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What I Love About Self-Publishing

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kaitie

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I'm with Dave. I think we're all writers and we can all respect each other and not automatically assume the worst when someone makes a statement. I think we would also benefit by not assuming that anyone comes here with an agenda.

I started lurking around these parts for a couple of reasons. I've had friends recently more and more telling me things like "you should self-publish, this chick did it and got rich," the topic is all anyone is talking about these days and I'm curious and want to learn more, and because it seems that there is a lot of conflicting info and opinions out there and I was hoping to find something of a consensus.

I hope that I never come across as instigating because, as I'd hope most people know from seeing me around, I'm not really that kind of person. I am someone who will correct misinformation where I see it (or at least point out the fact that there are dissenting opinions), and someone who likes to look at every facet of a situation, and thus I'll point out things that seem to me to be potential negatives as well as positives. Again, if you've seen me elsewhere, this is just the way I am.

I have nothing against self-publishing, and I have all kinds of respect for people who make it work. I think we should just be careful not to make assumptions about others, or at least not to jump to negative conclusions. We're all writers, and most of us have shared the same experiences.
 

Medievalist

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I don't really have any skin in this game, but I'm going to go ahead and toss out that the idea of being an 'independent' author means you have to have someone else supporting you makes me chuckle. That's like saying only married women can be considered 'independent.' But I guess it's true that phrases sometimes have meanings that contradict the meanings of the words taken by themselves.

It's not "an idea." "Independent publisher" is a publishing term that has well over 50 years of specific meaning.

It has ramifications in terms of union membership, for instance, as well as distribution, and trade organizations.

It is as inaccurate to refer to someone who is self-published as an "independent publisher" as it is to refer to a "fictionalized novel."

There's no actual social hierarchy in terms of how one is published--but it is misleading since "independant publisher" implies very different things about distribution and production costs than self-published

I'd think people would be proud of being self-published.
 

Medievalist

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Is there perhaps an area where this rule about the indie label can posted? There are probably new members all the time and they won't automatically know this newer rule.

You might take a look at the forum description on the front page.
 

TrickyFiction

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I don't really have any skin in this game, but I'm going to go ahead and toss out that the idea of being an 'independent' author means you have to have someone else supporting you makes me chuckle. That's like saying only married women can be considered 'independent.' But I guess it's true that phrases sometimes have meanings that contradict the meanings of the words taken by themselves.

It's an odd argument, to be sure. I still think it comes from conflating independent publishers and independent authors, but I guess that was inevitable.

I am skinless as well, but I'm thinking of testing the waters in both pools. It'll all be very scientific. ;)
 
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zegota

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It's not "an idea." "Independent publisher" is a publishing term that has well over 50 years of specific meaning.

It has ramifications in terms of union membership, for instance, as well as distribution, and trade organizations.

It is as inaccurate to refer to someone who is self-published as an "independent publisher" as it is to refer to a "fictionalized novel."

There's no actual social hierarchy in terms of how one is published--but it is misleading since "independant publisher" implies very different things about distribution and production costs than self-published

I'd think people would be proud of being self-published.

Independent writer and independent publisher are two different things, though. To me, just on the basis of the meaning of the words, "independent writer" and "self-published writer" are very nearly the same thing.
 

jensoko

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Originally Posted by jensoko

And if I flop, I flop because of something I did, not something my publisher did or didn't do, or a bad cover, or a bad slot in the release schedule, or another book out by the same publisher at that time, or whatever.

Aren't you making a false assumption when by implying that if you did obtain a traditional publisher the house would do everything wrong? Can't one assume that they will do everything right -- or almost everything? Making such a negative assumption is not unto itself, as I see it, a reason to SP. There may be many other reasons to SP, and as you know I'm considering doing so, but to use your arguement as the reason to do so I find hard to swallow. I've had many books traitionally published and while you always think something could be done better, I really can't complain. Now again, that doesn't mean that I won't try self-publishing, but if I do it won't be because I think traditional publishers are inept.

