1. writiki
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    writiki Member

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    Self Publishing

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by writiki, Feb 20, 2008.

    It can be really hard to get a book published. One solution I came across (not my site, just came across it) is www dot createspace dot com. You can create your book and have it listed on amazon. Then createspace gets a chuck of the revenue, and also that revenue is shared with you. There's no book "minimum". Seemed like a really neat idea. There may be others out there like it.


    and there's always:
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    do you know anyone who's making a living on such books?... or even enough to pay their power bill?

    btw, did you know that the site is owned by amazon, and that's who'd be getting the 'chuck' (sic)?...
     
  3. Baron
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    Baron Contributing Member

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    Yes.
     
  4. LinRobinson
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    LinRobinson Banned

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    Definitely. And I know others besides myself who make good money self-publishing.

    The fact that createspace is owned by amazon is hardly a state secret: that's the whole idea, the direct-to-amazon publisher. Has advantages, has drawbacks.

    Writers should investigate (intelligently without prejudice and hysteria) all possible tools and venues at their disposal. There are more niches now than ever and it's worth sorting them out, just like musicians explore websites, mp3 sharing, Second Life gigs, pay to play at the Whiskey A GoGo, everything to advance their career and find a workable niche that balances their creative impulses with their needs to pay the rent and reach the public.

    By the way, I once ran off an edition of 400 poetry books at a cost of 30 cents a copy. I sold them at my readings for $3. Mostly just to have something to get rid of people asking me for copies of my poems. They sold out in 8 months. (I was really into explorting, exploiting, formulating and evolving the Seattle poetry scene at that time). So I made like a thousand bucks with POETRY!! for criisakes.

    It is a mistake to limit yourself to any given model. By the same token, it's best to shop around, do research compare before jumping into something like this. Lulu, had it existed at that time, would not have been a workable solution to the poetry book thing. Neither would a normal SSPPP (small, snotty, precious poetry press)

    Check it out, ask question on some forums and FAQ boards where self-publishing is the main focus and people have experience of these things. Then call your shot and don't worry about the naysayers. In fact, pull their hair until they buy one of your books, then sign it for them.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    to clarify, i know some people make good money on self-published books... what i was referring to by 'such books' was only the createspace stuff, not self-publishing in general...
     
  6. writiki
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    writiki Member

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    A "chunk" of the revenue. And yes, there are people out there making money with them. I'm sure there are people making money self publishing in other ways also, this is just one alternative.

    It can also be a good steppingstone for writers to get their book and name out there, regardless of how much profit they really make. If you've ever been "real life" published, you know that authors get an even smaller "chunk" of the profit for each book sold (granted the publishing company does a lot of work marketing, etc).
     
  7. Howard
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    Howard Member

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    But I have to have the book printed etc myself?

    Howard
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not with the amazon createspace program... they get it printed, but you then have to buy copies to sell on your own...

    with the other self-publishing routes, you have to arrange to get the book printed one way or another... pods will also print them as ordered, like amazon does... other venues print as many as you pay for... little or no editing will be done, so you basically get whatever you send them, often an inferior quality book with typos and other goofs intact... and with all of them, you have to buy your own books, in order to sell them, if you don't want to rely only on sales from an amazon listing...

    the main problem with all of these is that the book you get is a paperback [unless you pay a printer $10-15,000 for 500-750 copies of a hardcover] and will be priced way higher than folks will usually pay for one [most are priced around $16 and up]...

    and with all of them, if you don't do your own promotion and marketing, sales will be minimal... none of the self-publishing venues will do that for you, as the paying presses do... you'll have to arrange your own book-signings, pester shops to put your books on their shelves, etc.
     
  9. LinRobinson
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    LinRobinson Banned

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    In point of fact, writers are expected to do a lot of their own promotion even for books published by big houses. (The idea that they roll out the tours and and posters and payment for bookstore placement for every book is a quaint old thing and does little good in the current millennium.)

    It's probably worth publishing and promoting something yourself just to learn about this stuff. It's not like "somebody takes care of it all" at a publishing house.

    (Quite apart from the fact there are like vanity, then POD, then big Manhattan houses and nothing in between: there is a fairly seamless continuum in existance today: and the ALL want you to have an author's website and blog and all that jazz.)

    There are advantages to publishing only in paperback, by the way. One of them is that it leaves the hardback rights available for sale if you hit it big. (And it can happen: let's say they make a movied out of your novel...)

    Be REALLY careful about advice you get on self-publshing. That's why I stressed researching it my previous post. You get a bit of gung-ho boostering from people with an axe to grind. And even more pooh-poohing from people with no experience in the burgeoning world of publishing as it is today. You have to weed it all out based on the consensual validity of what people are saying.

    As one tiny example of what I mean, the figures given above for printing are highly inflated and not up to date.

    Take a look at this price list for 6x9 books from a job printer:
    http://www.network-printers.com/size6.html

    Note that you can get a 300 page book for $5 EVEN WITH A PRESS RUN OF 250.
    That's $1250. If you are spending $15.000 for a run of books you are probably trying to do them with Ben Franklin.

    This doesn't even get into things like POD and high-volume laser printing which can increase cost but bring your exposure WAY down.
    Let's say you're spending $10 to print a book at first, selling it for $17.95 or something. Plus shipping and handling, don't forget...it adds up.

    Would it be worth it to you to be on the scoreboard, selling a book, attempting your marketing, etc. knowing you're only making a couple of bucks a book? Low gain, low risk, good experience. And if you're good and can move books, then popping for a couple of grand doesn't look so bad.

