1. chaoserver
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    chaoserver Member

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    About self publishing

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by chaoserver, May 9, 2011.

    Basically I am very aware of the reputation self publishing sites seem to have, as they are regarded as being solely for vanity.

    However if I have a fanbase of several thousand people, and am aiming to get my work published through something like lulu, is there some hidden evil? Is the quality astoundingly terrible or services forced upon you? If I set the cash I receive as low, as I test the waters would it really be realistic to lose any money? Is it a pain to get on amazon and B&N?

    I understand how this is a terrible option for most people, but from someone who has never published before and could have some guaranteed sales it is certainly alluring.
     
  2. Chachi Bobinks
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    Chachi Bobinks Senior Member

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    I don't know a lot about self publishing but I will say that I saw a book published by Lulu at the bookstore the other day. It was terrible. Beyond terrible. It looked like something I could have printed off of my computer with big, glossy paper. I mean, even the pictures were made way too big and were heavily pixelated because of it.
     
  3. chaoserver
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    chaoserver Member

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    Thats unfortunate... Can any one attest to the universal certainty of lulu's failure, and are there any better quality alternatives?
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I may have some of the following wrong, but:

    - There is a difference between vanity publishing and self publishing. With traditional publishing, the publisher pays the author, and the publisher has a great deal of control. With self publishing, the author pays the publisher/printer, and the author has essentially all control. With vanity publishing, the author pays the publisher, and the author does _not_ have much control. So vanity publishing gives you the worst of both worlds.

    So I would never recommend using a vanity publisher under any circumstances. I would mostly recommend against self publishing as well, though it could be fine for things like club cookbooks, some nonfiction books for an already established audience, and a limited number of other situations.

    I believe that Lulu is a self publisher/printer, not a vanity publisher. So if I had, say, a club cookbook to publish, I'd consider using them.

    - I believe (someone who's used them may disagree) that normally, the quality of a book printed by Lulu is your own responsibility. You act as your own editor, designer, typesetter, illustrator, layout artist, everything. Most authors don't have professional talent in all of these areas, so their books are going to be pretty bad, even if they're good writers.

    I see that Lulu offers some of these services, but they're offered at a fee, so the amount of money you're likely to lose on the deal will go up.

    - If you have a fanbase of several thousand people, why not bring that fact to an agent and try to get traditionally published? Once you self publish a work, you've drastically reduced your odds of ever getting it traditionally published. It's not impossible - there are people who've done it - but it's much less likely.

    ChickenFreak
     
  5. chaoserver
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    chaoserver Member

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    Thank you for the response. I guess the primary reason for not approaching an agent on the matter, is that the following I have is not the kind that would guarantee mass interest in the book, though I have the belief quite a few would check it out.

    My main worry is really quality and any ridiculous fees.
     
  6. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I've heard the 'I already have a following' point of view in the past, and it's never made sense. If you have this sort of following from the high quality of your work, then such a following and quality will be sure to gain an agents interest. If you have this following because you're a cult leader, or in a band, or spend a lot of time giving shallow praise to terrible writers on DeviantArt, then I wouldn't take the following to the bank just yet.

    Basically, the best time to self-publish is when your work is good enough for traditional publishing, but for business/marketing reasons you're going to go self-publishing instead.

    And if your followers are so... followy... will they not accept an e-book, which is tons easier to successfully self-publish, these days, to the point self-e-published needs to be it's own designation.
     
  7. chaoserver
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    chaoserver Member

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    The following is not one which follows me based on writing, that is the difference here. And I can't say that an agent would find it justifiable to use it as a foundation for publication.
     
  8. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Might help, then, if you explain this following. Some of us do have experience in marketing and can give you an idea of... things.
     
  9. chaoserver
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    chaoserver Member

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    Well lets say I am a fitness icon of sorts with several sites with a total of 8k official followers. Obviously it has nothing to do with a book of short stories but I still have a solid means of broadcasting a shoutout for the book.
     
  10. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    I have self-published two books so far, and made at least one sale (woohoo!) of either of them. I second everything ChickenFreak has said.

    The reason why I self-published is because, in the first case, because I had to publish my thesis. It's a requirement laid down by my university. Self-publishing was probably the cheapest and at the same time most convenient option, and it has the bonus that I can actually point to a book on Amazon and say "mine", instead of just knowing that there are 40 copies catching dust in some archive underground. :p

    After I realized how cheap and easy it all was, I decided to just self-publish a story/novel that I had been working on for some years and already wanted to publish years ago. I am pretty convinced that it will sell a few times, though I am not convinced it will ever break even. I just see this as an experiment, to see what will happen. If nothing happens, well, that's a lesson learned.