I don't see anywhere where I said I was assuming a traditional publisher would automatically do wrong. If you inferred that from my post, I'm sorry. I do not have an axe to grind with establishment publishers--that is not going to be my hill to die on. I fully get that establishment publishing has a large set of factors to consider when choosing to acquire a specific novel from a specific author, and I don't fault them when they pass on a story.

I have had very pleasant experiences in traditional publishing and the people who worked with me gave me very good advice. The issues I listed above have all been things writers I know have experienced in traditional publishing venues, that have affected either their sales and whether or not they received another contract, or their satisfaction with the process enough for them to speak about it. Those issues were largely beyond their control and may have been appropriate decisions for the publisher to make, but not necessarily to the author's benefit, or their readers' in some cases (and here I speak of series drops, specifically, but that is a personal peeve of mine and I'm fully aware that my position as both a reader and an author makes a series drop hurt double for me).

That's also not the only reason I'm exploring self-publishing, and I'm very emphatically not advising you or anyone else to try it for that or any of my other reasons. The beauty of my own personal position is that I have the freedom to experiment--where I am now, I'm not even a blip on anybody's radar--I will not shock the world if I decide to go straight to kindle, sign with an agent or publishing house, or scribble out my stories on toilet paper and sell them in the ladies room under the stalls (although that last one might get me a write-up in the News of the Weird ;) ). But my position is not your position, and my reasons can't be your reasons.

OldHack said:
B&N changed its policy there because it was losing money as a result of those tactics. If the publishers concerned closed down as a result then their business plans must have been very flawed. It's not acceptable for one business to thrive by tricking others into buying their products.

As it was told to me (by a B&N CSR) the problems weren't with the publishers, but some authors and/or well-meaning friends/family of authors. It became widespread enough that the company enacted a corporate policy where before an individual store had discretion to bring in local authors of all stripes (including self-pubs). I spoke of no publishers closing down--the ones I'm thinking of simply shuttered their print efforts in favor of electronic delivery only (although I know there were some small presses who weren't properly positioned to weather the costs of venturing into print and folded for that or other reasons).
 

Medievalist

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Independent writer and independent publisher are two different things, though. To me, just on the basis of the meaning of the words, "independent writer" and "self-published writer" are very nearly the same thing.

Independent writer doesn't raise my hackles; it used to mean a writer who had alternative income and therefore could afford to write w/o worrying about payment.

But independent publisher or indie publisher, that does mean something very specific--so much so that it's a flagging term in various purchasing and inventory databases.

You know to order more books sooner rather than later if you see that flag and you know you ordered four copies, and have one left, for instance.

It can take a month to get more because they may be located at the other end of the country and handle their own shipping and warehousing, or they rely on a regional distributor or wholesaler.

It also means that they agree to accept returns/strips, in some purchasing systems.
 

Old Hack

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... establishment publishers...

Oh joy, another peculiar new term for trade publishing.

Why use traditional, legacy, or establishment publishing when trade or commercial publishing are established, accepted terms, are already in wide use, and are understood by just about everyone in publishing? It causes confusion, and god only knows there's enough of that already.

As it was told to me (by a B&N CSR) the problems weren't with the publishers, but some authors and/or well-meaning friends/family of authors. It became widespread enough that the company enacted a corporate policy where before an individual store had discretion to bring in local authors of all stripes (including self-pubs). I spoke of no publishers closing down--the ones I'm thinking of simply shuttered their print efforts in favor of electronic delivery only (although I know there were some small presses who weren't properly positioned to weather the costs of venturing into print and folded for that or other reasons).

You're missing my point: perhaps I wasn't clear enough. If a publisher doesn't have decent distribution and so writers and their friends and family resport to subterfuge to get their books into bookshops, then the problem doesn't lie with the authors etc; it lies with the publisher's lack of ability to get their books into bookshops in the first place.
 

scope

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You assumed that Scope's questions were going to be used to fuel an argument, and you're wondering where this "air of defensiveness" is coming from? I thought that Scope was asking for clear information about self publishing, based on others' achievements. This could have been a brilliant opportunity for self-publishers to show what could be achieved: instead it's descended into a bickerfest.

