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Self-Publishing? It is A Great Divide? Part 1 of 12

Welcome to all who are new, this is the start of what I hope will be a great, and fun series, a walk into the lion’s den per say. Not really just writing about my own little view of the writing world around me. Whatever your views, there will always be self-publishing, vanity presses, and other types of publishers out there. Yes, there are good and bad things to any types of publishing, but onward!

If I was to say, one day that I wanted to self-publish, there would be more than a few people who would look at me in a different light. Of course I would then need to explain myself. There are in my mind about three or four ways to go about publishing, although people will probably lump them into two sides self-publishing and publishing.

I look at it a bit differently. In self-publishing, you need, must, definitely go in with eyes wide open and never for an instant shut them. You will pay out of pocket for you books. But, if you’ve done your work, and know that say this book is something that will sell to say ten or 20 people, there are countless option for you.

Yes, I did a self-published book, and no, I didn’t go to a vanity press, it’s a bit more complex than that. My first writing job was editing and writing two articles for a 50th anniversary edition to a local church, they payed me a honorarium, and payed for a local printer to print out the books. He’s been very helpful for this series in explaining what he does and what is different about what he does.

He doesn’t do editing, that’s the writer’s job, he prints it out on paper and packages it the way it’s requested. For about $250-$500 he can get you a fare decent number of good quality books. He quick to point out that this only covers his costs, the marketing is up to you. He’s never short on advice for that though, as he’s been in the business of printing for many years.

Then there are the vanity presses: such as Xlibris, I Universe, Authorhouse. The big ones. I suppose we could argue all day about should they or not they be called a vanity press, for the purposes of this series they are. They are the ones I have a problem with. I think that most people do have a problem with these larger vanity presses.

For fun, I went to each of these groups and saw what they have to offer in terms of books. Okay, the lowest package they have starts at about $249.00 but wait there is more… you don’t get books. The more you spend the more “free” books you get within each package. While you can get your published if it looks like a good seller, and you market it right it still counts as.. being published. The biggest argument to that, given by I Universe, Is that anything you write is published work. Sorry but my first draft may be “published” work, but it’s not good.

Each level up includes more and more marketing. To see for yourself do the hunting I did. I think that this is where people mistake these for a traditional publisher.

Ah yes, the traditional publisher. The one everyone seems to want to get into, best if it’s a big name. But does it have to be really? Honestly would you go an do some research to see what is out there?

There are small presses, with small budgets who will work with you one on one, they can be found with a bit of help, such as writer’s market, or Internet research. I would recommend getting someone to edit your work beforehand. These groups can take about a year to produce a number of books, but for many this is the needed push into the “bigger” territory.

The larger publishers are bigger, and have larger budgets, but they will allocated them to the well known sellers and then after that to other unknowns.

There are benefits to both… and drawbacks. This is only a brief outline. But I’ll be going into more depth over the next few days.

My Question for you today is this: Where do you stand in terms of publishing? What are the drawback and benefits to both?

7 Comments

  • Damaria Senne

    I prefer traditional publishing, because there are several gate keepers who make sure that the writers' work is repeatedly polished, so a quality product goes out.
    But I am open to self-publishing if I had the right project and could afford a good editor and had the resources to promote it effectively.

  • Cindy

    Self-publishing has always been a tough thing for me to swallow, too. Like you said, in some cases it's just right for the project. But it depends on your intent. To me, having to pay someone to get my book in print is hard to count as publishing. They'll do it no matter what the quality of your work and in most cases it seems they care more about the money than the overall product. That's not all cases, though.

    Obviously most people want to go with a traditional publisher but that's a whole different challenge. I am with a small press and that changes things even more. No matter which you choose, it's soooo important to know what you're getting yourself into. Ask questions, talk to others, and like you said, keep your eyes open.

  • Becky

    I have no problem with people choosing to self-publish. Though like you say you need to go into it with your eyes open, because you are going to have to spend money on more than just printing. If you self-publisher you are the publisher, and it's up to you to make sure your work is fit to print. The price of printing is only half of it.

    There is a lot of self-published crap out there, but there's also a surprising amount of good stuff.

    The big publishing houses are open to new talent, I think, but it's not enough to say that anything that's any good will find a publisher. I don't believe in all this nonsense about a conspiracy to keep new authors down that some people spout. I do believe that there are more good writers out there than the publishing houses have budget for. This means that they are going to buy the stuff they know they can sell. If you write a non-standard length or an odd genre you'll have trouble finding a big publisher. You might find a small or micro press, but they are a mixed bunch in the quality of presentation – which is important, so do your research. And as you said you may well have to pay to get your book edited yourself as well. Though these days I think that's a good idea before submitting anywhere – even the big guys seem to be neglecting it.

    And if you pay a professional to edit your work (not copy edit but edit edit) and they think it's unpublishable they will tell you. If they think it's good enough and help you polish it up, but you still can't find a publisher I see no reason not to do it yourself.

  • BeckyJoie at Leaders in Learning

    I used to think self-publishing was a farce but I've met some who do it well. They don't self-publish through a place like you mention, though. Many best selling televangelists and public speakers self-publish and sell hundreds of copies right away. It depends on the venue. Of course there is also the E-book. I have a friend, JoJo Tabares (www.artofeloquence.com) who has done well for herself with ebooks and self-published items. I'm still deciding what to think about how to best publish larger works.

  • Uninvoked

    I have mixed feelings about both self publishing and standard publishing.

    My problem with self publishing is the fact that there is no standard. Anyone can go print out a book, call themselves published, and sell it. My noveling blog is self published, and in a lot of ways it shows. I receive critiques as well as compliments for it quite regularly, and that's fine. It's not a rough draft, but my trouble spots have not been tightened up yet, and they show.

    I would never dream of doing a print run of Uninvoked the way it is. I would also never dream of doing a print run unless every book on the print run was spoken for. (Ironically, there is already a waiting list of people who want to buy it.)

    Standard publishing unfortunately has its drawbacks too. In my opinion the way the publishing industry is not workable in a long term market. Bookstores can for any reason destroy a book, send back the cover and get a full refund. This means they can destroy all their books, move next door, and buy a whole new set rather than cart the books over themselves. (It actually happened according to one article I read. -.-)

    Publishers can no longer afford to bring new authors along either, which is how many great authors came to be. Way too many books don't earn out their advances (Which means the book is not really making a profit) it's just in all around weak structure.

    I don't want it to fall on me.

    I like what I'm doing right now. Posting my stories up on a website with the hope of gaining a fan base. If I never make a profit, no big deal. I've already proved I can live off the money from my writing. I can afford to play around with this a while.

  • Rob

    Biggest drawback is that those vanity publishing ones that you mentioned charge an arm and a leg, Plus you get very microscopic royalties.

    The upside of self-publishing is that you promote your work and set your own price. Lulu and Createspace have been looking really good with that for a while now.

  • James

    The pro of self-publishing, you do it. The con? YOU do it. I think a person who has get up and go will enjoy it, I'm not one of them.

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