1. Karl C. Lewis
    Offline

    Karl C. Lewis Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2010
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0

    Self-publish or Company Publish

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Karl C. Lewis, May 3, 2010.

    What are the pros and cons about self and company publishing? Which is better if you are a new writer?
     
  2. Banzai
    Offline

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Messages:
    12,871
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Reading, UK
    Well, the benefit of self-publishing is that it's certainly a lot easier. Vanity presses will print anything, not discriminating on the quality of writing. They only care that you pay them. However, unless you are good with the business side of writing, and self-promotion, self-publishing won't really get you anywhere. Yes, I know you always hear stories about how writers started off self-publishing and got picked up by proper publishers, but it's so ridiculously rare as to be discounted.

    The benefits of the proper publishers is that they know what they're doing. You just do the writing, they make the book, design it, promote it, etc. You don't need to pay a penny. Also, you stand to make more money. The cons, of course, being that they are very discriminating in terms of how good your writing must be. They won't accept bad writing (usually- there are paradoxes like Twilight), and also the sheer number of applicants increases the chances of rejection.

    On the whole, I wouldn't recommend self-publishing, unless you're only interested in having hard copies of your book for yourself, friends and family. The odds might seem massively against you with a conventional publisher, but they're worse for getting anywhere with self-publishing.

    As a new writer, I'd recommend taking some time (a long time, realistically) improving your writing, before even thinking about publishing. Although they're very different art forms, you might want to do some work on short stories, to improve the quality of your writing without committing to novels whilst in the "learning and improvement" stage.

    Still, it's your call :)
     
  3. Halcyon
    Offline

    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2010
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    England
    Karl

    It's definitely worth pursuing a conventional publishing deal by properly researching the market, and identifying credible mainstream publishing houses and/or literary agents, ensuring that they actually have an interest in your particular genre.

    But if, like most of us, you are ultimately unable to make that breakthrough, then self-publishing becomes the most obvious second-choice outlet for your work. Again, do your research, because there are good and bad out there. I was lucky to deal with a very good self-publishing company here in England and was really happy with the finished product and the service I received throughout, but it won't bring you fame or fortune. My only real "success" was in the small corner of the country where I originate from and where my novel was set. Up there I had a couple of big articles in the local press, gave away copies in a competition, was asked to make a personal appearance by my local library (and donated some copies to them). I also received a more recent boost with a glowing review in a national publication (Self-Publishing Magazine) which shifted another couple of copies via my Amazon listing.

    But on the whole, if you self-publish, your success will only reflect the promotional effort that you put in, so it's a long hard road. But for some of us, it's hard to put a price on the thrill of holding a paperback novel with your name on it. :)
     
  4. s.knight
    Offline

    s.knight Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2010
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    0
    Listen to the labour guy. Dont worry abt getting published. Focus on quality. Focus on becoming a great writer first.
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    This topic is discussed in many threads.

    Self-publishing seems easier, because you know your editor will accept your manuscript, no matter how weak it may be.

    But it means you must master all the layers of the publishing business, such as layout, market analysis, legal, printing, binding, advertising, and distribution. You contract out parts of this to subcontractors, but you have to know enough to weed out the opportunists ready to take your money, and te incompetents. You have to invest in your book out of pocket, and the chances of earning enough to realize a profit are slim

    Traditional publishers know the business, and they know the market. They know what will sell, what will not, and what needs some work. They have the contacts and business relationships. And they will take the financial risk, if it looks like you have something that can sell.

    With self-publishing, writing is only part of the process. You have to learn a complete business well enough to compete. With a traditional publisher, your task is to write, and write well.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,978
    Likes Received:
    5,498
    The only way that I'd consider self-publishing would be if I had something that I wanted in an attractive bound form purely for the fun of it, I had no ambition of selling more than a few dozen copies, and I had no ambition of having the work picked up by a traditional publisher. Because my understanding is that with very, very few exceptions, that's how it works out - self publishing your work pretty nearly assures that it will never reach a large audience.

    And I'd go with true self-publishing, where you retain full control of your copyright, not a vanity publisher, where you don't.

    _The Eater's Guide to Chinese Characters_ is an interesting (to me, anyway) example of something that went from self- or at least small-run-pubishing to mainstream publishing. As far as I can recall the story, it was written by a linguistics professor to help people read Chinese food menus, and went through a very small print run designed to provide copies for his immediate circle. It turned out to be an interesting enough subject that used copies were sold for increasingly alarming prices, and now, decades later, it's a mainstream-published book.

