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View Full Version : Thinking of Self-Publishing with some reservations



pepperlandgirl
03-25-2005, 08:53 AM
Over the past four years, I've taken several creative writing courses and literature courses and have a backlog of essays, short stories, and poetry. These are all college level work--and I mean while they're certainly not horrible, I don't think an editor is ever going to say "Woo! I want to pay you for that!"

Also, I want something to mark the completion of my degree. Something concrete. So I figured I would take my poems, a few short stories, and an essay and self-publish through Lulu. It's pretty much for my benefit. I'll request an ISBN and make it available to the public, but mainly, I want a book.

But after spending so much time here and seeing so many warnings--and my own basic need for success--I'm hesitant to follow through with my plan. Can anybody think of any reasons why I shouldn't. I can't even articulate any, I'm just a little wary.

Richard
03-25-2005, 01:46 PM
Not really. Sounds like a pretty much ideal use for Lulu - although I'd probably save the money on the ISBN and simply publish the information on where to buy it (the odds of folks buying it via Amazon and so on are pretty small, I'd expect...) Lulu itself is decent. The books are okay quality, and they don't attempt to do a rights grab on your work - they're just a printer.

The only real catch is that you'd have to be sure there's no other use for them - that you couldn't turn any of them individually into something publishable (anthologies, for instance, or even competitions - it doesn't hurt to have a stack of work on hand that you can rework in time). Alternatively, if your main aim is having a book for your own personal entertainment, you could quite easily publish the lot via Lulu, but then take down the link so that nobody else would ever be able to hit the switch.

Ralyks
03-25-2005, 07:30 PM
If you don't think its marketable as a collection and don't expect to sell it, I'm not sure why you would want to put it in book form. Do you just want an easy to reference, tangible collection of your works for your own shelf/use? Perhaps print out all your works, make yourself a table of contents, and put the collection in a binder or get it spiral bound at your local copy shop. If you ever want to submit a single poem or essay for publication, after you have published your collection via Lulu with ISBN and all, I think you would not be able to submit to periodicals that require first rights.

pepperlandgirl
03-25-2005, 11:03 PM
Well I decided not to get the ISBN because, well, I'm cheap and I don't like to pay for things. Heh.

Mainly, what I really want is a book for me. Maybe a copy for my writing prof and my family, but I just wanted to do something to mark my graduation. I actually put it all together and uploaded it to lulu yesterday. I ordered a copy, and once I get it, I'll decide whether to make it available, or just take it down and keep my single copy.

Ralyks
03-28-2005, 07:54 PM
Yeah, I didn't realize until I checked out Lulu myself that you can make the book UNAVAILABLE to the public, so then it is really no different than using a copy shop (and probably more convenient, since you can upload everything from home, and since you get a free stock cover). I plan to use them to make a poetry book as a Mother's Day gift for my Mom.

Since you aren't selling it, and you aren't getting an ISBN, and you aren't making it available, I don't think it need count as "published," and the works should still be free for first rights.

Too bad you can't put text on the back cover unless you design it yourself, though.

arainsb123
03-30-2005, 05:04 AM
Their books are of even better quality than my iUniverse books, in terms of cover and paper quality.

Of course, I wish I hadn't ever used iU in the first place, but that is a rant for another thread ...

veinglory
03-30-2005, 01:07 PM
Why not simply get some copies made in perfect binding? Then you can add your own cover art and it will still come out cheaper than lulu. If you think you might get outside buyers you can buy stick on ISBNs and sell through the many small press ditributors like Pulp. The odds of copies selling when lulu only use their own wesite are pretty small, so you might as well take a slightly more do-it-yourself route and save money? I did this with a zine and although I had to outlay about $100 at the start it has been selling steadily and I made a profit in the end.

Julie Worth
03-30-2005, 03:36 PM
Why not simply get some copies made in perfect binding? Then you can add your own cover art and it will still come out cheaper than lulu.


