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View Full Version : When should you go the Self-Pub route?



tombookpub
02-10-2007, 05:12 AM
Are there any rules of thumb for going the (dreaded) Self-Pub route for a book you really want to have published - but have not gotten any nibbles from agents or publishers?

scarletpeaches
02-10-2007, 05:13 AM
*waits for Uncle Jim to say "Money flows to the writer."*

Roger J Carlson
02-10-2007, 05:18 AM
This is just my opinion. But the ONLY time I would consider self publishing was if it was a book intended for family and close friends. If I wanted it to have a larger readership, I would never consider self publishing.

Marlys
02-10-2007, 05:28 AM
There are times when self-publishing is a good option, for instance when you have a niche market with good access to it. Say, you collect hazaphrats and go to all the hazaphrat conventions and have a well-known web page devoted to hazaphrats, and then decide to write the definitive and much-needed Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Hazaphrats (But Were Afraid to Ask). Publishers might not find it worth their while to cater to such a small market, so self-pubbing is probably the way to go.

So: niche non-fiction (very specialized stuff, local interest with limited appeal outside the target area, and family history are some examples), yeah.

Fiction, almost never. Unless your only goal is to see your name in print and give a few copies to family and friends.

maestrowork
02-10-2007, 05:28 AM
If you have a niche book and a built-in audience, it could be a very profitable venue. Say, you're a hot shot consultant or inspirational speaker and you wrote a book and you can sell, say 300, at each of your seminars. Something like that might be worth looking at self-pub.

Fiction? Less likely to succeed. Again, it depends on if you have a built-in audience, already. Everyone quotes Richard Paul Evans but the guy was a salesman and he also knew just about everyone at his church and affiliates and that's how he got to sell so many copies of his first novel -- door to door sales to the parishioners and their friends. Pretty much you're running your own business from editing to printing to distribution to sales. If you are business savvy enough and have the time and energy for it, AND if you have a good book, you may succeed. But the odds are against you.

C.bronco
02-10-2007, 06:08 AM
Go the All Else Fails route first. :)

Silver King
02-10-2007, 06:11 AM
There are a lot of best selling authors that started out self published....
Cindy, I think there have been a few, but I'm not so sure about a lot, in terms of a great many. Could you list some names?

Thanks.

PVish
02-10-2007, 07:18 AM
Are there any rules of thumb for going the (dreaded) Self-Pub route for a book you really want to have published - but have not gotten any nibbles from agents or publishers?
Here are some rules:
1. Five hundred people you know keep asking when your book will be published so they can buy it.
2. You've already established a readership because you write for local/regional publications that actually pay you to write for them because you're a good writer.
3. Your book fits a niche market/local market and contains information that people really want to know.
4. You have access to a good reasonably-priced local printer whose work you have admired.
5. You know people who are qualified to edit/critique your work for you.
6. You have local outlets to sell your book because trying to sell solely from a website is an exercise in futility. (My books sell at area giftshops, for instance.)
7. Groups already pay you to be a guest speaker.
8. You know how to set up a book for printing. (For instance, you know what front matter is, what fonts are readable, and a whole bunch more stuff).
9. You have a friend who has successfully self-published and can show/tell you what you need to know.
. . . and a lot more, but those should get you started.

MattW
02-10-2007, 07:19 AM
I also think it's important to hire an editor. It's just not possible to catch all the mistakes/minor errors by yourself.Many published novels have typos. Editors at a publisher will offer changes and suggestions to make a novel more marketable (for free), and they expect most of the proofing to be done by the writer.

If hiring an editor was all it took, one could hire the editor and submit to traditional publishers with a high chance of success?


*waits for Uncle Jim to say "Money flows to the writer."*Not to the editor? There goes my career plan.

C.bronco
02-10-2007, 07:22 AM
I know a nun who did the self-publishing thing, and it was mostly because she wanted it for posterity (it was about her Dad). It was cute and amusing, but not really marketable. Is your book marketable? If so, don't self-publish.

Southern_girl29
02-10-2007, 09:28 AM
The associate editor at the newspaper where I work self-published a book. Every month, she edits a regional magazine that our company owns, and in it, she writes a story each month about her childhood adventures growing up near a river in Tennessee. Everyone in the local area loves her stories (and she's a damn good writer, too, which helps) and asked her to publish a book full of the stories. Before she did, she asked the local bookstores if they would carry it if she self-published. They said they would.

She knew she probably wouldn't be able to find a publisher for it, so she went the self-publishing route. She has done very well with it. The newspaper has copies of the book in the front lobby and every day someone wants her to autograph one for them. But, she has even said that if it was fiction, she would never have thought about self-publishing.

