1. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    Would self publishing a poetry collection or short story collection work for new authors?

    Discussion in 'Poetry' started by Alex R. Encomienda, Sep 30, 2017.

    I am working on a very messy novel right now and at the same time I've been writing several short stories and poems that are just dwelling in my computer.

    Would self publishing them via createspace work for a collection?

    Let's say I came up with good cover art and a decent sized collection; what else would I need to get it created and shipped to me?

    Do you think people would be interested in reading that sort of thing?
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    What do you mean by "work"? What are your goals?
     
  3. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    Well it would be nice if I had at least some interested readers. I don't expect much because most readers would hardly notice if a new author released a collection book but I don't want to do all the work and get absolutely nothing back.

    Perhaps I can try to sell it through small
    Book stores in my city, market it on social media etc.

    Those are probably my realistic goals.
     
  4. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    If you're interested in readers and having a physical book to call your own more than you're interested in making a profit, then yes, it'd probably work.

    My own experience (I think these numbers are accurate, but they're all from memory so take with a small pinch of salt):

    In 2014 I self-published a book of 100-word stories. I had a lot of big plans for it, marketing-wise, and ended up doing none of them. The whole enterprise took up a lot more of my time than I expected.

    My main expense was a cover, that set me back $250.

    I didn't pay for an editor or typesetter. I found the typesetting fairly easy to do myself working with Createspace's template, and it's rather easier to get away without an editor with a flash collection than it is for a novel.

    The stories had all been previously published on a blog and a Facebook page, and so they were also available for free if anyone wanted to look.

    In the end, the only marketing I did was posting on social media. I never even got around to putting it in the member publications area here. While I didn't spend much actual money on this (about $15 on ads, IIRC), the Facebook page I'd been posting the stories on had built up just shy of 1000 likes, so there was a bit more of a built-in audience than most people will have starting from scratch.

    It's sold 48 copies at £8.79 - and despite what you'll hear, only 3 of those were knowingly to friends and family - almost entirely during the time I was pushing it on social media. That's given me total royalties of £78. With fluctuating exchange rates I'm not sure what the exact profit margin is, but it's clearly negative.

    That said, I don't regret a bit of it. It was great fun to do, I love the fact there's a book with my name on it on bookshelves owned by people I've never met, even if only a few of them. I didn't go into it expecting to make money, I went into it expecting to spend money and get a book out of it. I did. Maybe one day I'll actually do some of those marketing ideas and see if I sell any more.

    Don't just assume you'll get similar results. A lot depends on the genre you're writing in and, obviously, how you sell it. But with any luck that'll give you some idea of what kind of return you can get.
     
  5. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    This was very good information. It's usually the idea of having little to no readers at all that keeps holding me back from doing it but if I'm able to sell through small bookstores then it'll be logical to expect some kind of audience, right?
     
  6. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    Short story collections and poetry collections are a tough sell, so to speak. Even popular authors with a large following who have a collection of short stories put together sell far fewer copies of that work than their novels. While there are exceptions, that's normally what happens. That isn't to say that they do not sell at all, and that there is no hope.

    One of the things you may be able to do for the collection, even if you self-publish, is use it for a give-away for example, when people sign up for your news letter.

    It may also allow for a test run, learning the publishing process, marketing, etc.

    Another option is to submit the stories and/or poems individually to magazines, ezines and anthologies. Some pay fairly well and would offer a larger readership. When the rights return to you, you could self-publish them in a collection.
     
  7. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    That's the understanding I have too when it comes to collections. I've actually been very prolific in submitting to journals and two of my stories have been published by the same magazine editor but other than those two, I haven't had much luck. The submission process is easy but the wait is horrible. It's a competitive game.

    I've edited several times and currently have a story that could use some beta readers but I'm not sure if I want to wait much longer.
     
    Fernando.C and TWErvin2 like this.
  8. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, you can publish collections, but few people buy collections by unknown writers. If you think the stories might be of interest to significant numbers of readers, you'd be better off submitting them to magazines first: you'll make more money and hit a bigger audience if you sell one.

    Also, personally, I'd publish each story individually, then a collection at a discount. Assuming they're long enough to be worth doing so (AFAIR Amazon have hassled some writers for selling sub-2500 word stories before).

    I'd also spend as little as possible on setting it up, because you're not likely to make much money: you can get pretty good premade covers for $40-50 if you can find one that suits your collection.
     
  9. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    Is it possible to do the cover yourself? Or are there special things that need to be on the cover that only others can do?

    I'm not looking to make money as much as I'm looking to get readers. I also would like to have print copies so I can try to sell them through local bookstores. Do you think that may be a good idea?

    Becsuse I already plan on submitting a few to magazines but for the other ones, they'll be locked in my computer forever if I don't put them out there.
     
  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    The print copies would cost you a fair bit of money, and I think that it's unlikely for bookstores to accept them for sale.

    If you're purely looking for readers, not money in any way, have you considered just doing a blog, for the elements of your writing that you'd like to share and never intend do sell?

    It's hard to get a substantial audience for a blog, but it's also a pretty low-effort (unless you choose to put in a lot of effort), low-cost way to get the feeling of sharing, and if you do end up with some form of paying audience, it's a web presence.
     