I don’t understand this. How does this beat lulu’s price—about $10 for a 250 page book with full color covers?

veinglory
03-30-2005, 04:40 PM
At my local printshop 200 pages was $5 and change in tape binding, plus no shipping to you as you are on the spot. Admittedly an old fashioned printshop (NOT Kinkos) is hard to find these days.

pepperlandgirl
03-31-2005, 01:01 AM
Why not simply get some copies made in perfect binding? Then you can add your own cover art and it will still come out cheaper than lulu. If you think you might get outside buyers you can buy stick on ISBNs and sell through the many small press ditributors like Pulp. The odds of copies selling when lulu only use their own wesite are pretty small, so you might as well take a slightly more do-it-yourself route and save money? I did this with a zine and although I had to outlay about $100 at the start it has been selling steadily and I made a profit in the end.

Actually, my professor mentioned to me that our campus graphics department prints all the chap books for her classes, and she's pleased with their work. I might do what you suggest and have the graphics department print it for me.

writersblock
04-16-2005, 03:05 PM
I hear so much conflicting (and mostly negative) information about self-publishing, I'd like to separate truth from fiction. Has anyone out there self- published successfully? I don't mean with questionable companies like PA, or vanity publishers, but with reputable ones? I'd love to hear some positive stories about self-published novels doing well. If so, what's the seceret of success? Also, does anyone know of, or has any experience with, Lightning Source? They are a POD company and distribute to Ingram, and Baker and Taylor.
Thanks all for your input.

PVish
05-21-2005, 05:51 AM
Has anyone out there self-published successfully? I don't mean with questionable companies like PA, or vanity publishers, but with reputable ones? I'd love to hear some positive stories about self-published novels doing well. If so, what's the seceret of success?

I have both self-published and POD published. I've made money both ways. Self-publishing is fine if you can be sure of selling at least a thousand copies, if you have a local readership, and if you have outlets that will sell your books. Fortunately, my novel (set in the region) won a local contest and the sponsoring organization funded about 35% of my first press run. My book was selected by several regional bookclubs and I did several speaking engagements set up by the sponsoring organization. After I sold the first thousand, I'd made enough for a really nice computer, deposit a couple thousaand into my bank account, and do another press run. That second thousand is much cheaper than the first!

Because I write for local publications, and because my book had won an award, people were willing to buy my novel. Having some local references/local history woven into it was a big help in selling it. If I hadn't had some financial backing, I doubt I would have gone the self-pubbing route. I'm now midway through my second thousand. Sales now vary between 10 and 25 per month, but a lot of local shops and a couple of independent bookstores carry my book. When the rest of this run is gone, I doubt that I'll do another press run.

I've gotten my money back on my POD humor book, which is a collection of my first two years' columns for a local publication. I was paid (and am still paid) each time my column runs; I also turned a profit on this book when it sold 150 copies. It's now sold over 350. Not great, but OK. And I don't have to stockpile copies under the bed! Everytime I need some for readings and stand-up comedy (I often appear as my character), I order 20 copies. The POD company pays shipping, gives me the standard bookstore discount, and pays royalties on what I buy myself. Several local shops that carry it order directly from the company, which has a toll-free number. I get a statement every month telling me how many have sold; when I accrue $20 in royalties, the company sends me a check. I get a three or four checks per year.

I had a collection of short stories that had won various contests, so they'd made me money before I decided to POD them. Actually, I'd also sold the first rights for about half of them, so they'd made additional money when they were published in magazines. Anyhow, I had all my rights back. Trying to sell a collection of short stories to a commercial publisher is an excercise in futility. Consequently, I POD'd them (same company as the other POD book) and have sold slightly over 330. I made my investment back, turned a modest profit, am getting a couple royalty checks a year. Again, these stories are set in my immediate region. They sell in the surrounding counties, but I doubt they'd do well on a national level. Several gift shops (we have a lot of gift shops in the area that carry books) and the two local bookstores carry them.(One is a college bookstore; the other an independent that is only open a few hours a week.)

