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Thread: Life After self-publishing

  1. #1
    figuring it all out Reluctant Artist's Avatar
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    Life After self-publishing

    My experience with locating an agent/publisher was nightmarish the first time around. I shelved my first book and wrote a second.
    Now I find I just don't have the stomach to face the inevitable rejection found in the traditional publishing route.
    If my expectations for the success of this second, better, book are in line with reality (i.e. low sales, maybe 100 - 500 copies, mostly locally), is there any danger to traditional publishing aspirations on future books? Will poor sales through self-publishing haunt me afterwards?

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW MickRooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reluctant Artist View Post
    My experience with locating an agent/publisher was nightmarish the first time around. I shelved my first book and wrote a second.

    Will poor sales through self-publishing haunt me afterwards?
    Clearly, you believe your second book is better than the first one. You need to understand what has made it better, and was this because of the rejections/positive suggestions of agents/publishers you submitted to. If this is the case, then the approach and experience with the 'Traditional' route to being published has had a strong benefit in spite of all the frustrations.

    While I am a strong supporter of self-publishing and reputable POD publishers, you must understand that if you are writing fiction/novels, then self publishing/POD publishers are not the ideal 'model route'. Self publishing serves the non-fiction field far better, particularly if an author already has an on-line profile and a strong network community through websites and business connections.

    It's not so much that self published low sales will hurt or restrict your future chances of Traditional publishing success, but rather, that it may not count for much in the marketing outlook of an agent/publisher. It's strong and steady self publishing sales which may have a chance of tilting things in your favour should you decide to approach a large publisher, or consider offering a 'second edition' of a moderately successful self published work.

    Much always depends on the ability of the self published author to have the where-with-all to successfully market and sell their books, and a lot of the time this usually comes from authors who have a strong backround in sales and marketing and a strong knowledge of the media. In effect, sometimes the most successful self published authors are those who have a strong business backround and a great deal of entrepreneurship.

    Hope this has been of some help.

  3. #3
    figuring it all out Reluctant Artist's Avatar
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    Thanks, MickRooney. I have feedback on my newest manuscript from two objective sources. I plan to incorporate those comments of theirs that resonate with me and give query letters a year, or six months if I can't stand it.
    A local author self-published recently through iUniverse and she got some local press and has had at least one book signing and she's speaking at multiple book clubs. That sort of localized fame could be mine if I took that route.
    That's what got me wondering if there was any long-term harm to it.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW
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    I've been shopping my memoir, but since I'm not famous, response from agents has been overwhelmingly negative. So either I must suck (a distinct possibility, I admit) or I'm just not marketable at this time. Therefore, I may self-publish. I'm still holding out hope that there is an agent or publishing house out there that will take a chance on a unpublished author. Fat chance I know, but I'll give it a little bit longer before I go the Createspace route. I know that if I do this, the chance of traditional publication of my memoir is nil. Either way, my book WILL be printed.
    Mods, please remove me from the AW member rolls please.

  5. #5
    figuring it all out Reluctant Artist's Avatar
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    Snook:
    Sometimes the only satisfaction we can get out of writing is the process itself! My first book, which I LOVED and still do, did not sell, but I had some copies printed on Lulu and my book club read it and said some really nice things.
    Once you've ditched the trad. publishing route, you might consider passing out copies of your memoir to friends and family. I know a local man who went through iUniverse with his memoir and bought an ad in the paper and had his book on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. Lately my husband saw a bunch of his memoirs on the sale shelf there. It's a really tough world out there; we have to cling to whatever goody we can get out of this writing thing. I completely understand your discouragement; many, many of us do!

  6. #6
    Hapless Virago IceCreamEmpress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snook View Post
    I've been shopping my memoir, but since I'm not famous, response from agents has been overwhelmingly negative.
    Very few memoir writers are famous. Famous people generally write (or have written for them) autobiographies, not memoirs.

    If agents are telling you that they can only sell memoirs by famous people, I'd have to suggest that those aren't very savvy agents.

  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW
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    We fight the good fight, but after all is said and done, it's just a fight. I'm still waiting on replies from some queries, so we'll see. I'm having a few copies made for families sake and if it doesn't get a traditional treatment, so be it. I have to thank the folks in SYW though, the rejections are much more humanized since I've sent out the SYW revised queries.
    Mods, please remove me from the AW member rolls please.

