Robertson Publishing

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What Is Self-Publishing?
What is an Independent Publisher?

Why publish with an Independent Publisher?
What are the advantages?
What is Involved?

Do I have to do this all by myself?

What types of books are best-suited for self-publishing?
Can I self-publish my book and then sell it to a commercial publisher?

What type of publishing services does Robertson Publishing (RP) provide?

Will RP publish any book regardless of its content?
Once you publish my book can I have it published elsewhere?
Which is better, Print or e-Book Self-Publishing?
What is the difference between regular and POD (Print-on-Demand)?

How much will it cost to produce my book?
Who Decides the Royalty and the Retail Price?

How long will it take?
What do I need to do before submitting my book for publication?
Who will own the rights to my book?
How will independent bookstores and libraries find my book?
Will my book sell?

What is a BISAC code?

What forms of payment do you accept when ordering books?

What are your return and claims policies?

What Is Self-Publishing?

"Self-publishing" is a form of publication in which the author pays for the cost of manufacturing and selling his or her own books then keeps the money from the book sales. If successful, self-publishing can lead to distribution or publication by a commercial (traditional) publisher.

What is an Independent Publisher?

Independent Publishers are defined as publishers that are not part of large conglomerates or multinational corporations. Defined this way, these presses make up approximately half of the market share of the book publishing industry. Robertson Publishing is an Independent Publisher.

Why Publish with an Independent Publisher?

Many choose using an Independent Publisher because this provides the writer more control of the finished product. A commercial (traditional) publisher may require revisions, editing changes, cuts to a manuscript, etc., that the writer prefers not to make. A writer also has little control over a book's design or cover, or in the promotion process (e.g., making sure that the book is reviewed or advertised in publications that target its most likely readers).

If a book is particularly "timely", a writer may choose self-publishing via an Independent Publisher because this provides a means of getting the book on the market immediately. Commercial print publishers may take as long as two years (or longer) to bring a book to market after it has been accepted, while an Independent publisher could get that same book to the marketplace in a few weeks.

Although many books are published each year by the traditional houses, a thousand times that many are not published, often just because:
their book list is full.
your book doesn't suit our needs at this time (i.e., you wrote a cookbook, and they just published two cookbooks, which may not have been as good as yours, but the publisher already committed.)

What Are the Advantages of Using an Independent Publisher?
The advantages of self-publishing are numerous:
You retain full control over the content, design, and marketing of your book.
You retain all rights to your manuscript (with the exception that self-publishing is itself a use of "publication" rights; you cannot then sell a book to a publisher as a "new," unpublished work.)
You retain all revenues earned from the sale of your books.
You may be able to exploit markets that a larger commercial publisher would overlook or ignore, because of your special expertise in a particular area or simply because of your commitment to your book.
Your book may have a greater chance of success simply because you're more committed to the process of promoting it than a publisher who has hundreds of other titles.

What Is Involved when publishing on your own?

The author's list of tasks:
Edit or obtain editing for your manuscript
Proofread or obtain proofreading for your manuscript
Obtain any artwork or illustrations you wish to include
Publication Process:
Format manuscript (design interior layout, including appropriate margins, headers/footers, typeface, interior art/graphics, etc.)
Provide "front matter" (e.g., table of contents, copyright page, etc.) and back matter, if any.
Provide or obtain cover art; design front and back covers (including "cover blurbs" or reviews) and spine.
For print books: Obtain printing quotes (including trim size, number of pages, binding, paper quality, etc.) Determine how manuscript must be delivered to printer or publisher (often in a specific electronic format such as "Press-Ready" PDF). Arrange/pay for printing and delivery of finished books.
Continue with ongoing market campaign.
Send books to reviewers.
Handle order fulfillment: Receive orders, process payments, invoice customers for amounts due, package and ship books.
Electronic books:
Handle order fulfillment: Receive orders, process payments, invoice customers for amounts due, ship or transmit books.

Marketing (Ongoing):
Your marketing campaign begins before you even contact a printer, and continues for as long as you remain a publisher (or are actively attempting to sell your books).
Bookkeeping (Ongoing):
Like your marketing efforts, your bookkeeping efforts must begin before you ever print that first book.
Develop a system of tracking expenses and income related to your press. Keep these records separate from personal finances and any other "business" finances (such as freelance writing). (For more information on setting up a bookkeeping system, see Handling Writing Income and Expenses.)
Open a separate business bank account.
Know what will be required for income-tax reporting.

Do I Have to Do This All By Myself?

The good news is that you DON'T have to do everything yourself — and you probably shouldn't. One key to being successful is knowing what you can do effectively yourself — and what you should delegate to others. Many writers, for example, are not skilled at graphic design or artwork. Many prefer to hire an editor or proofreader for the final stages of manuscript development. And since self-publishing involves some complex bookkeeping tasks, using an accountant to prepare your taxes is always a good idea.

What Types of Books Are Best-Suited for Self-Publishing?

The most successful writers are those who (a) are experts in their field and (b) are familiar with the target audience for their books. It can be more difficult to persuade a commercial publisher to accept a book that has a relatively small target audience — which makes this type of publishing the ideal venue for this type of book.

