Thanks to everyone for engaging in the fascinating discussion over the past couple of weeks about writing in this trying economy. It was our second most popular post to date with nearly 30 comments posted. So if you haven’t yet read the comments to the last post, please do check them out.
This week, we have special guest blogger, Yvonne Perry, sharing her thoughts with us on why she chose to self-publish her new book, “Whose Stuff Is This Anyway? Finding Freedom from the Thoughts, Feelings, and Energy of Those Around You.”
Yvonne’s guest post is part of a 28-day virtual book tour she has arranged with more than 20 bloggers and other media. We’re honoured to be part of that tour. Yvonne’s book offers empowering, proactive techniques to help empathic people manage energy and information overload coming from the collective unconsciousness of Earth. See http://whosestuffisthis.com/ for more. Here is Yvonne’s story:
Why I Chose to Self-Publish
by Yvonne Perry
There was a time when the only reputable way to publish a book was through one of the “big six publishing houses,” such as Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Group, Random House, or Simon & Schuster, or one of their imprints (subsidiaries). These houses were, and still are, very selective about whose work they will publish.
An off-set print run would usually be created, which meant someone—either the author or the publisher—had to store 5,000-10,000 copies of a title. If the book didn’t sell, its print cost and a lot of trees were wasted. In those days, the publisher obtained the ISBN, did the editing (many times severely and not to the author’s liking), cover design, interior layout, printing, and marketing for the author. They gave the author an up-front fee (advance) and paid royalties, netted after the publishing, printing, and marketing expenses were calculated. The publishing house owned the rights to the book and had control of the book’s future success, or lack thereof.
When print-on-demand (POD) technology came along, it offered publishers the ability to print one book at a time as it was purchased (demanded) by a reader. No more need for a warehouse. Books could be ordered and sold one at a time via Internet sites such as Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other booksellers.
Soon, we had independent publishers, not associated with the big six, cropping up and offering to publish books for any author who could put together a manuscript. These companies, known as publish-on-demand or vanity publishers, offered the same services as the major houses. But, instead of paying the author an advance, they actually charge the author a fee to defray the cost of designing the cover, laying out the interior, and printing the book. Some of these offer editing and marketing services at an additional cost.
These books were not traditionally published and they were not self-published since the vanity house held the ISBN and technically had ownership of the book. They filled a gap in between and made it possible for many new authors, who may have been rejected by the big six, to bring their manuscript to book form.
However, the quality was unpredictable. Cookie-cutter templates made book covers boring, and since each publisher used their own printer (instead of Lightning Source, the printer the big six houses have used for eons), the books may have been printed on cheap paper, and assembled with glue that didn’t hold the pages together long term. I recently threw away about ten copies of a title I had stored for six years. Each time I opened a book, the spine would crack and the pages would pop out.
Vanity publishers further soiled their bad reputation and insulted the literary world by not being selective about the authors they chose to publish. Few, if any, required a manuscript to be edited. Even today, they print the book file exactly as the author submits it. For these reasons (very good ones at that), brick-and-mortar bookstores would not allow these books to take up valuable retail space on their shelves. Not to worry though. These books hardly saw the light of day. Since authors did not understand that they were responsible for their own marketing, nor did they know how to promote a book, very few were demanded by readers.
Within the past few years, Lightning Source (LS) began offering publishing services to individual authors. This meant writers not only became authors, they also became independent publishers. LS uses off-set printing to create bulk orders and print-on-demand technology to print one or a few books at a time. Their publishing fee places your book in Ingram’s distribution channels for one year.
By the way, color printing is much more expensive than black and white. Your book will be considered a color print job and charged thusly even if only one photo in your book is in color. The printing company will not run part of your pages in black and white and the rest in color then collate and combine the pages to create the book. It’s one or the other—color, or black and white. The color cover is run separately on heavier stock paper.
It is very important to have someone edit and proofread your text before submitting your file to LS (or any publish on demand service) because the printer will print exactly what you send without making any changes or revisions. No matter where you are in the writing of your book—idea, development, copy edit, or proofread stage— editors can help you take your book to the next level.
If you sign up for an account with LS and become a publisher, there is a cost for set up and your royalties will be the net profit after the print cost is covered. You can provide your book’s interior layout and cover design yourself or you can hire someone to do the cover as I did for my book, Whose Stuff Is This? Finding Freedom from the Thoughts, Feelings, and Energy of Those Around You. If you publish your book in this manner, you will still have to market it.
So, I’ve said all this to let you know that I did not use LS to publish my book. I planned to, but when I found out about Createspace.com, I took a detour that led me to very pleasant results. I’ve written about that experience in another article on my tour. Come along on the tour with us. The March 8th blog stop will be at The Skyline Coaching blog. See the complete tour schedule at http://tinyurl.com/EmpathTour.
How about you? What has your publishing experience been? Good or bad? With a large or small publisher? Have you tried self-publishing? Share your experiences with us. We can all learn from one another.