WHY do you dislike Self/POD Publishing?

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Feidb

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Part 1

I don't turn my nose up at self-publishing, but I'd never do it. I've seen the quality of many self-published books, and have seen several garages full of them.

To me, self-publishing is a niche for those that are okay with the drawbacks. I am not. But that doesn't mean self-publishing is totally bad. I just choose not to go that route.

With self-published books, all, and I mean ALL of the impetus to sell the book are on the shoulders of the author. The publisher is merely being paid to print the book and usually (but not always) could care less whether it sells. That leaves the author on their own to market, distribute, and pretty much do everything else.

Yeah, many of the conventional publishers do little to market all but the biggest named authors, but at least they do SOMETHING, have the distribution, and the reputations (good or bad) that draws audiences.

Part 2

I have nothing against POD publishing either. It is not even in the same ball park as self-publishing, as I see it. The publisher has something invested into it, and they are more likely to help get the book out there. I personally, don't care for buying POD only because I like to feel and smell the book, rifle through the pages, check it for third person viewpoint, and check the font before I spend the money on it. However, many people don't care and will order it from an on-line catalog or through a brick and mortar store. I wouldn't mind being published POD, but I wonder how much would sell because of all the people I know that feel the same way about touching before buying.
 

Brindle Chase

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Well, I understand, and I would encourage anyone to try, if being published is their goal, traditional publishing houses and literary agents first. But I would never cast an absolute that says it can't be done any other way, which is the general feeling I perceived from this thread. It has a heavy, "you suck if you don't do it this way." feel to it. I disagree.

Some books don't get published, not because they aren't good. Maybe there is too small of a market for it. Maybe the author weaves a great tale, but lacks the ability to draft a worthy synopsis. Maybe is the key word. To label all self published authors as having something wrong with their books seems close minded and lacks truth in the whole. Why someone chooses self publishing, successful or not, could be for a million different reasons and I would never say, without reading the book, it was because there was something wrong with it. Even if I had read the book, I doubt I would say such a thing. Just because someone can write, doesn't mean they are instantly an expert in navigating the publishing world and just maybe that's their stumbling block and not their writing.

I imagine, and adamantly so, that there are quite a few brilliant authors out there that will never be published, because of a myriad of reasons I wouldn't begin to guess at. I wouldn't disparage them though, for they likely are a far more talented writer than I. IMHO.
 

The Lonely One

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Well, I understand, and I would encourage anyone to try, if being published is their goal, traditional publishing houses and literary agents first. But I would never cast an absolute that says it can't be done any other way, which is the general feeling I perceived from this thread. It has a heavy, "you suck if you don't do it this way." feel to it. I disagree.

Some books don't get published, not because they aren't good. Maybe there is too small of a market for it. Maybe the author weaves a great tale, but lacks the ability to draft a worthy synopsis. Maybe is the key word. To label all self published authors as having something wrong with their books seems close minded and lacks truth in the whole. Why someone chooses self publishing, successful or not, could be for a million different reasons and I would never say, without reading the book, it was because there was something wrong with it. Even if I had read the book, I doubt I would say such a thing. Just because someone can write, doesn't mean they are instantly an expert in navigating the publishing world and just maybe that's their stumbling block and not their writing.

I imagine, and adamantly so, that there are quite a few brilliant authors out there that will never be published, because of a myriad of reasons I wouldn't begin to guess at. I wouldn't disparage them though, for they likely are a far more talented writer than I. IMHO.

Great post.
 

maestrowork

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Walt Whitman
Mark Twain
John Grisham
L. Ron Hubbard
Richard Nixon
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
Will Clarke
Jennifer Colt
T.S. Eliot
Arlene Eisenberg
Benjamin Franklin
Judith Galbraith
Zane Grey
Ernest Hemingway
Travis Hunter
Stephen King
Louis L'Amour
Burt Levy
Nan McCarthy
Edgar Allen Poe
Alexander Pope
Beatrix Potter
Marcel Proust
George Bernard Shaw

First of all, "self-publish" had a different meaning back then. There was no computers and Lulu or digital printing technologies. Self-publish back then simply meant they put up the money themselves.

