This article focuses on navigating the world of Dog Ear and understanding what happens as your book moves through our processes.

If your book is in editing … well, this email comes a bit early because it really addresses things that should start AFTER the editing process is complete. The world of copyediting has its own unpredictable rhythm, and I won’t even attempt to address it here. So - if your book is in editing, save the emails!

The Dog Ear Publishing Process Outline
Below is a rough outline of the journey your manuscript follows as it moves from manuscript to finished product. The entire process usually takes about 12 to 16 weeks, and the first six to eight weeks are very quiet as your book moves into queue and on to pre-flight and design.

Stage 1 - Initial sign up:
At this point you’ve completed the initial sign up process - where we collected your contact information and discussed in greater detail the type of book you want us to build for you. You should have already received a receipt for your initial payment and a copy of our contract and W9 forms. If you have not yet returned a signed copy of these documents to us, please do so as soon as possible.

Stage 2 - File submission:
If you haven’t sent us your files yet, please review our author checklist once again. Once you have prepared your files according to our specifications, please submit the following items:
•    manuscript
•    author biography
•    book summary
•    cover concept
•    images (if applicable)
•    any necessary notes or instructions

Please upload your files to us via the Author Project System. For LOTS of files if you have many pieces of art you are sending along, please send them to us on disc by mail. On the package or in the subject line of your email, please include “NEW FILE SUBMISSION / Your Last Name / Job #”. This will ensure your files are directed to the appropriate person.

Stage 3 - Production

After receiving your files, production will review your materials for issues that might cause potential problems. If any are found, we will contact you before moving on to the next step.

Sample cover and interior proofs:
Sample designs are typically sent six to eight weeks after the latter of either your paid invoice or your file submission date. Please note that we cannot start the design process until we’ve received ALL of the necessary files, contract, and payment.
The design proof is meant to showcase our design team’s vision for your book. We’ll ask you to submit any design-related changes before we proceed with the complete layout of your book (holding any editorial-related changes until we have completed the design process). Note that the cover design proof IS the cover as it will appear in final form (with the exception of spine width and price listed on the barcode). Any changes, whether they are design or editorial in nature, may be submitted in response to this proof.

Page Proofs:
When the Sample Design is approved, we lay out your entire book into the design you’ve chosen. The interior is sent to you for review - this is called First Pass Pages and includes everything within your book. We will ask that you review the interior file for any grammatical errors or editorial changes that are needed. Instructions on how to submit your changes will also accompany your proof. Each round of changes typically takes 7-10 business days to process.
If changes are submitted in response to your First Pass Pages, a revised proof (Second Pass Pages) will be returned to you. The process for this round is the same as with First Pass. If additional changes are needed, we will continue to return revised proofs to you until we receive approval.

Once your cover and interior are approved, we will have a short discussion on pricing. You will receive an email outlining the formula used to calculate your profit and providing you with your book printing cost. We will ask that you determine a retail price for your book as well as a wholesale discount. Typically all information needed for you to set pricing is included in that email. If you have questions or would like suggestions, however, we can discuss this in further detail. We are happy to help you determine a successful retail price.

File upload:
Once pricing is set, we will be ready to begin uploading your files to press. The initial set up process takes approximately 10 days to complete. During this time, your files will be sent through a series of quality checks at press. Once the book is made available, you will receive notification by email. Your complimentary copies will be ordered for you that same day. As a Dog Ear author, you can order additional copies through our author ordering automated system - instructions will be sent to you via email.

Stage 4 - Distribution:
We submit all the information needed by our distribution partners at the same time as your book is uploaded to press. Once your book is available at press, it will be added to Ingram and Baker & Taylor - listed as in stock and available for purchase. Your online listings with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and our other retail partners usually post within just days of initial print availability.

Stage 5 - Marketing:
The marketing aspects of your project will be addressed once the book is uploaded to press. In most cases, we use elements of both the cover and interior to prepare these marketing tools. Just as with your book, you will be shown proofs of all items. These proofs are sent approximately 2 weeks after approval of the cover and interior. Changes can be submitted just as they were with your book. The first round of changes on all marketing materials is free of charge.

Additional items of note:

Placing Book Orders:
The quickest and most economical way to order your own book is by using our online ordering system. Your personal ordering page is ‘open’ once the book is available at press. A unique author code is used to ensure you receive your per unit cost and is sent to you by Dog Ear via email once your book is available. Orders typically ship within 48 hours but may take 7-10 days to receive depending on how they are placed and the delivery method you choose. All orders must be prepaid.

