Posts Tagged ‘self-publishing’

PSA: Publish America…

March 11, 2010 2 comments

…is not a publisher in the sense that you would be considered published if you used their services. From an agent blog (the post is old, but I have a reason for bringing it back up):

“You told me that you were previously published by someone like PublishAmerica… and meant it. This is akin to telling me that you would consider yourself previously published if you had Xeroxed pages of your manuscript and stapled them together.”

This applies to Author House as well.

Self-publishing is fine for some purposes. That’s where you retain all copyright, get 100% of the royalties, and do all of the work. It’s a straightforward transaction – you pay to have the book put together, and then if any books are sold, you get all of the money. This sort of thing works well if you want to do a cookbook of Grandma’s recipes and get a copy for everyone in the family. It also may work for established, business-savvy writers with a following and a backlist to reissue. If you are brand new to writing with no established reputation, your average sales numbers will total less than a hundred copies. You don’t have to believe me. This is public knowledge.

Please note that if your one and only book was self-published through Lulu, you are not “published” in the sense that most people mean the word.

Vanity publishing is when you pay the “publisher” for editing (which is optional – they’ll publish anything you write) and what have you, and they pay you a percentage. Typical sales are still under a hundred copies, but it cost the writer more money up front, and he’ll get less from what he does sell.

I’m a little frustrated about this today. I was looking up local writing groups, hoping to find one to join. One group that meets quite near my house has their member bios on the website. I checked the credits of the authors listed as published.

All but one was “published” via vanity publishing. That last one had her first novel “published” through Lulu.

I’m sorry. None of those writers are published, and I can’t imagine spending hard-earned money to join a writer’s group that would think that way.

I have spent years researching the publishing process, agents, professional organizations, and more. I know there is quite a bit of drama over some elements of publishing – for example, I recently learned that my sale to Carina doesn’t count as being professionally published in the eyes of some people because Carina doesn’t pay advances, just royalties. (I’m trying not to rant about that one, though I’m tempted!) I know what the scams are, and I know some basic rules. But when it comes to publishing, what I don’t know would fill a very large library.

It is *my* responsibility to learn. I owe it to myself and to my career.

Giving someone money just so I could say I was published would be pissing all over my dream.



There’s a hand-wringing article in TBM today about how An Important Literary Writer is giving up on traditional publishing and going Lulu.

Normally, I quite like the Goodnight Gutenberg blog – it’s a top notch source of explanation for many strange industry things. But the tone of this struck me as odd. Maybe I’m just a newbie hack here, but a few things come to mind:

– If “important” gets too far away from “a good story well told,” we should not be shocked when “important” doesn’t “sell.”

– Self-publishing on Lulu is all very well when you’ve built a reputation and a degree of fame using the resources of a traditional publisher and their marketing department, but I suspect someone like, say, me wouldn’t get as far. I grow weary of the ignorant talking about self-publishing as though it were already a viable alternative to traditional publishing in terms of finding a market and building an audience. Maybe someday it will be, I don’t know, but it’s not there now.

– Lulu’s VIP package sounds a lot like some of the services of a traditional publisher to me, only, you have to pay for them.

– I have every intention of self-publishing my own backlist someday. When I have a backlist, acquired via… a traditional publisher. Should that day ever arrive, I hope I’m not so important as to sneer at the mechanism that allowed me the freedom to self-publish.

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