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Old 03-13-2006, 11:56 AM
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Self-publishing


Hi, everyone,

I was just wondering if any of you were self-published and what your experiencing is with self-publishing. I am thinking of self-publishing and going through lulu.com. Any thoughts?

~Cali~

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Old 03-13-2006, 01:03 PM
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From what I know about Lulu, is that it costs the buyer more money.

Self publishing is great for seeing your own name in print and getting support from friends and family, but it's ridiculously hard to get a reputation in the self publishing buisiness.

But, that's just what I've gotten out of it

Mal
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:13 PM
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That is something to consider. I'm sure it does cost the author more money as far as trying to market the book goes, but I think the author retains more control over what happens to the book and which rights are sold and to whom. Hmmm...I guess there is just pros and cons to about everything, or so it seems. Thanks for your insight.
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Old 03-13-2006, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by MalReynolds
. . .

Self publishing is great for seeing your own name in print and getting support from friends and family, but it's ridiculously hard to get a reputation in the self publishing buisiness . . .
That's probably because there is an awful lot of crap in the self publishing field that makes it very difficult to find any worthwhile writers (okay, there's also a lot of crap in conventionally published writing, but there you know what it is, usually, and can avoid it).

Plus, at least from what I know, there are very few reviews and very little promotion, unless the writer does that part him/herself. And in that case, you might just set up a website and do it altogether without one of those dubious webpublishers. I even know someone who did this with some minor success, though in a very specialized field. I am not sure that could be repeated in anything mainstream.

Also, you might want to keep in mind that even most published authors do not actually make their living from writing, so for someone self publishing it's probably impossible to do so. If I wanted to invest money in my writing, I'd rather do it by going the traditional way and submit it to publishing houses than pay some webpublisher.

Incidentally and if you don't mind, what field is your work in, CaliWave? If it's in an unusual one, you might want to consider speciality publishers.
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Old 03-23-2006, 04:03 AM
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Originally Posted by CaliWave81
I'm sure it does cost the author more money as far as trying to market the book goes, but I think the author retains more control over what happens to the book and which rights are sold and to whom. Hmmm...I guess there is just pros and cons to about everything, or so it seems. Thanks for your insight.
The author retaining control is hogwash, one of the cop-out excuses that the self published use to excuse what they've done. Self/vanity publishing, with a few exceptions, exists for those too inept or too lazy or too misinformed to seek regular 'paid' publication. The upshot generally is that you'll sell as many copies as you have friends and family.

Someone will, I'm sure, fire back at me the handful of successful publishers that started out self publishing; fine, but consider the millions who never made it. Also consider that none of them now self-publish - they know which is the better option.

You probably guessed I'm not a big fan of self publishing.
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Old 03-23-2006, 04:37 AM
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If you are expecting a firing squad now I am afraid I'll have to disappoint you, because I couldn't agree more with you on "self publishing" people. Furthermore, while I have, over the years, encountered quite a number of people who are doing it, I have yet to encounter a book that I'd want to buy of a website like that. Furthermore, I don't know and have not yet heard of any author who launched into a successful writing carrier that way.

In an aside, the usually horrid webdesign of those sites is an additional put off. I makes me wonder whether, if they are as sloppy about their "store front" as the design suggest, they are equally sloppy about their writing. And if there is one thing I absolutely despise it's sloppy writing.

I do know of a few - very few - people who had books commissioned by publishers after submitting their work in the every November (Inter)National Novel Writing Month - NaNoWriMo for short - but I think that's rather a different deal since this is actually a place I know publishers and editors check for new talent.

On traditional publishing I have to add though that is it not all skill, but luck also: no matter how good a book might be, if it doesn't fit a publishing house's needs at the time it is submitted, it might be rejected despite the fact that it IS, really, quality work.


PS: CaliWave, I positively love your new avatar! It makes me think of Okinanwa diving days and other happy memories.