    I may, of course, have the story entirely wrong. :) But I think it's a good example of when self publishing would be useful - when you have something unique to provide, you're strongly motivated to provide it to a specific circle of people, and you're not concerned about making a profit or getting it to a larger audience. The fact that this book happened to make it to that larger audience eventually is, IMO, a lightning-strike exception, not an example. (And it may also reflect the fact that the author, as a professor, probably had some of his other work published, and had a substantial audience of people who already respected his work.)

    ChickenFreak
     
  7. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Any company that tell you they have purchased your copyright is defrauding you. A copyright belongs to the originator of a piece and cannot be transferred. I doubt there is a court in any country that is signatory to the Berne Convention that would uphold a contract giving sole unrestricted publication rights to a publisher that accepts payment to publish a piece of writing.
     
  8. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,978
    Likes Received:
    5,498
    Hmm. I've been reading on a number of blogs about authors struggling to "get their book back" from various vanity publishers. Maybe the struggle was to get the publisher to stop publishing the vanity version, rather than to allow the author to publish their own version, but that wasn't the impression that I got. I'll read more carefully next time I run across one.

    In any case, the vanity publisher would have the right to publish its version, which is not something that I'd want. I'd want either a traditional publisher, or I'd want to have absolute sole control, nothing in between. Not that I'm anywhere near making that decision right now. :)

    ChickenFreak
     
  9. Janus
    Offline

    Janus Member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Michigan
    I am new here however I have self published, and also have utilized the pay to publish system, and that works for me great. However ANY publisher whom tells you that you do not have Copyright is a fraud.

    Vanity Presses are not all the same. There are some outfits out there that do charge the author to publish their work, however they will market and do a great job. I had, and continue to have great luck with mine.

    Best idea to follow, is to do your research, and also when dealing with a potential publisher whom charges for their services, be sure to check out their reputation.
     
  10. Forkfoot
    Offline

    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    1,034
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    San Francisco bay area
    What sort of luck, out of curiosity?
     
  11. Janus
    Offline

    Janus Member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Michigan
    Well, they have treated me fairly, did an awesome book cover for me, their printing and binding is top notch. As far as marketing, they have gotten me book signings, I have been at their booth for several trade shows, and they have sold 11K + of my books in the past 12 months.

    Another cool thing about them is they put on community events for their authors, like they in the Summer have a huge community free BBQ, where all of us authors are at, and we talk to the public, sell books.

    They are also a face you can talk to in person.

    I am pleased with them.
     
  12. Forkfoot
    Offline

    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    1,034
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    San Francisco bay area
    Holy crap, that's pretty damn good!
     
  13. Janus
    Offline

    Janus Member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Michigan
    I admit that I did have alot to do with that, as I live and breath my book.

    Marketing to me is not one sided, I expect (demand) my publisher to market my book, however I also do alot of little things to pass the word. I ran a billboard in Michigan, also some other things that worked well.

    lol...
     
  14. Forkfoot
    Offline

    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    1,034
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    San Francisco bay area
    Were you still able to turn a profit with all that?
     
  15. Janus
    Offline

    Janus Member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Michigan
    Yes, I paid 1299.00 for my publishing package, they pay me a royalty on every book they sell. Real accurate numbers for book sales are.

    They have sold a tad over 9000 on their own.
    I have sold at their events around 2000 (thus the 11K) they supplied the books.
    On my own, I have sold around 2500 -ish

    At the events, they supply the books, so I still get the royalty. So I have made pretty good money on the overall.

    What they do with me, and I beleive everyone else they represent, is they pay a 18 percent royalty on every book they sell, to me. I can purchase books from them for my own use and personal sales, that relate to some pretty big savings.

    My book retails for 11.99 and my cost on my books is 4.30 when I buy them from them. My book is a 300 page book.

    So the math for me at least is great.

    As a side note.
    Their events are signings, author specific events, and so on.
     
  16. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    so, how much have you actually netted [after all costs deducted] from those 11k sales?

    and is this a non-fiction book, or a novel?

    i'm also curious as to why you don't give the name of the publisher, though you've raved about them in multiple threads... or of the book, if you want to generate more sales... after all, people here buy books, too... ;-)
     
  17. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Actually, don't. We don't allow advertising on this site.
     
  18. Torana
    Offline

    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Messages:
    9,659
    Likes Received:
    128
    It still baffles the heck out of me as to why people honestly think that self publishing is easier than submitting and getting accepted with a 'real' publisher.

    Yes, it may be hard to get your work accepted. But once it is, it is a heck of a lot easier than self publishing. Why? Because your publisher organises the artwork for your cover, which is of a decent quality, the publisher organises your work to be edited, saving you the hassle of worrying about hiring anyone to edit it for you or hunting down someone who knows how to edit 'properly', the publisher then formats your work, prints it, etc. Your publisher with also give your work an ISBN (I thin k that is what it is called anyways) so that it can be sold in store, your publisher will also do some advertising, send your work to reviewers (proper reviewers, reasonably big name places) to get some reviews out there and gain your work more popularity.

