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View Full Version : sometimes self publishing is THE BEST SCENARIO!



Blue
10-31-2005, 06:55 PM
if your book needs big advertizing (like a typical novel) then it's best to go with random house.

BUT... if your book fills a true demand, like "how to live in NY for $1500 a month" then you will make a lot more money if you roll up your sleeves and self publish.

i post this because i rather hate the arrogance of the big publishers.

i self published a book, and it's paid my rent for a long time.

i'm not getting 7% of the cover price, i'm getting 40%, and i didn't have to suffer idiots ruining my book with edits and an awful cover.

so i invite random house and the rest of them to KISS MY @ss!!!!!

Mike Coombes
11-01-2005, 03:21 AM
It's been said many times before that niche non-fiction is a good option for self publishing.

"i post this because i rather hate the arrogance of the big publishers."

I'm sure the feeling is mutual.

maestrowork
11-01-2005, 03:45 AM
Self-publishing certainly has its place. And if you hit the right circuit (seminars, conventions, etc.) with the right kind of niche books, you could sell. Fiction, on the other hand, is another matter.

Blue, maybe you could let us in on some of your secrets, trial and tribulation, etc.

DrCaelinPaul
12-08-2005, 08:10 PM
I am quickly coming to the conclusion that self-publishing fiction is too great a challenge. Everything that I am hearing and reading suggests non-fiction type books can thrive in the self-publishing world, but fiction books struggle. Is this accurate?

Cathy C
12-08-2005, 08:38 PM
Unfortunately true, Caelin. Self-pubbed novels have several strikes against them from the outset, regardless of the intent of the author:


Quality Writing -- many reviewers and bookstores look at a self-pubbed novel as not being "up to snuff" in writing quality or editing. After all (they theorize,) if it was such a good book, why didn't one of the big boys pick it up? It doesn't matter whether you NEVER submitted the manuscript to a publisher, it's the collective opinion.

Distribution -- readers are accustomed to having to find niche non-fiction books on the web. There aren't lots of books about raising Brazilian llamas (for example), after all, so people EXPECT to have to go hunt them down. Same with something like Blue's book. But for a novel? Why go hunt when there are THOUSANDS of novels in the bookstore right down the road? Readers won't search, because they don't have to. Self-pubbed books are very hard to get into traditional distribution channels for the same reason. There are plenty of large and small press offerings that wholesalers and distributors already struggle with picking and choosing ones to carry. Why take on more work to search EVERY SINGLE self-pub in the world for that one novel that might make money?

Reviews -- See Quality Writing. Reviewers tried very hard to accept the self-pub, e-pub and subsidy press boom of the 90's. This older article (http://www.likesbooks.com/56.html) from a romance review website, written during the height of the new e-pub boom, sort of explains why reviewers stopped reading the self-pubs and e-pubs to put on their website. It's very instructive, when looked at from the side of the reviewers.

So, yes -- frustrating as it is, non-fiction books just do better in self-pub. While a novel can succeed, it's immensely difficult to do the legwork that a traditional publisher does without a second thought.

Mike Coombes
12-15-2005, 04:25 PM
I am quickly coming to the conclusion that self-publishing fiction is too great a challenge. Everything that I am hearing and reading suggests non-fiction type books can thrive in the self-publishing world, but fiction books struggle. Is this accurate?

Whilst accurate, it's also a little simplistic. Even for non fiction, you only get out what you're willing to put in; this is the point at which you have to stop thinking like a writer and start thinking like a businessperson.

When you decide to self publish, you need to decide how you are going to sell the book and to whom. Books will not sell if you do not sell them. If you can't put together a workable marketing strategy, don't start.

James D. Macdonald
12-18-2005, 03:06 AM
The trick is always in the marketing and distribution. How are the readers going to find out about your book? How are they going to get it?


A speaker who sells his own book from the back of the hall has a stronger position than one who doesn't have the platform.

maggie2
12-18-2005, 04:00 AM
David Brody self-published his novel 'Unlawful Seeds' and sold 3,000 in the Boston area in a couple of months. He did a 26 bookstore tour in Boston and area and ended up with his POD book being #8 on the Boston Globe Best Seller List. That's probably the first POD book to make a best seller list.