Second, so many "urban legends" on that list. King and Grisham did NOT self-publish. Beatrix Potter didn't either. Neither did Hemingway. And some who did was already well-known in the literary circle -- they didn't self-published their first books. They put up the money to publish certain works for various reasons.

No one is turning up their noses, but please, for crying out loud, if you're going to bring up a list of famous authors, at least check your sources and accuracy instead of blindly believing, "Oh, if King could do it, so could I."

But you know what, no one is stopping anyone to self-publish. But if you truly believe you will be the next Stephen King by going with Lulu, good luck.
 

NeuroFizz

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Man #1: "That beer went right through me. I feel like I just rented it." *unzips fly*

Man #2: "Not that way. It's not smart to piss into the wind."

Man #1. "Why do you turn your nose up at pissing in this direction? I can time it between gusts."


In other words, firm advice that goes against a person's preconception or firm belief will frequently be seen as negative or given with an upturned nose, no matter how much experience supports that advice.
 
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JoNightshade

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Sorry for dragging this thread off topic, but I wanted to address this:

lol. Yeah I kind of figured we're all "different". What I mean is that I grew of with years of abuse due to physical deformities. The kind that don't make publishers want to put your picture on their website/books/have associated with their company, or so I was told all through my childhood.

1) Unless you're in Hollywood or high school, nobody gives a rat's bottom what you look like. We're all too wrapped up in our own insecurities to notice anyone else.

2) Does anyone actually look at author photos? I might glance at one every once in a while when I finish reading. I don't even know what JK Rowling looks like.

3) I just looked at your MySpace page and I'm very, very tempted to post your photo here so everyone else can tell you how much this is all in your head. Like, completely. I dunno if you were a weird looking kid or something, and you're no supermodel, but I don't see anything other than "average girl" when I look at you.
 

Brindle Chase

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First of all, "self-publish" had a different meaning back then. There was no computers and Lulu or digital printing technologies. Self-publish back then simply meant they put up the money themselves.

Second, so many "urban legends" on that list. King and Grisham did NOT self-publish. Beatrix Potter didn't either. Neither did Hemingway. And some who did was already well-known in the literary circle -- they didn't self-published their first books. They put up the money to publish certain works for various reasons.

No one is turning up their noses, but please, for crying out loud, if you're going to bring up a list of famous authors, at least check your sources and accuracy instead of blindly believing, "Oh, if King could do it, so could I."

But you know what, no one is stopping anyone to self-publish. But if you truly believe you will be the next Stephen King by going with Lulu, good luck.

I apologize if there are inaccuracies in this list. I googled it, came up with dozens of sites that listed these authors as self published. Wikipedia'd some of them and it checked out... so I went with it. My apologies. I wasn't attempting to assert myself as a publishing expert. Some on that list did indeed self publish and as a result, became very successful and self publishing was one of many stepping stones to that success. I don't recall saying anything about comparing myself or anyone, to Stephen King. If I gave you that impression, again, I apologize. My entire point was that self publishing is a viable, albiet challenging, avenue to writing success. IMHO
 

Cyia

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Well, I understand, and I would encourage anyone to try, if being published is their goal, traditional publishing houses and literary agents first. But I would never cast an absolute that says it can't be done any other way, which is the general feeling I perceived from this thread. It has a heavy, "you suck if you don't do it this way." feel to it. I disagree.

If you come into a discussion expecting to be bashed and have to defend your viewpoint, then you're going to see attacks where there aren't any. More than one poster has flat out said that they have NOTHING against POD presses when they're honest and used with a reasonable expectation from the author. They have their place, but too many authors out of naivety, exasperation, or immaturity/impatience flock to self-publishers thinking it's the first stepping stone to fame and fortune. It's not.

There's a reason the major houses don't have to advertise for writers on tiny internet ads the way vanity publishers, do.

