Self Publishing: An Aspiring Author Asks How To Get A Book Published

Posted at 00:58am on 26th February 2011

Hi Mel,

Self publishing for me would be a last resort as I would find it difficult to promote my own work. Although I was in the business world for a long time it was somehow different promoting a product. Also I have been retired for quite a while and feel less confident now. Promoting one's own book seems like a much more private thing - like selling a bit of the soul! Sorry to rabbit on for so long. Hope all is well with you.

Blessings,

Freda

Mel's Comment:

Hi Freda,

Forgive me for splitting your letter about writing and publishing a book in two, but I felt it would be easier for readers to consider the question Does An Aspiring Author Have  A Chance With A Traditional Publisher before moving on to the issue of self publishing.  And I’m excited to report that, having put the link out on my social media networks, I have since been able to tell you that a real commissioning editor responded by inviting you to submit your novel.  I wish you every success with your submission.

Meantime, I’ll answer the second part of your letter by saying that if all else fails, accept that traditional publishing may be a closed shop to you.  In which case, you may want to consider approaching self publishing companies.  Before doing so, consider the following:

WRITING AND PUBLISHING A BOOK

Ask yourself what you want to achieve:

  • if it’s simply a published book in your hand, then self publishing will realise that for you – but at a cost!  (see below)
  • If you’re hoping for big money, think again.  Neither traditional publishing nor self publishing will give you that.
  • However, if what you are looking for is simply the opportunity to say something worthwhile to your readers, then print on demand may be the answer.
  • If that is the route you go down, then you will have to ensure that your book is marketed in such a way that it reaches the right readers - however few they may be.
  • Or it may be that the creative writing process, rather than writing and publishing, is sufficient for you.

PRINT ON DEMAND PUBLISHERS, TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING & SELF PUBLISHING COMPANIES

Understand the differences – that is the benefits and disadvantages – between traditional publishing, vanity publishers, and self publishing companies.

  • It may take two years for your book to be published by traditional publishing methods, while self publishing can be achieved within a month or two.
  • Vanity publishers charge a small fortune to produce one to five books.  Subsequent copies are highly expensive.
  • Self publishing companies – i.e. Print On Demand – vary enormously, as the following tables show.

PRINT ON DEMAND PUBLISHERS

SET UP FEES

AuthorHouse
 

 

$1517 includes 10 images / graphics; add $5 per image thereafter. Normal turn around is 6 months; add $500 for publication in 30 days.

Booklocker

$517 less $200 if submitting own cover.  No extras.  $149 for returning authors. Turn around approx 1 month.  Family run print on demand company.

CreateSpace

$1022.00 Deduct $299 if submitting your own cover. For more than one colour / image on cover, add $500.

iUniverse:

$999.00 includes 5 “free” copies, plus $2 per page for incorrect formatting.  Turn around is 3-4 months.

Lulu
 

 

$1131.00 Deduct $450 if submitting own cover.  Extra charges for many services.

Trafford

 

$1324.00 $5 extra per image, plus many extra charges ($2 per page to correct formatting errors).  $2199 for faster turn around.

Xlibris

$1972.00 –includes 5 “free” copies. Turn around 4-6 months.

 

NOTE: AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Trafford and Xlibris are all owned by the same holding company: Author Solutions.

WHAT IS PRINT ON DEMAND?

  • Print on Demand (POD) is an electronic means of publishing a book, from manuscript to print.
  • This means that it is no longer necessary for the labour intensive, and therefore expensive, process of typesetting for a printing press.
  • Electronic files are held on a computer.
  • Books may be printed – and therefore ordered – one at a time.
  • However, this does mean that unit costs (per book) are unified; i.e. there are no reductions for bulk orders.
  • Some self publishing companies retain electronic Rights.  Make sure that you understand who owns the Rights to your electronic manuscript.
  • Check whether the print on demand publishers you choose will produce and sell e-books, and if so at what cost.

 

MARKETING AS PART OF THE BOOK PUBLISHING PROCESS

You are quite right, Freda, in saying that self publishing requires a considerable amount of self promotion.  Having been in the business world, you should be at an advantage.  Think of your book as your product, and try to distance yourself (difficult, I know) from the emotional entanglement.

Some of the Print on Demand publishers in the table do promote their authors work on their own sites.  Most use the same print on demand services, and all of them use Ingram as their distributors, which means that they will be made available to the same stores: Amazon; Barnes & Noble etc.

There are many means of advertising your book yourself.  The subject is too lengthy to go into here, so do take a look at earlier articles I’ve written on promotion and marketing.

Contact me again at any time you need further help.  And do let me know what you decide and how you get on.

Mel

Readers of this blog: If you have experience of any of the self publishing companies I've listed - or others - please share them in the comment box below.  Help other aspiring authors to make better choices.

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