    If you self publish, you have to do all this yourself. It is also looked down upon by a large number of professional people as well. I've seen Brian Keene and many other professional/big name, authors tackle this topic about self publishing in their blogs and on forums, and to be honest with you, I'd never in a million years, for any amount of money, go with the self publishing route.

    If I think my work is worth someone paying for, then I will send it to a legitimate publishing house and have them publish it.

    Self publishing is exactly the same as sending your work to a vanity publisher. I'd much rather buy from a reputable publisher, or from a small press, than buy someone's work that is self published because at least I have more of a guarantee that the book I am buying is going to be of good quality.

    For a new writer, you really are far better off going the traditional route. Why? Because you will gain more exposure, you will gain more experience, you will also learn a lot more about the industry. Heck, you could end up like my partner, getting your work published in two languages, having publishers sending you emails soliciting your work for their publishing houses, and gaining a job as an editor at two separate publishing houses. These are some of the things that have happened to my partner after his first break about 4 years ago now.

    It will take you a while to get your work published via traditional methods, by going through a publisher, but in doing so, there are a larger number of benefits and more chances of actually getting somewhere with your writing.

    I hope this helps some.
     
  19. Janus
    Offline

    Janus Member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Michigan
    What I am surprised about here, is the aggressive stance some of you are taking. I am getting the impression that maybe you had an experience that did not meet with your enjoyment with one of these publishers.

    I cannot say what other pay to publsih operations do, but mine did that and more for me? Plus in regards to reviews, no one can guarantee 'usually' a review by 'X' reviewer... their are alot of pay publish outfits that do everything you mentioned.

    Again your sarcasm drips from your posting. My sales to date through my publisher has neeted me a little less than 24,000 I receive what boils down to 2.16 per book in royalties.

    Yes not something huge, I am not going to live off my sales at this point, however I am happy with them.

    Pay to publish may not be your thing mammamaia, however you should not be so sarcastic about my experience. I have results that are making me happy. Maybe your sales are more... Maybe your publisher pays you huge sums. If so CONGRATS!

    However you should be more supportive of a fellow author whom is just reporting his experience!
     
  20. Torana
    Offline

    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Messages:
    9,659
    Likes Received:
    128
    I avoid self publishing, and any means other than the traditional. If I want my work published, I won't pay someone to publish it, they will pay me to publish it, and have done.



    I did not say that yours did not, the question I responded to was that of the original poster. Not yourself.
    And if you get a good review by GUD magazine, and some other big name places, you would be surprised as to the difference it can make. People are more inclined to want to read something that has good reviews than something that has none.
    And also, I still don't see why anyone should pay someone to do this when publishers do it for free. They even print the book to send to these places. What is the point of paying for it to be done when it is something the publisher does free?

    My arguments stands. I don't see the point paying for a service when all you have to do is spend some time sending emails for free to publishers all over the internet, and waiting to find one where your story fits and have them pay you for it, and do all the work for free! The only money they get is from the sales of the story. Not from your pocket.

    While I don't like the path you have taken with getting published, I am not saying that you should never have done it, etc. I am just giving my opinion and one that will never change. I have given my opinion on this topic many times. Don't take offense to my opinion, it is simply an opinion. Whatever works for you, works for you. I was only responding to the original poster, but seeing as though you have taken my reply as to yourself, I have replied to you with my opinion on publishing. If you disagree, that is fine, you have every right to. I'm not saying you are wrong, just that my opinion is very different.
     
  21. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    There are no shortcuts. If you have a book that made a profit though a vanity press, you could certainly have found a traditional publisher to accept it without bleeding you up front.

    There's a reason they're called the vanity press. They feed off the vanity of impatient writers who lack the confidence or perseverence to find a traditional publisher, and who want to see their name in print so badly they will pay for the privilege.
     
  22. Janus
    Offline

    Janus Member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Michigan
    Torana,

    I was more repsonding to mammamaia's obvious sarcasm. I understand there are those that feel pay ot publish is bad, and I have to agree in many ways it can be a bad thing. I also agree with you that persistance is the key to success.

    However I tried to choose a place that met me in the middle. Pay to publish yes, however also a PTP outfit that had more 'traditional' aspects in the way the treated their authors.

    Bottom line is for some it works and is a good fit, and for some it is not. However I dont think a PTP publishing solution for an author means their work is inferior, however I know how some works can be.
     
