is the first installment of a series which hopefully will help teach
people the ropes of publishing books without a traditional publisher
(aka self-publishing). As with many things in life, there are a
multitude of facets and complexities to this endeavor. I'm certainly
not an expert in any one of these areas, so I'll have to scramble to
augment my knowledge as I arrive at each facet.
To compensate I'll supply you
with a plethora of web addresses each month that will allow you learn
from some authentic gurus. One of those is Dan Poynter, who wrote the
equivalent of the Bible on self-publishing. Visit the Para Publishing
web site for details at http://www.parapublishing.com/sites/para/.
Another great site to check out was created by Christy Pinheiro. She
has a ton of resources, many of them freebies, at
I will be reviewing
her book in the near future. She has a short ebook with quick tips on
self-publishing which she gives away for free.
Since we don't have the capacity
to ask and answer questions on this site, I've created a group on a
Ning social network called Self-Publishing Community. You can browse to
it at http://selfpublishingreview.ning.com/
and sign up for free. Then
join our group called Christian Fiction Online Magazine. If you have
questions about what I write here, create a new discussion in that
group. I'll try to help the best I can, but I must reserve some time
for my own writing.
Here are the topics I plan on
covering: Writing, Editing, Formatting, Cover development and
Illustrating, Publishing, Distribution, Promoting, and Marketing. If
there are any items which I've omitted, please don't hesitate to let me
know. I'll touch base on all of these eventually, some more heavily
than others. It seems to me that I need to start toward the end of the
process because people who have already written their book don't want
to wait six months or more for a column dealing with their main topic
or interest. So I'm going to start with tips for actually getting a
Let me warn you that there may
be some disagreement on meanings of terms and classifications used. Be
aware and make sure you're comprehending. The term self-publishing
might seem nebulous or slippery, so let's clarify. The term is usually
applied to anything published by an author outside of a traditional
publishing house which chooses to publish the work based on a
combination of merit and marketability.
There are four basic types of
self-publishing: Vanity Publishing, Subsidy Publishing, True
Self-publishing, and Print On Demand See this Wikipedia page for
You need to
decide which route to take, depending on your goals, skills, and
expendable finances. If you were ready to completely self publish, I
don't think you'd be reading this column. I recommend that no one use a
vanity publisher (who will probably deny they are a vanity publisher).
Subsidy publishers might reject your manuscript and they will own your
book, so I'd rule them out too, especially if they require you to buy a
bunch of books from them. I'd suggest the POD option.
If you read my blog entry at
you'll see how to get
the best of both worlds by starting your own publishing company by
using the tools of the publisher Lulu for almost no cost.
CreateSpace.com also allows this type of do-it-yourself with tools
you don't want to take that route, there are a plethora of companies
ready to take your money. Not all of them are created
go through a list of features and compare the cost of each. After I
took this route the first time, I decided to roll my own. It didn't
make sense for me to pay someone to create a cover and format a book
when I was capable of doing that myself through Lulu.
POD publishers usually offer
multiple packages with the Cadillac version costing the most and then
perhaps a Yugo version to get you in on the ground floor and maybe some
in between. I went for the top of the line at the company that had the
cheapest deluxe package. That did not include custom cover design, but
it did include a cookie-cutter cover with just a picture, background
color, and the words. The package was $1000, but I ended up paying
close to $2000 before I finished. I had to buy the final cover and
finished PDF so I could print my own books. And I had to pay 50 cents a
word to make corrections after the manuscript was submitted for
formatting. The editing process was a nightmare, not only cost-wise but
also in effectiveness. So beware of potentially hidden costs.
Many of the POD publishers offer
ala carte services not included in their packages. You might be able to
get a full edit or a custom cover or a marketing campaign – you just
have to shell out extra dollars to do so. If you have money lying
around that is burning a hole in your banking account and you only have
one book to lavish all your love and attention on, you might want to go
with all the whistles and bells. It's your money.
Here is a site that has free
downloading of a POD database which contains all (or almost all) of the
leading POD publishers and their offerings.
In my opinion, these are the
elements that should decide who you choose to publish for you: Cost to
you, cost of the book on the retail market, amount of control you have
as author, ownership of book and movie rights, the level of services
you receive, percent of royalties, exclusive or non-exclusive contract,
and distribution channels penetrated. Before you do business with
anyone, you might want to check out this site which gives you the scoop
on agents, publishers, and other businesses associated with selling
Learn from others' mistakes
and misfortunes. And do the math!