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW MickRooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reluctant Artist View Post
    A local author self-published recently through iUniverse and she got some local press and has had at least one book signing and she's speaking at multiple book clubs. That sort of localized fame could be mine if I took that route.
    That's what got me wondering if there was any long-term harm to it.
    Reluctant Artist,

    I did some research over the past few months regarding what kinds of books sell well with POD publishers, and while I'm very circumspect about large POD publishers and what exactly they can do for a self published author, I have to say one thing that did come out was that iUniverse had a suprisingly strong success with fiction authors in particular, and some non-fiction authors. I've always said that fiction just doesn't work with self publishing services, that fact remains that iUniverse have had small but notable successes.

    This of course all falls back on what services (marketing) if any, each author purchased, or what kind of 'extreme' envolvement they had in the promotion and marketing of their own book.

    Look, let's be blunt, your friend...I don't know what her career field is, but it probably has some relavance as to her ability to sell books, and as to selling books hurting any author in their future, by whatever method...??

    There's no such thing as bad publicity, even small publicity...go for it!

  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW cpickett's Avatar
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    With regard the original question about life after SP, I agree with Mick. More and more publishers are taking notice of authors/books who have the wherewithall to make things happen on their own.

    I also wanted to make a quick comment on using fee-based/POD publishers like CreateSpace-do your homework exhaustively.

    Each one has it's own unique qualities, good and bad. A big component to consider is per book price. The cost at several is way too high to realistically be able to sell your book, and last I checked, Lulu and Createspace are in that group.

    If all you're looking for is a layout/printing resource and you plan to give away a book, it won't be as much of an issue. However, if you want to attempt to sell, even from Amazon/your own site, make sure whichever one you choose helps you create the business model you want to pursue.
    Cheryl Pickett

    Author of Publishing Possibilities: 8 Steps to Understanding Your Options & Choosing the Best Path for Your Book

    http://publishinganswers.com

  10. #10
    figuring it all out Reluctant Artist's Avatar
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    Talking Arguments for self-publishing

    Here are the reasons I'm seriously considering self-publishing my mainstream fiction manuscript (supported publishing).

    1. I maintain ownership and control of the work
    2. No heartache trying to get through the gatekeepers (agents/ publishers)
    3. Less concern about GENRE, that is, where to put my book on a shelf
    4. Publishers are doing way less editing - they like authors to do that themselves.
    5. Publishers are doing way less marketing - they like authors to establish their own "platforms".
    6. Certainty that my book WILL be published in my lifetime.

    What traditional publishers seem to offer is:
    1. Distribution channels not easily accessible by self-publishers
    2. stamp of approval; validation of your work.

    HOWEVER, enough good books are overlooked and enough bad books are published that I have a hard time trusting that the gatekeepers really have the skills to convey validation with accuracy! The real litmus test is sales, what READERS think.

    If we could all figure out ways to get our self-published books into the hands of readers, we could by-pass the gatekeepers.
    Just food for thought.

  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW Sargentodiaz's Avatar
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    I don't have any FACTS on the subject but it appears there are more and more online publishers who are doing e-books with a POD option for those who want hard copy. One I am currently dealing with assigns an editor to help and their commission is FAR better than "regular" publishers as their costs are far less.
    Father Serra's Legacy - Fun facts and tidbits of California and Baja California

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW cpickett's Avatar
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    Good summary Reluctant.

    It takes a lot more than many writers think to choose a publishing option. Looks like you've really worked hard to make sure your choice fits you and your goals. Congrats & thanks for sharing with others.
    Cheryl Pickett

    Author of Publishing Possibilities: 8 Steps to Understanding Your Options & Choosing the Best Path for Your Book

    http://publishinganswers.com

  13. #13
    Resident Curmudgeon Requiescat In Pace ResearchGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reluctant Artist View Post
    . . .
    If we could all figure out ways to get our self-published books into the hands of readers, we could by-pass the gatekeepers.
    Just food for thought.
    I know a few folks who have done that, some with sales well into the tens of thousands. It takes good products, well-thought-out marketing, a great deal of planning and preparation, and continuous work. Look at www.bridgehousebooks.com and www.stagecoachpublishing.com and www.deervalleypress.com as examples.