Some books don't get published, not because they aren't good. Maybe there is too small of a market for it. This is true, and as was earlier stated, niche markets are where the legit POD presses come into play. Maybe the author weaves a great tale, but lacks the ability to draft a worthy synopsis. This is the author's fault, not the industry's. They need to do some research, find out how to write an appropriate query -- there's a very convenient forum for it here. If you are serious about selling your novel outside your circle of friends/family, you need to be able to do this. ESPECIALLY if you go the POD route. If you can't sell it to an agent/publisher with a query then how do you intend to entice people who don't know you to shell out their money for an overpriced book by someone they've never heard of... and they're all overpriced. It's the only way POD's - even legit ones - can offset their costs. Maybe is the key word. To label all self published authors as having something wrong with their books seems close minded and lacks truth in the whole. As was already said, POD isn't necessarily a handicap to further publishing, but it's not a help either. It's a zero in the credit department; that is the whole truth. Why someone chooses self publishing, successful or not, could be for a million different reasons and I would never say, without reading the book, it was because there was something wrong with it. And chances are you won't read the book - neither will anyone else - because it's never marketed to the public. Even if I had read the book, I doubt I would say such a thing. Then you do the author a disservice by not being honest. The sad fact is that everyone who thinks they have a story to tell isn't cut out to be a writer. It's better to be told that privately by a legit publisher/agent than to go ahead and stubornly force drivel into print and have your "baby" skewered by anyone who happens to find and read it. (Google "Night Travels of the Elven Vampire" if you need a case in point. That's how dreams - and egos - get shattered.) Just because someone can write, doesn't mean they are instantly an expert in navigating the publishing world and just maybe that's their stumbling block and not their writing.Which is why you should do your homework. Knowledge gets you over those blocks every time.

I imagine, and adamantly so, that there are quite a few brilliant authors out there that will never be published, because of a myriad of reasons I wouldn't begin to guess at. I wouldn't disparage them though, for they likely are a far more talented writer than I. IMHO. That's why the serious ones keep going when they get that 100th rejection slip in the mail or their inbox. [/quote]


And I have to say that list that keeps popping up reminds me of the email that circulated right after Congress approved that bail out package - the one that said if they'd just given every citizen like $500,000 it would have been the same amount of money and fixed the problem faster.

People neither do their math nor their homework on those things.
 

James D. Macdonald

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I hear comments like "somethings wrong with your book" if you have to self publish... below is a list of self published authors... I think alot of traditionally published authors wished they were as successful as the people on this list. I'm sure you recognize some of these famous authors...

Oh, dear. Not this long-discredited list again. Look, I know where you got this from. But one more time, with feeling:

Walt Whitman

19th c. poet.

Mark Twain

19th c. Was already America's most popular and best-selling author when he turned to self-publishing. Went bankrupt. Had to go on the lecture circuit to pay off his debts.

John Grisham

A flat fabrication. Grisham's first novel, A Time To Kill, was published by a commercial advance-and-royalty New York publisher. (He has, in later years, founded a magazine to which he sometimes contributes. I doubt this is what you mean by "self-publishing.")

L. Ron Hubbard

Bridge Publications, an arm of the Scientologists, keeps L. Ron's books in print. They pay for shelf space to keep them in bookstores. (They also send their devotees into bookstores to buy the books and send them back to the warehouse.)

Richard Nixon

Specialized non-fiction. (Not best-know for his writing, either.)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

19th c. poet (her father paid for publication; she was 14 years old).

Edgar Rice Burroughs

After Burroughs had already become the best-selling and richest author in America he founded his own publishing house.

Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

Specialized non-fiction.

Will Clarke

Posted his novels on his web-page.

Jennifer Colt

Who?

T.S. Eliot


Early 20th c. poet.

Arlene Eisenberg

Specialized non-fiction.

Benjamin Franklin

18th c. printer. The publishing industry didn't even exist at the time Franklin ran his printshop.

Judith Galbraith

Specialized non-fiction.

Zane Grey


His first novel, a historical romance set during the American Revolution (which no one would have ever heard of if he didn't subsequently start writing westerns -- which he sold to advance-and-royalty publishers).

Ernest Hemingway

Early 20th c., in Paris. In editions of six copies; an artifact of the copyright laws of the time.

Travis Hunter

Niche fiction.

Stephen King

Yes, he did self-publish some stories while he was in high school. He sold them to his friends for a quarter.

