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DonnaDuck
11-23-2007, 07:45 PM
I've been a bit cynical since the beginning when it comes to self-publishing. I know there are quite a few people on this board that utilize self-publication and I know a few people who have used it but I'd like to know, what's the point?

The way I see it, and this is strictly my opinion, self-publishing, in a way, is a cop-out. Either someone couldn't get their work published by a house or they didn't want to try so they decided to publish it themselves and have a go at it. In an age when any schmuck, thanks to self-publishing, that can hold a pen can publish a book and consider themselves an "author," I don't really consider self-publishing as "really" being published. The way I see it, when a house takes on your manuscript, it means that they think there's a market for it and that other people want to read it. When someone takes publishing into their own hands, none of that exists outside of the author themselves. They think that other people want to read it, they think it'll sell but there isn't that outside influence reiterating that notion.

Then again, I know people who self-published a book because they just wanted to see what it was like to self-publish.

I know it's a very negative spin in self-publishing but that's the way I've seen it from the beginning. I don't know. For me I just wouldn't feel satisfied publishing my own book. I guess that notion of "acceptance" from an editor and a publishing house says that I'm not the only one that thinks my work is good. Also, I'm not a marketer and with self-publishing, that falls on your lap. I hate selling myself and, for me, it's bad enough when I have to do it with cover letters and queries let alone trying to pimp out my book.

So I ask you, does anyone else share my cynical notion of self-publishing? Has anyone been relatively successful in self-publishing? Do the benefits outweigh the negatives or vise versa? Am I just really jaded and/or misinformed on the matter? Any help would, well, help.

ResearchGuy
11-23-2007, 08:22 PM
. . .
So I ask you, does anyone else share my cynical notion of self-publishing? Has anyone been relatively successful in self-publishing? Do the benefits outweigh the negatives or vise versa? Am I just really jaded and/or misinformed on the matter? Any help would, well, help.
You are lumping all self-publishers into one bag. That makes no more sense than to lump say, all baseball players into one bag. Some are professionals, and some of them in the big leagues. Most are not.

You are, I would say, very uninformed. That is not an insult, just an observation.

Allow me to point you to http://www.lulu.com/browse/preview.php?fCID=740262 for a reasonably balanced, but concise, overview of self-publishing in a broader context.

For more depth, read the bible of self-publishing, Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual.

I know people who have very badly self-published (or subsidy-published, mistaking that for self-publishing) and people who have very successfully self-published. It is like pretty much any other endeavor: it can be done well or badly, professionally or amateurishly, profitably or unprofitably. It is a business. Some people are entrepreneurs, business people. Many are not. Those who are entrepreneurs, with the required skills and knowledge AND who can write something worth reading AND with a suitable audience AND whose interest lies in the business of publishing their own writing AND who follow the right steps (neither simple nor obvious) can do well, sometimes very well. That is a lot of "ands."

I'll skip the examples of failed self-publishers. They are legion. But successful ones include Bill Teie (Deer Valley Press), whose books and supplemental materials on firefighting sell nationally and internationally; Naida West (Bridge House Books), whose historical novels have sold as many as 30,000 copies, nationally and internationally; Alton Pryor (Stagecoach Publishing), with 17 books, the first written at age 70, and with sales of the top-seller now above 80,000 copies. Those are just a few of the people I know personally. There are many, many others.

It is a business. It can be done well or badly. So can everything else that people do.

--Ken

DonnaDuck
11-23-2007, 08:27 PM
Not insulted at all. Thanks for all your information. I certainly will look into it more but considering, like I said, I'm not someone that markets, it's probably not the best avenue for me.

JRH
11-23-2007, 10:18 PM
Hey, Research Guy,

I note that most of the examples of successful self-publishers that you mention fall into what I would consider "Nitch" Markets, (with the exception of Naida West, although Bridge House Books appears to be more of a "Small Publisher" than an example of "Self-Publication)

Self Publication (and even Vanity) have always had their greatest success in such markets with such things as "How To" Books, Cookbooks, "Special Interest Books" like those you mention on "Firefighting" or "State or Regional Histories" for which there are presumed be ready audiances if they can be reached, (albiet too small for major Publishing Houses to consider).