Linda Adams
02-10-2007, 04:49 PM
Cindy, I think there have been a few, but I'm not so sure about a lot, in terms of a great many. Could you list some names?

Thanks.

When I've seen articles in the newspaper on self-publishing--focused on novelists doing it--the reporter always goes to a very standard list of a handful successful non-fiction niche writers. All of these writers have a successful business in seminars and workshops. If you've ever been to one of these, the workshops tend to be very motivational, and of course, sitting outside the door, are all the books that you can buy on the product.

When writers list self-published authors, they tend to list ones who self-published in another century or John Grisham--and that one is an urban legend and is not true. One novelist who self-published and ended up being successful enough to get picked up is Matthew Reilly for his book Contest. The source for this information is the introduction in the book itself. Another is M.J. Rose according to her site (http://www.mjrose.com/about/index.html).

But their books didn't just magically appear on Amazon and turn into best sellers because they were there--the authors had to do extensive promotion and get word of mouth going to help build sales. This is a lot of work, and more than if it goes on sale through a big publisher like Random House--and all of it assumes the book is well-written to start. I haven't read M.J. Rose's book, but there's a reason Reilly's probably didn't sell (the aliens--that's very unusual for a thriller). There are many authors who can't get a book published the normal route because the writing is poor or the story is poor. And yes, everyone starts out thinking that their writing is hot stuff and that it will get accepted right away and turn into a best seller.


Are there any rules of thumb for going the (dreaded) Self-Pub route for a book you really want to have published - but have not gotten any nibbles from agents or publishers?

If you haven't gotten any nibbles, instead of going the self-publishing route, try rewriting the book or starting on a new project. Best selling writer Steve Barry said it took him ten books to learn all the skills to get published. It may be that there's still a few skills waiting to be learned.

cinders23
02-10-2007, 06:19 PM
If hiring an editor was all it took, one could hire the editor and submit to traditional publishers with a high chance of success?

I meant hire an editor to catch typos and grammar mistakes, not to do anything else....and of course hiring an editor is NOT all that it takes to succeed.

scarletpeaches
02-10-2007, 06:43 PM
Matthew Reilly, too.

Linda Adams
02-10-2007, 07:10 PM
each.)

Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, John Grisham, Stephen King....and try this link.

http://www.trafford.com/faq/clip4/famousauthorswho.html

John Grisham didn't self-publish. That's one of those stories that apparently originally got misquoted and continues to be passed around to this day. The book was, according to his biography, bought by a small press publisher who did a print run of 5,000. Tom Clancy also didn't self-publish--he was accepted by a small press that nearly went bankrupt when the book took off!

Mark Twain and Edgar Allen Poe were of a different time, and very different industry. The fact that we're seeing names from more than 100 years ago as a reason to self-publish is very telling--especially from a self-publishing company.

cinders23
02-10-2007, 07:20 PM
John Grisham didn't self-publish. That's one of those stories that apparently originally got misquoted and continues to be passed around to this day.

Linda,

Thanks for the information. I have seen this in several books and on the web, so it does seem that a lot of people have this wrong. Gee!

Cindy.

scarletpeaches
02-10-2007, 07:22 PM
Like I said, this guy:

http://www.matthewreilly.com/

ChaosTitan
02-10-2007, 08:26 PM
Stephen King didn't self publish, either.

tombookpub
02-12-2007, 06:49 AM
Thanks everyone for your replies - as the rejection replies keep flowing-in! : )

The_Empress
10-05-2007, 11:26 PM
There are many authors who can't get a book published the normal route because the writing is poor or the story is poor. And yes, everyone starts out thinking that their writing is hot stuff and that it will get accepted right away and turn into a best seller.

Well... yes, and no. I mean, not all the stuff that hits the shelves is well-written and/or compelling or exeptional in any other way. While there's a lot of wonderful, absolutely brilliant books out there, the truth is there are some that are just blah and some others that are plain bad. I mean. Holy crap. Some bestselling novels out there (which will remain unnamed) have atrocious prose, and yet, they got accepted by an agent and/or publisher, got marketed to the point of hype and... well, the rest is history. My point is that writing, like all the other arts, is kind of subjective. I think that, assuming you can string two sentences together coherently and have a somewhat clear sense of story-telling, acceptance or rejection is going to depend largely on luck and timing and on whether the right agent or publisher gets to your query/pages at the right time...(I'm sure that a compelling query doesn't hurt, either)

Maybe that's just the optimist in me... but I can't help it: whenever I hang out at a bookstore, reading the first bunch of pages of what's out there, I just have to feel a little cheated: while some authors are unquestionably fantastic, I can so write better prose that many others!