Books for which the author has a "built-in" market or audience (which often fall into the previous category) are also likely to do well. If, for example, you regularly speak or teach on a particular topic, you may be able to take advantage of that audience by self-publishing a book that you can market at your talks or seminars. You might even be able to publish a book that you can use as a "required text" in your classes. If you belong to a particular professional organization, this can also provide you with a built-in "market".

To be successful, you must have the willingness to make an investment in promoting that product.

Can I Publish My Book and Then Sell it to a Commercial (Traditional) Publisher?

Many writers believe that by publishing their book, they make it more attractive to a commercial publisher than a mere manuscript. They believe that a traditional publisher will be impressed by the sight of an actual, published book.

If you can demonstrate that there is (a) a significant market for your book, and (b) that you have been successful in reaching that market, you may find that you can interest a publisher in taking over the title. The key lies in PROVING that the book can sell. If, as a self-publisher, you're able to sell two or three thousand copies, you will have demonstrated that the book has a market. In other words, before you can sell your self-published book to a commercial publisher, you have to become a successful self-publisher!

What type of publishing services does Robertson Publishing provide?

Quality Paperbacks and Hardbacks
A professional, quality trade paperbacks with a custom four-color cover and hardbacks with or without a dust cover. We assign an ISBN and Bar Code, list it with Ingram Books and in major databases accessed by book wholesalers.

Broad Distribution
Robertson Publishing titles are available through our distribution channel here in the US, the UK and Australia.  We will list your book with Ingram Books. We also submit your title information to, Baker & Taylor,, Barnes &, Bertrams, and Gardners.

Shorter Production Time
Shorter than that of traditional publishers, our publication process usually takes 4 to 6 weeks. Once the book is in production, give our partners and online booksellers 1 week to list your book in their databases and you're a published author.

Will Robertson Publishing publish any book regardless of its content?
We will not publish books that violate or infringe upon any personal or proprietary right, including copyrights, trademark rights, trade secret rights, contract rights, privacy rights, or publicity rights of any persons. In addition, we will not publish works that are defamatory, pornographic, obscene to a degree that they would not be carried by a traditional trade bookstore. Books cannot, in any way include recipes, formulas, instructions, or recommendations that may be injurious to any reader, user, or third person. We do not publish works that are in the public domain.

We also reserve the right to decline or discontinue publication if a work is deemed to have a risk of litigation or other adverse commercial consequences.

Once you publish my book can I have it published elsewhere?
Yes. Your agreement with Robertson Publishing is non-exclusive. You are free to publish your book elsewhere, at any time, without the the use of the Robertson Publishing ISBN, Barcode, or logo. Please be aware that the other publisher may ask you to grant them exclusive rights.

Which Is Better, Print or e-Book Publishing?

The answer to this question is "it depends." Each format has advantages and disadvantages.

The primary advantage of print publication is the simple fact that print books have a much wider audience than electronic books, regardless of the topic or genre. Statistics indicate that only 14% of ALL books sold in the U.S. are sold through electronic channels, and e-books constitute only a tiny fraction of that amount. This means that the vast majority of the book-buying public (and your potential market) still prefers physical books and buys them through non-electronic channels.

It is also much easier to have print books reviewed (either by major publications or by special-interest magazines), accepted by libraries, and (occasionally) carried in bookstores. While it's difficult for self-publishers to persuade bookstores to carry their print titles, it's almost impossible to persuade them to carry e-books. Finally, you're more likely to find opportunities for "quantity sales" of a print book — e.g., sales to professional organizations, groups, classes, etc.

The primary advantage of electronic books is the low cost (or, indeed, near absence of cost) to produce them. Even if you choose to pay for professional cover design (a good idea), your cost per book will be extremely low. An e-book may exist as nothing more than a computer file that can be e-mailed to the customer, or downloaded from a website. Even if you choose to distribute the book on disk or CD-ROM, your production costs are far less than for a print book (as are your shipping costs). You will also tend to sell more books at retail, as there are few avenues for "quantity sales" of e-books (which could also be considered a disadvantage!).

So, again, the answer is "it depends" — on what you are willing to invest and what you hope to gain from that investment. It also depends on the market — some markets may be well-suited to electronic books, while others may contain a larger percentage of "traditional" readers who are less likely to buy an e-book. To answer this question, therefore, you'll need to conduct your own market research to determine where your readers are — and which format will be most likely to appeal to that readership.

What is the difference between "regular" and "POD" (Print-on-Demand/Digital Press) printing?

book printing (offset printing) is done either by a sheet-fed press or a web press.
Sheet-fed presses use a stack of large sheets of paper that will later be folded and trimmed to make a "signature." Signatures are groups of pages that books are made of. Each signature has a certain number of pages, always divisible by 8. The number of pages in a signature depends on the size of the book. Smaller books may be printed in signatures of 32 pages, larger books as few as 8 pages. Sheet-fed presses use printing plates and ink, and are best suited to medium-sized press runs, 500 to 7,500 copies.