Boy, is that accurate and well said.
 
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rsullivan9597

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1. How long have you been self-publishing?

Since March 2009

2. Do you think self-publishing is right for every unpublished writer?

Absoultely not.

2. What company do you use?
Createspace, Lightning Source, Lulu (hardcover only), Pubit, Amazon KTP, Smashwords (ibookstore, kobo, etc).

3. Do you use an ouside source to do your initial editing, and if so, how much do you pay for same? If you have illiustraions, how do handle same?
Crown - edited by small press
Avempartha -edited by small press
Nyphron Rising - freelance editors - $350
Emerald Storm - freelance editors - $300
Wintertide - free editing from volunteers and other authors

4. Besides being listed on Amazon, what else have you successfully done to promte and help maket your book?
Would need to write an entire book on this - but most success is by getting reviews from book bloggers, giveaways on Goodreads, and social networking.

5. To date how many orders have you received (over how many months?)
60,000+ (Though most have come since Nov 2010) Prior to that only sold 5,000 books or so

6. To date how much money have you made or lost?
More than $200,000 (including foreign sales but NOT including traditional print contract)
 

rsullivan9597

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Because LuLu has no setup fee whereas Lightning Source has a $75 fee. No matter who you get the hardcovers through they are too expensive to market through standard channels (Amazon or Ingram) at a reasonable price to the consumer - so I only sell hardcovers direct - and to a vey "select" group (collectors) who don't complain at $27 - $35 for a siged limited edition. That being said...One of my authors has sold about 150 hard covers at $35 so for the next book I'll evaluate the unit costs beween Lightning Source and Lulu again (it's been a while since I examined it last). Do you know of any other source other than these two that produce hardcovers?
 

dgaughran

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Because LuLu has no setup fee whereas Lightning Source has a $75 fee. No matter who you get the hardcovers through they are too expensive to market through standard channels (Amazon or Ingram) at a reasonable price to the consumer - so I only sell hardcovers direct - and to a vey "select" group (collectors) who don't complain at $27 - $35 for a siged limited edition. That being said...One of my authors has sold about 150 hard covers at $35 so for the next book I'll evaluate the unit costs beween Lightning Source and Lulu again (it's been a while since I examined it last). Do you know of any other source other than these two that produce hardcovers?

Hi Robin - I don't.

I'm slowly easing myself into the self-publishing pool, starting with the calmer digital waters, I don't know a lot about the print side, yet.

I'm going to be releasing short stories one-by-one, then bundle them into collections every five or six or so. I don't know yet if I will do a print version of the short stories, and I haven't decided yet whether I will self-pub my novel. If I do, I will definitely do a print version.

Dave
 

zpeteman

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I just quoted a hardcover offset job and it came to around $3.50-$4.00 per copy for a run of 500. That's for the total job, including setup (make-ready). Although, this project didn't include a dust jacket.

Depending on how many you intend to sell, things get a LOT cheaper than Lulu.
 

jensoko

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Oh joy, another peculiar new term for trade publishing.

Why use traditional, legacy, or establishment publishing when trade or commercial publishing are established, accepted terms, are already in wide use, and are understood by just about everyone in publishing? It causes confusion, and god only knows there's enough of that already.

I said I'm trying it out. Finding the right word is something of a hobby of mine.



You're missing my point: perhaps I wasn't clear enough. If a publisher doesn't have decent distribution and so writers and their friends and family resport to subterfuge to get their books into bookshops, then the problem doesn't lie with the authors etc; it lies with the publisher's lack of ability to get their books into bookshops in the first place.

The group of publishers I'm familiar with had the same ability to get into bookshops as any other in the Ingrams catalog, but whatever. My point was that these small electronic-first presses had a very similar group of headaches that self-publishing does in terms of print distribution, and they have carved out a method of dealing with that that has allowed them to succeed.

