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Grace G.

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Decisions On Publishing…
By Grace G.
Sunday, October 08, 2006

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‘Writer’s don’t get rich, publishers do.’ (Unless you fell into the book lottery by being in the right place with the right imprint followed by a signing bonus.) If your not one of the lucky few, you’re likely going to have to spend your own money to get your manuscript published. It's good to define reality upfront and then provide details on the least costly options.

You passed the first test: 'to write or not to write'.  You've become a writer.  And, now that your first manuscript is completed you are facing the question of publishing.   Now you must decide who you want to read your labor of love and how do you want it presented.  The difficult issues in attempting to get a novel published are the lessons that frustrate a writer who just wants to write:

1.    Do I need a book agent?  If the answer is 'yes', then the rest of the steps covered in this document will be part of the agents


  responsibilities and you can get back to writing.

2.    Do I need to find Editing Services?  What is the quality and what are the rates for editors?

3.    What are the ‘first steps’ to take to become published?

4.    How do I find a publishing house that will consider my manuscript?

5.    What about audio or eBooks?

If you don't have an agent, perhaps you began by sending your manuscript to the big, medium and small publishing houses.  At this moment it might all feel more like a nagging headache than fun if that is your path.  At least you reached this milestone:  You’re now visualizing your first 'novel' in print.  If you're still simmering over the rejection notices as a reminder of reaching this goal, don't worry.  Most writers have either personal experience or know someone who has suffered the drama of sending their work to publishing houses and falling into the ether.  It's important not to focus on the expanded folder of rejection slips as proof of what you feel is failure.

What is the first step to publishing?  (

Specifically, self-publish)

The first step to publishing is researching avenues and discovering the hundreds of possibilities in getting your work in print.  With your courage screwed back on from those rejections, you’re ready to start over again.  For those that are still stuck, here’s a hint about some players in the self publishing arena; Author House, Publish America, Amazon and their CreateSpace, Lulu, iUniverse, New Leaf, Vantage Press, Blu Sky Media, BookSurge, OutskirtsPress, CafePress; well, there are hundreds of others with less familiar names.

The possibilities for finding a publisher are really ‘unlimited’.  The reason:  most authors who were rejected by the big firms eventually discovered the world of self publishing and started their own business.  Some of the posts in the blog repositories reveal a trend: authors have options with self publishing houses to get their books printed.  In the trades, this is called ‘vanity’ books or whatever name is currently thrown around for the not yet famous writers.  How does this work and what can you expect?

Most self published authors report disappointments for the money spent with one of the growing established self publishing companies because of the ‘upfront’ money spent out of pocket.  It has been my personal experience that writers who want to become authors have some basic information that they need to ask when deciding to travel the road of self publishing:

1.  Packages from the self publishing companies can cost you around $800 upfront; this includes $150 as a setup fee for your first book.       You must ask what the other costs include.

2.  Does editing the manuscript come with the fee charged? (Normally this is not the case and this can cost another $300-$4,000

     depending on 'quality' of the editing and the size of the manuscript.)

3.  What is the cost to print each book?  This should include the cost for the cover, back and spine plus the cost for each page.

4.  What is the cost for shipping your book to buyers and do you pay this cost? 

5.  Do you get an ISBN number assigned to the book including the bar code? Some do not, but you can purchase your own ISBN numbers

     in a group of 10 for $375 or on the web for $55 per book title which may include an ISBN for electronic publishing.

6.  Does the upfront fee cover filing for copyright protection?  You can file with the Library of Congress for $45.

7.  How many ‘free’ to author books are included in the fee? This is the initial group of books you will use to advertise.

8.  What about the marketing of your book?  Have this clearly defined by the publishing company.

9.  What does using the publishing firm do to the cost of your book when publishing; don’t stop at the sales pitch of ‘you decide how much

     you want your royalties to be” as this may price your book out of the market.  Items 2 and 3 work with this consideration.  For example,

     if you want to earn royalties of $4 per book.  Look at the total cost your book will sell for in the market place after your publisher applies

     their profit.  You will be very surprised how this drives up the overall price of each book.   It’s hard to sell a paperback novel for $23

     and it’s next to impossible to sell a hardcover for $35, but this could be the outcome.  

10.  What is the discount you are expected to approve for your book to sell in book stores or online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble?

       This is a very important consideration as most book companies will not sell your novel without a big discount to them for taking your

       book into their marketplace.  It is not unusual for you to be asked to discount your book by 50 to 60 percent in order to sell your book.

       When you do not offer this type of discount, the price charged for your book will skyrocket or not sell at all.

11.  Does the fee you would pay to a publisher that will take on your 'self published novel' include distribution of your novel and if ‘yes’;

       which companies?  This fee initially is $50 and then $20 as your annual fee for placement in the digital catalog used by the

       distributors like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  This cost might be hidden as part of your upfront setup fee.

12.  Does the upfront setup fee charged include advertisement and if ‘yes’ what does that ‘mean’?  How and what happens with this piece?

       If this merely means notice is given to Amazon or Barnes and Noble that your book is for sale, this cost is already buried in the base

       cost for having your book setup in the digital library.  If it means interviews are set up for you, this is value added as this piece can

       cost you $2,000 for one week of radio ads or as much as $10,000 for a four hour radio interview 'tour' (you're actually not traveling

       but on the phone) or a one day 'media' blitz.  And remember, if you are told your book fees for setup include free advertising on and Barnes and Noble's web site, this simply means the day your book is made available to the digital library, it will

       appear for 24 hours on the web site for these on line retailers.  Not exactly 'going viral' for a sales channel.

13.  Does a cover for the book come with the price of entry?  Get samples too as you want quality artwork; otherwise, you can create

       your own cover just like you create when your writing!

14.  Become informed about distribution.  It will serve you well.  Many times a book purchased through distribution channels has a

       'return' policy and authors don't get paid when a book is returned.  I thought you should know that piece on the backside too! 

15.  Did you find that audio book 'voice' costs will run over $4,000 for a 250 page books?  Are you going to set up your own studio to

       record your own work?  What software and microphone will you purchase?  Do you have the voice for audio books?

Well, this is a start.  No matter which path you select, the one thing that you need to know more than any of the technical considerations is that you are the person that must market your product in the self publishing world.  This is going to take time and money; yours, and courage, yours.  A great agent will do most of this work for you, so work with them to assure your own success.  Really great agents are hard to find.   Either way, taking it on as your job


letting the agent do the work, publishing will take belief in self and a willingness to speak about the work publicly.  This much I am still learning so I know it’s true .  Take the time to research your options; you'll be glad you did.

All rights reversed. 

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Reviewed by Jerry Bolton 10/8/2006

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