The writer/publisher – part 11

I realized today that I have been writing about self-publishing without
sharing some of the key factors that went into my decision to self-publish
in the first place. Although I like breaking new ground, I am primarily
inspired by the chance to make money doing so. Pioneering for the sake
of getting there first does not pay the bills. Traditional publishing offers little or nothing for the first-time author. The new model of self-publishing is a lot more author-friendly.

Writing is a creative act. Publishing is a business. To paraphrase Dan Poynter, a publisher is the one who puts up the money and takes the risk.The publisher assembles the book for the printer, gets it printed, and then markets it, hoping to make back more money than has been spent to produce the book. In short, the publisher is the investor.

When you invest in something, you want a sure thing at the lowest possible cost, with a high rate of return, and you are prepared to cut your losses as soon as it looks like your investment is not going to fly.

This is why traditional publishers screen hundreds of thousands of
books every year, searching for those four or five that will sell
enough copies to keep them in business. As a new author, you have
almost no chance of getting their attention, unless you know one of
their editors.

Are you willing to invest $2000 – $4000 in your new book? If you are not, then why should a publisher be interested?

You must do your homework and determine that there is a market for
your book. Once you have done that, why go to the bother of trying to
convince a publisher that you have a viable market? On the other hand,
if you are selling your book like gangbusters, you will probably
attract attention from a publisher who specializes in that particular
market.

I got started on this post by the excellent suggestion posed by Craig Paxson on part 9 of this series. He wrote:

You
might want to look at publishing through an on demand publisher like
1stBooks Library or Xlibris. They use a printer called Lightning Source
(I used to work there) that can print one book at a time and ship them
to any bookstore in the world (including Amazon.com!). It is a big
advantage to have your books listed on Amazon and in the Ingram book
system (they are the company that supplies 80% of the bookstores in the
USA). Plus, you don’t need to keep printing short runs and have
inventory on-hand to mail.

I investigated Lightning
Source and found they didn’t suit my needs at this time. They were much
more expensive for 500 quantity print runs than the printers I will be
using.

The Ingram distribution system seems to be too much on the order of
the traditional publishing tradition. They want a healthy discount, pay
very slowly, will return books for credit months after the fact, and
will be placing orders for the same books that they are returning. This
was from publishers actually dealing with Ingram.

I can get into Amazon.com directly and more importantly, I can get
my books listed on Google where they are made available for download
and for purchase.

I am charting a newly opened path here and I expect to promote the
books myself and with friends, then handle the fulfillment myself with
the assistance of friends until we buckle under the traffic. šŸ™‚

I will be directly involved in all aspects of the marketing and
sales cycle and expect to ship books within one business day of
receiving payment via PayPal. If Dan Poynter is right, I should make
4-6 times as much on every sale as if I were going the traditional
route.

The one thing you have to realize is that it is the author who
promotes and publicizes the book until it is selling well. Generally,
the traditional publishing house puts it in a few ads with lots of its
other titles and calls it a day.

If the book sells, it is you, the author, who accomplishes that. Why
not fan the flames until the book is selling well and take the profits
you deserve. At that point, if you have a runaway seller, you should
have a much better bargaining position when a publisher or agent
approaches you.

The book has to be interesting and it has to be publicized in order
to sell at all. What happens after that is really a matter of selling
it at a price that people consider a fair value, and getting it out to
them promptly when they order it. This is new territory for me, but I
will let you know what I find out when I get there.

This is an area where you new writers may
be able to achieve a stunning breakthrough. Getting a book out in 90
days and keeping a healthy percentage of the selling price beats
waiting for eighteen months and getting 50 cents on the average sale,
with the royalties paid quarterly. 

We’ll just have to see, won’t we?

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