Whether it's a very limited print effort and most releases in e, a delayed-print effort where print complements electronic sales, or by abandoning print altogether to focus on their core electronic readership, these small presses have persisted and succeeded, the same way a well-planned self-publishing effort can. Which I think is an important point to be made. Anyone going into publishing of any stripe needs to have a plan and a vision for managing their career, whether it's with a small press, a big press, or out there on your own.
 

LovetoWrite

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Hello? Is anyone home? Knock-knock!

I clicked on this post because I was interested in reading what authors who self-publish love the most about it...as indicated by the thread.

It started out that way for the first couple of responses and ended up three and half pages of authors trying to defend why they love self-publishing instead of being able to share their stories.

Original poster started thread and ended thread with the below...can I please read from self-published authors what they love about it. Everything else on the three and half pages has been said on every single thread that had any spark of joy attached to self-publishing and frankly its now just a snooze fest. Can we get on with the original intention of this thread?

What I Love About Self-Publishing
I'd love to hear how other self-publishers got started.
 

rsullivan9597

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I'll share with you my husband's path to self-publishing. He had tried the query-go-round for a few years. Finally got an agent, she shopped the book a bit but wasn't seeing much traction. Her husband was very ill and she quit the business to take care of him.

Seeing what a pita it was to get an agent the first time I decided to submit to small genre presses. I sent out six-queries but then started looking into self-publishing. I read Dan Poynter's book on Self-Publishing (this was long ago and dated even back then - I'm sure he's updated it since). But what he said made a lot of sense to me even though Dan is non-fiction and my husband write's epic fantasy.

Anyway - I started putting together Ridan - and printed up 200 copies of his first book (to use as ARC's) and then got an answer back from one of the small pressess (AMI in MN) and so I thought. Heck I have a day job - let's let AMI take over.

Workig with AMI was not much different then I suspect many indie press experiences. They were more prett willing to be flexible on covers etc (Michael's artwork is on all the covers you see in my sig.) They printed 2200 books - Michael did some signings and we sold out the printing in about fourteen months.

The second book was due to come out in April, but in March AMI told us they didn't have the cash for the print run. So the rights reverted and the only way to hit the deadline (we had bookclub appearances and signings already scheduled for April) was to self-publish.

As his books were a series, and he had already determined from a marketing perspective 6 months between was "good timing" we had no choice but to continue self-publishing (to try to shift to any other publisher would have too long of a delay).

Sales of the first four books were pretty good - 1,000 a month but in October 2011 when the 5th (and next to last) book came out - sales really took off. I asked our foreign rights agent if it might make sense to look for a US deal and she agreed it was. She put together a proposal and sent it to 17 publishers and had 7 immediately interested. She gave them a tight decision deadline (3 weeks) and in November we got a 3-book six figure deal.

While we are shifting his Riyria Revelations Series to big-six trade publishing, it's quite possible that future books will be self published and here is why (i.e. what I love about self-publishing).

1 - Control - I like doing cover, interior design, marketing copy, etc.
2 - Income - making 70% on ebooks rather than 14.9% is hard to dispute.
3 - Self satisfaction - There's something about that "do it yourself" experience - when you're a success it all points back to your efforts - your sweat, your hands that created something from nothing. It's a great feeling.
 

MartinD

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Congratulations, Robin, to you and your husband. When did you start the entire process?
 

ColoradoMom

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Why can't we all just get along?

It seems that every thread about self-publishing (no matter how innocuous the title and opening posts) descends into the same petty arguments.

We're all writers. We're all on the same side. We are not in competition with each other. We all want the same thing (readers). How we go about it doesn't really matter. I'll say it once more, we're not in competition with each other.

I have neither self-published nor been traditionally published. I would like to do both, which I think could bring me the biggest amount of readers, if done right (which is why I think Amanda Hocking's move was so smart).

If anyone wants to read an even-handed article by a writer who is doing both, I recommend this piece (contains swearing).

Now, play nice, people.

