Thursday, September 25, 2014

Self Publishing - The Pros and Cons by JoAnne Myers

The best thing about self-publishing is that you are guaranteed to be published, no matter what type book you choose to write. Traditional publishers often look for something not yet written about, or seldom written about; such as true life alien abductions, or what Earth might be like in the year 4000, if humans last that long.
Self-publishing allows the author more leeway with subject matter. The author can tell it like it is; unlike traditional publishers who generally follow a code of conduct, for the fear of treading on someone’s toes. Traditional publishers always have that fear of being sued for libel, whereas self-publishers tend to not care what others think.  
            With self publishing every detail is up to the author. From hiring a professional editor if the self publishing author is not prolific in the English language. Editing is expensive, and every book, even self publishing needs some editing to help polish the final product. Self-publishing does offer editing and marketing services, but for an additional price, that can be expensive. All that work is taken care of by a traditional publisher, which means less headaches and work for the author.
            When it comes to book covers, self-publishing companies usually give the author a selection of artwork to choose from. Some of this artwork is free, but some usually cost a few dollars. The free artwork is seldom great, and might not coincide with the books material. For paid artwork at self-publishing companies, the artwork is upgraded and more pleasing to the eye, but is an extra cost, which might for some self-publishers, mean an extra dent in their pocketbooks. Traditional publishers have their own art department, which means the author is guaranteed a terrific book cover, which is included in the contract. Both self-publishing and traditional publishing companies, though, usually allow the author to use their own artwork if the author chooses too, especially if the book is about the author’s family, pet, friends, or profession.  Using personal artwork adds a touch of personification and genuine sincerity to the book; which is always a good selling point.
            What I discovered through Amazon, and something they did not tell me in the beginning, is that with them, the author must keep a supply of their books at the Amazon warehouse. Amazon is not a print on demand (POD) distributor as is Lulu, as I initially believed it to be.  Also, with the author’s books being stored at the Amazon warehouse, the author is charged for a monthly storage fee. I don’t know what this storage fee is, but I do know, that the more books the author keeps stored, the higher the storage fee is. This storage requirement can be expensive. The author is required to pay this monthly storage fee, even if their book does not sell. When it comes to any type of artwork, whether it be books, jewelry, or candles, artwork is usually a hard product to sell. If it were easy, all artists and authors would be wealthy.
            Lulu on the other hand, is a print on demand self publisher. They do not store books, but keep each title stored in a queue, at a contracted print on demand printer.
            Also, what I understand is that Lulu allows 80% of the royalties to go to the author, and Amazon allows 70%, but that percentage is only applicable for books sold to certain countries outside of the U.S., such as Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and India, and only for titles enrolled in KDP Select.  This in reality, means that the author receives an average 35% of the sales, and Amazon gets the other 65%.
            A author can struggle with locating a traditional publishing company for many reasons. They have written a book that only they are interested in; such as their family history. I don’t believe most would be interested in reading about someone else’s family tree, unless it is as brilliant as the book Roots, was. If a author is struggling with locating a traditional publishing company, than self-publishing is for them. I for one believe that if a writer has written a book, they should continue seeking out the traditional publishing company. This only applies if their book is polished and ready for sale. If a book has many graphical errors, it will not be taken seriously by a traditional publisher. Getting away with graphical errors in a self-published book is possible, but it would be disappointing and frustrating to the reader.  Whether the book is self-published or traditionally published, the final product should be free of errors, and entertaining, and pleasing to the eye. In my opinion, when it comes to Lulu versus Amazon, Amazon bites the dust. Good luck.

