Since my target audience is tweens, I initially reasoned that having a paperback book would be a good thing. I could not imagine a thirteen year old having a Kindle and figured a good old fashioned book the first priority. Looking around the Internet I found lots of companies that would get your book in print. Most had upfront fees in the hundreds to over a thousand dollars. Then after that you still had the cost of the book. My budget did not allow for that much of an investment.
My first thought was Lulu. Basically you can publish your book for nothing and that includes an ISBN that they manage. They offer plenty of hand-holding for the DIY publisher or they will do it for you. Currently their Best Seller Publishing Package costs $629. Ouch! That hurts my pocket book.
If I did it all myself, what would the Lulu book price to me be? Let's say I am printing a 6 x 9 tradebook with 250 pages using white paper and internally everything is black and white. Cost using the Lulu calculator is $9.50. As quantities go up the price goes down. So 100 copies go for $7.60. If I priced my book at $12.99, my profit is $3.49. Actually there's a lot more to their pricing, but you get the idea.
My other choice was CreateSpace. Again you can DIY or buy a package. Their Total Design Freedom Standard costs $728. And the prices go up from there!
Pricing the same 6 x 9 book with 250 pages using the CreateSpace calculator comes to $6.50. But there also is the pro-plan that brings your cost $3.85. At 100 copies, there is no change. The pro-plan cost $39 per year.
This also sets up the marketing of the book. I am not going to explain the higher math that follows, and you can run your own numbers at CreateSpace. For my earlier example of the $12.99 book, sell one yourself and you make $9.14. Sell one through them and your royalty is $6.94. For Amazon it’s $3.94, and a sale through someone else gets a whopping $1.94. For an investment of $39.00, I went with CreateSpace.
Some indie-authors may only want to go with e-book format, but having a paper copy has advantages. Carrying them around in your car trunk and when someone says, “Are you really an author?” pull one out and offer to autograph it for $12.99. Throw some on the coffee table. Keep a few around at work. Get some into local bookstores and libraries. In fact tomorrow I am doing a book signing The Book Center in Cumberland, MD. Just having that physical book in your hands is a good feeling.