A kind of collective interview

Okay, so I know I haven’t been updating this blog lately. But I have some pretty good excuses, such as:

1. My computer is a piece of trash. It’s either gonna die soon or explode. Of course, if it explodes it also dies so…

2. I’m working on the magazine.

So, here’s the thing. I had something like an epiphany a week or so ago and decided that each issue of irevuo magazine is going to center around a certain subject… some’ like that. This month’s topic is self-publishing, and I’d like to ask you (you being my fellow indie writers) three simple questions.

1.Why did you self-publish?

2. Would you self-publish your next title or go down the traditional route?

3. If a publisher would offer you a deal, would you take it?

You can answer to one or all of the questions in the comments section below. Please include something like Full Name, author of [Title of your book] and I’ll try to add as many of you as possible in the magazine.

I think this collective interview is going to be kind of cool. Also, here’s a poll thingy.

55 comments on “A kind of collective interview

  1. mrsbongle says:

    I self published because my first novel got rejected over fifty times! I am hoping to go the more conventional route with my second novel and if a publisher offered me a deal I would snap it up! (Depending on the deal, of course!)

  2. […] other than book-related posts, but this morning I was reading one of my favorite writing blogs by Christian Mihai and responded to his survey about self publishing. Realizing I have some strong opinions on the […]

  3. GRNDL says:

    Well, I'm new to the whole publishing industry, so I'm exploring things. I self-published a small ebook last year to test the waters and learn the ropes: The Unorthodox Eater, Ken McCulloch. I'm not against self-publishing, but I'm interested in pursuing a traditional model for the time being and self-publish titles that get turned away from publishers.

    Its funny that you should ask about the choice, since the same issue is of relevance to the industry I've worked the most in: video games. Developers are looking more and more toward indie business models, rather than publishing deals because of the rough treatment they got from the publishers – everything from having to sign over IP rights, having them put pressure on the company to force breach of contract, reneging on promises and many others. Developers saw very little return on their work, and are essentially work for hire.

    My worry about self-publishing is the same as the video-game equivalent: marketing. Its one thing to write a quality product, its quite another to get word about the product out there, and this is something that I find very hard, since I'm not a natural networker.

    So, with that in mind, I'm looking back toward the traditional model. Yes, if a publisher offered me a deal, I'd take it.

    • Tarl says:

      My degree is in game design. I graduated just after the market collapsed in 2008. There were no jobs, because the studios were laying off thousands. Luckily I had a decent job, and I have since moved into a better one. I make my living as a technical writer. (whisper: There's always a demand for people willing to write and format documentation.)

      The world is changing and the studio / publishing model doesn't work like it used to. We're in an exiting time, even though it is difficult to find an audience for your voice.

  4. aronjoice says:

    Hi Christian, Aron Joice here author of The Lost Children of Managrail series. Book one The Rising is live; Book two Vanished is soon to be released, and the third Union- forthcoming. I self-published because I want my work read and not sitting in a slush pile. The odds are against an author getting an agent, or a traditional deal. That doesn't mean it can't happen. However, in the meantime if only a few people read and enjoy my stories, I am happy. Would I accept a traditional deal? It would depend on the deal. I can keep my book on Createspace indefinitely, but traditionally published books have the chance of being pulled from brick and mortar shelves at any time. Brrr! Leaves me cold.

    Thank you for the opportunity to express my sentiments.

  5. in response to the questions: 1. I self-published my first two books in the interest of time as it was a dream I wanted to bring to fruition for a very, very long time. A publisher friend told to me write to agents in the state I lived in and I found only one. He would not represent anyone unless they had already published and had sold over 20,000 copies.

    2. I would go either route at this point, but some writers who have done the traditional still report that marketing is everything and that even traditional publishers do not have a budget for marketing and the author is expected to do most of the work. And all marketing boils down to is an audience willing to buy your books (platform building,) and lots of bucks if you want to get professional support with publicity. You need to get noticed and heard and read, otherwise you write for the personal satisfaction of the endeavor. But, I dare say, most writers would like to share their work with others and hope to impact other people's world emotionally and intellectually and perhaps in other ways as well.

    3. If publisher offered a deal, I would consider it. It would depend on what the terms of the contract are and for this you need legal advice to review properly.

  6. I was looking into going down the self publishing route, but just signed a contract with a publisher.

  7. I am choosing to self publish to save time and money and will most likely maintain that course in the future. I would consider traditional publishing, if the deal sounded worthwhile – one must leave all options open! P.S. I registered on the irevuo site but couldn't sign in after that point – what do I need to do?

  8. My computer is a piece of trash, too!

    And because I haven't self-published, I guess I am naive enough to believe that a publishing deal is better.