For the Love of Ginnie
I don’t know why I wanted to save the life of a person I never met. Maybe it was because I was tired of bachelorhood. Maybe it was because I was a chemist and the unusual, and unexplained, fascinated me. Or, maybe, it was because I was obsessed with this twenty-year-old, dark-haired beauty named Mary Virginia “Ginnie” Wade I had read about. These questions filtered through my mind as I drove to the bar to meet my best friend Will.
Will’s favorite hangout was “The Bling,” originally an old truck stop on State Route 93, in Nelsonville, Ohio. The place became a restaurant/lounge/dance hall and brothel when semis no longer became a necessity for long distance hauling. The invention of the transporter also replaced many other primitive jobs such as mail delivery and travel. “The Bling” was best known for the large flashing lights suggesting scantily clad women in seductive positions above the front entrance, and its “bulldogs,” monster-sized bouncers in Armani suits who patrolled its two-block perimeter, inside and out.
“The Bling,” just another joint with a sleazy atmosphere, like all alcohol-serving establishments, differed only in that it catered exclusively to class “A” clientele. Politely—or maybe not so politely—everyone called it the “Whorehouse for the rich and bored.” Its reputation grew. Its income grew even faster.
I pulled up in front and exited my vintage DeLorian, tossing the keys to the baby-faced valet, by-passed the doorman with no questions asked. Just an exchange of large smiles between us. Will was also part-owner.
As I entered the twenty-four carat gold, electronic doors, Will immediately spotted me and motioned me toward the bar with his diamond embellished hand.
I loved sitting at the bar. It was the perfect place to see the shows. “Two double scotches and water,” Will said, as we shook hands, and I slid into my seat beside him, just as the tall, leggy waitress produced the drinks in an instant.
I immediately recognized the “girl” as one of the latest “do-everything-like-a-wife” robotics. Robot manufacturing had become a booming business since the last war destroyed the immune and reproductive systems in most humans, especially females.
“I don’t know why you waste your time flirting with non-humans,” I said, cautiously sipping my drink. The immense emptiness of not being able to acquire a wife and soul mate, I felt at this age in my life, almost drove me to alcoholism, but my boss and mentor, Doctor Obar Gabry, intervened, saving my life and promising career.
“Because, dear friend,” Will began, “beggars can’t be choosey, and ladies are in scarce supply. Beside, these ‘girls’ are all pink inside.”
Ugh!” I said, gulping down a large swallow of alcohol as if it could wash away my friend’s vile mental picture from my mind.
“Come on, Alex, loosen up. Live a little.” Will motioned to the waitress for another round of drinks. “You’re alive, so act like it. Don’t let your beautiful mind go to waste. This world needs people like you. People started treating me like a god once I became an entrepreneur, and I love it.”
I had to laugh. Maybe my self-pity stage had outlived its use. Only I can find a wife for myself. I certainly won’t ask Will to hook me up. His sense of values are as artificial as the women he beds.
The pain and loneliness I felt at times from yearning for a life-long partner and family wasn’t easy to accomplish. Scientific and Medical technology still could not reverse the sterilization effects on the female species.
Sure there were some human women to date. But most were either sterile, too old, too young, or there was just no chemistry between the two of us. I wanted that spark that unites between two people madly in my parents. I never met any couple happier with one another then my beloved parents. That’s the kind of love I want…never ending.
The emptiness and frustration of not finding companionship at times made me want to die. But that was the loneliness talking. I know that now. I love life. I want to live, and I know who I want for a wife. It’s just that meeting her would be a little tricky.
Abruptly, I asked, “What do you think about time travel?”
“Are you serious?” Will asked. “Scientists have tried to conquer time travel for hundreds of years, and failed.”
“Maybe they failed because they weren’t Doctor Gabry and me.”
Will looked at me in awe. “Oh, my god, you’re serious!”
“We discovered something today in the lab,” I said, giving him an arrogant smile. “We believe this is the answer.”
“So who is to be the Guinea pig?”
Silence came from Will, then a gasp. “That could be suicide.”
“Or the biggest discovery of the thirtieth century.”

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Leah St. James said...

Hi, JoAnne - Thanks for a great topic. Having been both small-press and indie published, I can say you make a lot of valid points!

In my other life I work for a newspaper and write a column about our local writing community. I get many, many self-published books sent to me for review. I routinely see two big issues that affect quality: lack of good editing (huge factor) and lack of professional design/layout. You can often tell the book is a DIY-er before you peek inside the cover. I think that's because authors don't necessarily have the experience or marketing skills to know what makes a good cover or book design. Indie authors need to hire professions if they don't have the necessary skills.

Done properly, self-published books can be (and often are) of the same quality in content and production, as books published by any traditional publisher.

Readers don't care who publishes a story, they just care that it captures and holds their interest. For some, like me, the look of the book (formatting, design) also plays a role.

Jannine Gallant said...

I've used Createspace for the POD version of my book. No storage charges, and orders through Amazon are filled immediately. I think there are a few options for indie authors who want their book in print. Great topic!