1. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Seriously considering self-publishing

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by Thomas Kitchen, Mar 6, 2013.

    Hello everyone,

    For a few weeks now I have been considering selling my first ever novel, a science-fiction series for older teenagers. What I am asking is whether this is the right thing to do. I have been told that attempting to sell a series through traditional means as an unknown writer is next to impossible, and this is one of the reasons why I want to self-publish. I am planning to do at least a trilogy for this series, if not more, and I think it might be wise if I didn't publish traditionally. I want this book to be on my shelf, and so I think this is the best way.

    However, I am not entirely sure, and I thought it would be best to ask people who have had some experience in it. I understand that I would have to market the book myself, but any websites/books/advice that you are willing to offer would be extremely helpful.

    Thanks! :)
     
  2. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    Thomas, if I may be so bold as to give you a tiny piece of advice: When you have your manuscript ready, and it is polished, and you're at the stage where you're either going to self publish or go for traditional, agent to publisher route (of which I sincerely believe there is no one "right" way), I urge you to seriously consider your goals. But beyond that, understand that when you self publish something, you are the publisher.

    You should be knowledgeable in that field.

    As such, I would encourage you to take the steps towards traditional publishing, if for no other reason than to gain the knowledge that comes with researching agents and publishers. Learn about why it takes 2 years from acquisition to book on shelves. Believe it or not, there are very reasonable explanations for those delays. Those delays are spent doing things that are in the best interest of both publisher and author.

    Learn about what the major publishers do editorially to manuscripts. Learn about the importance of cover design as it pertains to marketing. Learn everything you can. Be a slush reader for a publisher or an agency for a couple months (there are online gigs you can get that are actually great learning experiences). I sincerely believe that people can do great self publishing. I don't believe you have a one in a million shot of success, in either avenue. What I do believe, however, is that the people who do really well, are people who genuinely understand the industry. They're professional.

    For what it's worth, you can sell book series to publishers. It happens all the time. Every day in fact. Go to publishers marketplace and look at the deals. I'm not saying traditional is better than self publishing, I'm just saying success in either one requires solid foundation of knowledge Don't make a decision based on misinformation, or the popular meme that's spreading around the net at at that particular time. Ask a lot of questions. Read a lot. Study. Walk confidently when you make your decision.

    When people in self publishing approach publishing books the same way people in traditional publishing do, the stigma will fall like a lead weight. It's not about being traditionally published, or self published, it's about being well published.

    Good luck! Keep us posted.
     
    TheWriteWitch likes this.
  3. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    The reason series are 'iffy' is that no one knows how well the first book will do. If that flops and they've signed for the series... not a good business decision. If your first book can stand alone, get that ready for submission and give trade publishers the first shot. It won't cost anything but time.
     
  4. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Thanks for the advice. However, maybe I wasn't clear: I only want to self-publish this series of books. My next two novels are stand-alone, and I simply thought that they would be easier to sell to a traditional publisher. I still desperately want to get published, but perhaps this is the way to go for the series.

    Any thoughts on this?
     
  5. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    Thomas, what I was trying to say was that you sounded like you didn't have a great deal of experience or knowledge in the industry. That's not an insult, it's just that when you say the reason you weren't going to go the traditional publishing route for your series, was because you were "told" selling a series is "next to impossible", I think, who is Thomas talking to? Unless "next to impossible" means "totally possible" than that person gave you bad advice. If you spent time doing research, reading blogs, reading websites, looking into the business side of things you'd realize that debut authors get series contracts all the time. It happens every single day.

    Is it "easier" to self publish?

    It's only easier if you don't do it right. Otherwise the two real benefits to self publishing it speed to market and royalty percentage. If you're a prolific writer that can be a very real benefit indeed.

    If your goal is traditional publishing, why aren't you at least trying to go that route with your series? Have you queried agents? Have they said "Uh uh, can't sign you unless you don't have a series!"?

    There's no rush. If you're doing it right, it's going to take time for you to self publish. No reason you can't begin the planning process for self publishing, while you query agents. You have to research editors, research artists, research how to do layout and interior book design. You have to learn how to format books for different devices. . . . Do all that WHILE querying agents, and then at least you'll know rather than listening to the opinions of a few people who might not have a clue and might just be repeating what someone "told" them.

    Is it easier to sell a stand alone rather than a series? As Shadowwalker pointed out, yes, simply because it's less risk. If you can't make book one in your series stand alone, hey, that's just the way it is. Doesn't mean you can't try the traditional route. Agents also pick up authors who have series all the time. They wouldn't do that if they didn't think they could sell it. Series contracts are handed out every day to debut authors.