PPS: Mike C, the link to "My writings" in your signature isn't working. Thought I'd just let you know.
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Old 03-23-2006, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Panthere Noir
On traditional publishing I have to add though that is it not all skill, but luck also: no matter how good a book might be, if it doesn't fit a publishing house's needs at the time it is submitted, it might be rejected despite the fact that it IS, really, quality work.
Of course, writing the damn thing is only 50% of the job. The rest is about 'best fit'; finding the agent most suitable to further your ends with the largest amount of enthusiasm for your work, who then has to find the publisher most suitable. It all takes time, but with determination and patience, I strongly believe that good work will find a home. And as if by magic only today I got a mail from a colleague to say she'd had an offer on her novel.
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Old 03-23-2006, 02:44 PM
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ps thanks for the pointer on my web site. Just goes to show I'm not as clever as I tell everyone I am - the link should be (and will be in about 2 minutes) http://mikecoombes.ktf-design.com
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Old 03-25-2006, 04:05 AM
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I have never purchased a book that was self-published as far as I am aware. What are the benefits? How do you get your book out into stores? I don't really understand the premise behind the whole thing. Why not just print your story, bind it, and give it to family members and friends?
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Old 03-26-2006, 10:58 PM
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I'm usually totally negative about self publishing, so let's look at the flip side.

What is your objective? If it's to be able to say you're a published author, and have a copy of your work to show people, and maybe distribute them amongst friends and family, self-publishing is for you.

If you want to be read, and to make money, and still go self-publishing...

OK. How good are you at selling? How good are you at persuading complete strangers to part with $15-odd for a book by somebody they never heard of? How will you pitch it, and who to?

How much do you want to earn from writing, per week? Divide that by the amount of royalties, that's the number of books you have to sell. Every week.

So, say you want to earn $500 a week - that's the equivalent of a fairly average blue-collar wage where I come from. you sell for $15, you make $5 (just snatching round figures out of the air for illustrative purposes) per book.

You have to sell 100 books every week or you don't pay the bills. Can you do that? And how many hours per day will you have to devote to selling? Will that leave any time for writing your second book? Is $500 a week enough? And out of that $500, how much of that will you be spending on travel, fuel, postage, etc - cost of sales? If you spend $100 travelling etc to sell those books each week, that's another 20 books you have to sell each week to cover it.

By all means, if you think you can do it, self-publish, but be realistic, give yourself an honest appraisal of how much time and money you can afford to lose, and on your ability and determination to keep selling even when 99 out of 100 people will say "No thanks".

Get yourself a marketing plan. Make it realistic, and show it to someone who runs a business or even your bank manager and ask them if it's viable.

But before you do that - or even while you're doing it - try sending your MSS out to agents. You never know - if your work is good enough, someone will take it on; if it's not, maybe it'll be a harder sell than you thought it might be.

The route you choose is down to you, but do it with your eyes open and having realistically appraised all the options, not just the one you thought was the soft one.
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Old 04-11-2006, 04:04 PM
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Every so often the newspapers pop up someone who has seen success through self-publishing - G.P Taylor is one who comes to mind immediately. Counter that with the hundreds of thousands of SP authors that don't.

As Mike says, if you're self-publishing, you need to think about your marketing. If you don't know anything about marketing, then just accept you'll only sell to close friends and family. Just today, I received a Lulu'd anthology, in which some of my Flash Fiction features. All very nice, but I don't count it as a publishing credit on my c.v. Well, not unless I get desperate, that is.
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Old 04-24-2006, 07:19 AM
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I'm new here, and I may be insulting your collective intelligence by telling you things you already know all too well. I hope not. I see from the discussion in this thread that some subsidy publishers (and Lulu.com is usually used as a subsidy house, although they can act as a print broker) are being considered by some of the writers here.

Each of the three options for getting published is appropriate for some projects and sets of goals. I won't begin to advocate for any particular one. The three, as I see it, are:
--traditional publishing (with or without agent)
--self-publishing (with or without free-lance assistance)
--subsidy publishing

You all know about tradtional publishing. A discussion of that would be carrying coals to Newcastle! But on the latter two, I may be able to contribute.