    And that is talking about going out and doing ALL the work yourself. Something like createspace takes a lot of that hassle out of it...and puts you on amazon.com with a PIN number (a hinky one, perhaps...research that too, if you're interested) Not much outlay to be in the author business.

    DON'T be put off by people who look down their noses and sneer about not "real" publishing and such. (Try asking them where you can buy their book and see what they say :)

    It's a cool new toy/tool for newbie authors or the many who are a hair shy of the big leagues. Find out all you can and evaluate the rah-rah and naysayers on your own.

    Good luck
     
  10. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unfortunately, there is a reason why many bookstores and chains don't carry or stock many self-published books: quality, as in poor. As a result, they can't sell them. Other reasons have to do with returns and the like if/when the books don't sell.

    The percent of writers who successfully find a 'traditional publisher' is small, but the reason is the quality of the work (or perceived quality--yes there are viable and top notch books--both fiction and nonfiction--that they pass by). Just looking at the number of those writers submitting and competing for the limited slots in the publication schedule (both unpublished and published in the same pool), the best works--those the agents/publishers feel will do well or sell, are selected. There are variations, of course. Different publishers focus on different markets. Sending a paranormal romance novel to Baen Books, no matter how good it is, will get rejected. Sending them a quality military SF novel, on the other hand, has a chance, and the better the story/writing, the better the chance.

    Thus, the % who write and submit that find their work published is very small (depending on the source and how it is calculated) .5 to 3% based on all manuscripts submitted. I don't personally think anyone really knows exactly, but it is small.

    Then, consider those who self publish. Those willing to pay and do the setup work and all that is involved. One hundred percent will find their work in print (be it offset print runs delivered, or POD, or epublish, or anywhere in between).

    There are no 'gate-keepers' on quality. That is why I said 'unfortunately' above, because/since the vast majority is considered sub-par quality, all self-published books have to struggle against being lumped in the class or "poor quality--couldn't find a publisher so last resort". And sadly, many of them live up to those reputations...I've read (or tried to read) a few.

    What was said above...you will have to participate in marketing, whether you find a publisher who pays an advance and has excellent distribution, provides ARCs (advanced review copies), has people pushing to the sellers, etc, OR if you self-publish. You'll probably have fewer hurdles to overcome with your work being published and distributed via a traditional publisher, but sitting home and waiting for the royalty checks isn't gonna happen. I guess you could hire a publicist (either self publish or traditional), but that costs money...and you'll still have to do something if it's going to be effective.

    In my experience, I have seen with self-publishing, more success with non-fiction than fiction titles.

    While I am not looking down my nose at those who choose to self-publish, one can examine my website (see the signature contents below) to see where my work has been published and is available. Have I made tons of money? No--not yet ;) . But I've been paid flat rates for articles and stories, been paid per word, and royalties that are respectable for my short fiction. Once can also see where my novels are currently submitted, and have made it out of the slush pile, and are being considered by those who can say 'yes' or 'no' to a project. Will they ultimately make it to publication with those houses? Odds are still against it, I believe. But I also believe I am on the right track.

    That is one of the advantages, I believe, between self-publishing and traditional, especially for those who are impatient. The traditional route takes a long time. Self-publishing, by comparison, is quite fast.

    Some would argue that with going the 'traditional route', a writer has to deal with rejection, where as with the self-publishing route, one doesn't. Maybe that is true during the submission process, but if the product/book is poor quality, no matter how much time is put into or how well executed the marketing is, in the end the book isn't really going to sell too well, and is a form of delayed (and sometimes financially costly) rejection.

    Terry
     
  11. Baron
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    Baron Contributing Member

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    If one is going to take the POD route then quality is an issue. It is quite rightly stated that the quality produced is as good as the document supplied. The onus is one the one who is publishing to exercise quality control over their own work. My own experience of POD is that the quality of the finished work is quite high quality but, as already stated, this depends totally on the quality of the source file.

    There is some press interest in groups of writers, such as the one that I am working with, getting together to form their own publishing outlet using POD to print and distribute. This is a source of free promotion that can be very helpful. A news item always attracts more attention than an ad.
     
  12. LinRobinson
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    LinRobinson Banned

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    The worst element of POD that I see is covers. GOD you see some sorry stuff. Posers in medeival drag, hippie romance goaches, it's incredible.
     
  13. writiki
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    writiki Member

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    You can buy copies to sell on your own, or you can promote your book in whatever fashion you want and send people to amazon to buy it (where it will be after publishing w/ createspace).
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's true, of course... i didn't mean to imply that couldn't be done, just didn't mention it, as i perhaps should have, thinking it was a given...
     
  15. ChaoticMethods
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    ChaoticMethods New Member

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    The issue with POD covers, I think, should be pretty easy to fix. Find an artist that fits your taste and commission some cover art. There's more than enough artists online willing to fill the order.
     
  16. Baron
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    Baron Contributing Member

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    You're absolutely right. As we, as a group, comprise artists, writers and musicians this does not present a problem. The paper quality and print quality on Lulu is exceptionally good.
     
  17. poempedlar
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    poempedlar Senior Member

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    Hi all you writers. It comes round again and again in the forum about the quality of self published books. This forum, as you all know, includes some excellent writers but they still find it difficult or impossible to get published. Likewise, I belong to an Artforum and the quality of work is astounding, yet they still find it near impossible to sell their work. I have self published but also have had many articles, poems etc., published and have also won prizes. People are keen to publish my poetry (5 being published shortly in anthologies), yet it is difficult to squeeze any money out of anyone. So, it appears it is not the quality of the work, it is what I call, 'a closed shop,' and many people are keen to make money out of you. Self Publish I say. I have mentioned before on the forum that several people could get together with short stories or poetry and split the cost. It is a worthwhile experience.
     
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