1. bushman1
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    bushman1 Member

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    Publishing options

    Discussion in 'Publisher Discussion' started by bushman1, Apr 27, 2015.

    Hello Forum,
    I would like to get some feedback and discuss some publishing options I am considering. Here are some initial facts:
    I have written an 83,000 word book about off grid living, homesteading, survival and adventure. Chapter topics are quite variable. To give you an idea, one chapter is devoted to homesteading in Maine, another to tree farming and logging, a chapter to a winter thru hike of the Appalachian trail, another chapter to a cross country bicycle trip, a chapter devoted to being surrounded by a forest fire to a couple chapters about living 100 miles in the Canadian bush. I am able to get the book to flow from chapter to chapter in a semblance of order. My intent is to supplement this book with approximately 100 pictures.

    I have fired off query letters to lots of agents and publishers. I have had quite a bit of good feedback. The gist being, I have 3 small publishers so far interested in exploring this further with me.

    I am taking nothing for granted and am pursuing several paths. I don't know whether I will be better off self publishing via kindle and the like or whether the traditional publisher is the way to go. That of course assumes one of the publishers takes the project on and at what contract terms.

    If I do self publish an ebook, then I have several options:
    1. Publish my ebook in its entirety as a 220? page book or
    2. Publish in appropriate chunks of 3 or 4 separate books ( Book 1 has all the early homesteading chapters, book 2 has the travel adventures stories, book 3 has wilderness stories, book 4 has other topics.

    It seems to me, I might have a better shot of marketing, garnering favorable reviews and keeping reader interest if I broke the book up and created a 4 book package. Plus easier for reader downloads especially with many pictures and the selling price might be more favorable. Instead of $6.99 ?? for the whole book, if I sold for $1.99 ?? I come out ahead. I would expect numerous reader questions in regards to the content of the book which would make adding a 5th book (answers to readers questions) easy to implement.

    I already have a website and facebook page devoted to the book and am confident in my marketing abilities. I'm wondering if anyone might have some experience with the concept I've outlined. I truly appreciate any thoughts. Thanks.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know nothing about non-fiction, but probably some of the same criteria apply?

    So - before going with a small publisher, make sure you check and see how their books sell. Salesrankexpress.com gives you Amazon rankings; print rankings are harder to find. Ask them about their distribution mechanisms for print books and about their marketing plans. Contact authors who are currently working with them and get their feedback. Check the publisher out at AW's Bewares and Background Checks and Editors and Preditors. Ask them how much they're going to suggest you change your MS. Read the contract carefully (obviously), paying special attention to the length of the contract and the reversion of rights clauses.

    I have no idea about the other things you're wondering about. Sorry.
     
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  3. bushman1
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    bushman1 Member

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    Hello Bayview,
    Thank you for the feedback. I have definitely researched the small publishers as much as possible for now. All good advice you have suggested. It is a bit of a quandary. I wish you all the best!
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Speaking as someone who might theoretically be a customer for the book on homesteading, I would consider such a book from a publisher that I more or less trust in that area (Rodale, Chelsea Green, Sasquatch Books, etc.), might consider it if it were offered as a product by a company of which I'm a customer (Territorial Seeds, Johnny's Selected Seeds, etc.) and I would probably ignore it entirely if it were self-published.

    That's unfair, but it's the reality for me, and I think that it's a reality for a lot of people. I would recommend seeking a publisher.

    Edited to add: I did eagerly snatch up Steve Solomon's (edited to clarify: apparently self-published) ebook on dry farming, but (1) he was already well-known from other traditionally published books and (2) I think it was free or almost free.

    Edited again again to add: However, I would have paid good money for Steve Solomon's apparently-self-published ebook on dry farming. But that's because I know and respect him as an author, his work in that area was specifically mentioned by another gardening authority that I like (Carol Deppe), and information on that subject is very scarce.

    So there's a place for self-publishing, but if I'm the target customer, self-publishing is not a place to start. I have to know and trust you, a lot, before I'll even begin to consider your self-published book. And "know and trust" doesn't come from a non-book place; I've found that people who write great blogs or are great authorities don't necessarily also have the ability to write a decent book.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Curious why looking at your books shows the little graphs of weekly sales but they don't show up with two other authors I checked?
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I did see your edits but seriously, why wouldn't you look at the credentials of the author and the quality of the content to decide on a book instead of assuming a publisher did that checking for you?
     
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  7. Lance Schukies
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    Lance Schukies Active Member

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    did you look at a book store for similar books and who published them?
    i would also say you sell a nonfiction book at 7.99 or above, anything lower will make the buyer devalue your work and pass on buying it , in my opinion.
     
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  8. bushman1
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    bushman1 Member

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    Hi Chicken Freak,
    Let me say that I certainly respect your opinion and I thank you for your input. As someone who has been off grid and doing the homesteading thing since approximately 1980, I definitely have the credentials and know how to write a book on the subject. Throw in the fact that my wife and I live so far in the wilderness, you'd have to charter a float plane to find us, adds additional justification to the previous sentence. We generally don't see another human for 6 months at a time so I'd say we have the self reliant lifestyle down pat. (anybody wondering how we go for 6 months at a time without seeing another human or how I'm able to communicate to the outside world or any number of other questions?) The book covers it. If you wouldn't buy my book because you have never heard of me, so be it.