Since my interest is Poetry, can you honestly say that there are any Books of Poetry, (or those about it) that have had any substantial success, (and if you can, could you give examples)

As I'm sure you know, based on your comments in a previous thread, many prospective Poets turn to Vanity, POD or Self-Publishing to get their works out before the public, and I'm curious what kind of SALES such generate (as I'm already aware of the limitations of such in procuring access to Brick and Mortar Book Stores or Libraries).

I, myself, don't have the "Business" skills to make it worth trying, but it would be interesting to see if there are any encouraging signs out there for those who have such skills.

Jim Hoye, (JRH)

Salem
11-23-2007, 10:26 PM
I self published my book for a couple of reasons--I wanted to have it in book form to give to my grandfather who is approaching 90 and may not live to see my book in print if it takes a long time to find a traditional publisher. The other reason is that I want it for myself just for the hell of it, just because I think it will be fun to have. I have no delusions of selling it in book stores nor of having it become a best seller online. I merely did it to have copies for myself and my family. That might seem stupid and frivilous to some but it's not to me and it's definately not a cop-out. I will still persue a traditional publisher. My 2 cents! :D

ResearchGuy
11-23-2007, 11:23 PM
. . .

Since my interest is Poetry, can you honestly say that there are any Books of Poetry, (or those about it) that have had any substantial success, (and if you can, could you give examples)

. . .
I do not know whether there are or are not. All I can cite are examples I know, not the ones (a far, far larger universe) that I do not. I pay no attention to current poetry, and have no idea what is going on in that field.

Anyway, much depends on your definition of "substantial success." For some, that means tens of thousands of copies, or more, sold across a wide area (nationally or beyond). For others it might mean a few hundred copies sold within a region or metropolitan area. I have heard that poetry tends to be a local phenomenon, so it may well be that a chapbook selling in the scores to hundreds within a metro area or within an arts-and-literature oriented community might mark success for the self-publishing poet.

For whatever it is worth, I recently met with a local writer, a poet, whose work I found very intriguing -- distinctive subjects and voice. My advice to her was to pursue magazine publication, to give that 100 percent effort. She might do well with a book later, whether commercially published or, possibly, self-published. But in her case, first things first, and that means beating the bushes for publication in magazines or literary journals or both.

By the way, as to your comment on niche publications -- well, yes. That is precisely one of the contributors to success in self-publication: a solid, accessible niche. Some niches, of course, are very big.

Bridge House Books . . . interesting comment, that it appears to be more of a small publisher than a self-publisher. Naida West has broadened her catalogue beyond just her own books. That is not, I believe, atypical among highly professional publishers who start with their own books. Once they have developed the structure of a publishing company and have gathered experience (and a sufficient bankroll), it is a short step to take on books by others. Naida would be the first to agree that she runs a small press, not a self-publishing company. In fact, she has said just that. But she started with one of her own novels, then another . . . .

--Ken

bunnygirl
11-26-2007, 10:41 AM
Not everyone who self-publishes expects or even attempts to sell outside their circle of friends and family.

In my case, I had a fiction blog that turned out to be a fun read and I had some good feedback. Since so many people started reading late in the game or didn't have time to keep up with daily posts, I cleaned it up and put it into a book so people who want to read the whole thing can do so more easily. I never intended to seek fame and fortune with it. It's just a blog in print. I don't even make any money off it. It's priced at cost.

That said, I really love the creative aspect of self-publishing. Too many words? Too few? No problem! Want to include pictures? Okey-dokey. It's totally your own, for better or worse. If you write for the love of creating instead of with dreams of making money, it's a hard siren song to resist.

I do have conventional novels that I pitch in the conventional manner when time permits. Having a POD book is just something extra and fun to do, kind of like a kit car or a designer knock-off bag, except going POD didn't cost me a thing.

james1611
12-08-2007, 09:05 AM
D.Duck-

There are a few "successes" at self-publishing, but allow me to quantify that statement. Those who are considered "successful" self published authors are those who were able to market their work and sell enough books to garner traditional publisher attention and gain a traditional book contract for their work. I believe this would be a good definition almost without exception.

