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klnappier
10-14-2007, 09:19 PM
I have just asked my pub for the return of pub rights on my paperbacks (not my ebooks) and am exploring my best options: self-pub or regular, indie pub?

The self-pub research alone is overwhelming. I don't need to go through my long, sad tale here, but my reason for asking to take back the paperbacks is because they were so greivously over priced from the get-go they never had a chance to compete.

I could use some testimony from any self-pubbers who have made back the set-up costs of their books, how long it took, your average book sales per year ... in other words, a few numbers to guide me. Is it worth my while or I should just go hunting for a new publisher for my paperbacks?

I've got the rudimentary know-how to go the self-pub route. And the self-pubs pitch us on the fact that we'll make more money per book. But if the volume (or at least true, reasonable potential for volume) doesn't justify the start-up costs, there's not much appeal in that.

I am weary of eye and head from all the research. Any advise will be very, very appreciated.

Kathy

MarkP
10-16-2007, 06:01 PM
You ask very difficult questions.

How much time are you willing to put into marketing? What is the market for your book? Do you have any natural means of distribution? Do you have a marketing budget?

Look around at the cost per book that the self publishers want to charge you and try and find the best deal.

They are out there if you look hard enough. Try reading "The Fine Print of Self Publishing", it ranks a lot of the self publishing company's on a number of important factors.

Assuming that the book is good, it will be as succseeful as the time you put into the marketing and promoting of it.

klnappier
10-17-2007, 05:29 AM
You ask very difficult questions.

How much time are you willing to put into marketing? What is the market for your book? Do you have any natural means of distribution? Do you have a marketing budget?

Look around at the cost per book that the self publishers want to charge you and try and find the best deal.

They are out there if you look hard enough. Try reading "The Fine Print of Self Publishing", it ranks a lot of the self publishing company's on a number of important factors.

Assuming that the book is good, it will be as succseeful as the time you put into the marketing and promoting of it.

Many thanks for replying to my thread, MarkP. My willingness to market is sincere. And the natural means of distribution would coincide with the company I'd self-pub with. I wouldn't self-pub with a company that doesn't have good distribution available. I've looked at several now that tout all the regular avenues, including, of course, Amazon.

But my questions were really in the hopes of hearing testimonials from those who have seen real returns as self-pubbers. Have they sold enough volume to have made back their set-up fees? Do they feel they're seeing good results from their own marketing efforts?

Again, those who urge us to self-pub often tell us that the advantage is that authors make more per book. But if there isn't a realistic hope of sales volume eventually exceeding the costs, then I'll return to my search for a quality, small indie pub who operate more traditionally.

Based on the response I've gotten to this thread, I'd say it's lookiing more and more like making back the costs of self-publishing is the exception and not the rule.

But many thanks for your input, Mark, it's appreciated. ~Kathy

Christine N.
10-17-2007, 02:32 PM
Hold on, back up.

You don't 'self-pub' with a company. If you self pub, you ARE the company. You may contract a press, like AuthorHouse (which is a vanity press, and if you use them, THEY are the publisher, not you) to help you produce the book, but that's not self-pub.

If you came up with a company name and used, say, Lulu, or the local print shop, purchased your own ISBN's and did all the work yourself, THAT's self-pubbing.

If you use a vanity house, that's fine, but I wouldn't count on them for distribution outside of the routes that you could get yourself - like an Ingrams listing or Amazon.com. If you had your own publishing company, you could get those yourself.

The advantage of even an indie publisher over self-pubbing is that they do all that, and you don't pay ANYTHING. You can still do all your marketing and promotion, and you'll get royalties, but there's no 'earning back' anything.

The disadvantage is your book has to be good enough to be accepted. If you call it a disadvantage. I don't, but it requires time and patience while you submit and query and all that stuff.

And a vanity press will not help you do anything. Small presses vary in their marketing power, but they'll be able to do stuff you can't - like submit to small press departments of chain bookstores.

There are some really good things about self-pubbing, and even vanity pubbing, if you have a certain type of book. But for fiction, you're better off going for a commercial publisher.

JMHO.

Marlys
10-17-2007, 04:22 PM
I took a look at Lulu and ran some costs to see what you'd be looking at. For example, your Full Wolf Moon is listed at 323 pages in e-format. Assuming it kept the same page count in print form, you'd be looking at a basic per-book price of $10.99, with discounts available based on quantity (goes down to $9.39 per copy if you purchased 100 at once; $8.15 if you got 1000). That doesn't include ISBN number, which I think will run you an additional $99. I see that your publisher offers a large-print version of this book, but I don't know that the ISBN would transfer to a regular-sized edition. If you had to keep the large-print format to keep the ISBN, the cost per 404-page book would go up to $12.61--not worth it, in my opinion.

If you sold it at a common trade paperback price of $12.95 to $14.95, you could potentially make a few bucks per copy even if you bought them one at a time (depending on initial cost and the price you choose to sell at). However, if you wanted to sell through a bookstore, you'd have to offer the store the standard discount of 40%, selling them copies at $8.97 on a cover price of $14.95. I don't know what discount Amazon buys at, but I've read that they expect more of a discount than bookstores usually get.

