a second job, and if you want to write a good book in a reasonable period of time you'll find it's a full-time job. Getting some money back is a good plan.

triumph5 Dork
12/8/10 10:41 a.m.

Remember doing THAT report/project/paper for college? now quadrouple the work load. Been there, done that, too. Got 1/3rd up front, 1/3rd half way through, and final on completion. Then a few royalties afterwards. And then a couple of years later you see your hard work in the "$1 book bin"

Really, think long and hard on this, and letters of inquiry to publishers will go a long way. Also, if you have no publishing history...well, good luck. You may have to self publish$$$ to get noticed, and it won't be cheap. Ditto on everything Keith said. It IS a second, full-time job. Final note: is there a market for it? Not in the hundred, but in thousands to make it economically viable for a publisher...

DaveEstey Reader
12/8/10 12:25 p.m.

If anybody needs help with editing and layout/design I've been doing it professionally for 5 years and would gladly lend myself to a automotive project for a very reasonable price.

I'm even dating an illustrator haha

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