Paolini--went on to Knopf, a traditional publisher.
The Celestine Prophecy author--went on to a traditional publisher
Mary J. Rose (correct name?) went on to traditional publisher.

More recently examples I would give are: Scott Sigler and Jeremy Robinson.

I know these guys...Scott promoted his novels through podcasting. He was technically a POD published author through a small independent press, but Scott built a virtual podcasting empire of fans for his work and used his marketing prowess to get his legion of fans to buy his book ANCESTOR on Amazon.com on the same day it was released. They flooded Amazon.com on April 1st 2007 and he placed at #7 on Amazon. This automatically made him a bestseller and garnered him instant attention from traditional publishers who watch these bestseller lists very closely. SCott had three large publishers vying for a contract and ultimately CROWN PUBLISHING signed him to a multi-book deal. His novel INFECTED is coming in April 2008 and is already listed on Amazon. He's used his talents to gain a traditional book deal (even though his slogan was: let's show the establishment, what the little guy can do!..actually it was the vulgar interpretation, but you get the idea.) He went for the industry throat and won himself a book deal. Now he is considered successful.

Jeremy Robinson is a real self published author. He began with The Didymus Contingency and sold several thousand copies utilizing Amazon.com listmania lists, which placed his novel next to popular novels. This expose the novel to potential buyers and they decided to purchase it once they saw it. Building on this, Jeremy started his own publisher, Breakneck Books. He published two more novels through BNB along with several other authors he contracted to publish traditionally (though still POD). Recently Jeremy used a successful viral video campaign to garner interest in his new novel so that prospective buyers would all jump to buy it on the first available day over at Amazon.com. He got up to #53, I think, and became an Amazon.com bestseller. At the moment he is in negotiation with a major label publisher and his current novel resides at a steady, steady ranking under 10k at Amazon.com. This would be considered successful and once again, the author is trying his best to get a traditional contract.

Why are these authors striving for the same goal? because even though they might appear successful as independent or self published authors, they really aren't considered successful by industry standards. In the publishing industry, selling even a few thousand copies of a novel (which is great for an independent or a self published author) is not really considered to be successful...even though it's enough to be noticed by them.

As far as being an author is concerned, I think self publishing is usually going to be unsatisfying. Why?
Because when a serious writer spends multiplied hours, days, weeks and sometimes months pouring their hearts and souls into a manuscript, they want to have it: shared with others, accepted by others, and enjoyed by as many people as possible.
The only good way to do that in this industry is to have it available to as many readers as possible. And the only way to have those readers buy your work and enjoy it, is to have it where the novel can be easily found--chain bookstores. You might say, "how about Amazon.com?"
Imagine this scenario: your self published book from Iuniverse is brilliantly written. It has a great cover and it's ready to go onto Amazon.com. YOu only have about 14 million other books to compete with. What is the chance of many people happening upon your book page--you the unknown author with no advertising, no publisher marketing your name or book cover image, no book store shelf placement (where they might see it and then go buy it cheaper on Amazon) no distribution network placing your books into chain bookstores. Just an amazon.com bookpage with a subsidy press...what are the chances? Abyssmal, I'm afraid.

I'm not trying to disrespect any author, self pubbed or otherwise. I'm a small independently published author myself (Breakneck Books, 2006) and my novel, The Chronicles of Soone, has sold approximately 800 books over a years time. I've had to fight and scrape for every bit of those sales. It is more satisfying than not to have my book in print, but it has only made me realize how important an agent and a larger press contract can be.

That being said: Let me also say that unless you are a million copy seller, as a larger press author, you will still have to work hard to market your name and your work to gain good sales. Publishers expect to see a book proposal (even for fiction) and they want to know if you have your finger on the market pulse and no how to reach your audience in a marketing sense. There are so many choices for people that you have to fight to get your name out there where people will choose you over the next guy on the shelf. Great reviews, endorsements, etc all enter the mix as well as your publishers motivation to market you, but you get the idea.