    Suffice to say that my second self-published book (published under a nom de plume due to its somewhat frivolous and unlikely content) is purchaseable nearly everywhere (well, the US, UK, Germany, even Russia - checked when I was there not too long ago), through Amazon, through other online stores, and is being resold by other book sellers, even though I took the most basic package available from the publisher, and it wasn't expensive. So distribution seems fine, in fact, it is much better than I expected.

    About self-publishing, I liked the fact that I could design the whole cover myself (quality is not brilliant, but it's good enough), that I could typeset it myself etc. etc. I knew I was going to do a reasonably good job with all those things, as good as I had done with the text. But, obviously to do all that you need software. Word was terrible for typesetting and still is if you're a beginner. To make a vector graphic cover, you need something far more advanced than MS Paint. And so on. I am happy with the result, but I know that the same publisher has other books, clearly made in Word, that look terrible.

    What I will do with my next book, I am not so sure yet. Probably I will try the traditional route once more (tried that before, but wasn't persistent enough, even though I didn't get shot down too much - one agent even read 50 pages).
     
  11. chaoserver
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    chaoserver Member

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    So assuming I do decide to go the route of self publishing is there any particular site I should use? And if so is there anything I need to know about getting it onto Amazon ect.
     
  12. indmoss
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    indmoss New Member

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    I think anyone who is strating out has to self publish...even if it is nothing but an e-book. It helps to have something published in order to build a fan base.
     
  13. Jessica_312
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    Jessica_312 Contributing Member

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    I often wondered about self-publishing. Are there any self-publishing success stories? (ie someone that self-published and sold a lot of books?) Is it a good idea to at least try to seek publication the standard route before trying to self publish?
     
  14. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I don't really agree with that at all. The "traditional" method of publishing involves, realistically, not just writing a novel and sending it to an agent or publisher, but building up your skills writing and publishing short stories, venues for which are much more abundant than major publishing houses. This builds up exposure, and starts to build interest in your work, as well as a fan base.

    I'd always suggest, if you're going to try it, do the traditional route first. For the simple reason that if you self-publish, a traditional publisher won't touch the novel with a barge pole.

    There are, of course, success stories which are trotted out in these arguments, where writers self-publish, sell loads, and are picked up by a big publishing house. But it's worth keeping in mind what an insignificant minority such success stories are. The odds really are piled against it.
     
  15. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    There are enough self-published success stories that it fuels the hopes and dreams of people who really may not be ready for publishing at all, much less self-publishing (which requires a lot of time, knowledge and energy).

    My advice to novel writers is to pitch to agents. When you find an agent that believes in your work, then talk about options. Agents these days often have the expertise in editing, marketing, print-design, etc to successfully spearhead a self-publishing endeavor. People are attracted to self-publishing for the higher potential return on sales, well, agents recognize that too. If nothing else, agents are a great way to gauge the quality of your work (meaning, if they're all rejecting you, it's probably not just that they're too ignorant to see a writer's genius, but that the writer's work just simply isn't ready yet. Yet!)

    My advice to short-story writers (chirp chirp chirp *tumbleweed rolls by*) is to submit stories to your favorite, respectable journals. If you get published, you'll often find agents calling you (as they're arguably one of the only demographics still reliably reading short-story journals, lol). They'll have seen your work, want to know if you're writing a novel, etc.

    Either way, my advice to 99% of the 'I'll just self-publish' crowd is to not do it, as that many simply aren't ready to do anything but launch a craft into the water and hope it doesn't sink; not exactly the best way to start an oceanic voyage.

    Basically keep writing, always remember to be a success at all as a writer, your writing need to be good (or these days, even great just to get a shot). Once the writing is up to snuff, then there are all sorts of viable options a writer has at their disposal.

    The number one reason I see writers failing at ever becoming meaningfully published is by focusing so much on being published they never manage to produce a manuscript that's worthy.

    But yeah, there are plenty of self-publishing success stories. There are also plenty of lottery winner success stories, but I don't know a single financial adviser that suggests it as a retirement plan.
     
  16. chaoserver
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    chaoserver Member

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    Well I'm just talking about publishing a book of short stories. I just dont know which site is the best or how easy it is to get on amazon ect. I am fairly sure a few hundred copies would be sold. Also I cant imagine self publishing would hurt future and separate projects?
     
  17. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Why? Not to be harsh, or put you down, or anything. I'm just curious as to why you're sure?
     
  18. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Same goes for me. I sort of had an idea that my fiction book might sell too, but so far, readership has been very limited. My expectations, however, dwindled to zero, and I celebrate every copy sold. :cool:

    Still, I am also curious as to why you think you will sell that many copies. Do the people of your following read that much?
     
  19. chaoserver
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    chaoserver Member

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    I am sure it will sell because the community who I would be pitching the book to very regularly donates/pays for training ect. anyways, far more than the cost of the book. Again its meant to test waters, I just dont want the quality to be terrible or listing on amazon to be impossible.
     