Author Profit Payment & Sales Reports:
Your author profit checks are issued on a monthly basis. Payments cover a variety of types of sales (distribution, direct, e-book, author site sales, etc) and the scheduling is more complex than this email can cover.

Both profit payment data and sales data are available for you to review through our online system. The data is updated on a monthly basis and reflects all activity for the previous month.

Status updates for your project can also be accessed through the dogearpublishing site.

Wow! I know that’s a ton of information, but hopefully this outline leaves you with a better understanding of what to expect as you work through the publishing process. If along the way you have any questions (we understand you will - it’s all part of being a new author), please do not hesitate to ask.

We’ll get the tough parts out of the way early - Why not self-publish?

Everyone knows that producing and publishing your own book can be a tremendous challenge - especially when it comes to making money. For self publishing, pros and cons both exist. We’ll explore the self publishing “cons” first. The vast majority of the books in the “traditional” publishing industry barely ever break even - and an even smaller percentage of self published books ever see a profit.

A tiny minority of self published books are ever a big success or achieve fame. Self published authors have to rely on their own resources, be more creative in finding retail shelf space for their books (as a rule, self published authors have far less access to chain bookstore shelves than the big publishers who spend millions on marketing dollars), and  have to work very hard to create any sort of buzz about their books.

Does this make it all seem like there aren’t ANY reasons why you would want to discover how to self publish a book? Does that all make it sound much too grim? We said there were self publishing pros and cons. Now that we’ve got the “cons” out of the way, here are some of the self publishing “pros”.

Control is completely in your hands - you call all the shots, but still get access to a wide breadth of experience from your self publishing company. If you want pink flamingos on your book about Kenworth trucks, well we might make some recommendations, but ultimately it’s up to you.

No more rejection letters! If you’ve tried publishing the traditional way you know what we mean… Over 750,000 manuscripts are written each year, yet less than 3 percent ever see the light of day at a traditional publishing house.

The reward is completely in your hands - you took the risk, you made the effort now, 100% of the reward is yours too.

The thrill of seeing your book in print - and done exactly as you wanted - is nearly unmatched.

No matter how many or few you sell, you can keep your book alive and available long past the point at which a “traditional” house would have taken it out of print.

You can publish on tightly focused or niche topics without worrying that your editor “doesn’t think this market has any real value.”

A couple of other items to keep in mind:

“Royalties” - we don’t call them that, because we let you set your OWN profit margin - the only money we receive from sales of your book is the printing cost (and some handling & freight fees). You may price your books at any price you wish and make as much or as little profit as you like. That is NOT the case with ANY other self publisher - they all set your retail for you and then give a percentage of the NET sale.

Control - as you can see from our web site, we believe in giving you as much as possible within each package - and letting you have as much control and input as you’d like. No one else offers the absolute freedom that Dog Ear Publishing does…

Compare Dog Ear Publishing - we’ve done some of the homework for you -click here to see how Dog Ear stacks up against the other major self publishing companies. We compare our services, price, and speed on a weekly basis and report the numbers here.

It is interesting how certain topics and issues can become common themes among authors. One item that we hear a lot is how to determine a book’s retail price.

The following are some of the factors that we consider when advising authors on setting their book retail price. First, what type of genre does your book fall into - nonfiction, fiction, children’s, juvenile, self-help or something else. Some genres allow for higher retail prices or have less competition. For example, religious themed books are in high demand; as a result, retail prices for these books tend to be higher than a traditional fiction.

Secondly, the cost to print your book will affect your retail price. Are your books being printed traditionally or digitally? Digital printing tends to increase the unit cost of your book compared to traditional printing. However, digital printing allows you to print as few as one book at a time. At Dog Ear Publishing we offer both digital and traditional printing.

Another factor in determining a retail price is the bookstore - both traditional and virtual. Bookstores are in business to make money off the sale of books, so don’t forget they will expect to buy your books at some discount from the retail price. Typically, a traditional bookstore takes somewhere between a 30% - 50% discount off the retail price. Online bookstores can take up to a 55% discount. Some bookstores allow you to negotiate their discounts while others are firm in their demands.

Dog Ear Publishing allows you to set your wholesale discount and book retail price at any level you like - see this article for details.

The major ISBN registration agency, Bowker, recently collected Retail Price statistics on all of the books published in and reported their findings.