    • karmicangel says:

      My computer rocks (I just bought a MacBook Air and suggest everyone on the planet do the same) and like Carly, I haven't self-published yet, but have given myself a year of sending stuff to agents/publishers before I forgo the traditional route.

      • The only way I can afford a MacBook Air right now is if I start dealing drugs or something.

        Anyway, on a more serious note, you can always do both. That's something most people don't realize. If you're prolific enough, you can submit a novel to agents, short stories to magazines, anthologies, etc. and self-publish the rest. Maybe the ones that got rejected too many times. It just doesn't mean they're not good, or in other words, that you're using self-publishing as a sort of wastebasket; you're just self-publishing stories that couldn't get sold.

        That's where most people get it really, really, really wrong. Publishing is a business. A multi-billion dollar one. And all the editors on this planet are paid to do one thing and one thing only: buy titles that they think will sell.

        A book is turned down by a publisher mostly because it's difficult to market. It can't be easily categorized or labeled or maybe the editor just doesn't know how to sell it. The same principle applies to agents as well.

  9. I am thinking of finally publishing a book of my poetry, though I am not sure what the best route for that would be. I have two poems published through poetry.com, but I want to be more noticed than that. I really want my writing to get out there, to be read, to touch people's lives. What would you suggest I do? I am new to the publishing realm of things.

    • Tarl says:

      There are many opportunities for self-publishing. If you want a physical copy of your book, go through a print on demand company like CreateSpace (the self-publishing wing of Amazon). If you want it online, you can do Kindle Direct Publishing. Go through Barnes & Noble. And then there is SmashWords. All have an avenue to find an audience, but it ultimately depends on what you want to do.

      Smashwords seems to offer the most flexibility. They offer a free ISBN for their site, so you can't use the smashwords ISBN for your book if you publish it on Amazon, for example. But you can certainly publish through Amazon with a different ISBN.

      Search these sites. Visit forums and read recommendations. Look for the audience you want, and then publish and reach out to them. Broad, mass-appeal marketing campaigns are not the way the future is pointing. It is much more personal and real relationships with your audience – kind of like a blog.

  10. caseyharvell says:

    Hi :)

    My book Lingering… is self-published through Smashwords.com I have had a very successful experience. Of course its also a free book so that might be why.

    1) I did attempt to go the traditional route, sending out about 20 or so query letters to reputable literary agents. After six months passed and about half of them respectfully declined I decided to take matters into my own hands.

    2) This is the million dollar question plaguing me at the moment. As I finish up the rough draft of my next book I'm not sure which direction I'll end up in. I will probably to get an agent just for the sake of doing so. And call me pessimistic but when they don't bite my main question will be if this one shoukd be free or not.

    3) As to the final question, it would be dependent on the deal, the reputation of the publisher and whether or not they respect the integrity of my work. Id be willing to take criticism but not chamge the entire work.

  11. Tim Vicary says:

    Self-publishing is a breath of fresh air to me. Twice I thought I had made it via the traditional route, but each time my initial euphoria ended in a sense of betrayal. Even though reputable publishers published my books, they appeared to do little or no publicity and kept me out of the loop. I felt embarrassed to ring them up and ask basic questions, like 'how many have you sold?' They never told me; I had no sense of control. Self-publishing is the opposite: I have total control over everything – cover, editing, price, publicity, all of it. That doesn't make it easy; it's a mountain of work, and the biggest hurdle is still publicity – how to let readers know my books even exist. But then I was never convinced tht the traditional publishers were able to do that for me either; I hoped they were, but I saw no evidence of it at all, ever. (Educational books with OUP excluded; that's a totally different market)

    Which route would I take next time? Well, so far I have published seven books on my own, and I fully expect to publish the next one on my own too.

    Would I take a deal if it was offered? Hm. Only on two conditions (which is really one condition): 1. They give me A LOT OF MONEY – such a large amount that I could feel really confident about condition 2. The publisher is going to have to put A LOT OF PUBLICITY behind my books, in order to have any chance of getting their money back and making a profit.

    Is this going to happen? No; I think I'll buy a lottery ticket instead.

    Even if someone did offer me a deal like that, I'd still want the deal to allow me to carry on publishing the books on my own, at the same time. I think that's what John Locke managed. That sounds cool. Dream on!

  12. 1. I self-published because I had no luck finding an agent. Apparently alien abduction/romance/humor/adventure isn't a popular genre at the moment. I accepted their close-mindedness and decided to just publish the darn thing myself!

    2. Self-publish, definitely.

    3. I would absolutely take a traditional publishing deal! Who doesn't want to be the next JK Rowling? I'd love to be able to walk into a bookstore and see my books lining the bestsellers shelf. Will that happen? Probably not. But I can still dream about it, can't I?