And we go back to the whole Nabokov-got-rejected-40-times bit...:Shrug:

Thanks for listening. :Hail:

Saanen
10-05-2007, 11:50 PM
Here's my take on it.

If you have a novel that has seen too many rejections, but you know it's good and you have poured your soul into it and need to see it in print and know that others can enjoy it, and you're considering self-publishing just to get to that point...

Hug and kiss your wonderful manuscript, set it aside, and write something else. Write the best book you can, and not a sequel to your beloved. Sell that one, and then when your editor/agent says, "What else do you have?", well, look! You have a great manuscript just ready to go.

If you can't sell manuscript #2, set it aside and write something else. Keep going until you write a novel that sells to a good publisher. Don't get stuck on just one project, because if you do you'll never improve as a writer. But don't self-publish fiction; it's just not worth it.

Jamesaritchie
10-06-2007, 12:03 AM
For fiction, you self-publish when you decide you aren't good enough to have a traditional publisher pay you for the book, and when you decide you aren't going to write five of eight or a dozen more books, practicing until you are good enough.

Deirdre
10-06-2007, 12:25 AM
Self-publishing is fine for:

1) Poetry collections.
2) Collections of published short fiction if you can't find a traditional publisher for same.
3) Cookbooks.
4) Memoirs of ordinary people.
5) Regional books that aren't of general interest. For example, my town's historical society members published a book about the town (http://www.amazon.com/Menlo-Park-California-Beyond-Gate/dp/1881529649/).

veinglory
10-06-2007, 03:47 AM
To quote myself:

"Successful self-publishers have a range of different goals. They may wish to maintain firm control of the work for artistic or philosophical reasons. Or they may want a swift and easy book production process because their book is topical or their medical tolerance for stress is low. They may have a work that is not suitable for the mainstream due to content, style or – let’s be honest – quality. They may need the book as part of a general small business, further monetizing their services, products or expertise."

How often you are rejected is not the point. If you really want to be 'traditionally' published you should only give up if you decide the book is unpublishable by a third party press for one of the reasons mentioned above.

Shadow_Ferret
10-06-2007, 04:14 AM
Never.

KTC
10-06-2007, 04:15 AM
Are there any rules of thumb for going the (dreaded) Self-Pub route for a book you really want to have published - but have not gotten any nibbles from agents or publishers?

I WOULD NEVER DREAM OF IT IN A MILLION YEARS. but that's just me.

bunnygirl
10-06-2007, 09:01 AM
I went POD recently because:

1. The story in question started out as a fiction blog. Since an earlier version was out there on the web for free, my chance at traditional publication was almost nil.

2. High word count. I just could not get that puppy under 180K without substantially changing the story. And because of #1 above, I saw no value in shortening the story in any substantial way. Why bother if it's already unpublishable?

3. It's illustrated and I wanted to keep the illustrations.

4. I'm sufficiently tech-savvy that I could do all the formatting and uploading myself. I only pay for the copies I buy, which keeps costs laughably low.

5. I have a good job. This story was for fun, not money. So why not have fun with it by making it into a real book?

The funny thing is that now that it's in print, I'm getting nibbles from people wanting to help me market it and give talks. I haven't done anything to promote myself, but my husband and I both work at a university and he's in tech support, always talking to someone. So I might be giving talks and making my book available at the university bookstore soon. We'll see. I refuse to set expectations, but it's an amusing turn of events, considering I have serious manuscripts that have gone nowhere while this blog-turned-POD is now getting some attention in my little corner of the world.

So my advice on any kind of self-publishing would be to understand what your real goals are and set appropriate expectations. You almost certainly will not become a nationally recognized writer or even a locally recognized writer unless you have an unusually good setup for marketing yourself. Self-publishing is something you do for the experience, not the outcome. If outcome matters, DO NOT self-publish!

CheshireCat
10-07-2007, 01:17 AM
My point is that writing, like all the other arts, is kind of subjective. I think that, assuming you can string two sentences together coherently and have a somewhat clear sense of story-telling, acceptance or rejection is going to depend largely on luck and timing and on whether the right agent or publisher gets to your query/pages at the right time...



Judging the quality of writing is totally subjective. What you think is bad, others believe is good -- and if a lot of copies get sold, say bestseller quantities, then the logical answer is that a lot of people believed that book was good. Doesn't mean you have to agree.

Tastes vary. Comparing your work to anyone else's, published or not, is a useless exercise.

And, no, getting published doesn't depend "largely" on luck. Luck is a factor, just like things such as skill, talent, storytelling ability, and the discipline to apply butt to chair and write. A lot.

Just my opinion, of course. And you know what they say about opinions.

donroc
10-07-2007, 01:22 AM
Check out Dan Poynter if you do, but I recommend patience.

www.donaldmichaelplatt.com