Average Suggested Book Retail Prices Last Year and how they compare to previous year:

$27.52 for adult hardcover (down $.10)
$25.08 for adult fiction hardcover (unchanged)
$28.49 for adult nonfiction hardcover (down $.29)
$15.76 for adult trade paperbacks (up $.11)
$14.78 for adult fiction trade paperbacks (up $.07)
$16.16 for adult nonfiction trade paperbacks (up $.15)
$7.35 for adult mass-market paperback (up .07)
$16.09 for juvenile hardcover (up $.26)

If you like this information (and found it helpful) please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around.

May you have success in your creative efforts!

***an unauthorized analysis of Amazon Sales Rank***

This page is a regularly updated, continual discussion of our most frequent questions about book sales and how the market works - “what in the world does my Amazon sales rank number mean?”

Very roughly, the Amazon sales rank can be taken as a measure of your book’s relative success to now over 6 MILLION other books at Amazon. Every book that has sold at least a single copy is assigned a rank.

The Amazon sales rank is a measure of how many books YOUR book sold compared to all the other books on Amazon. Your rank is yours and yours alone - no two books can share the rank at any one time (books that have sold the same number have additional criteria applied). The period of time over which the sales are measured is variable, however, the ranking is updated hourly.

Want to sell more books? Dog Ear can help!
Want to make more money from the books you sell?
Dog Ear can do that to!
-Click here to find out more —

Amazon applies some very complex (and apparently top secret) math to maintaining rankings for their top 5,000 books. Sales are measured hourly, daily, and monthly - and rankings are determined by even the amount of time BETWEEN sales. Books in the top 5,000 keep their rankings very consistent - and Amazon enforces some “averaging” of sales to keep your book from jumping up to number one just because you got all your relatives in New Jersey to buy a copy at exactly noon on Tuesday (but, do it if you can…for about 30 minutes you’ll have the most incredible ranking!)

Changes in your Amazon sales rank is a great measure of the success of your marketing efforts - hopefully a nice bump upwards in rank corresponds to a book promotion or event. Unfortunately, individual events create changes in rank that are usually temporary. However, a consistent an concerted effort will move the sales rank significantly. A general rule of thumb (first proposed by Morris Leventhal of FonerBooks) is to note your rank twice a week for four weeks, then divide by 8. This will show your “average” Amazon sales rank. Checking any more than that is really meaningless, since these ranks can change on an hourly basis. You’ll find that titles that sit within the top 5,000 do not usually fluctuate by more than 20% (and Amazon is trying to contain even this level of fluctuation). Titles in the 10-20,000 range may jump or drop by as much 50 or 60%. Titles under the 50,000 mark will swing wildly.

Amazon Sales Rank - the “numbers”

So - what does all this mean? How MANY books am I selling?

Well, that’s a tough question, but here’s some very general numbers based on average Amazon sales rank for our Dog Ear Publishing titles listed on Amazon (updated March):

Rank Weekly Sales
1,000            90 copies
10,000           60 copies
100,000           16 copies
300,000           12 copies
500,000           1 copy
1,000,000           1 copy per month

Now, this isn’t going to hold true all year long on a unit basis - sale rates change per season - but it will hold in the RELATIONSHIP between sales ranks.

So, theoretically, sales ranks don’t change without some action having occurred - meaning your rank won’t go up without a sale, and they don’t fall unless some other book has more sales in the past 24 hours (though the numbers get pretty funky in the “under 50,000” range). Your titles rank will drop if you have no sales, but the rate at which it will drop is dependent upon how consistently strong your sales were BEFORE it stopped selling - sort of… It’s a bit of a bell curve that hits the middle ground most severely - books with long term, strong sales drop slowly, moderate sellers (under 50,000 to about 250,000) drop faster, and weak sellers (500,000 and beyond) change positions very slowly. As we said, the Amazon sales rank is calculated every hour of the day.

How can I apply this to my book?

Well, you really can only apply it in hindsight… use Amazon sales rank to check your progress as a marketer. Think about what rankings of competitive titles mean - are you moving up or down in relation? Use it to choose your next publishing objective or marketing program plan.

If you have a brilliant idea for a book - and you just know it will sell - and there is nothing like it, well, you might just be right. But, a little research never helped! True expert marketers understand that the smartest bet is to target a book to a successful market, providing a COMPLEMENTARY product to expand the ultimate size of the market.

For perspective, here’s the data on last year and what each of the largest retailers reported for sales:

Amazon - $10.71 billion ($7 billion in media sales)
Barnes&Noble - $5.3 billion
(BN was $0.433 billion of this total)
Borders Book Group - $4.06 billion

Total $20.06 billion

Not an insignificant amount of sales - now let’s get out there and sell some books!

May you have success in your creative efforts!

If you like this information (and found it helpful) please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around. Please just give us credit here at dogearpublishing!