ReShonda Tate Billingsley sold 15,000 copies of her novel 'My Brother's Keeper' before it was picked up by a publishing house. She also had a marketing plan, however.

The thing is, you CAN sell a self-published and/or POD book, but you have to figure out HOW to market it. You have to get out there and promote your book like crazy. You have to learn how to get interviews and set up book signings and other events that will get you known. If you live in a large city and can do what David Brody did that is a huge help. But as long as you have a decent story the secret is in the marketing, pure and simple.

Hope this helps.

mreddin
12-23-2005, 10:58 PM
If you live in a large city and can do what David Brody did that is a huge help. But as long as you have a decent story the secret is in the marketing, pure and simple.

Hope this helps.

You also need to jump through all the same hoops that any publishing company does to bring a book to market. This is a truism whether you use a Print on Demand company, or buy your own block of 10 (or 100) ISBN numbers and form your own company. Your book will need an ISBN, and UPS Barcode and price. The cover needs to be professionally done, with a solid interior layout that has been editied and proofread, by someone who has experience in the genre or topic.

You can either try and get a distributor like Biblio, but they will want to see a solid marketing plan, a professional job on the book and some reasonable market potential which is clearly identified on your marketing plan. Who is your target market? How large is that market and how will you reach them?
If you do not get a distributor, you could get your book into the wholesalers like Baker and Taylor (they're the easiest) but this does not mitigate the fact that the job needs to be done professionally.

The experts say you will stand a better chance printing offset than print on demand, but doing a print run means further upfront capitalization required on your part. However, nothing says you need to print thousands of books. Short-run printers can do as few as 500, though the price drops substantially beyond 1,000.

Remember that "real publishers" send out Advanced Reader Copies and announcements to magazines and journals that publish information on forthcoming books for bookstores and libraries. Some of them will not deal with self-publishers though that may be changing, especially if you've done a professional job, fulfilling all the various requirements and functions any publisher accomplishes to bring a book into the hands of a consumer market.

While the marketing plan is critical, don't lose sight to all the other tasks you will need to perform to increase your chances of success. You can lose a fantastic amount of cash by self publishing.


Mike

ResearchGuy
12-24-2005, 05:37 AM
I decided to be a sport and to post this here rather than on the NEPAT, as it is more pertinent here, despite the PA references.


...What we self-publishers do not deserve, however, is to be considered equal to those whose works are selected by a publishing entity that is willing to invest their time, money and reputation solely on the quality and marketability of said work.....
Allow me to disagree. You are putting all self-published authors in one bag. Wrong. Some choose to self-publish because that choice gives them a level of control over content, style, design, and marketing that commercial publishing does not, because they have a strong entrepreneurial drive that enables them to manage a business (which self-publishing is), or (ideally) both.

For example, Naida West is a scholar, writer, and publisher, whose books exemplify excellence. (I am currently reading her latest, a historical western/mystery titled Murder on the Middle Fork, written with her uncle Don Ian Smith. It is a crackerjack story.) Naida contracts for cover art (paintings by talented artists), contracts for editing, contracts for book design, and manages her own marketing and distribution. She not only writes, she also runs a successful business, Bridge House Books. Naida could certainly find an agent or a commercial publisher, but chooses, for business and artistic reasons, to run her own publishing company. I could name other examples -- people I know personally -- with comparable accomplishments. One, Bill Teie, an authority on wildland firefighting, wrote and self-published--with printing done in China--a superb textbook on wildlife firefighting, a book that may be acquired by a commercial textbook publisher, if the author and that publisher can come to mutually satisfactory terms. Another, Alton Pryor, who writes primarily regional history and lore, has sold as many as 55,000 copies of a single title, and has about a dozen titles in print. That is his full time business because that is the business he chooses to be in, not one he has no option but to be in. Another, Janice Marschner wrote and self-published an award-winning book, California 1850: A Snapshot In Time.

Please note: I am talking here of genuine self-publishers, people who own their ISBNs, contract for publishing-related services, have a properly licensed business entity, and focus on the production and marketing of books they have written.