For what it's worth: getting a reputable agent and writing the best novel you can, best query letter you can, best book proposal you can, and enduring rejections is still the best way to ultimately get published.

James;)

DonnaDuck
12-08-2007, 09:39 AM
That's some excellent information, James. Thanks for your insight!

ResearchGuy
12-09-2007, 02:28 AM
... Those who are considered "successful" self published authors are those who were able to market their work and sell enough books to garner traditional publisher attention and gain a traditional book contract for their work. I believe this would be a good definition almost without exception...
Exceptions are not that hard to find. Here's the thing: a self-publisher who does it right produces books that (a) you have probably never heard of because you are not the audience, or (b) that are not distinguishable from books from any independent commercial publisher and that have normal trade distribution, or (c) both.

Those who spend time with real, competent independent publishers have a very different view from those who simply assume. Believe it or not, self-publishing, done right, is far more profitable than the commercial publication route. (Done wrong, of course, not so. But let's face it: most published authors do not make a living from their writing.)

Having said that: self-publishing is only for those who have the entrepreneurial knowledge and skills and orientation to run a business AND who can write something with a sufficient and accessible audience. It is not for those who do not have the business skills and purposes. But if in my little corner of the world I can point out, off the top of my head, at least four individuals who make their living publishing their own books (of whom two have broadened out to publish work by others as well, now, and three of which have international distribution), there have to be a lot more.

Sure, most people who attempt self-publishing do poorly at it. Most people who attempt writing do poorly at it, too, or at best find that it pays meagerly. A couple thousand dollars in royalties (including advance, if any) for a book that might have taken years to write and get published is not going to be a living for anyone.

BTW, the bank account does not care about "industry standards." It is just as empty if the paltry income is from commercial publication, and just as full if a generous income is from an independent business. For every book author who makes a living at it, there are hundreds who do not.

But again: those who do not want to be business operators (entrepreneurs) first and foremost should not be publishing-business operators. (That point can scarcely be made emphaticaly enough.) I suspect that most writers are not cut out to be business operators. And for that matter, I suspect that most business people have no interest in writing, and no particular strength as writers. It is only the intersection of the sets (able business people and able writers) where one finds those who are suited to self-publishing, and only a subset of that set will do well at it.

FWIW, one of my successful (makes a living at it, nationally and internationally distributed) publisher friends was offered a buyout by a commercial publisher. He turned it down, even after they sweetened the offer, because it would have left him worse off. But if you do not spend a lot of time with independent publishers, you never hear those stories.

One other thing: iUniverse is not self-publishing. It is subsidy publishing. Different animal entirely. Only when the author owns the ISBN and manages the publishing process in its entirety is it self-publishing by a strict definition. The term "self-publishing" gets thrown around a lot to mistakenly encompass vanity and subsidy publishing.

That aside, many of your comments are spot on, and I would (like you) encourage those whose passion is writing (all the more so if they write fiction) to relentlessly pursue the agent/commercial publisher route, especially if you can wait out the years and years and many additional books it might require before one is published. (The recent Writer's Digest Press book How I Got Published is a catalog of real stories, and well worth reading. The key theme is persistence.) One of the authors in the book had written thirteen books before one was picked up by a commercial publisher -- and that book was the fifth she had written. It was a long, long haul.

--Ken

scarletpeaches
12-09-2007, 02:32 AM
I wouldn't ever bother self-publishing. Money flows to the writer, or should do, and there's no way I'm shelling out to see my book in print. I want to make money, not spend it. Well, of course I'll spend it when I'm published; what I mean is, I don't want to shell out to get there.

ResearchGuy
12-09-2007, 04:55 AM
I wouldn't ever bother self-publishing. Money flows to the writer, or should do, and there's no way I'm shelling out to see my book in print. I want to make money, not spend it. Well, of course I'll spend it when I'm published; what I mean is, I don't want to shell out to get there.
And for those who see themselves as writers, not business people, that is exactly right. Business people (whether selling widgets or tacos or auto repairs or office machinery or books or paintings or whatever) tend to figure on investment before revenues. "You have to spend money to make money." If you are manufacturing and selling widgets, first you need to manufacture the widgets, and that costs money. Sometimes the widgets are brake pads, sometimes potholders, and sometimes books. That seems crass to those who see writing as a Higher Calling, but so be it.