The POD I've used has a set-up fee that's lower than many others, doesn't charge shipping on orders over 20, has a toll-free number manned by a live person, gets books to me within 6 days of order, pays a royalty on what I buy, and charges a lower price per book than the other PODs. One book retails for $10.95; the other for $11.95. And I can take back my rights on very, very short notice.

They're head-quartered in Pennsylvania and have their own in-house digital printing machine. This company had my latest book at the 2005 Virginia Festival of the Book and bought lunch for their authors that attended.

So, yeah—I've been modestly successful. Self-publishing and POD both worked for me. Won't work for everybody, but worked for me.

mreddin
05-21-2005, 06:56 AM
Because I write for local publications, and because my book had won an award, people were willing to buy my novel. Having some local references/local history woven into it was a big help in selling it. If I hadn't had some financial backing, I doubt I would have gone the self-pubbing route. I'm now midway through my second thousand. Sales now vary between 10 and 25 per month, but a lot of local shops and a couple of independent bookstores carry my book. When the rest of this run is gone, I doubt that I'll do another press run.

Nice to hear some real world "modest" success stories, thanks for sharing that. Have you considered switching from offset to digital after your inventory runs out? Why go out of print when you don't have too, just go directly through lightning source. I do not believe that would require an isbn change though you might want to double check.

Mike

PVish
05-21-2005, 05:41 PM
Have you considered switching from offset to digital after your inventory runs out? Why go out of print when you don't have too, just go directly through lightning source. I do not believe that would require an isbn change though you might want to double check.
Mike

Actually I have considered that. Probably a year or more before I have to decide.

Since I was given an ISBN by a friend (anyone ordering my book through ISBN emails him; he emails me), I would have to change the ISBN. I would also want to change the cover design since the one on my book was a two-color (cheaper than full color) designed by the printing company I hired.

Also, I might want to change a couple of passages for my third edition. I corrected five typos when I did the second edition. Before I decide to do a digital third run, though, I'll see how fast the rest of off-set run #2 sells out.

Ralyks
05-25-2005, 02:06 AM
I POD published. I broke even in about 3 months and I am still turning a profit. It's chump change, but it's steady. I got the book into the hands of my audience, and they have enjoyed reading it. I accomplished my (moderate) goals. I just recently reached my main goal of selling at least 800 copies.

PVISH--May I ask the name of the POD you used?

PVish
05-26-2005, 07:03 PM
PVISH--May I ask the name of the POD you used?

Infinity Publishing in Pennsylvania. They're not fancy, but they do what they say they'll do. A live person always answers the phone whenever I call the toll-free number, they'll submit books to a contest if I ask them to (did it twice for me), they give a discount on the set-up fee to repeat users (you have to ask), they promoted Virginia authors' books at the 2005 Virginia Festival of the Book (and provided us with lunch!), and their books are reasonably priced. They print their books in-house, which is a plus. Takes less than a week to get books when you place an order. Order 20 books and shipping is free. Authors pay 60% of retail, except for the first order when they pay 50%--and authors get 10% royalties on what they buy themselves.

Ralyks
05-27-2005, 06:47 PM
PVish--Thanks, I'll have to look into them. (I'm a Virginia author too.)

citymouse
01-13-2006, 05:45 PM
Their books are of even better quality than my iUniverse books, in terms of cover and paper quality.

Of course, I wish I hadn't ever used iU in the first place, but that is a rant for another thread ...

Anders, I'm an iU author too and if I knew then what I know now I would have chosen a different outfit for my first novel. Their product (for me at least) was just fine, but mercy were they hard ro deal with. The 15% discount rate too is a killer. A writer will never see his/her books in a bookstore with iU--Barnes & Noble notwithstanding.
Michael Halfhill author of
Bought and Paid For & Scimitar