    Good luck!
     
  6. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you want to self-publish nothing's stopping you. For what it's worth, the standard in self publishing doesn't exist because nobody checks the manuscripts for even most basic spelling and punctuation quality. Those are pretty low expectations to meet.
     
  7. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Thank you. I hadn't thought of querying whilst beginning to sort out the self-publishing side of things. This is definitely what I will do. Thanks for the advice, and everyone else that answered! :D
     
  8. Iamfenian
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    Iamfenian New Member

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    Thomas please check out Page publishing. I started a thread asking if anyone has dealt with them and got no replies but they sent me a package after a query I made. Seem almost too good to be true but as far as I know there is NO investing on the author's end (I could be wrong) and they seem very reasonable. The contact number is 646-503-4908 and ask for Matt Johnson. If you do contact them please post your feedback, i am very curious to know what their deal is. (I would contact them but I am not even close to publishing yet):D And another option may be Amazon. I refuse to self publish. Good Luck!
     
  9. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you have two standalone novels, why not put the series publication on hold while you attempt to find a publisher for the standalones? If you're successful in building a readership and the standalones prove profitiable, there would be little reason for the publisher(s)--if you found a different one for each novel--nor to publish the series, unless they did not think they were marketable, didn't fit the publisher's readership, or that they were not of sufficient quality. Success in publishing can open doors for other works.
     
  10. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    check out lulu.com

    A friend of mine just published a novella with them. There was no initial outlay. He sent them his word doc - they translated it into epub and gave him a page on their site. He tells me they take 33% of sales. They did no editing, no spell checking, nothing. sorry - they have done something with copyright for him, not sure what exactly...

    Obviously that is there basic package - they also have a package where they take your rough ms, edit it, copyright it, do a whole load of stuff. They will print you 5 paperbacks and 1 hardback - cost is ...sit down..... 3200 dollars! Their site doesn't give info on further copies.

    Apart from that, there is a mine of information on how to sell your book, worth a peek...

    Good luck and please report back
     
  11. David K. Thomasson
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    David K. Thomasson Contributing Member

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    content removed by author
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm hesitating to enter another debate about self-publishing. So I just wanted to make sure that you've heard the assertions (all of which I consider accurate) that:

    1) Most self-published books sell very, very few copies
    2) A self-publishing credit is not a publishing credit in terms of making your reputation as a writer. In fact, you'd do better to hide the fact that you've self-published, when trying to get traditionally published.
    3) Once your book is self-published, the odds of getting it traditionally pubished are very, very low.

    People will argue against these assertions. I'm not joining in that debate. But it would be unfortunate if you "used up" your book by self-publishing it without ever having heard these assertions and having the opportunity to research them and make an informed choice.

    If you just want a physical copy of the book on your shelf, you could have a copy privately printed, without using up your first publication rights.
     
  13. BitPoet
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    BitPoet Member

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    Thomas, you'll probably get all kinds of advice in all different directions. Like ChickenFreak said, if you just want to have a physical copy, get it without official publishing. If you want to sell your book, you will either have to go through traditional publishing or invest a lot of work.

    There's nothing guaranteeing that traditional publishing will make your book sell well. It depends on the publisher, but if they do they work as they are supposed to, a reasonable sales count should be almost guaranteed. This means that they not just enter the book in their catalogue and ship a stack of copies to their distributors of choice, but that they also do real marketing, like press announcements, presentations at book fairs or links from well-visited blogs.

    If you go the self-publishing route, you'll need to do that work yourself. Present your book at fairs - you'll not be willing to afford that on your own, so you need to be a member of a self-publishing writers' group. Have a look around in your region for one, the people there will also be able to tell you about their real-life experiences. Write letters to the press - that's actually not that hard in itself, but very time consuming, and it'll cost you a bit because you'll have to include advance copies. Getting your book mentioned in popular blogs is also something that takes time and a lot of communication efforts.

    Before you decide, check out both avenues. Go to big book fairs, go to art events and talk to the journalists present about their willingness to present books from new authors. Look at big literature blogs and try to read between the lines how they decide which books to present. Also check out prospective publishers and look how they present their books. Do they just list them, or are there in-depth descriptions, special pages for new releases, do they present new writers at fairs or just the well-known, big-selling few, do they get mentioned in big blogs and do their books get mentioned in big newspapers?