    — Michelle Proulx, author of Imminent Danger And How to Fly Straight into It

  13. charlieray45 says:

    I self-published because I was tired of the run around I was getting from traditional publishers. I am now self-publishing all my work. If a traditional publisher made me a good offer – and, it would have to be good – I'd consider taking it, but I will also continue to put my own works out there myself.

  14. nikihawkes says:

    I'm going to focus on #s 2 and 3:

    I don't know if you'll find this helpful or not, but I've been in the book selling business for over ten years now and I've got some insight on the marketing element of self-publishing. While there are excellent arguments for going the self-publishing route, I thought I would share the reasons why I wouldn't choose that path.

    The biggest problem with self-publishing is the limited distribution, advertising, and availability of your titles. When you go the traditional route, other people become invested in your success and take certain measures to integrate your works into stores across the country and online retailers. They sort of become your champions and sales result, whereas a self-published writer has to build up their own audience and practically hand-sell every copy. It's possible to be successful that way, but it is definitely the tougher route. Your audience is limited to the people you can contact and, even with an online following, the publishers almost always have a much broader range. Availability and distribution add to this problem:

    Most of the time when a self-published author wants to do a signing at our store it's a two week long ordeal to contact our home offices and have them get in touch with the publisher (assuming they have paid to put their books in our system. If they haven't, there's nothing we can do for them). If we had to work that hard to get ahold of the book (and there's never an exception to this with regard to these types of books, in my experience) then certainly other stores aren't going to arbitrarily carry them unless you give them all personal visits. After all the work it takes to get the books, when they come in I am always underwhelmed at the quality and cost of the printing. I can usually spot a self-published book a mile away, and they are frankly a pain to deal when once the author is gone. If the author doesn't pay for their books to be returnable within our systems, we wont even order them because 9 times out of 10 we're stuck with them forever and only sell a couple if the author comes back regularly. I once worked for a manager who thought all of this was too much of a hassle, and refused to even talk to the self-published, much less order their books.

    Other considerations: sometimes in self-publishing, the writing suffers. When publishers reject you, it often means you need to go back and keep developing your story to make the book more marketable (or even start working on other projects). You might even have a good story, but your writing needs improvement before its ready to be sold. A good deal of self-published authors don't go through this important developmental phase. The settle for "good enough", whereas fighting for an agent encourages continual improvement. I remember reading that J.K. Rowling got rejected over a hundred times before someone took a chance on her, and that only forced her to make changes and mold her story into the phenomenon it is now. I personally want to push myself to the point where agents recognize the value of my work and are willing to put their names on the line to support me, even if it takes a lot of rejection and perseverance.

    Hope that was helpful!

    -Niki Hawkes

  15. MishaBurnett says:

    1. I self published because I wasn't getting any replies from the agents I queried–twenty something query letters and not a single response–and because I was seeing some authors that I really admired self-publishing.

    2. I intend to self-publish my next novel, hopefully by summer.

    3. It would have to be a heck of a deal. Quite frankly, I am not seeing that many benefits from traditional publishing.

  16. Tarl says:

    From Tarl Telford, author: The Hidden History of Oz, Book One: The Witch Queens.

    1.Why did you self-publish?

    I see the publishing establishment in a state of flux. The playing field is being leveled and empowering the individual and small press titles. Anyone who wants to write and publish a story now has the tools and the means to do so. This is an amazing time to be alive, to be writing, and to witness the birth of a new age.

    I self-publish because I have stories that I want to tell. I don't need the million-seller novel to find my audience. I only need to find people that like what I like and enjoy a thoughtful, exciting adventure.

    2. Would you self-publish your next title or go down the traditional route?

    Self-publish. There is no question. I have the Hidden History of Oz series that is plotted out through multiple novels. This is a story that I want to tell without commercial pressure. This journey of writing is an exploration for me. I am taking the hard path to see what it is like. I like to challenge myself. Also, if I get a book written in six months, I can publish it when I finish, instead of waiting a year or two for the publisher to find the right window of opportunity.

    Self-publishing allows me to work on the projects I want, and the stories I want to tell, and then move on.

    3. If a publisher would offer you a deal, would you take it?

    The deal would have to be a very, very good one – and I do not mean simply in terms of money. I have a story that spans multiple volumes. I do not want that story in any way derailed or distracted by the fluctuations of the market.

    Once my stories are told, and I have put out into the world what I need to say, I would be willing to accept a distribution deal. For now, I have a job that provides for my family, and I have the means to write and publish my dreams. What more can I really ask for? I am happy doing what I am doing.