Web presses also use plates and ink but the paper comes off huge rolls and is cut to sheet size after being printed. Then the sheets are folded and trimmed as sheet-fed output is. Web presses are very fast and are best suited to long press runs, more than 7,500 copies.

POD as it is incorrectly termed, is really better called "digital press."
Digital press is best suited for short-run work. The initial set up work with digital press is less expensive than offset because there are no printing plates. The material is supplied to the printer as a digital (computer) file, which is downloaded into the digital press. The books are printed by a machine that is somewhat like a copy machine, using sheets of paper and toner rather than ink.

Now, since books are produced individually by digital press, many titles can be in the que at any given time, each with a different number of copies to be printed. This ability gives rise to the Print on Demand (POD) feature that allows a bookstore to order a single copy of a listed book for a customer request. Publishers whose books are stored electronically in digital press data banks are able to order any number of books they want for any upcoming event or sales promotion.

How much will it cost to produce my book?
Our smallest full color publication (8 page, 8.5" x 8.5") is $2.50 per book. Our smallest black and white publication with full color cover (20 page, 5"x8" to 7.5"x9.25") is $3.05 per book. The maximum page count we can process is 828. The cost to produce your book will depend on whether your interior pages are black and white or color, the format (paperback or hardback), the final dimensions, the total number of pages, and the difficulty of the project. Call us with the specifications of your book to receive a quote.

Who decides on the Royalty Amount and Retail Price?

With Robertson Publishing the author decides the amount of royalty and the amount of the sellers profit margin.
For example:

  • The basic print cost and the author's royalty amount will set the wholesale price of the book.
  • Then add the sellers discount (profit margin): 
    • to target web based sales only the discount off retail can be between 30% and 49%. 
    • to target actual bookstores and web based sellers the discount off retail is 50 to 55%. (Selecting this option does not guarantee your book will hit the bookstore's shelf)

What do I need to do before submitting my book for publication?

1. Make sure your interior pages are formatted for the finished publication.
Page size: go to the Page Setup and change the page size to reflect the finished size of your published book instead of 8.5"x11".
Margins: set top, bottom, and inside margin at .7, outside margin at .5, gutter at .2 and mirror the margins. 
Line spacing: select the Exactly option and enter a number at least 33% larger than font size, for instance, if your text font is 11 pts you could set your line spacing at Exactly 14 or 15 pts.
2. Make sure all photos are scanned at 300 DPI.
3. Carefully proofread all your pages, check your layout, and have someone else edit your work (including headers, footers, and front pages). Making changes after a PrePress has been printed will mean extra time and revision expense. So, don't rush through the process editing process.
4. Create two PressReady (XI-a) PDFs; one for the cover-spread layout and one for the interior pages.
5. If you need assistance we can layout and format your document then generate the PressReady PDFs.  Our fee is $90/hr.

How long will it take?
We can, if your Print-Ready PDFs are perfect, have a printed (PrePress) copy of your book in four to six weeks. Once you review and authorize the title release we'd submit the title to our distribution channel here in the US and in the UK. You could then order as many books you needed, and you would have those books on your doorstep in about ten business days, depending on press workload, holidays, etc.

Who will own the rights to my book?
You, as the author, will always own the rights to your book. If you enter into an agreement with Robertson Publishing you only grant us the right "to print, publish and sell the work in book form" on your behalf.

How will bookstores and libraries find my book?
The metadata of your book (the title,the cover, the book specifications, description, and author information) is sent to Ingram Books. They list this information on their online iPage catalog and transmited the metadata to their distribution channel. Most bookstores, libraries, and online booksellers (like Amazon) subscribe to iPage.

In addition to Ingram's online catalog, you could have your book included in a printed catalog that is sent out to all bookstores and libraries. The fee for 1 listing is $85. The catalog is put together 4 months in advance.  So if you want to be included in the October catalog in time for Christmas ordering, your book must be in production by June.

Will my book sell?
There are no guarantees. A book is like any other product—it should be created with a target market in mind, and it takes a lot of faith and persistent effort to succeed. The salability of any book is enhanced by a professional cover, the right title, and the proper credentials.

It is worth noting that a number of self-published books have been sold to book clubs or national publishers after establishing a strong sales record, or after having attracted reviewer or talk-show interest. Ultimately, though, author effort is the key to the success of any self-publishing project.

What is a BISAC code?
The BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) code helps booksellers determine the primary subject or focus of a book. For example, Science Fiction, Literature, Romance, Self-Help, Cookbooks, and History. To see the entire list of categories visit Then click on a category and select the best descriptions for your book. Three category/description codes can be listed for your book.

What forms of payment do you accept for the publishing fees and ordering books?
We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and personal or company checks.

What are the returns and claims policies?
Books ordered by the author are non-returnable and non-refundable, except in the event of an error in quantity. Please report quantity issues within 5 days of shipment receipt.

The author determines one Return Option for all books purchased through the distribution channel. Return options are: None, Yes/Deliver, or Yes/Destroy.

Robertson Publishing • Fremont, California USA
Book Publishing — Affordable and Collaborative
510-573-6625 or Toll Free 888-354-5957 (Outside California)
The publisher you can talk to.

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