    --Ken
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    [FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium][I][URL="http://www.umbachconsulting.com/pursuit.pdf"]The Pursuit of Publishing: An Unvarnished Guide for the Perplexed[/URL][/I]

    [/FONT][URL="http://www.amazon.com/Theres-Street-Colorful-Origins-Sparks/dp/1937123073/"][FONT=Franklin Gothic Medium][I]There's No Lake on Lake Street![/I] by James D. Umbach[/FONT][/URL]
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  14. #14
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reluctant Artist View Post
    HOWEVER, enough good books are overlooked and enough bad books are published that I have a hard time trusting that the gatekeepers really have the skills to convey validation with accuracy! The real litmus test is sales, what READERS think.

    This is very true, and I think a reasonable assumption is that there's more to publishing traditionally than a good, marketable book. Basically, it goes back to who you know.
    If self-publishers focus on putting out a good product, then focus on using "who we know" to market, there's no reason why we can't generate sales, yeah?
    Christopher Ming Lee

    I do what I want, despite what people with the best and worst intentions tell me. Apparently, you're a fish in a barrel in the literary world if you choose to self-publish. So I think that's what I'm going to do next. I'm also investing in a restaurant, and I wait tables on the side for my spending monies. I just got back from Argentina, and this is my new adventure.

    www.chrisminglee.com

  15. #15
    I'm currently trying to recover from a POD book and instead attract a real agent.

    I haven't had luck so far, been trying for about 2 years.

    I do worry that my POD past is part of what's blocked success for me so far, but I don't really know. If you want the longer, detailed version of what happened to me, it is here.

  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW Nandi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reluctant Artist View Post
    Here are the reasons I'm seriously considering self-publishing my mainstream fiction manuscript (supported publishing).

    1. I maintain ownership and control of the work
    2. No heartache trying to get through the gatekeepers (agents/ publishers)
    3. Less concern about GENRE, that is, where to put my book on a shelf
    4. Publishers are doing way less editing - they like authors to do that themselves.
    5. Publishers are doing way less marketing - they like authors to establish their own "platforms".
    6. Certainty that my book WILL be published in my lifetime.

    What traditional publishers seem to offer is:
    1. Distribution channels not easily accessible by self-publishers
    2. stamp of approval; validation of your work.

    HOWEVER, enough good books are overlooked and enough bad books are published that I have a hard time trusting that the gatekeepers really have the skills to convey validation with accuracy! The real litmus test is sales, what READERS think.

    If we could all figure out ways to get our self-published books into the hands of readers, we could by-pass the gatekeepers.
    Just food for thought.
    Reluctant, I really understand exactly how you feel because those are my thoughts, too. When each day brings another rejection, you do start to ask yourself, "Is it time to stop (querying)?"

    It's so hard to know when enough is enough. You keep thinking that if you just sent out a few more...

    I find that your #2 in the second list seems to matter a lot to me. I can't get over thinking that the failure to attract an agent/publisher interest means that my work is no good. Even though others have read it and said otherwise...even though portions of the manuscript have been published in reputable journals.

    My capacity for staying enthusiastic about seeking representation is waning.

  17. #17
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    reluctant, how do you plan to put your self-published book on a shelf? I would suggest making an equally detailed list of the downside of using someone like iuniverse, such as neglible to nil bookstore stocking, high cover price and (at typical sales levels for this press) the high possibility of a financial net loss.
    Emily Veinglory

  18. #18
    figuring it all out Reluctant Artist's Avatar
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    Nandi said:
    My capacity for staying enthusiastic about seeking representation is waning.[/quote]

    Nandi;
    That's where I find myself, too. In fact, the whole exercise is so loathsome I can't get started!

    The odds against a first book being picked up by a traditional publisher are LONG and it's demoralizing to assume your work is bad just because no one is biting. That's why I say, why not get some good out of it and share with some people who will say nice things and not worry about fame and fortune.

    I should add that this is only my SECOND book. I attended a writer's conference last year where a man shared that he had written 10 "practice" books. I was absolutely floored. Some time later I heard he sold his tenth "practice" book, so his approach worked.

    We all probably need to be as sanguine and persistent as Galyon Greer, the man who wrote 10 practice books.

