Thoughts on Self-publishing
by Walton Mendelson
I assume you've just finished
your manuscript. Bravo! Now the next part of its journey begins:
it must become a book.
I have been where your are:
I have written books, fiction and nonfiction, and made art and books.
I have had them published and I have self published. I understand
the joys and frustrations ahead.
The publishing world has changed.
A group of editors and publishers on the Charlie Rose show were
asked, "If you received a first book over the transom that
was as good as anything you've ever read, what are the chances of
its publication." To a man, "Zero." Publishers have
laid off mid-level editors, and spend millions of dollar in advances
for the next block buster. Those millions represent hundreds of
first books that will not be printed.
Agents are now often required
to produce manuscripts that meet house style and fully edited with
the same 15% commission. But the average first book earns about
$1500, $150 for the agent—not much for all the work now falling
on the agent's shoulders. And then consider that of all the first
books published, one way or another, 70% of the authors never publish
a second book.
So between the blockbuster,
the lack of mid-level editors, the pressures on agents, self-publishing
looks more and more attractive. The publishing industry abhors self
publishing/vanity press as do bookstores. But the history of book
publishing is centuries of just that: authors paying to have their
works published. I know a photographer who had several books of
his work that had sold out. He approached his publisher with the
idea for a third (or fourth) book. They were enthusiastic, but only
if he paid the production costs! So even having a good track record
is no guarantee of anything. (And if you're Mr. S. King, you're
not reading this page.)
One good argument
against choosing to self publish is the lack of marketing. Consider,
however, that some 60,000+ books will be published this year. How
many will be advertised in newspapers or magazines? How many will
be reviewed? Most books, regardless of the type of publication arrive
in this world unheralded, whether published by Random House or you.
So if you are considering self
publishing, and your manuscript is edited, your next step is designing
and typesetting—even for ebooks.
Can you design your own book?
Yes, you can, and you can do it in Word. Do I recommend that? No.
There can be hundreds of decisions building a book. And although
Word gives you more control over type than you would have had a
dozen years ago, it is unstable for book design—the hours
you spend removing widows and rivers, or creating an index, can
disappear in a flash when Word decides to repaginate, and it will.
Likewise, you can design your own cover.
There are many companies that
will design your book, and offer you good, better, best pricing.
But if you read carefully, you'll see things like "up to ten
hours of design," or "with this plan we give you six choices
interior page design." But if you have foreign words, slang,
unusual glyphs, tables, legends, etc. you just might find them missing.
After all what do you get for "ten hours"?
I worked on one book where
the author had paid for the premium package—"we'll do
everything." It took three editors to undo most of what the
first had done (for example: changing the pronoun "he"
to "she" to be gender neutral, when, however, the "he"
referred to a male character). All of the italics for foreign words,
emphasis, and reverie were stripped out. Rather than permitting
him to resubmit the original manuscript, they continued to work
on the altered one: over 1700 hours of his time later, and after
coming to me for help, he had a book.
Whatever you choose, print-on-demand
or standard offset lithography, I'm here to help you walk your book
through the self-publishing maze.
If I work on your book, when
it is done, when I hold a copy in my hand, it is my feeling that
"I made that." I don't want to be disappointed, so it
is my goal that you are not disappointed either.
Before you send off your files,
I will send you a comp: a one-off, fully printed, trimmed, and bound
copy of your book. Don't you want to see it before you're surprised?
(It is easier to catch errors from a hard copy than a monitor image.
So there's one more chance to get it perfect.)
|If you just want to publish your own booklets or
microbook using your desktop printer, click Templates.
Let me design your book. Prescott
is an email away—contact!
|Thank you, Walton Mendelson