    I don't state the above to be argumentative. It's my job to market and sell you and others on the fact I actually know what I'm talking about. I would hope that someone would evaluate the merits and purchase of my book based on the description and perhaps biography of the author. With good marketing and some decent customer reviews, that may also supply an impetus to potential customers to take a chance on the book. To be clear, although I am quite competent to write a how to book, this is more of an entertaining compilation of stories on my unconventional life. Hopefully inspirational with nuggets of knowledge and a laugh thrown in for good measure.

    Having said all that, it still comes down to the best way to publish and disseminate the book to the readers. That's the million dollar question. Thanks for your response.
     
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  9. bushman1
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    bushman1 Member

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    Ginger coffee and Lance,
    Thanks for commenting. In my own way, I did address the hope that potential book readers evaluate based on multiple factors and not the fact the author is presently unknown. In reality, I'm not quite an unknown and the wife and I are part of another book and documentary film on off grid people. We've done some magazine articles in the past, been written up in the newspaper etc etc.

    I have been wrestling with the price point to sell the book and have not done much yet in online research of something comparable. It's a valid point and would be a good exercise to do. Thanks folks.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The point isn't whether you have the credentials or the talent. The point is how anyone will know that you have the credentials and the talent.

    How will they see those things? You will be competing with countless other self-published books. The average reader isn't going to spend hundreds of hours sifting through all those books, reading descriptions, looking at biographies, reading reviews, to find the ones that are good. The average reader has a full-time job and wants to spend his reading time reading, not evaluating books.

    How does he avoid spending his off time evaluating books? He buys books that someone else has evaluated, someone else who spent the hundreds of hours that he doesn't want to spend. That "someone else" is usually a publisher.

    I'm not saying that it's impossible to succeed with a self-published book. But any strategy that assumes that the reader will do any work at all, even three minutes' worth of work to read a description, is a strategy that I believe is doomed to failure. If you don't want the "someone else" that the reader already knows and trusts to be a publisher, you're going to have to find a different kind of "someone else."
     
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  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Because there are only so many hours in the day, and the number of self-published books is only technically, but not practically, short of infinite.

    Edited to add: I'll evaluate the content of the book AFTER a publisher has evaluated it for me by publishing it, and I may or may not buy it. But I'm not interested in going through my own personal slush pile of books that haven't even been vetted by a publisher.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Obviously we differ @ChickenFreak, but you are delegating to a publisher and when it comes to something like expertise, I doubt said publishers are an effective filter for quality. One need only look at the gazillion published self-help books to know a lot of that stuff is junk.

    A lot of time in the day can be wasted browsing the bookstore. I prefer an online search, it's less time consuming. It sounds like @bushman1 has a presence in the off grid community, I'd bet one can find more about such expertise in a more efficiently online than looking at the publisher page of books in a bookstore.

    The digital age is changing the publishing world. At some point you are going to have to deal with the change.
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    No, I'm not. Perhaps you responded to my post for the few moments that it existed before I added more material. If not, well, it's not my job to go round and round trying to make you understand.
     
  14. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    No need indeed. I understand perfectly.
     
  15. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    No idea. I usually just use it to look at publishers, not individual authors.
     
  16. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Your book sounds like it's a lot more memoir than how-to, which puts it in a different category to me. I'm always up for solid information about heres-how-I-did-it off-grid living, but your personal stories, not so much.
     
  17. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with CF as to the credential thing. This is where the whole platform thing really comes into play. What kind of reputation does an author have - how have they established their claim to know what they're talking about? This is what non-fiction authors have to do for publishers - "prove" they know what they're talking about. For readers, having a reputable publisher accept the book says, "Yeah, this guy knows his stuff.". Self-publishing proves nothing to the reader without some previous exposure - a blog, published articles, educational credentials, etc. The author's just another dude saying "Hey, I know this stuff. Trust me!".
     
  18. bushman1
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    bushman1 Member

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    Good morning to all. Chickenfreak, we've certainly ascertained your propensity to go with traditionally published books which is fine. You wrote "How will they see those things? You will be competing with countless other self-published books."

    That's a good question. Every book published, regardless of how published, is in competition to get a readers eye. The answer to the question is marketing. One of the traditional publishers asked for a formal proposal. Part of that proposal was how I was going to help market the book. Point being, it is a team approach even if I teamed with the traditional publisher.

    I like to think I have a head start on marketing. We have had our place up for sale for awhile. You can imagine it's a hard sell. I built a website to sell the place. For those so inclined, a google search for remote, lake front, off grid and/or wilderness home for sale (some combination of those key words) should find us easy enough.

    This is part of my marketing plan. You'll note, I couldn't have a better domain name, I'm approaching 17,000 hits, within the last few days I've incorporated a page dedicated to my book and once the property sells, the website itself will be dedicated solely to the book. Google has me indexed to the page 1 depending on search terms and has already associated the book with the website.

