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Author Topic: Self Publishing  (Read 13010 times)

Mike Sellers

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Self Publishing
« on: August 03, 2014, 08:20:18 am »

Is self publishing alive and well? What would it cost to self publish a calendar? Where can I read about the process?
Mike
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luxborealis

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2014, 08:45:02 am »

Not to throw a wet rag on this topic, but publishing is the easy part and there are plenty of options for printers who will gladly take your money.

The key is distribution. If you have a hundred or a thousand calendars you need places to sell them (who also need their mark-up). And even if you make the most glorious photographs and calendar in the world, you are up against the "mall stalls" which sell beautiful calendars for $25 in the lead up to Christmas. At least that's the way it is here in North America. Those calendars are being printed right now in time for distribution in September.

If you have a group of sellers, perhaps people or places that already support/sell your work, then you might just have a market for a limited-run, private press calendar. But consider for a moment how much people will pay for a calendar, then cut it in half and that will be your portion. Hopefully the actual calendars cost of that so that you can make at least a little.

I hope this works out for you. Do keep us up-to-date on how it goes.
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Colorado David

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2014, 08:54:33 am »

I think self-published calendars would be the highest-risk product of the self-publishing world.  In 2016, a 2015 calendar has no residual value.  Now imagine you have cases of them left over in your basement.  Marketing and distribution is the hardest part of any publishing effort.  Design and production are easy; all it takes is money and time.  Marketing and distribution requires a commitment on the part of other people or organizations and their money and time.  I am not against self-publishing.  I just think something with a longer shelf life and opportunity to recover would be a better investment.

Mike Sellers

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2014, 12:53:58 pm »

How does a store like Barns&Noble choose calendars to display for sale?
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luxborealis

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2014, 01:28:00 pm »

Why don't you ask them?

That venerable East Coast Zone System photographer Fred Picker once wrote a newsletter article about questions like this from his readers. This was back in the days of correspondence by paper, so Fred invested in a big rubber stamp to reply to their queries it simply said, in large capital letters: "TRY IT!".
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Justinr

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2014, 01:29:45 pm »

A lot of sense in the replies Mike, all the world and his dog are trying to cash in calendars. Shops will buy cheap and stack 'em high while charities will obviously have their own distribution networks. Having said that I've often wondered about desk diaries in the past.
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Mike Sellers

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2014, 01:37:46 pm »

Why bother if you don`t know the answer? Snide doesn`t work on me.
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Justinr

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2014, 01:55:31 pm »

Why bother if you don`t know the answer? Snide doesn`t work on me.

?
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LesPalenik

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2014, 02:24:49 pm »

Quote
publishing is the easy part and there are plenty of options for printers who will gladly take your money.

The key is distribution.

+1
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jferrari

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2014, 02:54:18 pm »

I hope this works out for you. Do keep us up-to-date on how it goes.

Calendar humor! I love it!
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ternst

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2014, 02:57:12 pm »

Hey Mike - yes, there are still successful self-published nature photography calendars. I just finished my 15th yearly wall calendar and also the 2nd yearly engagement calendar, all regional and self published. We get 2,500 of the wall calendars printed at $4-$5 cost each (includes print broker fee, shipping, customs, etc.), and typically end up making $10-$12k net each year (no profit on the engagement calendars yet, but we're hoping to sell enough this year to break even - takes a while to build up a market sometimes). The wall calendars are premium-quality, 12" x 12" folded size, 28 pages, shrink wrapped with stiffener. Takes 3-5 months production time until delivery once we send the completed pdf files to the printer.

When I did my first wall calendar in 2000/2001, it was a shot in the dark and we were not expecting to make a profit - more of a promotional tool. We did sell enough to make a small profit that first year, a little more the next, and the next. But we've always had to take a load of unsold/returned calendars to the recycle yard, although we first distribute as many as we can to local nursing homes on Christmas day - those happy smiles are as good as any check.

Most of the big chain stores buy from a giant calendar distribution company who gets up to an 80% discount from the big publishing houses, and in January or February they return all unsold copies to the publisher for refund. Those calendars are already sitting in the chain store warehouses or in the back of the store now (since May or June), or in many cases are already on the retail shelf. The deals are usually with large publishers who have a lot of different calendars, and rarely with small-time operators like me (I've got 16 books in print that we sell and distribute, which is still very small in the publishing world - ma and pa, no employees). Sometimes individual Barnes & Noble stores are able to purchase direct from a small supplier with just one calendar or book - those deals are done at the local level through the book department manager, and you just have to knock on their door and ask (with product in hand of course). While doing your on-site research, you will find most wall calendars are in the $14.95 retail and under range, much less at discount stores like Wal Mart, where you can pick up a ton of great calendars for $5 each - but they buy hundreds of thousands at a time (from their own printing companies perhaps). So you have to begin with the retail price, then work backwards to figure out if you can afford to produce your own calendar or not, kind of like everything else.

It can be a lot of fun to have a calendar on the wall with your name on it, although most of the time it will cost you for that enjoyment since most self-published calendars never made a dime.

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rgs

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2014, 03:31:50 pm »

I don't think "snide" was intended. He was just saying instead of asking people that don't know, just go ask ones who most likely do.
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LesPalenik

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2014, 04:35:04 pm »

If you print several thousand copies, you can get them for under a dollar per copy.

I get my calendars for free from my local supermarket. They usually offer 2 or 3 different kinds - some with food related pictures, and another one with scenic nature photos (presumably using stock photos). Most likely printed by some large print company that prints several thousands copies per store and just switches their name between the individual print runs.

The calendars are pretty and functional. It would be hard to compete with those prices.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2014, 11:01:16 pm by LesPalenik »
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Mike Sellers

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #13 on: August 03, 2014, 08:28:57 pm »

How do I know if anyone on this forum knows until I ask? Again,if you don`t know then why spout off and prove you don`t know?
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Brett_D

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2014, 12:21:39 pm »

Again,if you don`t know then why spout off and prove you don`t know?
Isn't that what the Internet was invented for?

Justinr

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2014, 01:46:42 pm »

Isn't that what the Internet was invented for?

For finding out anything much beyond techy stuff I find the internet a waste of time.
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louoates

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2014, 05:21:57 pm »

Why not self-publish picture books featuring your images? You could design a 60 page print-on-demand soft cover book from Magcloud for around $12 (1 copy). I've found that Magcloud uses decent paper inside the book that some of the other print-on-demand printers don't. I sell my 60 page books for $19.95 and 96 page books for $29. It's another way to make an easy sale at an art show and doesn't tie up a lot of money for inventory.
Example: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/664332
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2014, 05:52:23 pm »

Lou, how many books you typically sell at an art show?

Mike Sellers

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2014, 06:23:16 pm »

Now that is info I can use-thanks!
Mike
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louoates

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Re: Self Publishing
« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2014, 06:50:53 pm »

Lou, how many books you typically sell at an art show?

I've only done one art show this year. A small one at a re-sale store that buys my excess scenic prints. They bought 48 of my local-scenes 96-page book I designed. They sold most of them before, during, and after the show. The first 60 page book I designed was for family and friends gift purposes and featured about ten years worth of my composite images. If I do another art show I will show that book as well.
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