  17. authorssmith says:

    S. Smith, author of middle grade series Seed Savers (books 1 and 2 released)…I self-published after many months of querying agents with little luck and then hearing author Colleen Houck (Tiger's Curse) speak at a library lecture about her self-publishing.

    My next books will be self-published.

    I often wonder about question #3. I guess, like a lot of the other commenters, it would depend on the deal.

  18. I am relatively new to self-publishing. My first book (Immortal Dynasty) launched Dec 2011 and my second book (Immortal Dominion) just launched in Nov 2012.

    I know in my gut that I was always meant to go the indie route, but I did try the traditional one first. I learned how to put a submission packet together and sent it off to 6 agents and editors. All rejected, albeit with some exceptionally nice compliments on my writing. The compliments helped me swallow my pride and re-evaluate how I wanted to proceed into a writing career.

    The self-publishing market seemed to be blooming. Some called it a bubble. Some called it a wave. I called it – exciting. I've been an entrepreneur for almost 15 years, so the prospect of marketing didn't bother me at all. I chose the indie route because I knew I wanted to be in control of my writing destiny.

    Just before self-publishing my second title, I started a local support group for independent authors. Nothing really organized. Just a small but very dedicated group of writers helping each other navigate the business areas we may be weakest in. Few people are good at everything, and business (writing is a business) works best with a team.

    Would I ever consider a deal offered by a traditional publisher? Sure, I would consider it – after having an awesome lawyer look at every line of it. If the publisher could offer something that I couldn't attain on my own, then it's a deal worth considering.

    But that's the wonderful thing about the publishing industry today – it's still evolving. The rules have been turned upside down. There are many more paths to success now than there ever were before. So, you can forge your own path! That is what makes this so exciting! :D

  19. thetarotman says:

    Cristian, clearly your excuses are good ones. So no worries. Blog when you can, and live your life always!

  20. I am investigating using the self-publishing arm, Balboa, of a traditional publisher, Hay House, for my book, "Miriam: Recovered." I hear so many different things about all of these matters that my head starts to feel like it's going to explode, so it's a matter of weighing the options of everything else. In the end, I suspect I will self-publish because even Stephen King said he'll never go with another publisher again. There's just no benefit in it to me — I feel like all my earnings would go to their staff, their rent, their marketing and their pockets. It's not worth it to me. (She said from her throne atop the mountain…)

  21. Joanna says:

    I self-published without realising that's what it was called. I wrote a blog and then wanted to turn it into a non-fiction book. My publisher said he would support my book by having his staff do the layout free of charge. But I would have to raise the money to pay for printing, because he couldn't gauge what the market for the book would be like, and didn't want to contribute his own money to the project.

    After doing all the self-editing (ten times over) and handing the text and high res photos over to the graphic designer, I had to raise the money to go to print. In the end, the book had 12 government and corporate sponsors.

    The launch was very successful. It was a 250-page coffee-table book. Over 50% of the 1000 books printed were ordered before the book had even printed. I made money, even though my original goal was just not to let this book COST me money. I would self-publish again, because of the control you have over the whole process. If a book deal came along I'd have to consider it. But I think it's hard to leave the process to someone else, once you have done it yourself. Some kind of partnership with a niche publisher is ideal: shared responsibilities and risks, and shared profit.

  22. at last! someone else who has a computer programmed for auto-destruct (i thought i was the only one).

    let me see… i published my book "Mindless Philosopher: How Popular Culture Taught Me Everything I Needed to Know About Philosophy" the self publishing route (with Amazon's CreateSpace). i published with CreateSpace mainly because there was no money required up front and all i had to do is upload my book. the downside was that promotion is ALL me (but that's why we blog, isn't it?)

    oh — i think i'm going to stick with self publishing for the time being, but if the philosophy-reading, pop culture enthusiast market becomes a big thing, and a publishing firm offers me a deal, i will certainly take it. After all, no matter whether i publish with an established firm, self publish, or blog, i will always write.

    … but i would give the offer some serious thought.

  23. I'm getting ready to self-publish my first novel on Createspace. I'm pretty convinced it's the right path for me. In this age of kindle and ebooks, self-publishers can be pretty competitive. Marketing is made a lot easier through social media. It would have to be a pretty amazing deal to make me switch to traditional publishing.

  24. avwalters says:

    1.Why did you self-publish?

    I accidentally stumbled into a meeting of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. I had written my first book (The Emma Caites Way) and a friend asked me to attend the meeting with her. At the last minute, she bailed and left me alone at the meeting. I had only just started looking for an agent without much enthusiasm, and it seemed that the inadvertent meeting was some kind of a sign–so I went with it.