  23. Torana
    Offline

    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Messages:
    9,659
    Likes Received:
    128
    It just seems to me, that some of these costs are a little ridiculous. I honestly wouldn't expect a story to cost the amount they expect you to pay, nor for the things that come with the packages. It costs nothing to get a review, you can get decent covers quite cheap and for a few hundred dollars, you can get the person who does the artwork for Stephen King's novels to do artwork for yours (which the publisher pays for, not you), which would in turn get you more interest in your story alone. To print the books, yes, it can be costly, but POD isn't that bad. Some POD places actually print top quality books. I know because we have a shelf with plenty of POD books on it from well known authors (and if you are going through a publisher, you don't pay for the books to be printed anyway, the publisher does). Ebooks cost nothing to make and are easy enough put together (even if they did, you'd not have to pay for them, it's the publishers job). Editing through a normal publisher costs you absolutely nothing, nor do author pages, etc.

    The packages I have seen, as I have done my research, is all just simple stuff that you could do yourself, half of which the publisher does anyway, and stuff that wouldn't even cost the publisher or author to do anyway. At no expense what so ever, you can appear on 4 different radio shows I know, advertise your book, and guarantee at least 1 sale from each show. So you get more coverage, radio time, meet some more writers, publishers, get more interest in your writing and hence more publications.

    I just can't see how this is worth it when you can spend nothing and make just as much money off your books if you know how to market properly.
     
  24. HeinleinFan
    Offline

    HeinleinFan Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    33
    If there are pay-for-product publishers out there who are actually being useful and generally doing a decent job, I'm glad. But just because there is one, or even five or ten, decent pay-for-product publisher out there doesn't mean that the usual experience with a vanity press is a positive one.

    I have to admit, I'm pretty suspicious of vanity publishers of all stripes. Whether it's Print On Demand, or the submit-a-manuscript-and-money, get-a-bunch-of-copies, it is very rare for an author to come out ahead. Sure, there are folks who just want to hold a copy of their book in their hands, who have no interest in selling copies, and that's fine. But that situation is quite different from someone who wants to sell copies and become a known author by taking the vanity press route.

    Is my bias showing? Of course! I'm a member of the MITSFS, and I've agreed to review books by tiny just-started presses and vanity presses. Some of these books are enjoyable. Others are absolutely terrible. Their common thread? Even the enjoyable ones are generally poor in quality compared to your run-of-the-mill mainstream press publisher. I'm not talking about books that I might not enjoy normally, like romance or vampire fiction. I'm referring to science fiction and fantasy books, some of which had pretty interesting premeses. I have read one such book that was better than a mainstream published book, and that's only because One Second After is such a terrible novel, so my bottom limit for published work is rather lower than it was previously.

    I have concluded that, in most cases, authors would do better to hone their craft than to submit to a vanity press. Yes, there are people who make a profit on their vanity published book. But there are many fewer who become successful that way.

    I'd guess the number of successful vanity press authors constitute less than two percent of all vanity press authors - and that's taking my actual assumption and multiplying by 100 just in case someone wants to get titchy and start claiming people like John Grisham as belonging to the vanity press camp. (I am dubious because he only got "success" after a mainstream publisher picked him up, so you're shifting the goalposts around quite a bit. It's like saying you can run with knives in your feet and make it to the Olympics, because Joe Blow did that for a while before switching to actual running shoes, and now he's a semifinalist! If success comes after you've completely switched paths, I submit that your original path was taking you somewhere else.)

    In short, my experience with vanity publishers:

    * They take your money, and in 80% of cases give you an inferior product. Poor cover art, crappy blurb, poor or no editing, a book that requires a sequel to be fully enjoyed despite there being no indication of this in the blurb, too-white pages, non sarif font. I have seen all of these. One press misspelled the word "copyright" in the front pages, for goodness's sake.
    * Most of the exceptions, vanities that give you a decent product, will market it at least a little, and maybe let you turn a small profit. "Success" then tends to be characterized by the author getting picked up by a regular publisher.
    * In a small number of cases, the vanity press has actually done the part of a decent publisher. They market the book, they do a good job with creating the product, they help the author schedule book signings or whatever. This kind of vanity press may actually be something else, a third kind of publisher, but it's uncertain whether this particular breed of pay-for-product press will last. If it does, hoooray. If it doesn't, well, I have to admit I don't expect much.
     
  25. eliza490
    Offline

    eliza490 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Georgia
    Whether or not you self publish or company publish really depends on what you want. I think there are benefits to both. Self publish is easier and faster, but it costs money. Publishing with a traditional book publisher can take more time and be more confusing for new writers, but you will have the backing of a company that will know how to promote your book and help you find success as an author. It irritates me when people say that you should only go with self publishing or traditional publishing. It all really depends on what the author wants and what their needs are. Both have their pros and cons and the author just needs to do the research to learn enough about each process to decide which one is right for them.
    ~Eliza
     

Share This Page