Louis L'Amour

He self-published a book of poetry, years before he got famous for his westerns.

Burt Levy


Niche fiction.

Nan McCarthy

Niche fiction.

Edgar Allen Poe

19th c. poet

Alexander Pope

18th c. poet.

Beatrix Potter

Early 20th c. England.

Marcel Proust

Early 20th c., Paris. Widely published before Remembrance of Things Past was written.

George Bernard Shaw

19th c. playwright.
 

ishtar'sgate

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I want to be serious here, because I know a lot of people feel very strongly one way or the other, but no one ever gives a very good reason as to why Self/POD publishing is so bad.

Or why, for that matter, it's worse than even some of the lousy "vanity" and small publishers that people here go with. I've seen several books/authors here who stick their nose up at Self/POD publishing, but then rave about the tiny little no-name publisher they went with.
SELF publishing IS so-called vanity publishing. The reason self publishing gets a bad name is because anyone can do it, talented or untalented, as long as they want to pay for it. In and of itself I have no problem with self publishing. In fact I have some very good books by authors who have self published.
SMALL publishers buy work they believe in and pay the author for their work. The author receives advances and royalties the same as they would from a large publisher. A small publisher has a smaller advertising budget and smaller print runs, so generally generates less revenue.
 

Feidb

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I agree with Ishtar. As long as you have the money, a self-publisher will print whatever you give them. No oversight, no icentive by them to make sure it's a quality product.

The book may have good binding, a easy and readable font, and look pretty, but the content is totally up to the author. Unless the author is super talented and super perfect, or has a bunch of experts helping him (highly unlikely), then despite the book looking pretty, the story may be full of typos, grammatical errors, pacing, POV, structure problems.

Still, it's a way to get your book in print, but you have a hell of a lot more obstacles to overcome by yourself. Plus, you have to pay for EVERYTHING.

I, for one, don't have $20,000 lying around to self-publish. Sure, you can probably get it cheaper, but that is the average cost I've heard bandied about. Anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 is what you could be facing.

If you think that's a good deal, more power to you.
 

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I think alot of publishers are afraid to take a chances which is why alot of unpublished writers get pushed down the self-publishing path. It doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with their books or that they were "unworthy" of traditional publication it just meant that in a sea of thousands of manuscripts they never got noticed, they got passed aside, ignored for a number of reasons, such as bad query, synopsis, bad plot...

If I was ever to do it I would treat it like a small business. I would open up a professional website, get it reviewed, get a front cover professionally done, sell it on Amazon, try to get it into bookshops, read marketing books, and more. If it fails, I'll chalk it up to a learning experience. I truly believe though with the right style of marketing any self-published book can be a success. What about the Christmas Box?

From Wikipedia:

The Christmas Box (ISBN 9781566840286) is an American book written by Richard Paul Evans and self-published in 1993. A Christmas story written for his children, the book sold by word of mouth with such success that it soon got the attention of the big publishing houses. A bidding war erupted which resulted in Evans receiving several million dollars for the publishing rights.

Released in hardcover in 1995 by Simon & Schuster, The Christmas Box proved a publishing phenomenon, becoming the first book to simultaneously reach the No.1 position on the New York Times bestseller list for both the paperback and hardcover editions. That same year, the book was made into a television movie of the same title starring Richard Thomas and Maureen O'Hara.
 

NeuroFizz

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What about the Christmas Box?
Evans found a very rare calm between the gusts. But don't you suppose the story was run through the publisher's editors before being re-released and marketed? And with that size of advance, I suspect the book received quite a large marketing budget.
 

gothicangel

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I think there is confusion with the term 'self publisher'. A self publisher is an author who publishs their own work who contracts work out to other specialist (i.e printing, jacket design, editing).

A 'self-publishing company' has nothing to do with self-publishing and are the new vanity presses. However, not all self-publishers are vanity publishers.

It costs a publisher £20,000 to launch a new author so I understand publisher's reservations.

Also, King describes his 'self-published' books as 'plaguarised' from a tv programme/movie he saw.
 