Where does PA come into this? Not at all, really, except for the occasional confusion that PA-publication is self-publishing (it is not) and for the misguided contempt that some folks in the PA world (or combating PA's deceptions) hold for self-publishing, and their failure to grasp that self-publishing is not all one undifferentiated bag of dreck (it is not, although there is certainly bad self-publishing as well as good).

Now, having said that: self-publishing is a BUSINESS and first and foremost those who succeed at it must be savvy and industrious entrepreneurs. They must also have a product for which there is a market: a desirable book or books (with all that implies). PA undoubtedly has a share of very able writers who could succeed in the world of commercial publishing with the right kind of efforts, properly applied (including superb query letters and book proposals directed to appropriate agents and publishers). It certainly has a share of industrious entrepreneurs trying like the dickens to market their PA-published books, but doing so against the overwhelming obstacles PA throws in their path. Some of those folks might have become successful genuine self-publishers had they chosen that path and if they had the resources (money, information, leads to quality printers and other support). Again: that is clearly NOT the best choice for most, as the combination of writing skills and entrepreneurial skills is rare.

Anyway ... this will probably earn me another thwacking from Uncle Jim, and the topic of self-publishing has its own (largely moribund) thread on AW, but I think it is important for folks to be aware of some of these issues and not to be confused by those who lump all self-publishing into one undifferentiated bag.

In closing, I would point out that self-publishers sometimes graduate to plain old small publishers (beyond their own books), and can even become significant commercial publishers. The poster example of that is Prima Publishing, which started with a single self-published title by company founder Ben Dominitz, waxed large and successful (albeit specialized by that time), and was acquired by Random House several years ago. I would also mention that when you read the reviews in Publisher's Weekly, you will find reviews of self-published books that you will not recognize as self-published. Because the author/publisher did everything right, including sending out advance review copies (ARCs) sufficiently ahead of publication, the books are accepted as the products of small presses. PA makes that impossible, even for a fine writer and industrious entrepreneur. (POD in general, PA's version or not, is itself an impenetrable obstacle anyway.) PA's entire business model (selling to the authors) militates against success no matter how good the book or energetic the author unless the author's definition of success is shriveled down to selling a handful of copies and mostly in person.

--Ken

SC Harrison
12-24-2005, 06:53 AM
Ken, you were totally right to call me on that, and I (for one) appreciate the information. As you probably know, my reference was mainly aimed at those who are published by PA or other vanity presses. The sooner they understand what their real chances are, the less likely they will blow a bunch of money buying books, paying for advertising, etc.

I would also state that, while there are many authors who could successfully self-publish given the right planning, financing and circumstances, the odds are still against them making it happen. Maybe even more than being accepted by a publisher, but I'm only guessing at both of these opinions. If I recall correctly, I think you listed some stats a long time ago about the total number of self-pubbed titles and average sales per year. At least I think it was you.

Anyway, I shouldn't have rolled all self-publishing into one stinky ball, and you were right to question this.

James D. Macdonald
12-24-2005, 08:59 AM
I'm not going to thwack you, Ken.

Someone who self-publishes takes on a second role -- publisher. With all that implies, including the need for capital.

There are lots of good reasons to self publish, and people who are both good writers and good salespeople can make a go of it. It isn't something to enter lightly. It is something where you need to be able to state in advance what your goals are, know how to achieve those goals, and have the resources (time, money, expertise) to carry out your plan.

Self-publishing gives you as a part-time job something that other folks do full time, and earn full-time wages to do.

ResearchGuy
12-24-2005, 10:06 AM
... Self-publishing gives you as a part-time job something that other folks do full time, and earn full-time wages to do....
Jim, the folks I alluded to (Naida West, Bill Teie, Alton Pryor) are full-time writers/publishers. That IS their business--their full-time employment. They are unusual folks, granted, and unusually successful. Not many people have that combination of abilities.

BTW, I finished reading Naida West's Murder on the Middle Fork a while ago. Splendid.

--Ken

ResearchGuy
12-24-2005, 10:09 AM
...I would also state that, while there are many authors who could successfully self-publish given the right planning, financing and circumstances, the odds are still against them making it happen. ...
Exactly. It is a demanding proposition for which few writers are suited. Most writers should concentrate on writing and leave the publishing to others.

--Ken

Jamesaritchie
12-24-2005, 08:44 PM
You also need a well-written novel, or a nonfiction book containing information difficult to obtain anywhere else.