    Linked with the website is a new facebook page dedicated to the book. If anybody makes it to facebook, I'd value input on which cover you like best. Marketing will allow you to sort out whether you want to read my book chickenfreak.

    Starting with the book cover, I hope to grab your eye enough for you to read the "about": True stories of survival, outdoor adventure and an off grid, homesteading life by ... Then if I keep your attention, the description: The true life story of how this city boy came to live here, 100 miles deep in the Canadian wilderness; how I mastered homesteading and an off grid lifestyle in Maine in preparation for the move to the bush. Join me for an eclectic blend of story telling ranging from my adventures of bicycling across the United States, and my winter thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. Experience the terror of being surrounded by wildfire and being touched by a bear. Discover what life is like working in a remote exploration camp. Enjoy first hand accounts of some of the most interesting wildlife encounters . Entertaining and enlightening, the narrative is at times amusing while at other times harrowing. Appealing to readers with an outdoors, adventurous spirit; people with an off grid, self sufficiency bent, as well as the “dreamers” content to read about adventure, I hope to inspire others to “take the road less traveled”

    Then it's the readers choice whether to buy. Getting back to the original question. There is so much variability, I still don't know whether it makes sense to break up the book and sell in 3 or 4 segments as opposed to a single book if I went the self publish route. I will still let the traditional publishing play itself out. I'm still several months away at least from making a decision. Thanks for the banter back and forth.
     
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  19. bushman1
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    Stevesh,
    To be honest, it would be a blend of how to info and entertaining stories. Memoir sounds a bit stuffy and boring to me. My description in my previous post gives a good idea of content.

    Shadowalker,
    I don't disagree to a point. Again, doesn't it come down to marketing. On the back cover or somewhere easily found, about the author, will read that I've been off grid and homesteading since around 1980, have been published in magazines blah blah blah. Would that not convey the dude knows something? Of course that information is on the website and other social media sites too. It may hopefully become part of reviews and blogs. If my background is not accepted by the reader merely because it didn't go through the traditional publisher, then so be it.

    It seems the majority of the feedback the board has given is generic in that it applies to the vast majority of unknown self publish authors. Specifically to me though, I hope we can lay to rest the question of do I have any qualifications to write the material and is there any potential of the book having value if it was self published.

    If we can make the assumption for now that the book has merit, the focus is back to IF I went self publishing, price points and one book versus broken up are what I'm interested in hearing. I won't defend my qualifications again. The marketing will take care of that aspect. Thanks.
     
  20. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    My reaction was more like The Omnivores Dilemma which was an investigative memoir. You tell people what you experienced but you are imparting information at the same time.
     
  21. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    This makes the assumption a publisher is looking at more than the writing and the popularity of a fad.
     
  22. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It comes down to the target market and how you reach it, @bushman1.

    A publisher may not want a small niche book because the target market is too small. Or, it could be the latest fad and publishers are looking for books (though I tend to think the fad is at a low point at the moment, but maybe I'm just not exposed to the people doing it).

    If you already have your market connection that could mean you need a publisher less, but it could also be a selling point for a publisher.

    If people find your book online, you may get less from a publisher. If people find your book browsing the bookshelves at REI or the local co-op, you may benefit from a publisher that has the ability to distribute the book to the proper locations.

    I would think, given the target market, few of those consumers are going to be impressed because the book is traditionally published as opposed to self published. One might even have an advantage being an Indie book over a more corporate production.

    Bottom line, it depends more on the deal you get and if you need copies of your book in brick and mortar locations to sell it.
     
  23. bushman1
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    Hello Gingercoffee,
    You wrote in a previous comment
    "You tell people what you experienced but you are imparting information at the same time." (Sorry I haven't figured out how you do the quotes) Exactly, I try to take the reader along for a vicarious journey with me, impart some knowledge, lean towards telling the story in a humorous vein.

    I wouldn't self publish without exhausting any traditional publisher first. Any publicity I garner along the way prior to publishing gives me bonus points. I initiated this thread purely to have my ducks lined up in a row in the event the traditional publishing didn't go my way.

    Personally, I don't give a hoot who the publisher is when I go to look at a book in the store or online. All I care about is... based on the title and TOC and cover info, is this the book I care to read. I don't care if it's published by fly by night industries as long as it has the entertainment or information I seek.

    But that is another good question... is this a fad market I am attempting to tap into? No need to get back to me on this. I'm just talking out loud. From the various boards I've come across, there seems to be an abundance of homesteaders, off gridders, survivalists/preppers. Add in those that consider themselves outdoors/adventure types and the fact that TV is filled with reality shows of Alaska and the ilk. Then add those that want to read something a bit out of the ordinary and I can't help feel there is a large segment of mankind that this might appeal to. I guess I'll eventually find out. :) Again, thanks so much for the feedback.
     
  24. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    If you hit 'reply' (lower right hand corner of the post) the post will be quoted in your response.
    Code:
    [quote] text [/quote]
    
    [quote="Ginger"] text [/quote]
     
  25. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    With the move into digital books, one's publishing costs become small. That lends itself to smaller markets. It's a good thing. Instead of only mass market books getting published, smaller markets can be profitable enough to be worthwhile.
     
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