Dave

Dave, I like you. You have a lot of common sense. And as far as that link goes - it was AWESOME! :D

*********

I'm a publisher, I'm a writer, and I'd take a book deal if it wasn't insulting. That would be somewhere in the area of $50,00 advance if I have to wait almost 2 years to see sales because I'd be losing out on cash the whole time I was waiting. But, that's probably not realistic since most advances tend to be MUCH lower.

At any rate - What I love about self publishing is:

Total control in every area
Large profit margin (The color books really kill me because they are so expensive to print, but I make up for it in CD's or online subscriptions)
Taking total credit when it goes well
Being an entrepreneur and reading all those entrepreneur blogs and articles I love to hear about people who worked out of their garage or basement, because that's me and it is so inspiring.

And regardless of what some people think the purpose of this forum might be, the real reason people come here is to get inspired in a way that allows them to take a chance on their dream.

What really sucks about self-publishing is:

I work 14 hour days 7 days a week.
Customers when they are in serious need of a Xanax
Website issues & Virtue-Mart (My shopping cart)
Other authors who think self-published writers are somehow beneath them

But all in all I really enjoy making a living as a self-published writer AND independent publisher because 5 years ago I was a scientist and whoa boy - talk about freaking boring. This is so much more interesting, plus I make my own schedule and can work as little or as much as I want and then I get to see results immediately.

So, for me self-publishing is wonderful. Seriously.

But yes, I'd take a $50,000+ advance with a publisher and never feel, in any way, that I sold out, or that it was a black mark on my self publishing career.

And no - not to beat my own drum or anything, but not everyone could do what I do. It just so happens that I have a cumulative background that allows me to be, if not competent in most areas of publishing, at least intelligent enough to fake it well until I figure it out.

And my publishing area is highly specialized and my market is highly targeted...so that actually makes a big difference when you're looking to make money.
 

shaldna

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They were more prett willing to be flexible on covers etc (Michael's artwork is on all the covers you see in my sig.)

I have to say that those covers are absolutely beautiful.

I didn't realise that he did them himself. That is pretty awesome.
 

shaldna

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@ColoradoMom

Just read your post, and while a lot of it made sense, I do have a question.

You said that you'd take a publishers offer if it 'wasn't insulting' and said that it would take 50k as an advance.

I just wondered if that was you factoring the time and effort you spend selling and promoting your work into the equation.

By that I mean, are you just looking at writing time, or are you considering the time that you would save by having someone else do a lot of the work?

Just curious.
 

ColoradoMom

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@ColoradoMom

Just read your post, and while a lot of it made sense, I do have a question.

You said that you'd take a publishers offer if it 'wasn't insulting' and said that it would take 50k as an advance.

I just wondered if that was you factoring the time and effort you spend selling and promoting your work into the equation.

By that I mean, are you just looking at writing time, or are you considering the time that you would save by having someone else do a lot of the work?

Just curious.

No, I'm just thinking that in no way shape or form would I ever take something as low as a $10,000 advance. Ever. I mean, that would be enough to pay the mortgage for a few months, but I'd have to wait another year to get more money out of that project. You give away so many rights that it just doesn't make sense. Plus, I definitely KNOW I could make more than that in the time I'd be waiting around for it to be published because I have a pretty big platform and I could probably sell oh, about 1000-1500 copies without even trying very hard on my own.

Put a little elbow grease into marketing it and then who knows. I have a solid marketing plan right now, one that is free and takes very little time. The right fiction book would slip right into that market no problem.

So, maybe $25,000 might make me think about it, $30,000 and I'd be open to it if I could keep the e-books rights, $40,000 and I'm leaning towards letting them in on my e-book sales too, but you get me up to $50,000 and yeah, sure. I can wait around for that sucker for $50,000 because that's about a years worth of work, so a year's worth of wait isn't so terrible.

I guess if I had a message that I wanted to get out to people and I wanted to make sure my book had the proper "perception" I might make an exception - talking like an expert non-fiction book now. But in my opinion traditional publishers are ripping authors off and the more I think about it, the more absurd it becomes to let them take it without looking at all your options.
 
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