  20. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    In that case, in place of traditional publishing, you should be hiring a good editor, good cover artist, good typesetter, etc. The issue with self-publishing is usually the quality of the work. If I'm buying a book in the store or on Amazon, I don't care in the least bit whether it's published by Penguin or put together in the author's basement, and many readers won't even notice, as long as the latter is actually quality. There are so many examples of self-published works that look like second drafts or that are clearly the work of an unpracticed amateur, or that are just simply poorly typeset or have awful cover art, and, frankly, no amount of current followers is going to make up for that.
     
  21. Terry D
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    Terry D Active Member

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    I recently published my novel through Amazon.com's self-publishing arm, Createspace. As has been said already, I was responsible for all content, all editing, page layout and design, and (in my case) I used Createspace's cover design service (free). Total up-front cost, $39. Two proof copies later (@about $10 each including shipping) the book was availible through Amazon.com, any other on-line source, and is availible to book stores, libraries, schools, etc.

    The quality of the book is very good, easily comparable to any other trade paperback. What I like about Createspace is the flexability and freedom I have. The price of my book was up to me (as long as it covers the cost of producing it on a per copy basis), which means that the profits are under my control also. Createspace offers fee-based services to make the job easier, such as layout, editing, custom cover design, marketing, etc., but they don't solicit for those services. I stuck with the basics and am very satisfied. My book is selling well in my area (currently at #2 at one local bookstore) and the comments I've received about the quality of the book have all been favorable.

    I hope this helps.
     
  22. lilix morgan
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    lilix morgan Contributing Member

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    I'm not sure if this has been pointed out yet (going to be honest and say I haven't read the whole topic here), but you do know there's more to self-publishing than Lulu? Smashwords also does everything Lulu does, and I think they take less fees than Lulu does from each sale, too. There's at least a dozen sites that'll do exactly what you want for publishing, and even if you do want it in paper, you can go to CreateSpace and have them do it for you, too, which includes distribution to Amazon.com.

    EDIT: Terry beat me to it, haha!
     
  23. chaoserver
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    chaoserver Member

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    Well thats part of the reason I posted, as I really don't know the best place to go to self publish. I don't mind splashing some cash, as if it's below a few hundred I am almost guaranteed to make it back, I just want to be sure wherever I go to publish the book is legitimate.

    Thanks for all responses so far!
     
  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    That strikes me as very, _very_ optimistic for a self-published novel. That's not a comment on the quality of your writing - I think that it's unlikely for a quite good self-published novel to get that many sales. You indicate that your "fan base" is in an area unrelated to your book, so I'm not sure why they would buy the book?

    If you want to self-publish as an experiment or for the fun of it, that's fine, but I'd suggest thinking hard about whether you'd do it if you _knew_ that you would never sell more than a dozen copies. Is it, in other words, worth it just for the experience, even without sales or readers?

    ChickenFreak
     
  25. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I self published on the Amazon kindle, intially not because I wanted to but rather that I got tired of the rejection letters from agents. The kindle had the advantage that it was both easy and free.

    My First novel Thief, is still heading towards thirty sales after a year, I trickle out maybe one sale a month, and in part I suspect that was because I wasn't ready, the book needed a better cover, better blurb, and another edit. The other thing I failed to realise was that you can't just put your book out there and leave it and expect the world to fall at your feet. It simply doesn't happen. You have to push it a bit, something that does not come naturally to me.

    My second novel Maverick I self published on the kindle two weeks ago, and this time I edited more, worked harder on the cover and the blurb, and then started advertising it a little through the kindle community forums and also created an author's page (well I'm still working on that part - I really don't feel good about splashing my face all over the web so I need to do some working on a clever drawing instead.) Thus far I've sold ten copies in two weeks, so its doing quite a bit better then the first.

    And last night I self published a short story, The End on the kindle, mainly because it was originally intended to be the prologue of a novel, but the rest of the novel fell down and I realised the prologue was complete in itself. I haven't decided to push it yet, simply because its a short story as opposed to a novel, and while I like it, I still feel its a failure of some sort. Even so, I figure that if its out there and people see it and like it, then maybe they'll check out my other books - so the more the merrier is my thought.

    If you want to go down the self publishing route, good luck to you, but my advice base on where I am would be first, do your homework, make sure your book is ready for publishing, dot the T's and cross the I's, then make sure you don't just forget about it, but rather start pushing it a little. Get free reviews if you can, join the discussion groups, ask people just to look at it and give you feedback. Also a snazzy cover, good blurb and author's bio will help.

    Becoming an author is a long journey and the writing is only a part of it.

    Cheers.
     

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