    2. Would you self-publish your next title or go down the traditional route?

    Since I self-published my second book (The Gift of Guylaine Claire), I guess I've already answered that question. Self-publishing works for me. Every now and then I wonder if a big name publisher wouldn't get more exposure–and then I read that new authors have to do their own marketing, even with a fancy publishing contract. I'm already planning to self-publish my next project (The Trial of Trudy Castor.)

    3. If a publisher would offer you a deal, would you take it?

    That depends. I'd have to look hard at the offer to see what it offered that I couldn't do myself. I'm enjoying the quality control aspects of self-published work–I get to work with my own editor and I get to make all the creative decisions. Since I'm not a young, starry-eyed, wannabee writer creative control matters a lot to me. I don't expect to get rich doing this, so I might at least get to do it my way.

    A.V. Walters

  25. I self-published my first books because they are poetry books. Poetry books are normally a hard sell. However, I also wanted to use them to help me get comfortable with the self-publising process. The poetry books are part of a series, so I feel that I will be able to work on my editing skills as well as learn to create good book covers.

    I do plan on publishing a novel in the next few months also. (I am currently editing.) In the research that I have done, self-publsihing looks to be the new way to go. More people are reading ebooks and it seems that the usual publishing route is only geared toward certain formulaic type of books. (I am not an expert, it is only the "buzz" that I have been reading.)

    I also wanted to do it for myself, sort of take on all of the naysayers that have been in my life. That is a very small part though.

    I will continue to self-publish.

    If I were to get a publisher(ing) contract, I would do what I do with everything else, analyze it and weigh the pros and cons. I am neither for or against.

    A.D. Stone, author of Parallels: Into Infinity (Vol. 1) and Rhetoric: Into Infinity (Vol. 2)

  26. kingmidget says:

    1. I self-published because I felt like the traditional route was simply unworkable. And, because I wanted to see what would happen if I did. 2. Because I was relatively unsuccessful self-publishing, I'm going to try the more traditional route with my next novel. 3. I suppose it would depend, but I can't imagine the circumstances in which I wouldn't accept.

    I have self-published two collections of short stories … The Marfa Lights and Other Stories, Shady Acres and Other Stories … and one novel … One Night in Bridgeport. They can be found via Amazon … just type in Mark Paxson. Also, One Night in Bridgeport is also available via Smashwords.

  27. Shana Alex Lavarreda, and I have three poetry books (full descriptions on my blog): 1) Stories Never, 2) Venus in Transit, and 3) Through Mermaid Eyes. I also used Createspace for all three. Here are the answers to your questions:

    1) I needed to put my poems into the world, and Createspace was perfect for me. I had a blast putting it together and I took as long as I needed to do it. It took me a while to gather my courage for that first one, honestly. The second one was much quicker, and the third was even faster than that. I just love having a real book of my poemsw on my shelf, and don't really care how many I sell.

    2) Yes, I'd use Createspace again. It's been good to me so far, and I have no clue how to access or whether there is a good poetry publisher. I did submit once to a magazine and got rejected, and was surprised at how little I cared. I also don't do this for a living – I have three other jobs for that ;), so there's no pressure to make money at it.

    3) Damn straight. If a publisher appeared and wanted to publish/distribute my work to a wider audience and pay me for it? Absolutely.

  28. mlsexton88 says:

    I, Moniqua Sexton, self published my first novel, The Unexpected, after being rejected numerous times. I've done three so far but right now, my next novel will be self published. If I was offered a book deal, yes, I may take it depending on the terms of the deal. I would love a book deal, but I'd be concerned about royalties and still being able to write whatever the hell I feel like writing.

  29. I did miss you … but I forgive you :)

    I chose self-publishing because I'm a control freak and a perfectionist. I was not going to be comfortable leaving my work in the hands of someone else. I don't mind getting input from various sources, I rather enjoy that actually, but the final decision needs to be mine.

    I was just watching The Bourne Identity, which is based on a novel by Robert Ludlum and he was the executive producer for the movie. If by chance (fingers crossed) someone wanted to bring my work to the small/big screen I couldn't just say "write me a check and do whatever you want." I would have to be intimately involved in the project.

    And then there's the money. I'm a value-conscious person. I comparison shop for everything. I'm a slave to reviews and won't spend $5 on something that I'm not sure is a good investment. So why pay for something that I can get for free? Why split my hard earned money with people who do what I could do for free?

  30. Tristan Vick says:

    Tristan Vick

    Author of Bitten: A Resurrection Thriller

    Bitten: After Dark

    Bitten 2: Land of the Rising Dead

    1.Why did you self-publish?

