Thursday, August 27, 2009

Initial Thoughts on Self Publishing:

Do I think I can really publish my book?  Hell yeah I can!  With today's myriad of self-publishing methods, especially the POD (Print on Demand) services, I can publish my book quite easily. Only problem is, I might be the only one who purchases it! In this blog posting I'll talk briefly about the two main methods of getting your book published. These will be high-level overviews that I plan on expanding in future posts. These are initial thoughts in regard to the subject. I hope to come back to them later so I can see how my ideas have changed either internally or externally in regards to self-publishing.

Traditional methods of publishing generally require you to: 
1. Find an agent.
2. Said agent finds an editor to buy the book. 
3. Editor makes tons of changes to the book.
4. You get setup on a schedule, sometimes a year and a half later, for when your book will be published.
5. Books get printed, shipped and you sit back and let the money roll in.  Usually there's a bottle of Remy Martin's and a couple cubans involved.

Did I get it all correct? 

Well almost, this is an oversimplified method of the publishing process, but the more I research traditional publishing, it's becoming more and more clear that unless you're already an established author, the chances of you getting them to even pick up your book and making enough money from advances to live on is pretty damned slim.  

Your involvement as an author doesn't stop once they send you a check and the book hits the printers. There's still marketing which as a new author is almost entirely left on your shoulders if you want your book to be a success. I'll get into that later in another blog post.

A growing trend for new authors is to make a name for themselves first by self-publishing their own book. Sure there's a little more up-front work involved with finding your own printer, and choosing layouts for your cover, but you also have much more control over the entire process. Most publishers won't even allow you to choose your book cover, after all the work of writing the book, how frustrating can it be to hand off nearly all the creative rights to your masterpiece?

Since the bulk of the marketing will be on your shoulders anyway, you're really not spending more energy there than you would with traditional publishing methods. There are many websites springing up with information on the process to self publish, one of the ones I like the best is from the How Stuff Works website, I love those guys! A blog I found is one woman's journey into self-publishing. 

The options you have while self-publishing can take any form of involvement you desire as well. You can hand off almost your entire book to services like Lulu (while still retaining full-creative control), or do your homework and hire out only the parts that you need that you can't do yourself. Very flexible, and you can customize exactly how involved you want to be in the process.  

The How Stuff Works site I linked earlier follows the story of one man who self-published and ended up doing quite well for himself, very inspirational story. Some authors choose to remain self-published, as they end up getting (usually) a bigger slice of the profits, others might use it as a marketing ploy to get a big-name publisher to pick them up. Either way, you've made a name for yourself if the book (and your marketing) is a success, and next time you might be able to just sit back on your piles of cash!

So my thoughts? I really like the self-publishing method. I haven't fully formed my thoughts on the changes to the publishing industry, but the my initial reactions is "there has go to be a better way." Since I'll end up doing the majority of the marketing on my own as a new author anyway, I feel it better to test the waters with a more customized solution for my book. 

Print on Demand machine products like the Espresso Book Machine might make it incredibly easy for authors to not have to keep stocks of books at distributers or in their garage. Have one of these machines sitting at your local mall and any customer might be able to pull up your book, insert some cash, and 4 minutes later they have your book in their hands. Another option, and one I'm particularly fond of, is e-books, like the Kindle (which I own btw) or places like Smashwords. I foresee a day short-coming where students will be carrying around an e-book reader instead of 60 lbs of books, that will be an awesome day indeed!

Since I've always concidered myself a "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" type of guy, I'm personally looking forward to being a self-published author. The jackass part of me wants to thumb my nose at the big-business publishing industry, but we'll see what I do if they wave that paycheck in front of my face.

So what are your thoughts?  Any recently self-published authors want to share their experiences? What about someone who made the jump from self-published to paid to write?

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