  11. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    Yes I can do that but I don't like the idea of blogs. Why would the bookstores turn me down? I've heard of self published authors who sold a good amount through bookstores in their town. I guess what I want is to have these stories in print with a cover so that I bring copies to seminars or writing meet ups, see if I can give a certain amount to bookstores things like that.
     
  12. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    You could try getting some poems/stories published in a few well-respected magazines first ('The Paris Review' comes to mind for poetry), building up a reputation. Afterwards, some people might become interested if you plan on releasing a collection of poems.
     
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  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm curious--why do you dislike blogs?

    Shelf space in a bookstore is space that needs to make money for the store, and there will be a great deal of competition for that space. If there aren't people eagerly coming in to try to find your book, the shelf space where your book is stocked may not make any money.

    Now, there's no harm in asking--some bookstores do allot some space for local authors. But I would strongly recommend against doing a large print run.
     
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  14. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    I've never been interested in writing blogs because it's such an easy thing to do and I'm sure most people associate the word blog with people who have something substantial to say about politics or pop culture. I want to stick to just fiction. There's been times I submitted to online literary journals and had pieces accepted but that's different. If I'm the sole person in charge of the site I don't want it. If it's an online journal then that's fine.

    How much would it cost to buy print versions? I've heard others say it's better to print on demand but I'm not sure which is better.
     
  15. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm the opposite--I associate it with people contentedly burbling, with amateur art, and I approve of that. :)

    That, I don't know. I would just expect it to be a non-trivial cost, and unless you somehow beat the "sells about ten copies" odds for self-publishing potentially a substantial loss.
     
  16. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    Would the lack of readers/money be due to it being a collection or just because it would be a self published book?
     
  17. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Self published book. You wouldn't have a corporation with the expertise of hundreds of books behind them doing selection editing, design, marketing, and distribution work, and you wouldn't have the reputation of that corporation behind you when bookstores are deciding whether to allot precious shelf space to your book.
     
  18. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    I've been hearing lots of back and forth arguments on how self publishing works which has put a lot of my work on hold. @NigeTheHat seems to be content with how it worked for him. I'm sure others have similar results. I am still submitting these stories to journals but I'm not expecting journals like The Masters Review or Tin House to accept me. I'm content with more independent magazines because being realistically, I have almost zero chance of being accepted by the big ones.

    I'm sure there are tricks to finding an audience with a self published book. How do others do it?
     
  19. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    Author copies of my book through Createspace cost $3.41/unit - and then, because I don't live in the States, there's a substantial shipping cost and some lead time waiting for the books to turn up. Weirdly, it can sometimes work out better to just buy them like a regular person through Amazon and use their free shipping, taking into account the royalties you get back eventually actually makes it a bit cheaper.

    Going to a print house and getting a print run done will probably cost less per unit. The advantage of print on demand is that there's no minimum print run, you can order a couple at a time.

    The cost per book will vary. It'll depend on how many pages you've got, whether you're using colour etc.

    Like @ChickenFreak said, you're going to be better off talking to your bookshops before you get the print run done, however you end up printing your books. Bookshops might stock you, but it's by no means certain. At most, get a couple of POD copies so you've got a prop when you're talking to them.
     
  20. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Lots of self-publishers are happy with their experiences. It just depends what your goal is.

    If you want something in print, something to sell/distribute, and aren't worried about making money (ie. are fine with losing money), then I think self-publishing makes a lot of sense. You cite Nige as an example of a happy self-publisher, and I think he's a good example of what I'm talking about - he lost money, but he's still happy with the experience.

    Are you okay with losing money? Are you okay with putting a lot of time into selling each copy? If so, yeah, go ahead. Self-publishing totally "works" under those conditions.

    ETA: I just re-read this and it's absolutely possible to read it in a sort of sarcastic, anti-self-publishing tone. That's not the tone I intended. Try to read it in a pro-self-publishing-under-certain-circumstances tone, if you can!
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2017
  21. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Contributor Contributor

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    You can make your own covers. But they tend to look like covers the author made themselves, which isn't a selling point in the current market. Premades are the cheapest way to get a professional-looking cover, but you need to spend the time trawling the web to find one that suits your story.
     
  22. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    It really depends on what your skills are like - personally I'm not as good as a professional designer, but theres very little out there as a premade which I could do better (not to mention that there's a lot of copyright violation in premades)
     
  23. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    Are you talking about cover art? Because I thought there is already a template on createspace that you can work with.
     
  24. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    There is - but its a bit naff , I'd rather create the whole thing in indesign and upload it. The problem with templated covers is that they look like, well, templated covers .... they are okay... but did you really put all that effort into that manuscript to settle for 'okay I guess' on the thing your reader sees first ?

    EOTD you can't beat hiring a designer (if you can afford it) Look a Lew's thread on the eagle and the dragon cover.

    Assuming you can't afford a pro the next best option is to do it yourself if you have the skills or to use a premade cover if you don't

    The next best after that is the create space template

    with the bottom of the pile being to bash it up in word or paint or whatever
     
  25. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

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    How about using an app like Pixlr and then uploading the file on createspace? I've never used any of these sites so forgive me if I'm ignorant on the subject.
     

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