First, there is a very, very large difference between self-publishing, and subsidy publishing. If you buy an ISBN block from your country's ISBN Agency (Bowker in the US), then you are self-publishing.

This usually means that you set up a company, hire an editor, a text designer, and a cover designer. Then you arrange for the printing, set up distribution (best to go with one of the biggies, if you can get in), and market like crazy.

If you do this properly, your end product is indistinguishable from that of any other new small publisher. You reap the author's portion of the earnings, but you also earn a profit as a publisher. And, yes, your book comes out as you want it.

If you do it badly, well, losing money is a great publishing tradition, too.

There are hundreds, and quite likely thousands, of new, successful, growing small publishers that started by publishing the owner's work.

On the other hand, there are the subsidy publishers. They are quite good at economically producing a book-shaped object from your ms. These BSOs usually sell between 25 and 100 copies. That includes sales to the author, who is NOT the publisher, whatever may be implied or mis-understood.

Going with one of those outfits usually has negative consequences for your marketing and your access to distribution channels. It also usually either sets your list price above that of the competition, or sets your terms of trade outside those that are acceptable to mainstream trade stores and wholesalers. Or both.

I hope that the above has contributed something interesting to the thread, and is of use to some of you.
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Old 04-24-2006, 09:59 PM
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Thanks Marion, useful clarification. I think a lot of people think 'self-publishing' (a huge, umbrella expression) begins and ends with Lulu and (1000 times worse) PublishAmerica. Only the desperate or gullible would 'publish' with the latter.
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Old 04-26-2006, 07:16 AM
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FWIW, if you ARE going to self-publish, or if you are a small publisher, you might find some help in the Reference Desk on my site. I have articles on relevant topics, reviews of books on publishing, and a couple dozen pages full of links to professionals in the field that you might need.
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Old 06-29-2006, 01:18 PM
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I posted this under another thread - seemed relevant here, too -
I've got a local printer who will make as few as 10 books, soft cover. I even have access through a friend to some ISBN numbers this year. Next year, I expect the printer and I to have our own ISBN numbers and sku numbers. If you have your book laid out, great. If not, I have the software Asobe Creative Studio, and will consider doing the work for money or barter. The book would be published by Greenleaf Tea Publishing, as an imprint of Arbor Hill Press (that's me and my fellow poet, Larry, who bought the ISBN numbers) . I can also deal with getting your copyright filed with the Library of Congress.

Because of health issues, I take on only one project at a time, but I'd be glad to pitch in. I started doing this because we were all tired of sending out packages to agents and publishers and waiting for our "no, thanks."

Once you have an ISBN number you can get your book considered for Amazon. Once you have a sku you can get into the suppliers for the chain bookstores.
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Old 06-29-2006, 08:30 PM
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Many of you already know a good bit about self-publishing, I'm sure. If so, please feel free to ignore this. OTOH, if you're a writer, there may be things you don't yet know about publishing. It's complicated indeed.

Printing with a local printer may be a good thing, if the shop specializes in books. I recommend that you send between 10 and 25 RFQs before settling on your printer. Be sure to include the shipping costs in your comparison, as most printers have contracts with shippers, and many pass on their discounts.

POD printers (as vs. so-called POD publishers) are widely available. Some offer distinctive advantages. For example, it's exceedingly hard for a small print run, from an independent press, to get into Ingram unless you print through LSI. Booksurge now allegedly offers extra perqs on sales through Amazon (allegedly, because I haven't heard much about the results from actual users).

As for getting your ISBN through your printer. This is not a good idea. The publisher is the company that buys the ISBN from Bowker (in the US, that's the ISBN agency). You can't sell the ISBN. You can't transfer it. Anyone who tells you that they can or have is in error. Among the difficulties that result:
--The original ISBN owner retains full liability for your book and anything in it, regardless of contract terms between the two of you.
--You probably won't be able to print through anyone else. Printers seeing that ISBN will assume you haven't the rights.
--Returns will go to the owner of the block.
--Orders will go to the owner of the block.
--Payments will go to the owner of the block.
Etc., etc.