    Then, and only then, compare what you've found out, think about how much time and effort you are willing and able (be honest with yourself there) to invest, and then make a decision based on your facts instead of the well-meant but often unexperienced advice you get from third parties - you will get good advice too, but do you trust yourself to pick the good from the bad?
     
  14. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Thanks for this, but how am I able to do that? I know Lulu can do private copies (as in not publicly distributed), but does that really mean it is not published officially? And publishers would still want to publish the book later if they could?
     
  15. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not published if it's not made available to the public (publish -> public). Having a company (any print shop, for example) make a copy for you is no different than printing it out at home and putting a binding on it.
     
  16. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    Lulu is also a printing company. You retain all rights to your work. It is no different than going to kinkos to run off some copies.
     
  17. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    lulu will also give you an isbn and a bar code - they'll even sell it ofr you - We don't know how much of a budget you have but 3200 dollars gets you 5 paperbacks and 1 hardback - pretty expensive at nearly 600 per book, they don't list prices after that but I'm sure you could buy thousands if you have the dosh
     
  18. lettuce head
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    lettuce head Active Member

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    Are you kidding me? Holy crap! I know a guy who, depending on page count and if you have your own cover art, who could easily do 10 paperback perfect bound copies for less than $300. However, it would not include an ISBN or a hard cover edition. Getting an ISBN number is pretty easy. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post such information on this forum. Perhaps I could share in an email.
     
  19. Sanjuricus
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    Sanjuricus Active Member

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    Reminds me of the Scientology tactic of printing thousands upon thousands of copies of Dianetics and then pulping them just so it could remain in the top sellers list. They fooled no-one but themselves!
     
  20. northernadams
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    northernadams Member

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    I self-pubbed and don't regret it. I went with CreateSpace and am entirely satisfied with the finished product. Wouldn't mind if it was selling like hotcakes, but either way, I've got my book.
     
  21. NavyRet98
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    NavyRet98 New Member

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    I am in the final leg of the publishing process, using CreateSpace. I found the submission process very tedious, to say the least. I submitted my MS SIX times, but kept getting gutter and margin erros, yet when reviewing my book on their Interior Reviewer, the book looked fine!

    After extensive research on blogs, forums and CreateSpace's own message board, I was able to determine the review process was FLAWED at CreateSpace and there were no such erros. I found this out on their own message board. Some speculated it's a way to get more first-time submitters to utilize the CS review service beginning at $249. I discovered an obscure link at the bottom of the reviewer, stating "Ignore errors and save," which I clicked on. SUCCESS!! The MS was accepted. The final submission was saved in PDF format, which seemed to work the best. I created my own bookcover illustrations and was successful with my first submission. I received a message from CreateSpace that my manuscript and bookcover passed their submission requirements, should have my first proof in-hand tomorrow.

    The cost was not that painful and I'll get copies of the final product for around $4.56 per. It's a 22 Chapter fiction, 311 pages and 99,372 words in length.

    I realize there is much scuttlebutt pertaining to the pros and cons of self-publishing, but my main objective was getting my work "out there." I attend local writers group meeting, gaining valuable knowledge and making many friends with the same passions and interests as myself. Many of them have been-there-done-that, so their advice and guidance was, and continues to be, extremely helpful.

    A self-published writer, from what I understand, assumes much of the burden of the marketing process. As with any other endeavor, the key to marketing yourself is NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK. I plan on having a few book signings and have set up a website to promote my book. It's all a learning experience, but an interesting one.
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ... more like 'ALL'... along with promotion and distribution, aside from amazon listing...

    good luck with sales!
     
  23. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    As you found yourself, the only way to reliably upload to Createspace is in PDF format. Also, you should create a template that works, and keep using it; I needed at least half a dozen tries to get something that looked decent and had no errors the first time, but since then I can format and upload a book in a couple of hours and it normally goes through straight away.
     
  24. NavyRet98
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    NavyRet98 New Member

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    Thanks, I should have my first proof in-hand tomorrow. :D
     
  25. NavyRet98
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    NavyRet98 New Member

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    Update:

    Received my first proof and I was very satisfied with the results. After making some minor changes and resubmitting, I didn't wait for the second proof to arrive, before approving the book for distribution. I saved money on the cover illustration by designing it myself, and getting feedback from friends and fellow writers on a Face Book group I created. I felt this was important to solicit ideas and receive feedback of the process and developments. All in all, it was a bit tedious, but well worth the effort.

    book4.jpg
     

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