    TV: I self published mainly to avoid the hassle of waiting for rejection letters while my book goes unread. The best kind of feedback, and criticism, comes from those who actually read the book. Even if the book is crap, getting it out there and getting feedback is the best way to learn and improve. Waiting around for rejection letters, which takes months, or even years in some cases, means you may not be getting the feedback you need. You might be making the same mistakes and not know it. But even one honest fan with a damning Amazon.com review can be the best thing that ever happened to a struggling writer. Like a slap in the face, it will wake you the hell up and then you'll know what you have to work on.

    2. Would you self-publish your next title or go down the traditional route?

    TV: I'll keep self publishing because I want people to read my books, and if initial sales are any indicator, there are people willing to read my books. And that's a dream come true. If I waited for some publishing company to take a chance on me, all that essentially means is there are people out there wanting to read good fiction that won't be getting it. That just seems unfair. Self publishing let's me write and create something that means something to me. The fans I have then end up becoming loyal and are willing to support other Indie writer's because they found a decent one in me, and that's a compliment which a pay check from a mainstream publisher just doesn't pay the equivalent of.

    3. If a publisher would offer you a deal, would you take it?

    TV: I'm no fool. If a mainstream publisher wants to re-issue a series or hire me to do an original seires, I'd say yes EVERY TIME. There's two good reasons. 1) It would be the best way to get my material out there to even more readers. With the advertising power of a publisher, I'd be reaching more people, and that translates into better awareness of my work and potential sales. 2) I'm in this for the long haul. But being an Indie writer comes with it the realization that there is no guarantee that I'll be able to pay all my bills each month. Hey, I have a family. I have to be realistic here. If a publisher comes a knockin' on my door and throws a big pile of money down, then yeah, I'll be signing on the dotted line. If it doesn't work out, I can still always continue to self-publish. So it's a win-win situation the way I see it.

  31. AR Neal says:

    Let me start by saying, stop reading my mind, please :) I was just pondering the idea of self-publishing a book of short stories I am working on. I have been drafting in FastPencil and because my money is less than short I was considering offering it through their market exclusively. I have no published fiction so I am new to the arena (journal articles in my interest area as a scholar-practitioner I have done). I just read about James Patterson being the top earning writer of last year and would love to have a publisher make me an offer. I would want adequate time to comb through the contract and if there was something weird or off-putting in it, we would have to dialogue…

  32. grumpytyke says:

    I can't comment on self-publishing 'cos I've never done it nor have any intention of doing it. But, as you're now producing a mag, which I do and have done many times for many years, I can make a suggestion re the computer: get a Mac! You'll never regret it.

  33. Tim Vicary says:

    Hi Niki,

    I think it's very helpful to see the bookseller's perspective. I'd just like to come back on a couple of points though. My positive experience of self-publishing is basically ebooks. Authors can sell these on Amazon and the other outlets without going through a conventional bookshop at all. And since the cost is minimal and the royalties can be 70%, yes, you can make money.

    I understand fully your point about the difficulty a bookseller may feel about selling copies of a printed self-published book, though, without the support of the publisher's advertising budget (assuming that there is one) But I'm surprised by your comment about the physical quality of these books. I've had one book (A Game of Proof) published in print by a British printer, and a second (The Monmouth Summer) about to be published via Createspace, and in both cases it seems to me that the quality of the printed book is actually better than a mass-market paperback. The cover is much better than a traditional publisher provided. The text is much higher quality too – acid-free – which means the book will last much longer. The only downside is that these books are slightly heavier. But as a physical object I think they are better than an average paperback.

    One other point about booksellers which you might be able to answer: when you were working in a bookshop, how many books did you return to the publisher to be pulped every month? That's something authors don't usually get told.

    • nikihawkes says:

      Hi Tim,

      My response was with regards to physical copies only, but I assume ebook publishing would indeed allow you to get your work to more people. You do limit yourself to those who have access to e-readers though, which is something to consider based on the demographic of your target audience. As you said, the 70% payoff can be a great incentive, but you still have to work for every sale (some people like having this much direct control, so I can see it as a viable option for them). If you gain enough hype this way, you can actually get bookstore deals once you hit a certain number of sales (much like Amanda Hocking and P.D. James).

      As for the printing quality, it is entirely possible that it's just coincidental that the ones I've dealt just happen to be the lower-end publishers. What I've stated has just been my experience. The quality is not always horrible, but to me it reads less professional (in regards to the specific ones I've come across). The self-published most often come in a trade paper format, which are always higher quality than mass markets, even with the traditional route (though the trade papers of self-published are often about $5 more expensive). My initial comparison was between trade papers only, as mass markets are in a category of their own. I wish I could line up a bunch of the self-published books we've got next to the traditionally published ones to show you what I'm seeing. We at the bookstore have a private joke running at how blatantly they stand out. In any case, just because I've had some negative experiences with them doesn't mean it's not a viable option. These are just more things to consider when making your decision.

