Words are my life and my livelihood. As an Author, who just released her first full-length fiction novel (yea!), I’m ready for the world to read my words. But with an environmental conscience I was very concerned about the potential for waste in the publishing industry by creating my book. Many standard Publishing Houses purchase pallets full of print copies that get shipped off to the Author. That would mean crates of dead trees sitting in my garage collecting dust and forming a little bubble of guilt around my Green heart.
I’ve been writing fiction since age fourteen when I started handwriting in my first spiral bound notebook. Since that day I’ve wanted to write a full-length book and I even started a couple along the way (including one when I was sixteen that I read now and giggle at!). I’ve been writing poetry since I was sixteen, journaling for well over twenty years, and blogging for about five. All of this writing pushed me towards wanting to publish more and more every day. But I’m old school and I like the feel of a real live book in my hands, in fact I don’t even own an eReader as most of my books are taken out from my local library.
There’s an old adage that goes â€œeveryone has at least one book in â€˜emâ€ and I tend to agree that it’s true. As a community of entrepreneurs we all have special gifts, skills, tips and creativity to share with the world. I happen to write fiction and I do it for a living but other people might be photographers, how-to gurus, crafting geniuses, poets, bloggers or stay at home moms and dads longing to write a memoir. All of those ideas and more make for a great book that can sell in the public sphere.
But all of us care about protecting the planet and I think it’s safe to say that having a thousand books sitting around, no matter what the topic or who wrote it, is hardly eco-friendly! This was a serious point of contention when I started shopping my manuscript. So I decided to take a break from approaching Agents and do a little research.
Did you know that traditionally printed books account for the destruction of over 30 million trees each year? According to ePublishers weekly â€œWe can estimate that one tree yields enough paper for 62.5 books.â€ Remember, Authors can receive a huge number of books upon publication â€“ up to 1,000. That means each Author would have an estimated sixteen dead trees in their garage!
I started thinking about my own book and how I didn’t want to become a part of that destruction unless it was absolutely vital. That I really wanted to try to be responsible to the planet but still make my living as an Author who sells and can support a book tour (difficult with an eBook). That’s when I started researching print on demand (POD) companies and self-publishing.
My book is currently sitting in electronic pdf format on the POD site Lulu, not as sixteen trees in my garage. Every time someone buys my book just one book is created. A much better solution than my needing to buy 1,000 advance copies!
There are a lot of self-publishing options out there for books of all types. Photographers and visually creative types, like those putting together a wonderful how-to guide for crafters, might find that Blurb works for them. Those who want to publish a book of favorite recipes might find that the eBook publisher Smashwords would be a nice fit. As an Author of traditional genre fiction though, I needed a book publisher. And I wanted them to be eco-conscious.
I chose Lulu for the following, impressive, sustainability reasons:
- There is zero material waste in their manufacturing process.
- The print size doesn’t have to be reset for each new book as their sizes are standardized.
- There is no unsold inventory – each Author can purchase just what they need for their personal sales and all other transactions are completed individually.
- Shipping by Lulu direct without the Author as a â€œmiddle-manâ€ ensures lowered emissions and fuel costs. (In my research I discovered that, many times, the Author will need to do the shipping to larger stores meaning double shipping & wasted resources)
- Orders are shipped locally â€“ here in the western U.S. my orders are fulfilled in Oregon but if you purchase in the northeast I guarantee your order will be shipped from a much closer facility.
- Last week Lulu was holding an Earth Day Contest for print books where they’d plant one tree for every book entered and they were planning to plant up to 6,000 trees!
For me, traditional paperback was the right way to go but I had to ensure that my impact would be minimized and Lulu was able to make this happen.
Do you have at least one book inside you? Have you considered publishing, either traditionally on paper or an eBook? What are some of the ways you could imagine saving a tree or emissions in the printing and shipping process?
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