Some people say that the average number of books a self-published title sells is 100. If you bought 100 copies from Lulu for $939, you would lose money on each copy if you wanted to sell through Amazon and bookstores. But if you were satisfied in selling only through your own website, you could make a small profit if you sold every book you purchase. Er, that's assuming you already have a website, and don't count the cost of it against your profits. If you sell through Lulu, I believe they get an additional cut of the sales.

So, yeah, you could do better if you found a traditional press to pick up your books. The trouble is, they may be reluctant to do so if the e-book is still out there competing for sales, or might not want to reprint a previously-published book at all. If your e-book sales have been amazing, though, you could shop the print rights around and see if you can get interest.

Honestly? I'd consider this a hard lesson learned, and move on to a new book. Eventually, if you sell and do well, your publisher might be interested in releasing your backlist, but right now it would probably be easier to break into print with a new book.

Best of luck whatever you do.

ResearchGuy
10-17-2007, 06:07 PM
I have just asked my pub for the return of pub rights on my paperbacks (not my ebooks) and am exploring my best options: self-pub or regular, indie pub?. . .
Allow me to make a couple of recommendations:

1. Read my booklet on "The Pursuit of Publishing." You can find it at http://stores.lulu.com/kenumbach . I wrote it specifically for people like you, asking just such questions. I have just now revised the setup so that you can preview, on-screen, the entire 74-page booklet.

2. Read the latest edition of Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual.

3. Before you consider self-publishing (the epithet "self-pubbing" is generally considered an insult, by the way, the "n-word" of independent publishing), be certain that you are first and foremost an entrepreneur, that you want to run a business, with all that entails. If you are not eager to be an independent business person, forget about self-publishing, as that IS a business with the additional demand that the publisher is also the author, with all THAT requires. Some folks thrive on the combination and make it very profitable. Most do not.

--Ken

III
10-17-2007, 06:24 PM
I'd agree with what the others have posted. If money is an issue, your chances of breaking even or making any sort of profit through self-pubbing or vanity-pubbing are not good, especially compared to the amount of time you need to invest in support and marketing.

Using my own books as an example, I use iUniverse as a publisher and pay about $400-$500. They do the ISBN, Amazon listing, cover, POD order processing, etc. My royalties are about $2.50 per book so I'd need to sell about 200 copies to just break even. Like Marlys pointed out, the average sales of self/vanity publications are around 100 copies (although I've heard estimates around 150). Either way, I'll be lucky to break even.

But for me, money isn't really the issue. My books are for a niche market and I went through a year of querying with no luck and didn't want to invest more time in it and didn't want to just junk my manuscript, so I was happy to pay the money for publishing. That's just me, though. I used to spend a heck of alot more money on guitars, so this is a much cheaper hobby.

So if money is an issue, I'd say keep plugging away at the small publishers and agents. And of course keep working on writing your next, better novel.

ResearchGuy
10-17-2007, 06:26 PM
. . .Based on the response I've gotten to this thread, I'd say it's lookiing more and more like making back the costs of self-publishing is the exception and not the rule. . . .
I believe that is correct. Those who go about the business with careful planning and professionalism can do well (Dan Poynter lays out a detailed roadmap, and I can cite examples I know personally). Most of the rest (whether genuine self-publishers or users of subsidy-publishing company services) lose money -- sometimes a large amount of money -- if I can judge from a few years of observation. (In one case of a clueless author subsidy-published by a questionable company, the losses on one book appear to have approached six figures.)

Here's the rub: most book writers, even those who are eventually commercially published in the normal manner, net little or nothing for their efforts -- perhaps an advance of a few thousand dollars (and nothing further) for a book that took years to write and to sell to a publisher.

--Ken

MarkP
10-17-2007, 08:11 PM
The problem with Lulu is not the service they provide. The problem is that in their model, it is almost impossible for the author to make money because the book has to be priced so high based on what the author is being charged for it, that who really wants to buy it?

The book would have to be very good and get a lot of publicity to overcome that and most are not. If the consumer can buy a book for $9.99 in the bookstore that is a fiction paperback form a first time author that was published in the traditional manner, then why on earth would they buy a fiction paperback from a first time author for $20 on amazon or Lulu, all other things being equal. The answer is that they would not. That is why the model does not work for most authors, but it certainly works great for Lulu.

There are many examples where Lulu is the perfect company to use if you are self publishing. Depends what yoyur goals are. If selling a lot of books is your goal, then they would not be the company I would use.

"Vanity" or "self" publishing do not need to be dirty words in the industry. People do need to educate themselves to know what they are getting into. Everyone has a different goal when deciding why they want to publish a book. I would suggest that if you don't know what your goal is before you make a decision on which route to take, that you are inviting disappointment.

Mark Pitzele
www.bookprintingrevolution.com
www.millcitypress.net

klnappier
10-18-2007, 08:18 PM
Thank you, everyone. Your input has been very helpful. I think I have a clearer view of my destination now. ~Kathy