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From Wikipedia:

The Christmas Box (ISBN 9781566840286) is an American book written by Richard Paul Evans and self-published in 1993. A Christmas story written for his children, the book sold by word of mouth with such success that it soon got the attention of the big publishing houses. A bidding war erupted which resulted in Evans receiving several million dollars for the publishing rights.

Released in hardcover in 1995 by Simon & Schuster, The Christmas Box proved a publishing phenomenon, becoming the first book to simultaneously reach the No.1 position on the New York Times bestseller list for both the paperback and hardcover editions. That same year, the book was made into a television movie of the same title starring Richard Thomas and Maureen O'Hara.

The key point:

The Christmas Box represents a publishing phenomenon so rare and remarkable that it is the subject of a Wikipedia article.

caw
 

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One more thing: Christopher Paolini.

Yes, he self-published Eragon; but it was Carl Hiassen that passed the book on to Knopf. I don't even think odds of one in a million justify that stroke of luck!
 

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um...

I think alot of publishers are afraid to take a chances which is why alot of unpublished writers get pushed down the self-publishing path. NO publisher is going to pass on something they think will make money; they're a business. They have resources the public doesn't; they know when the market can and can't support another book in a specific genre. It doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with their books or that they were "unworthy" of traditional publication it just meant that in a sea of thousands of manuscripts they never got noticed, they got passed aside, ignored for a number of reasons, such as bad query, synopsis, bad plot... All the writer's fault, not the publisher's. A writer should be able to present their idea simply and cleanly so that it's appealing. And as far as "bad plot"... are you kidding me? If the plot is bad, the book is bad period. Bad books shouldn't be in print.

If I was ever to do it I would treat it like a small business. I would open up a professional website at your own cost, get it reviewed by who, because most reviews come from advance copies which you won't get from a vanity press, get a front cover professionally done again at your own cost, sell it on Amazon where it will get lost because it's not advertised and people don't know you. Where it will also be overpriced, try to get it into bookshops good luck, read marketing books at what point in this process do you see yourself having time to read, much less write another book?, and more Much much more. If it fails, I'll chalk it up to a learning experience. I truly believe though with the right style of marketing any self-published book can be a success. And most children truly believe in Santa Claus What about the Christmas Box? A grassroots fluke like a few low budget films that make big bucks. This was something published 15 years ago, btw.

From Wikipedia:

The Christmas Box (ISBN 9781566840286) is an American book written by Richard Paul Evans and self-published in 1993. A Christmas story written for his children, the book sold by word of mouth with such success that it soon got the attention of the big publishing houses. A bidding war erupted which resulted in Evans receiving several million dollars for the publishing rights.

Released in hardcover in 1995 by Simon & Schuster, The Christmas Box proved a publishing phenomenon, becoming the first book to simultaneously reach the No.1 position on the New York Times bestseller list for both the paperback and hardcover editions. That same year, the book was made into a television movie of the same title starring Richard Thomas and Maureen O'Hara.
 

Cyia

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One more thing: Christopher Paolini.

Yes, he self-published Eragon; but it was Carl Hiassen that passed the book on to Knopf. I don't even think odds of one in a million justify that stroke of luck!

He wasn't "self - published"; he was published by his family's professional imprint. They had contacts like a legit publishing company because they were one. They used their resources as a publishing company to market his book.
 

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Carrie was published by Doubleday -- hardly anyone's idea of a small press.
When people use Stephen King as an example of a self-published author, I wonder if they're referring to his on-line publishing experiment (which he stopped because it didn't make enough money). Or if they're referring to his small press books -- book those are limited editions published through legitimate small presses. Or if they're referring to the stories he sold to his friends in school. None of them are really what people think of when they think of "a self-published author."

Also, I'm surprised none of those lists have mentioned authors such as David Wellington and John Scalzi who published novels on-line. However, those authors are rare exceptions -- and were good at marketing themselves. (Scalzi was better known for his blog than for his on-line novel.)
 