  19. #19
    practical experience, FTW
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    Patience folks and listen to what Veinglory has to say on the subject. Do a Lulu print of a few of your books and send them to friends and family, sans ISBN. Then try to get a traditional publishing done. After all else fails (give yourself six months of submitting queries ans such), then do the self-publish thing. Just my two cents worth. I'm sticking to the query route for "Dad, Dog and Fish" and I'm getting bites (partial requests). If it doesn't get picked up in six months then I'll probably do self-publishing.
    Mods, please remove me from the AW member rolls please.

  20. #20
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Quote Originally Posted by snook View Post
    Patience folks and listen to what Veinglory has to say on the subject. Do a Lulu print of a few of your books and send them to friends and family, sans ISBN. Then try to get a traditional publishing done. After all else fails (give yourself six months of submitting queries ans such), then do the self-publish thing. Just my two cents worth. I'm sticking to the query route for "Dad, Dog and Fish" and I'm getting bites (partial requests). If it doesn't get picked up in six months then I'll probably do self-publishing.
    I really like the idea of giving yourself six months, then going after the self-publishing. In fact, it was what I was going to try to do, but I've made the decision to just jump to self-publishing.

    I don't know, I feel like I have the right "requirements" to make self-publishing work for me: non-fiction book, defined niche, specific target audience. Most importantly, the will to market like a motherf*cker and do what I need to sell copies. Call it naivety or arrogance - but think this is the road I'm supposed to take. Maybe I'll be kicking myself six months from now, but I've always just gone with what my gut tells me. Right now, it's saying "go do this thing yourself."
    Christopher Ming Lee

    I do what I want, despite what people with the best and worst intentions tell me. Apparently, you're a fish in a barrel in the literary world if you choose to self-publish. So I think that's what I'm going to do next. I'm also investing in a restaurant, and I wait tables on the side for my spending monies. I just got back from Argentina, and this is my new adventure.

    www.chrisminglee.com

  21. #21
    Commonsensical Maverick scope's Avatar
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    Christopher,

    I'm sure you've read the many reasons why people like me suggest that you first try the traditional publishing route. Nevertheless, you've decided to forgo same and enter the world of self-publishing. Having a nonfiction work, a defined niche and a specific target audience is a plus, but it's not enough. I suggest you look deep inside yourself and be sure that you want to, and are capable of running a business, because when you self-publish to make money that's what you're doing. Then consider editing -- that's your baby to handle, whether or not you pay others to do so for you. What about production? Do you have the knowledge to instruct the self-publishing company to produce the type of book you envision. Do you have the time required to run a self-publishing company? Do you have the thousands of dollars required to do so, and are you prepared to lose it? Do you know how to publicize your book? Do you know how to market and merchandise your book? Do you know how to effectively distribute your book. And so on, and so on.

    My purpose is not to try and discourage you--which I know I can't--but only to give you food for thought.

    I wish you the best.

  22. #22
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I would also note that there are options between large presses and self-publishing that provide various combinations of the benefirs and downsides of each. i.e. a good small press has some distribution and packaging capacity, but may be much more responsive and open to less mainstream material.
    Emily Veinglory

  23. #23
    OKperson
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    I must suck as well!

    "So either I must suck."
    I read your post and was reminded of a stab at an autobiograpy I made a few years ago. I sent it off to various agents with modest hopes which were dashed by a telephone call one evening.
    Whilst I was delighted that the agent, took the time and trouble to phone me, I was mortified by what he said. I felt as if I had been slapped round the face with a wet cod fish.
    Quote" Do you really think anyone is interested in your life story?"
    I thanked him for his constructive criticism.
    As you will realise I have never forgotten his words. thus I now consider myself a very insignificant person.
    Hasn't stopped me writing though.
    Someone, I don't know who said "Don't let the b*****ds get you down".
    I try to follow those wise words.
    Joan

  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW Nandi's Avatar
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    Joan, I'm so sorry you were the recipient of such rudeness. Even if it is really tough for us to interest agents in our memoirs, there's no excuse for any agent speaking like that to a writer.

    No one is insignificant! Have you tried other venues for telling your story...perhaps literary journals or magazines?

  25. #25
    practical experience, FTW
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    " Do you really think anyone is interested in your life story?"
    What a jerk. That guy needs a plexiglass bellybutton so he can see where he's going. Real humanitarian that one.
    Last edited by snook; 12-29-2008 at 05:17 PM.
    Mods, please remove me from the AW member rolls please.

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