But then, even most writers have to invest a large amount of money (living expenses, if nothing else, to maintain themselves during years of effort, but often research expenses, even for fiction, as well as postage, manuscript printing, and so on, as well as computer and peripherals, supplies, workspace) before seeing dime #1 of revenue. Even to get to the point where an advance might be appropriate it might take years of work and considerable outlays. Only those who are hired as writers would be in a different situation. And even then, they might well have unreimbursed expenses.

Different orientation. Wage earner or business operator. Employee or entrepreneur. Sometimes it is very hard to communicate that difference. It is a wide gap in understanding to attempt to bridge.

--Ken

james1611
12-09-2007, 08:41 AM
FWIW, one of my successful (makes a living at it, nationally and internationally distributed) publisher friends was offered a buyout by
One other thing: iUniverse is not self-publishing. It is subsidy publishing. Different animal entirely. Only when the author owns the ISBN and manages the publishing process in its entirety is it self-publishing by a strict definition. The term "self-publishing" gets thrown around a lot to mistakenly encompass vanity and subsidy publishing.

That aside, many of your comments are spot on, and I would (like you) encourage those whose passion is writing (all the more so if they write fiction) to relentlessly pursue the agent/commercial publisher route, especially if you can wait out the years and years and many additional books it might require before one is published. (The recent Writer's Digest Press book How I Got Published is a catalog of real stories, and well worth reading. The key theme is persistence.) One of the authors in the book had written thirteen books before one was picked up by a commercial publisher -- and that book was the fifth she had written. It was a long, long haul.

--Ken

Here I think are several important things to point out--

First of all, when I refer to self publisher success being primarily aimed at going with a traditional trade publisher contract, I definitely AM referring to FICTION WRITERS.
It is quite true that there are many savvy NON-FICTION authors who have self published with success...financially speaking. It is a well known fact that it is easier to successfully self publish non-fiction. On the other hand, fiction is an entirely different animal.

Secondly--with reference to selp pubbing vs. subsidy--I would say that subsidy makes it worse on the author. Subsidy publishers take money from the author with the intent of selling books back to the author--mostly.
But I think that other than that the difference is hardly worth mentioning since the author is funding the work entirely on their own and there are rarely any standards with subsidy pubs as to what gets published and what doesn't.

Independent publishers on the other hand are quite able to do as much as they want given the financial resources and business savvy to do so. What often limits the independent is a lack of funds with which to compete with BIG BROTHER TRADE PUBLISHER in the chain bookstore where real estate on the shelves is costly to obtain.

My main point, I suppose, is that a fiction writer who desires to reach an audience with their print novel and also to reap financially from it, would be better off obtaining a literary agent and following the well worn channels of publishing. There are certainly exceptions to the rule, but by and large I would still say that most fiction writers desire a trade publisher contract for their work and there are few ways to deviate from the norm and get it.

In the end, it all depends upon what your desire is for your writing.;)

James

scarletpeaches
12-09-2007, 06:35 PM
It's true that most of us have to 'shell out cash' before we even get to the stage of having a completed manuscript in our hands.

I've been lucky. My gran gave me half the money for my desktop. My aunt gave me half the money for my laptop. My dad often buys me ink and he gets reams of paper from his work at a discount. So I'm doing okay for raw materials although I've personally spent a small fortune on consumables, notebooks, pens, other kinds of stationery. And of course, I'm shopping around for a beloved AlphaSmart Neo at the moment. But my point is, all of these things are a joy to use. And there's no possibility of making money off them as is. There is, however, the possibility of making money from a completed manuscript - and so, I refuse to spend money on something that should be paying me back after having a bajillion monkeydollars spent on its creation.

