Amazon.com, the enormously successful online book (and now other-goods) seller, offers CreateSpace as its program for those looking to self-publish. CreateSpace, which encompasses the former BookSurge brand, is available to authors, musicians and filmmakers.Under the BookSurge name, the program began 10 years ago and was bought by Amazon.com in 2005. Publishing around 2 million books since its inception, it merged with CreateSpace last fall……
Scott Steinberg is the CEO of high-tech consulting firm TechSavvy Global, and a frequent tech analyst for ABC, CBS and CNN. He’s covered the field for 400+ outlets from NPR to Rolling Stone. His latest self-published venture is the online video series and magazine Game Theory.Starting your own fashion label; becoming a high-flying media mogul; publishing the next great novel — everyone’s got their own vision of the “American Dream.” Today, courtesy of countless online self-publishing services, taking the first big steps toward these goals is easier than ever.
Customers can sign up for free and choose from a variety of publishing options, depending on where they are in the development process. Packages and services range in price from free (if an author has his or her file ready to go without needing any additional assistance) to the $4,999 “Total Design Freedom Marketing Pro” package, which includes two rounds of copyediting, unique cover design, book interior design, a video trailer, ISBN assignment and press releases.
Anyone can take advantage of custom design, order fulfillment, payment processing and worldwide shipping solutions to start their own record label or launch tomorrow’s most addictive software app. Even better still, most options are generally affordable enough (ranging anywhere from $10 to $1,000 and up), that you don’t have to sell a kidney or beg friends and family for cash to fund the enterprise.
Once published, the work is available on Amazon.com and distributed elsewhere as well, depending on the option selected. “The author has total control,” said Aaron Rosenstein, CreateSpace’s Senior Marketing Manager.
Books can be purchased in download/digital formats, or in print versions. CreateSpace uses a print-on-demand method, which means there is no concern about overstock.
Assuming you’re the hands-on type, don’t mind a little micromanaging, possess a knack for self-promotion and (better yet) have a friend who’s a graphic designer, there’s nothing more satisfying than building your own business and enjoying complete and total creative freedom. The following sites and services can turn you from idle dreamer to entrepreneur overnight.
Artwork, Clothing and Collectibles:
The globe’s largest online art fair Etsy makes it possible to send handcrafted goods including pottery, furniture, jewelry, knitting and purses to millions of fans of fine Bohemian wares. Set up a stall there and you can sell virtually any crazy item, from Twilight-themed pet collars to necklaces adorned with Gary Coleman’s likeness.Fancy yourself a fashion plate instead? Try CafePress, where you can build your own online clothing boutique and stock it with custom baseball caps, hoodies, boxers and baby clothes. Spreadshirt also lets you upload t-shirt designs and build personalized aprons, messenger bags and other goodies, while PrintMojo provides the tools to make and sell your own wearable slogans.
Should your tastes range more towards stickers and souvenirs, Zazzle makes for a worthwhile pit stop too. Hit the site to design individualized mugs, magnets, greeting cards, mouse pads, binders and beer steins. PrintableMemories further makes it possible to put one’s own stamp on pillows, photo tins, jewelry bottles and other assorted objects.Aspiring photographers might also turn to Snapfish, Shutterfly and Picaboo to produce coffee table-ready collections of their work. Images can also be appended onto stationary, address labels, coffee mugs, serving trays or anything else that can benefit from a candid close-up of your pet Pomeranian.
Books and Magazines:
Lulu and Blurb are handy services you can use to produce paperbacks or hardbacks, as well as yearbooks, cookbooks, CDs, DVDs, calendars and other keepsakes that look as good as their professionally-produced counterparts. Granted, if you’re not technically inclined, some outside graphic and visual layout assistance may be needed. While I’ve used the service successfully, others have complained of mixed results.
Lulu can also be used as a platform to secure distribution with vendors like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This is also the case with iUniverse and a multitude of other vendors including Wordclay, Xlibris, BookSurge and AuthorHouse. As with any item, you’ll pay significantly more on short runs, but volume discounts are awarded based on larger orders.
Food and Drink:
To share dad’s secret chili recipe or grandma’s sponge cake with the world, you might try Foodzie or Foodoro. The former makes it possible to market and sell a wide assortment of nuts, candies, meats, tea, coffee and other foodstuffs directly to legions of online gourmands. The latter lets you do so as well, but takes a more gourmet stance with its inventory, making it better suited to those selling specialty or high-end foods. Either way, this pair of sites offers a great way to get a taste of what running your own bakery or catering company is like.
Music and Video:
Creating your own podcast or digital audio recording ready for Internet distribution is easy enough to accomplish with a $10 headset and free recording software such as Audacity. Other tools like REAPER, ProTools and GarageBand can also help rock star hopefuls.Once recorded, talk programming or musical performances can then be syndicated onto Apple’s iTunes, Microsoft’s Zune or through your own site to help find an audience. Afterward, TuneCore and CDBaby can help you get tracks out over the airwaves via eMusic, Amazon MP3, Rhapsody and others. Music licensing company Rumblefish can also help you get your music placed in films, television shows and other outlets. Video game lovers can also submit tunes to the popular music game Rock Band via the Rock Band Network.
For those with cinematic aspirations, new low-cost, high-definition video cameras make it easier than ever to get started. Models like the Bloggie, Flip and Vado (all under $200) can help, but I personally recommend the Kodak Zi8, which offers external microphone support, allowing for superior audio. A webcam ($20-50) can also provide a ready way to record the next viral video sensation.Once clips are recorded and edited, just upload to YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, Metacafe or other online aggregators for sharing and embedding, or you can simply distribute them on your own site. Live streaming services such as Justin.tv, BlogTV, uStream.tv and Stickam also let you become a talk show host in no time flat.
Software and Video Games:
While there’s no simple way to create software for PCs, smartphones and video game systems, you don’t have to be a computer science major to self-publish.To create programs for Android devices or the iPhone (the latter of which costs $99 for the developer’s toolkit), you can seek help from outside contractors at sites like oDesk or Guru.com. Other options like iPhoneAppQuotes, iPhoneAppCoder and Get Apps Done also promise to put you in touch with capable coders and artists. Be forewarned: Any outsourced project requires stringent management and oversight, and no sites guarantee quality of output or any return on investment.
Entrepreneurs hoping to make their mark on the gaming scene can further try Microsoft’s XNA Creators Club, which lets you design for Xbox 360, PC, Windows Phone 7 or Zune. Software suites like Torque Game Engine, The 3D Gamemaker and Adventure Game Studio also offer an outlet for custom productions, as does PlayFirst’s free Playground SDK. But once again, if you’re short on software coding or 3D animation skills, you’ll need help from outside sources.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be exceptionally rich, smart or well-connected to bring a company to life these days. With these self-publishing tools, all it takes is a little time, dedication, and of course, the talent to make a great product in the first place.