Half a Conversation About Self-Publishing

I had a lengthy conversation about publishing. My half seems to make sense even without the questions, so I’m posting it here.

If you’re ready to even talk about getting your book out of the “someday” box, well, let’s talk, eh?

image http://www.sxc.hu/photo/540700 by Kishore N C http://www.sxc.hu/profile/kishorenc

For Me, Publishing = Self

My experience is entirely with self-publishing. Unless a traditional publisher offered me carte blanch, I’d never take a publishing deal now. Too much to lose.

When I even consider including others in my art, I choke. I have a steel guitar player, drummer, fiddler, all interested in recording my first album with me. But I know that it’s going to take 5 times as long, and someone will get lost along the way or something, and until I’m an old pro, I’ve realized I need to record a bunch of songs as simple as I can get, all by myself, and just get it done. Then I can have another go with all the peripheral players and fancy schmancy. Otherwise, it’ll continue not happening, as it has not happened for 7 years now.

Doing it alone in music isn’t so unusual. Authors desperately want someone else to make it happen. That’s not a good thing.

Tell Them What They’ve Won, Johnny!

Traditional publishing deal means you surrender control over the editing (they can change your words regardless of what you want.) They control the cover. If they want a ripped bodice on the front of your prim and proper tale, they get what they want.

Want to publish digitally? You’ll sign away the rights to your publisher. If they decide it’s not worth publishing on Kindle, it won’t get published on Kindle. Your only option is to buy back the rights.

Everyone says “But what about quality?” Nonsense. Traditional publishing is driven by exactly one thing: profit. Not quality, profit.

If you want good editing, pay for it. Want a great cover? Pay for it. There is no reason an indie book can’t be top quality, just like you can go down to the book store and find traditionally published books with ugly covers, poor editing, etc.

DIY = Free, If You Like

A dedicated smart person can produce a book for sale, both digital and print without spending one single penny. I don’t recommend it, but it can be done.

The absolute minimum I’d spend is the $7 (seven dollars US) for a printed proof once you upload it to CreateSpace.

Editing your own work is heresy. But if you lack fund, but you have the ability, nothing stopping you.

Cover design is a special art all its own. But if your choices are DIY or don’t publish, DIY.

Same with interior layout. Or anything else.

And I’ll Show You How

Anybody who wants to publish their own book, I’ll talk ’em through it. Yes, I will explain my $3,000 publishing package absolutely free. I won’t do it for you free, but I’ll tell you how. Walk you through it. It’ll take you about 6 months from the time you finish writing the book.

Distribution

Yes, if it’s vital that your book be in brick and mortar book stores like Borders; er, sorry, they’re gone. Like Barnes & Noble, then traditional publishing makes it easier. But where do people buy books? Amazon.com. That’s why Borders is dead and B&N isn’t far behind.

CreateSpace is part of Amazon. Use them for print on demand, your book is on Amazon. Pay an extra $25 and it becomes available (operative word) to brick and mortar stores.

Print on demand means you don’t buy 1,000 copies, and then have a pallet of books in the garage forever. They’re printed as they sell. Your cost for a B&W interior book would be about $5, shipping included. (+/- $2.)

Self, Indie, Subsidy, Vanity

I use the terms self-publishing and independent publishing interchangeably. What’s not interchangeable is vanity publishing. For that insight, read the brilliant Dave Bricker’s blog post about it.

Selling That Book

Rather than “sales” think of “spreading your message.” If you do the work, by blogging, connecting with fans, being out there kissing hands and shaking babies, your fans will come find you. You’ll do much better than if your book was shoved in the “Miscellaneous” section at the local brick and mortar book shop. Unless it’s an indie shop owned by a smart curator of fascinating books, who’ll go a good job connecting the right readers with your book.

But then, they’ll sell 2 copies a year, so there’s joy, but not much money.

What You Need, and Only What You Need

For those who’ve already done some of the work themselves, we have a la carte prices. No reason for you to pay for stuff we’re not doing.

The reason a project always costs less than the a la carte bits is that once we get into the rhythm with a client, every aspect is a bit easier than when we have to sort out B, F, and H separately because someone else is handling A, C, D, E, and G.

But if you just need B, F, and H, you’re on. (And the earlier you let us start monitoring the process, the more we get sucked into a sense of ownership and obligation, and then we start imagining working with you, and pretty soon, you’re getting a lower price because we’re already having fun with you. Just don’t ever tell anyone else I gave away this massive secret to getting a good deal with art project directors like me.)

What did I miss?

Tell me down there in the comments.

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