There is one, and AFAIK, only one exception. You must acquire the company or imprint that acquired the ISBN block originally. Then you must file that merger or acquisition with Bowker. You file for the whole block, except under very strange circumstances.

If you wish to buy the rights to a particular book, and the design of that book, and then re-print it, you will need a new ISBN for the new printing. Your new ISBN must come from your block.

I am being emphatic rather than tactful or diplomatic, because I have seen far too many people try this, and then come to me afterwards for help in cleaning up the mess. More often than not, I deliver more bad news than good in such situations.
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Old 10-21-2006, 12:41 PM
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I see there is a fair amount of hostility against self-publishing going on in this thread which I find fairly amusing actually. Self-Publication is not necessarily just for those too dumb or weak to get their stuff published through conventional outlets. That attitude is just plain narrow-minded. There a number of very good reasons people might want/need to self-publish, depending upon their subject matter. The problem is that the fleecing outfits that exist to service this market right now generally cannot and should not be trusted, from what I have been able to glean at least.

There is at least one new player out there though that has piqued my interest and I know nothing much about them so this is NOT an ad or an endorsement of any kind. But BookSurge looks promising to me and since they are an offshoot of Amazon.com they are in a good position to provide good exposure to books they take on. Has anybody had any first-hand experience with them yet? I am sort of leaning in this direction but I don't know if there is something amiss that I am just not seeing here...

thanks in advance...

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Old 10-21-2006, 04:31 PM
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Before I start, let me apologize to all the more experienced folks reading this. All that follows is opinion, but I'm stating it very forcefully, not to try to offend any of you, but to try to reduce the number of broken hearts I see at future small press fairs and conferences. It just kills me.

First, Booksurge has been purchased by Amazon since I posted last. They have new contracts, and, given what I am hearing from those who are using Booksurge already, those contracts should be read even more carefully than you would read any other contract. There is a confidentiality clause, so I can't be sure of exact wording, but what I hear has left me worried.

Second, NO subsidy publisher will be able to give you the cost structure that you MUST have in order to get fiction or mainstream non-fiction into the bookstore/wholesaler/trade distribution channels that most authors have as a goal, with a realistic list price, and competitive terms of trade.

I don't know what your goals are, but if you want to make money or to sell your book through bookstores, you need to understand the distribution channels and terms of trade, as well as do an analysis of the competition for your book.

Third, remember that you don't need ANY subsidy press/POD publisher to self-publish your book. It's really very simple to do it on your own. Succeeding at self-publishing (however you define it) is much harder, but even that is EASIER without the POD presses, in my never humble opinion.

Fourth, before you toss your hundreds of hours of work (also known as a manuscript) into any self-publishing choice, get some of the standard books on the topic (Dan Poynter, Fern Reiss, and/or Ross and Ross for the general stuff), and on production (try Pete Masterson's new book) and at least two or three on marketing (think John Kremer, Fern Reiss, Jackie Deval, Lissa Warren, . . .). READ them several times. Then choose.

Fifth, publishing is a lousy way to make money. Trust me -- I have 15+ years experience in finance for publishing companies, I teach this stuff, I KNOW. Do this for love of the business as a whole. Do it because you can't resist the challenge. Don't do it for money.

And, last, if you have what it takes to self-publish successfully, you will also have relatively little trouble getting an agent and a traditional publisher. The converse is also true.
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Old 10-23-2006, 07:17 PM
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thank you for this balanced overview MarionGropen. I had only just begun researching this thoroughly and it took a week or so to get past my own wishful thinking. I see that you are quite right on all counts. Too damn bad really since it seems to me that it isn't really necessary...that a good profit could still be had by all without all the slight-of-hand etc. Nevertheless, things are what they are and I have yet to see a legitimate exception...

Self Publication via these outfits mostly appears to be a pipe dream...

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