Everyone wants to be published! Despite what we may say the fantasy of every novelist is to receive a fat advance for a book we’ve labored over, which is then placed by the dozens on shelves throughout bookstores across America. The cherry on top of this double scoop ice-dream come true is the chance to host book signings that line fans out the door and the blockbuster movie deal that makes your work a household name.
Only a few of the talented writers in this world obtain such fortune and fame while the rest of have to settle for more realistic fates. Perhaps your experience is less fantastic, but a publisher opts to put your manuscript into print and you sell a few copies. Or maybe a magazine publishes some of your work, which is no minor accomplishment either. The pay is modest, but the exposure is great. E-books are the newest media format for novels and with their accessibility is a legitimate form of publication. It lacks the prestige of printed books, however sell enough of them and that can change!
The bastard child of the publishing game is self-publishing. The author pays to have a publisher print their book, which is typically made available on Amazon.com and other Internet sites. Self-publishing companies use a print on demand model and only create copies as they’re sold. There are advantages to this approach and it offers a lot, but also there is a significant cost that accompanies it. Besides, when you do it yourself it creates mixed emotions. On the one hand the author took a short cut but on the other they have an honest to goodness solid book filled with their words to place on the mantle. The phrase, it’s like kissing your sister, describes it well.
My novel, Savage Worlds, is self-published and at the time I felt that was the only option available to me. The publishing business is not an easy one to navigate, especially when you’re a part-time writer with a regular job. After multitudes rejections from publishers and agents it appeared to be the only guaranteed path to see my brilliant story transformed into a book. While I don’t regret the decision, I do wish I had known a few details before I started. Allow me to elucidate the key points of self-publishing.
First and foremost is edit. If you can, have someone else go over your manuscript as well, but edit. Then edit, edit, edit, and edit some more. Self-publishers do not touch it. It doesn’t matter how obvious the oversight they will not correct a manuscript and that is how it will go to print.
Several self-publishers offer ala cart services and I highly recommend such a publisher. It saves money and you get only what services you need. The type of book and the author’s circumstance will determine what services will be of benefit. On the assumption that an author reading this blog has written a novel the only services required are printing, Internet availability, and copies for the author.
The cost of the marketing packages offered by self-publishers is disproportional to their effectiveness. The expense would be worth it if it yielded any results. The avenues in which they promote books are so saturated with other self-published works there is no impact. I was willing to take a loss on my promotional budget, but after seven hundred dollars of their promotions I sold no books. Zero. Nada. None.
What is effective is for the author to advertise the book on his or her own. In many American fiction magazines the cost is in the neighborhood five hundred dollars for a quarter or third of a page advertisement. Canadian, British, and Australian periodicals are much more reasonably priced— for thirty-five dollars (or less) you can purchase a half page advertisement. The results vary, but it will move a few books. While the money spent isn’t likely to be completely recovered; take great solace in the knowledge that there are people out there reading your work.
Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social networking options have reduced the role the publisher plays to a less vital one. An individual has fantastic access to self-promotion and it is a wondrous point in history to be a writer. As entertainers we can expose our works to a greater a number of people than ever before and allow skill, talent and lady fortune to determine our success rather than a handful of large publishers.
If you’re enjoying success with an e-publisher then the self-publishing industry has little to offer. However, if you’re dead set on having your book in print and cannot obtain the attention of a traditional publisher then it is an option you may want to seriously consider.
Until next time— happy writing.
Michael Matthews Bingamon