This alone disqualifies 99% of all the self-published books out there. Any if you do have these things, you'll probably make far more money, and have just as much control, with a commercial publisher.

Self-publishing can work, but only if you don't fool yourself over the quality of the product.

ResearchGuy
12-24-2005, 09:23 PM
You also need a well-written novel, or a nonfiction book containing information difficult to obtain anywhere else.

This alone disqualifies 99% of all the self-published books out there. Any if you do have these things, you'll probably make far more money, and have just as much control, with a commercial publisher.

Self-publishing can work, but only if you don't fool yourself over the quality of the product.
This reminds me of the well-known fact that 82.73% of all statistics are simply fabricated on the spot.

--Ken

Mike Coombes
12-24-2005, 11:38 PM
Yeah. Shame on you, Mr Ritchie.

I heard it was 99.5%.

SC Harrison
12-25-2005, 06:57 AM
This reminds me of the well-known fact that 82.73% of all statistics are simply fabricated on the spot.

--Ken

I try to keep my statistic fabrication rate well below 50%, as it greatly reduces the chances of being caught in a lie—down to around one in ten or so. Since 4 out of 5 readers are only giving half of their attention to what they're reading, and the other one stops as soon as he/she realizes some statistics are being discussed, nine times out of ten I get away with it.

maestrowork
01-10-2006, 06:04 PM
Please do remember though, for each self-pub success story, there are thousands of sob stories. If you have the talent, skills and energy to go to market, go for it. But try to keep your feet firmly on the ground while you try to soar into the sky.

GHF65
01-11-2006, 06:20 PM
Let me pipe in here with the fact that, try as I might (and I did . . . I did), I couldn't get a booking anywhere for a signing for my POD book. I would happily have toured wherever necessary to push that puppy, but I got the same response everywhere, to wit: "Loved it! Great book! Too bad it's POD. . . " Store owners contacted me when they heard about the book, and still demurred when they found out who'd published it. My readership is comprised to a great extent of folks who happened to be in the book stores and niche retailers where the owners generously shared their free copies around . . . well . . . freely, and the ones who found the copies I "released into the wild" via bookcrossing. I feel like Joanie Freebieseed. Somewhere there must be sales growing, but I can't see them.

I concluded and continue to believe that self-pubbed works are regarded more highly than POD, and true self-publishers have the ability to negotiate prices and discounts that are far more retailer-friendly.

If anyone wants me, I'll be over here sobbing on my stack of POD paperbacks . . .:cry:

ResearchGuy
01-11-2006, 11:55 PM
...true self-publishers have the ability to negotiate prices and discounts that are far more retailer-friendly.
...
For a good example of the point, look up Naida West on Amazon. (For example, her latest, Murder on the Middle Fork.)

Notice the discount from list.

Naida is a first-quality self-publisher/small press.

--Ken

PVish
01-14-2006, 06:33 PM
I am quickly coming to the conclusion that self-publishing fiction is too great a challenge. Everything that I am hearing and reading suggests non-fiction type books can thrive in the self-publishing world, but fiction books struggle. Is this accurate?

I've self-pubbed a novel that is set locally, so it's done pretty well. The first thousand sold out within two years and I'm more than halfway through the second. However, this novel won a contest and the arts council sponsoring the contest underwrote a third of the printing cost for my first thousand and set up appearances for me. Several local book clubs used my book as their selection. Fortunately, my county has a lot of retired people who read and who buy books! My novel became the best-selling novel at the only bookstore in the county (albeit a very small one). Many gift stores in the area carry it.

Granted, my sales figures would be abysmal for a conventionally published novel, but I've made a profit with this book.

I also have 3 POD books (not novels) out, but they're for an even smaller niche market than my novel, so my best-selling POD is just shy of 500 copies. However, I haven't lost any money on them. These books are also in a bunch of gift shops and the local bookstore.

A friend of mine set her murder mystery locally and went the POD route. She sold over 900 copies the first year. She outsells me at several gift shops.

If your novel has local ties and is well-written, it will sell locally--if you have a lot of readers in your area. If it's badly written, word gets out fast.

PVish (who is only about 90 miles south and east from CaelinPaul!)