Dustry Joe
12-28-2007, 07:13 AM
Those who are considered "successful" self published authors are those who were able to market their work and sell enough books to garner traditional publisher attention

There are lots of other definitions of "successful" self-publishing. Such as making a living off it. I have supported by self by self-published books in the past and at the moment my book enables to me to live at a nice standard of living while not having to deal with a lot of editors and various dickheads. I know several guys who make a living or appreciable incomes through sales of their own books. One guy makes six figures with his...but has a much higher living expense than that.

But I think a more comprehensive definition would be something like "fulfilling your goals in undertaking the publishing". If you just want some nice books to pass out at the family reunion and can bring it in for a price you find acceptable...you were successful in your endeavor.

The problem with the original post isn't clumping all forms of self-publish together...it's clumping everybody who publishes their own work together as failures t seeking publication by others.

There are LOTs of reasons to self publish.

1. Books for gifts and other personal purposes.
2. Starting up your own publishing concern. (I self-pubbed a book of poetry, and ended up with a line of several authors, a local reputation, and displays in bookstores. Another guy who did the same thing was named Lawrence Ferlinghetti)

3. To MAKE MONEY. You can make money self-publishing the right book for the right audience (perhaps an audience brought into existence by the very publication of the book). Often the book's niche is not well served by existing distribution. I knew the guy who wrote the first book on "hotdog" skiing...sort of a pioneer of "extreme sports". He distributed it through a network of ski, climbing, and outdoor stores and catalogs that he was very familiar with (and they with him). Another guy I met did a book of great use to the restaurant industry and distributed it through restaurant suppliers and jobbers. The book you see pimped below has taken advantages of some very odd networks while selling countless thousands of copies. (I should add that "countless" means that I lost count)

The sixties saw a LOT of such stuff (remember MaryJane Superweed pamphlets on legal drugs and grow yr own stuff?) Oviously you didn't take a book like that to Simon and Schuster. But you can grab space in High Times and work the headshop network.

4. To promote a cause. A history of local disasters to benefit the fire department, whatever.

5. To take advantage of an opportunity. Let's say you own or know the owners of a nice little shop in a much-visited tourist location. So you write a guide to the area. Or perhaps even a romantic novel set there. It goes on sale in the shop/cafe/inn/whatever.

6. You want to have a book to sell at your poetry readings, business seminars, time share scams, whatever.

7.______________________________________Fill in your own reasons here.

hastingspress
04-20-2008, 03:32 PM
I agree with everything DustryJoe and Ken have written. My definition of success is meeting your goals, whatever they may be. People who think that the whole of life is just about the accummulation of money are very narrow minded.

When I was employed I was the most miserable and depressed sod in the world. But I earned good money. I gave up work, I live on less money, and I spend ALL my time researching, writing and publishing my own books. Am I happy? I'll tell you something - I didn't even know that I was as a person capable of this level of happiness! Content, satisfied, feeling that I am achieving something - my life actually has a purpose now.

Ken wrote:

"Believe it or not, self-publishing, done right, is far more profitable than the commercial publication route."

Hey when I said on the "Jeremy Robinson has got a publisher" thread and the response was:

"You must be joking"!

Here is the thread: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=95945

Helena

Mac H.
04-20-2008, 04:04 PM
To be fair, the two statement's aren't the same. (BTW, I'm not sure I'd agree with Ken's statement 100% either. Perhaps, if it said 'CAN be more profitable' instead of 'IS more profitable?)

The statement that I thought you were joking in was "If this author's books are selling so well why does he want to give away 90% of the profits and only keep 10%, when he currently keeps 100%? "

I honestly thought you were joking and that you were only pretending to not understand that there can be big advantages with getting someone else involved. He wouldn't be 'giving it away'. He would be getting someone to WORK for it, and, in exchange, expect to sell a hell of a lot more copies.

Why would you give some of the profit to a printer, instead of printing it out at home and binding it yourself? Is it because perhaps the printer (being a professional who does it every day) can do a better job than you?

Perhaps the same thing applies to getting books into the maximum number of hands possible.

You aren't 'giving' them the profits, any more than you are 'giving' profits to the paper manufacturer when you decide not to keep all the money for yourself and make your own paper.