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Originally Posted by Atlantis
I think alot of publishers are afraid to take a chances which is why alot of unpublished writers get pushed down the self-publishing path. NO publisher is going to pass on something they think will make money; they're a business. They have resources the public doesn't; they know when the market can and can't support another book in a specific genre. It doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with their books or that they were "unworthy" of traditional publication it just meant that in a sea of thousands of manuscripts they never got noticed, they got passed aside, ignored for a number of reasons, such as bad query, synopsis, bad plot... All the writer's fault, not the publisher's. A writer should be able to present their idea simply and cleanly so that it's appealing. And as far as "bad plot"... are you kidding me? If the plot is bad, the book is bad period. Bad books shouldn't be in print.

If I was ever to do it I would treat it like a small business. I would open up a professional website at your own cost, get it reviewed by who, because most reviews come from advance copies which you won't get from a vanity press, get a front cover professionally done again at your own cost, sell it on Amazon where it will get lost because it's not advertised and people don't know you. Where it will also be overpriced, try to get it into bookshops good luck, read marketing books at what point in this process do you see yourself having time to read, much less write another book?, and more Much much more. If it fails, I'll chalk it up to a learning experience. I truly believe though with the right style of marketing any self-published book can be a success. And most children truly believe in Santa Claus What about the Christmas Box? A grassroots fluke like a few low budget films that make big bucks. This was something published 15 years ago, btw.

From Wikipedia:

The Christmas Box (ISBN 9781566840286) is an American book written by Richard Paul Evans and self-published in 1993. A Christmas story written for his children, the book sold by word of mouth with such success that it soon got the attention of the big publishing houses. A bidding war erupted which resulted in Evans receiving several million dollars for the publishing rights.

Released in hardcover in 1995 by Simon & Schuster, The Christmas Box proved a publishing phenomenon, becoming the first book to simultaneously reach the No.1 position on the New York Times bestseller list for both the paperback and hardcover editions. That same year, the book was made into a television movie of the same title starring Richard Thomas and Maureen O'Hara.

Geeze you're real negative, aren't you? Haven't you ever heard of the saying You have to spend money to make money?

If my writing career requires me to have a professional website made then I'll do it. If I have to sell copies of my books out of my car I'll do it. If I have to pay someone to review my book I'll do it. If I have to give out copies for free I'll do it. I'll do whatever it takes. People can and HAVE become successful through self-publishing. That is just the facts. It doesn't matter that the Christmas Box was published 15 years ago. It is still solid evidence that a self-published book can shoot to fame. You want a more recent example? one word: Eragon.

Another example: Matthew Reily. An Australian author who got his self published books put for sale in the front window of bookshops in Australia through blood, sweat and tears. So don't tell me it can't be done. It can.

Another Wikipedia article:

Contest is the first published novel by Australian thriller writer Matthew Reilly, and established his career as one of the most popular writers among young Australians, as well as people all over the world. It is interesting to note that in 1996, after being rejected by several Australian publishing houses, Reilly personally paid for 1000 copies of the book to be published privately under the label of 'Karanadon Entertainment', and sold them himself.

He made up the name Karanadon Entertainment. A Karanadon is the name of an alien monster in Contest.
 

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So don't tell me it can't be done.

This thread started with a question about why people object to self-publication of novels, and a strangely uninformed observation:

no one ever gives a very good reason as to why Self/POD publishing is so bad.

Answers have been given, answers that have been given voluminously in other threads in the past. If you choose to argue with them, that's your choice. So, go do your self-publication thing, and best wishes. Let us know how it turns out.

caw
 

Deb Kinnard

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This also plays to the idea that the only way a new author can get published is through doing it herself. This is also wrong, and a myth perpetuated by vanity publishers...

Not exclusively. A couple years back, I sent a request for guidelines to a large publisher in my niche market, and got back a rejection letter (mind you, I had sent in none of my writing, not a proposal or even a query letter, so basically there was nothing to reject) and a bunch of brochures for self- and vanity-publishing services.

It's funny now, but honked me off at the time. The tenor of the communication was, "We certainly won't look at your writing, since we don't know you and you didn't mention an agent. Here...here's a crumb or two, because if WE won't work with you, your work is not good enough for any paying venue, and your best choice is to pay someone else."

Phooey. I wrote them off and later sold that project small-press.
 
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Hanukkah sameach!

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