      -Niki

      *The only books that regularly get returned for "pulping" are the mass markets, as its literally cheaper to destroy them than to ship them back. The publishers usually just print new ones if the demand increases. It doesn't happen as often as you'd think… Nowadays, most new mass markets get featured at the beginning of each section or on nice displays located at the front of the store. The have at least three months of prime real estate to generate sales. If they are popular, they get what's called "modeled" status, and we integrate them onto the shelves because we anticipate future sales. If they haven't appealed to the market (or if we have too many copies – which happens to even bestselling authors), that's when they get "pulped" and we don't see them again until the tastes of the market change (hardcovers and trade papers just get redistributed to warehouses so they can go to other stores. If you get a deal that involves a hardcover or trade paper publishing before you get to the mass market stage, you're chances of success increase that much more because you essentially double your exposure time). Something to consider about "pulped" mass markets: we as employees get to take home a few, so even if it didn't generate sales on the floor, you could be earning supporters even at the end stages of the process. Think of it as an ARC without the cost or hassle. I can't tell you how many authors I now support and hand-sell because I had free access to the original titles (btw, if I like it, I always order it in and buy it). It's a great way to make booksellers your champions!

  34. richhell says:

    1) I self-published my novel CHICAGO TIME because even after all the rejections, many of whom were of the weirdly positive kind, I still believed in the book. Several friends, some writers and some not, encouraged me to go the indie route. They liked the book. I liked the book. So why not self-publish and see what happens?

    2) I would self-publish again.

    3) It depends on the publisher and the terms of the deal offered. I'd be far more keen to go with a small independent publisher than with a publisher that's part of an international conglomerate.

    – Richard Hellinga

  35. I've been silently enjoying your blog so very much, and it's time to make some noise! I've nominated you for the Liebster Award, to show my appreciation and share the love. Please visit http://www.awisdomwithin.wordpress.com/2013/01/11/liebst... for more info. Enjoy!

  36. ljr3 says:

    Thus the reason I plan to try the regular publishing route. However, my book is going through a professional editor before I even try a publisher. I figure, if I cannot get a publisher after that, I will self publish and at least know I have gone through the "developmental phase".

  37. misslynn2 says:

    Off-topic, and bit random, I know, but I wanted to let you know that I've nominated you for the Liebster blog award. Keep up the brilliant blogging! http://whatthe42.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/liebste

  38. Catherine says:

    I have one book published with a traditional publisher. I am planning to self-publish my second book. Why? a) I retain more of the profits, b) I have more control, c) I want to experience self-publishing. :-)

  39. Erin Bartels says:

    1.Why did you self-publish?

    I'll be self-pubbing short stories because I think it's a good vehicle for shorts. I'll be self-pubbing my first novel because I keep getting very nice comments from literary agents about my writing and the concept, but it "doesn't fit" with what they're looking for. And I frankly don't want to write something like most commercial fiction right now.

    2. Would you self-publish your next title or go down the traditional route?

    If the first one works out nicely, I would certainly consider doing it again. But I think I would still do some legwork first looking for representation.

    3. If a publisher would offer you a deal, would you take it?

    If it was a decent deal, yes, I would be willing to try any avenue.

  40. I am unpublished, but am fascinated by the self-publishing route. There has been, up till now, no option other than go the traditional publishing route, but now you have the chance to put your money where your mouth is, and spend your own marketing and publishing money on your own creation, to have it live and die on it's own merits. A publisher can help, though, can't they? Surely, make your first one a success, then get 'discoverd' is the key!

  41. pgglynn says:

    I self-published my novel THE FOREIGNER because it had come so close to finding a traditional publisher (plenty of positive comments, the one negative being that it was too long for them to take a risk on an unknown author) that I felt it merited a readership. Besides, I'd made a kind of promise to my charismatic grandmother that 'her' story would be told! Reckon she helped me tell it from beyond the grave …

  42. Sandra Bell Kirchman, author of Witchcanery (fantasy novel), editor/contributor to Birth of a Unicorn and Other Stories(anthology).

    1.Why did you self-publish?

    I had an unpleasant experience early on in my career with a major traditional publisher house, where they liked a manuscript of mine very much but felt the plot was not suitable to the target audience (middle grade). They asked me to write a new novel and submit again. I did so. After keeping it for four months, and my polite follow-up letter, they returned the manuscript with an unsigned form rejection slip. Thus, when I finally had a novel I liked and had faith in, I self-published it.