It's a simple business decision. I was honestly incredulous that it wasn't clear that we all make these tradeoffs with every single decision.

I guess it was also a reaction to the 'Life is a zero sum game' idea as well. You expressed concern that 'The only reason the big publisher wanted to publish the writer's book is that the publisher thought it could make profits from it'. That would only be a concern if business is a zero sum game.

It isn't. Life isn't a zero-sum game. Nor is business.

Good luck,

Mac

hastingspress
04-20-2008, 04:59 PM
What are you trying to do Mac? Beat me into submission or something? I am entitled to my own opinion, as a sucessful self-publisher.

Bye Mac

ResearchGuy
04-20-2008, 09:15 PM
. . . I'm not sure I'd agree with Ken's statement 100% either. Perhaps, if it said 'CAN be more profitable' instead of 'IS more profitable? . . .
You have omitted my specific qualification: "done right." Self-publishing, done right . . . ." It takes much to do it right.

--Ken

hastingspress
04-20-2008, 09:55 PM
Mac

In my own case, I do not think the publisher I had (one of the top five) would have made as good a job of my book as I did.

Firstly they told me the book had to be 192 pages and that I was to edit it down to that length. Secondly they told me to choose 20 photos (I had access to over 100). Thirdly they were only going to print 1,000 copies as it was such a specialist "niche" book. I knew they would edit my text and change whatever they liked. I knew they would simply do whatever they wanted, like just remainder the book, let it go out of print etc.

The contract gave me 7.5% of the net royalties after all their expenses were taken off.

I self published in hardback with a glossy dustjacket that I designed myself. The book has 384 pages and over 100 photos. Oh and I printed 2,000 copies not 1,000. And I didn't make it too cheap either: the cover price is 30 ($60?) though I do discount it down when a appropriate.

Because I was self-publishing, various people took "pity" on me and gave me a helping hand. For example, the photo-libraries gave me a special discount on using the photos, and in fact one library totally waived their 500 fee.

For example, I invited my MP to attend a book-signing in a local shop, and he immediately offered to give me a book launch party at his own expense at the House of Commons, with Glenda Jackson presenting my book to the assembled guests. Then the National Railway Museum gave me a launch, and then the President of the railwaymen's union gave me a stall at the Trades Union Congress annual conference.

Oh, and I kept 100% of the net royalties.

In my particular case, the book would not have been as good if I had let that company publish it. They would not have cared about it as much as I do!

Helena
in the UK

veinglory
04-21-2008, 12:47 AM
Other people have other priorities, other personalities, other skills and other opportunties. The bottom line is self-publishing is sometimes the best way for a given person to acheive their goals. I doubt anyone thinks it an absolute good to be used exclusively by all authors.

Cathy C
04-21-2008, 01:39 AM
I definitely think there are instances where self-publishing produces the best result. Not necessarily the most profitable result, but the best one.

For example:

I have a great book idea, non-fiction, that I KNOW people would jump on. I've been told by pretty much every publisher out there that they would like to publish the book . . . except

I couldn't make it a workbook, like planned. Too expensive.

I couldn't make it oversized, like planned. Wouldn't fit on the shelf.

I couldn't include NCR forms. Too complicated.

Etc., etc. In other words, everything that make the book unique and marketable and USEFUL would have to be stripped out. So, no go. I'll probably self-publish it and make it exactly like what I envision.

Someday. When I have some time. :)

hastingspress
04-21-2008, 11:02 AM
Yes Cathy you are right - the publisher will make all the decisions about your book because they are paying for it.

Money is power!

I can honestly place my hand on my heart and say that if a publisher rang me today and offered to take my current book off my hands I would not be like many authors - ie grateful and thrilled. I'd want total editorial control, a big fat, non-returnable advance, and I'd still have to weigh up whether I wanted to give over the book. The only benefit I can see is that it would free me, to an extent, to get on with the next book. Having said that, everything I have read about being published by a major company says that they won't do the publicity for you, so you still have to do it yourself.... so, on balance, I would probably say no thanks.

Helena