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Thread: Self Publishing

  1. #1
    A.T. Poole

    Self Publishing

    If I was to self-publish my book just to have for myself and sell to a few friends & family, how would this affect my chances of getting picked up by a professional publishing company? Would I still be able to submit my MS to agents & publishing houses after I did a short run of POD for my personal enjoyment?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Kevin Connelly

    Re: Self Publishing

    Hey there all who are listening, or in this case reading. I am completely new to this site and posted my first question in the wrong place. Basically I have the same question as A.T. Poole. I would be most grateful for your insights.
    I am not a new struggling author. I am a middle aged struggling author who has always been employed elsewhere. I have published quite a few social commentaries and a few technical articles in a former life. I am new to pursuing the rough waters of getting a novel published. (It will probably help me to lose a few pounds, which is good.)
    In any case, I think I have a book that will sell and am looking to your experience. Thanks nuevos amigos.

  3. #3
    danilo smajich

    Re: Self Publishing

    Hi Kevin -
    Finally read the posts-to-which-lay-dormant-minds!
    I cannot fathom that from the highly interesting and
    timely post that raised a sensitive, ethical-legal
    question about self publishing, nobody had a reply.

    Where are all the Agents[so-called]?
    Where are all the Publishers?
    How about other writer-authors? Are you too busy at
    book signings?



  4. #4
    Victoria Strauss

    Re: Self Publishing


    I'm not really sure of the answer to your question. On the one hand, POD self-publishing provides very limited distribution, so having used such a service wouldn't really be competitive with later publication by a print house (but be sure you can terminate your contract at will, so you won't have any rights tied up). On the other hand, POD self-publishing does put your book out into the general marketplace, through the POD service's website and whatever wholesaler it may deal with. It's possible a print publisher might regard this as a conflict.

    On the whole, I think you'd be taking a chance if you POD'd first.


    The publishing route you choose should depend on your goals.

    Do you just want a printed book you can hold in your hands, and give to friends and family? Would you be happy with just a few dozen--at most a few hundred--sales? If so, self-publishing via a fee-based POD service such as Xlibris or iUniverse is a reasonable option. You'll have a book, and you'll have some readers. What you won't have is a lot of sales, or an authorial track record. Fair or not, self-publishing via POD is widely regarded as vanity publishing, and it doesn't get much professional respect. Also, due to a variety of factors (there's a full discussion of these on Writer Beware's Print on Demand page), POD-published books don't often make it onto bookstore shelves, where the majority of bookbuyers still do their purchasing. As a result, even if you engage in vigorous self-marketing, you're not likely to sell many copies.

    Is it your ambition to have a traditional writing career--to reach a large number of readers, gain credentials as a professional, and be paid for your work? In that case, you should go the traditional route, and make print publishing your goal. Right now (and despite the hype you read from electronic publishing advocates and the defenders of fee-based POD), that is the only way to achieve any significant level of professional recognition as an author.

    There are some intermediate methods--e-publishing with a reputable independent electronic publisher (which won't bring you the income or the sales numbers of print publishing, but may establish you in what's becoming a recognized niche market); or genuine self-publishing (through which an energetic and market-savvy writer, with a lot of time and money, can possibly build some real success--though not often with novels, which are hard even for the biggest publishers to market). But why not go the traditional route first, if you have a novel you believe in? If it doesn't work out for you, you can then consider some of the other options.

    - Victoria
    Victoria Strauss
    THE GARDEN OF THE STONE (HarperCollins Eos)
    Homepage: http://www.victoriastrauss.com
    Writer Beware: http://www.sfwa.org/beware

  5. #5
    Dr. W. Sumner Davis

    Re: Self Publishing

    Basically, I self published my first two books. The first just sits there. The second- now that's a different story. It is not on the best seller list at the NY times, but it was not written to be. My third book (edited by Dorion Sagan no less) is due out next month. Now, main stream publishers are taking notice. However, I signed with a foreign publisher for all no english translations and for asian markets. Now I send rejection letters to the publishers. Where were they when I was struggling? There are a few (very few) POD firms that will handle your book in a way that will sell. But be very very wary. If your POD book does not show up on B&N, Amazon, and Borders within 6 weeks, demand a refund- you just got took.

    Good luck
    Dr. W. Sumner Davis
    Cosmologist / Author
    Oakland, ME

  6. #6

    Re: Self Publishing


    Gee, the Good Doctor is back. Wonder if he'll wind up screaming at me and Victoria again?


    -Ann C. Crispin

  7. #7
    James Ford

    Re: Self Publishing


    Thank you.
    You answered some questions and opened my eyes a little wider on the subject of POD and self-publishing.
    I find myself fotunate for stumbling onto these pages and especially your reply to the others who had questions.

    By the way, I just created this poetry community the other day, in order, possibly to receive feedback on my work.



  8. #8
    Mary M.

    For A.T.

    You have been given lots of information here, some of it advice, some of it supposition. And while I am definitely no expert in the business of writing, I strongly recommend you seek the counsel of an attorney familiar with literary contract law. You are considering the marketing of the same book in two different publishing venues. If I were in your shoes, I would welcome legal advice BEFORE making a decision. Good luck!

  9. #9
    Gary Kessler

    Re: For A.T.

    If you self-publish first, this shouldn't make your chances of a publisher picking the book up any worse than if you
    don't. At least two of the trade publishers I work withroutinely pick up self-published books for a traditional
    publishing run. In none of these cases have I heard derogatory remarks about the book having been
    previously self-published. And if you self-publish first and sell a couple of thousand copies in a limited market, have good reviews to show, and have a book that has aged well and may have the potential to sell even more in a larger market, my experience is that this is seen as an advantage by traditional publishing houses considering picking it up.

    In contrast to what I saw earlier on this string, however, if you self-publish a book using a book printer (and
    bypassing a publisher) at a market-competitive level, you will be spending much more than the $500-$2,000 cited earlier--and, as has happened to several I knew who self-published books that sold very well, you may be
    dooming yourself to lots of time-consuming trips to the printer and the post office, high fullfillment costs, and
    high publicity costs (in both time and money) to the point that you may wish your book had flopped. A good
    cover design could cost about $1,500; a good edit could cost $750-$1,500; if you need permissions for use of
    photos or other copyrighted material, you will bear the burden of permission and reproduction costs (a book I now
    have in production with 16 photos cost me $1,100 for permissions and reproduction--and I'm not self-publishing),
    setting the book up will cost money (I have no idea how much, as all the books I've worked with have been set up
    in-house at the publisher's), the printing costs will be high for the first 500 copies or so and won't start tapering off
    until the volume goes above that; and publicity costs will go anywhere from zero (equals no customers) to over the
    moon (and still not necessarily a lot of customers).

    An academic publisher I work with allocates $8,000 just on production costs for a short print run (about 1,200 copies) for the normal 75,000-word book with a minimum of B&W photos or illustrations. Any publicity costs are above that. I don't really see how anyone self-publishing by the traditional printer route by themselves could get a quality product out cheaper than an publisher operating with experience and volume deals could.

    If you publish by a POD like XLibris where you cover all of the costs, you can publish at a lot lower cost (but
    having a competitive cover will put you at the upper reaches of what these publishers quote--in XLibris's case, $1,600), and this is probably the way to go (despite all of the problems with getting the book into bookstores and/or under the
    noses of the likely readers--problems you will, in fact, have anyway unless you've reached best-seller status) if
    you don't think you can sell at least a couple of thousand copies. And, as noted before, selling and distributing
    a couple of thousand copies can be just the "good thing" that sends a self-publisher to the hospital with
    exhaustion and a nervous tic.

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