    2. Would you self-publish your next title or go down the traditional route?

    Definitely, I would go down the self-publishing route. In my earlier days, an unpublished author could still query the publishing houses directly, Of course, that is no longer available for novel-length manuscripts. Although I am not quite as turned off by traditional publishing as I used to be, I still have no desire of querying dozens of agents. My main stumbling block has been marketing, and I am a little more savvy in this area now.

    3. If a publisher would offer you a deal, would you take it?

    As so many here have said, it would have to be a great deal before I would consider it. The one thing that might persuade me is the respectability that traditional publishing offers. Although times have changed considerably and indie publishing is becoming more and more accepted in the industry, there is still some stigma attached to it. However, a publishing house would still have to offer me a great deal (including author control of the text–I don't want my story changed other than for typos, grammar and punctuation), advance royalties (to tide me over the 18 to 24 months it takes to actually get the book on the shelves), and a commitment to seriously consider the sequel to the first book when it is finished.

    Thanks for the opportunity of sharing with your readers. :)

  43. icelandpenny says:

    Hi, I took all my posts about training for Iceland and the trek in Iceland, and then used blurb.com to create a very credible (good stock, good reproductions) book from the posts and the images. I did only a few copies, for me and my partner and a few friends, but I have professional travel-writer friends who now publish all their travel books (with superb photos as well) through blurb. So it's something worth investigating.

  44. Chef Alain says:

    Hello Michael and All

    This is Chef Alain Braux In 2009, I was a 58 years old complete newbie at publishing. French national, English is my second language, a high school drop out and no experience whatsoever in writing. I did not even take a writing class before I started. I just wanted to share my story with the world at large.

    After a few months asking around – I know a few authors – and hearing the horror stories of publishing with a regular publisher, if ever (one of my friend with an agent is still waiting after 3 years of trying and being rejected), I decide to go on my own. My amazing friend Kimberly suggested CreateSpace for many reasons. They're connected to Amazon so all the books are automatically sold there. They allowed me complete control over my work (I can be controversial and I did not want some publisher's editor to excise my words because they did not like the sound of them) as long as I followed the suggested format. And they had a good reputation in the self-published book business. I never regretted my decision.

    It was a very steep learning curve but I am known to be very persistent (stubborn) and self-published my first book: How to Lower Your Cholesterol with French Gourmet Food in Sep 2009. I followed it by: Living Gluten and Dairy-Free with French Gourmet Food in 2010. Then: Healthy French Cuisine for Less Than $10/Day in 2011. I took a break in 2012 but I am back with: Paleo French Cuisine in March this year. So far, I have sold about 2,000 books hard-cover and ebooks. My books are sold on Amazon, B&N, Apple, Smashwords and many other sites.

    This is a long term project for me. I hope to generate enough royalties to complement my social security check so I can retire, enjoy life and continue to write. I have two web sites and contribute my articles and recipes to a few web sites. It is a lot of work to market my books but I learned that the best person to push my books is myself. I will do what it takes to sell my books – besides selling my body to science. I treat it like the business it is and any business is hard work. No secrets about. When I had my own retail business, it was a lot harder and stressful Compared to that, this is a piece of cake :-)

    So far, so good. I will never go the traditional publishing route mostly because I know my work rubs some people the wrong way but since I do it for my readers' health, I don't care.

    I hope that answers your questions from an old French newbie

    Sincerely, Chef Alain Braux

  45. Julie I A.M. says:

    I have decided to give self-publishing a try for my first novella with an ebook format. Although I believe that self-publishing is the way of the present and that traditional publishing is dying out, I would attempt traditional publishing for my second, longer book, only because there is still a large market for this specific genre, and the fact that I have already and plan to continue putting years of work into it. Also, I want it in print, and I am not in any way financially able to put any money towards the publishing of it. If I fail to find someone who wants it, I will Godwilling move on with my life and pray for some money to publish it myself. But from my research, I think I'll build my audience by giving my first novella ebook away for free. Although I am not to keen on Amazon's policys. I plan to use Smashwords.

  46. Gloria says:

    I self-published after piles of rejections followed by an uninspired relationship with an agent for awhile. I was repeatedly told that there wasn't a market for a book with a female protagonist who was "childfree." I gave up and decided, about 12 years ago, to take the vanity press route (as it was called back then). I certainly felt silly but I wanted my story out somewhere, and I wanted to have closure. Otherwise, I probably would still be rewriting.

    My book, Human Slices, sat on the shelf for a long time. The opportunities for online marketing — pre-Facebook and pre-Kindle, etc. — were certainly more labor intensive and expensive than they are now.

    I recently resurrected my book and put it in Kindle format to see how it all works. Plus, I am seeing more and more young women discussing their childfree status online, leading me to think I could tap into at least a bit of the market that is out there.

    I'm going to complete a collection of stories soon and self-publish those. Why not?

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