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Lee Tidball – Self-Publishing; A Boon or a Bane – Part Two

Self-Publishing; A Boon or a Bane – Part Two

by Lee Tidball

In Part One of this post, we explored some of the positives of self-publishing, that is, you paying someone to publish your work.  We discovered that self-publishing first guarantees that the hard work you put into your novel won’t be in vain—you have total control and are not subject to the whims of editors or publishers…for a price.  We also discovered that you have various amounts of control over the book-making process so that the book comes out the way you want, and usually in a very timely fashion. And once the book is out, the royalties that you’ll earn can be handsome—far more than with a traditional publisher.  So what’s not to like??

Unfortunately, plenty.  First is obviously the 800-pound gorilla in the room; YOU have to pay for your book getting published—at every phase—and with each new thing you want someone else to do, there’s more cha-ching to go with it.  If you’re going it alone, hiring book-makers, printers, etc. all yourself, these costs rise like a tsunami after The Big One.  If you go with one of the many full service self-publishers (what I recommend if you do decide to self-publish), you’re usually given a number of different package options, and the only reasonably-priced ones (under a thousand dollars) don’t include much outside basically making your book, copyrighting it, and making it available on a few websites.  If you want any significant marketing help at all (outside of a few free copies of your book, some bookmarks and posters, and maybe placement on Amazon or Barnes and Noble’s websites), you’ll pay for it, and pay for it dearly.

And this leads to the really big downer about self-publishing, and that’s that, when it comes to marketing, you’re totally on your own—unless you pay gargantuan fees (we’re talking in the thousands) to hire a recommended publicist.  And, in case you didn’t know (and you really, really should know this if you’re any kind of author…) MARKETING IS EVERYTHING!!!  With it, your book is made known to the world in a myriad different ways, people take note of it, and some eventually purchase it.  Depending on what it’s about and how in-demand it becomes, you could sell quite a few of them.  Without it, your book is just another of literally millions of books on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and you stand out about as much as some average guy wearing the home-team colors in the home-team’s football stadium—where of course everyone else is wearing the same color.  Unless you’re a marketing genius of some kind, a social networking guru, or happen to create a book trailer that goes viral, that’s probably how it will stay.  So you can either pay (through the nose) for your self-publisher’s biggest marketing package, or try to do it on your own.  And then you run into another problem, and it’s a serious one.

Booksellers and advertisers, etc., are in business to make money, and just how much money is your no-name book going to make for them?  Probably next to nothing, they conclude.  After all, you’re not famous, you didn’t do anything to make you famous, you don’t have any publishing track record, and your book wasn’t even published by a legitimate publishing company!  How can it really be any good?  If it’s so good, why did it have to be self-published?  Sorry to say, folks, but, as unfair as that sounds, that’s the way “the industry” has thought for decades, and, though things have loosened up a little, it’s still pretty much the way it is.  Book critics and professional author societies, also vital cogs in the marketing wheel, take a dim view of self-published books for the same reasons.  So to market your book, you have to prove somehow, through sales numbers, good reviews, etc. that your book isn’t just one of the millions of mediocrities out there, but in order to get those sales or reviews, you have to market your book!  And yes, that’s a huge “Catch-22” but it’s reality.

And so there you sit, you and your masterpiece, an unknown amongst millions of other unknowns on the Internet, and unless you’re willing to invest thousands of your own dollars for major marketing help, that’s where you’ll stay.

To be fair, it’s not that much better (from a marketing standpoint anyway) with traditional publishers, as nearly all their marketing dollars go to their best-selling authors and the rest are left to basically sink or swim on their own.  But at least you don’t have to fight the “legitimacy” battle.  You can do much better with some small press publishers, but that, of course, requires you to submit your manuscript to them and there’s no guarantee that your work will be accepted and actually become a book.

So we’re back to the basic reason any author considers self-publishing in the first place—a guarantee that all your hard work is not in vain.  Only you, the author, can make the decision according to your own individual goals, resources, etc.

Have there been best-sellers come from self-publishing.  Yes, interestingly enough.  I can think of two right off the top of my head; The Shack was self-published by its author with the help of a church pastor who helped edit the book, then marketed it through his worldwide network of evangelical pastors and Christian friends.  It caught fire all over the place and has made the author, along with the pastor/editor and their publishing partner, millionaires.  And obviously it was a pretty good book to start with.  Eragon was written by Christopher Paolini when he was a teenager.  His parents reportedly took out a second mortgage on their home and took him on a nation-wide book tour with his books.  I’m sure he’s a millionaire now too after having the original book made into a movie and writing several best-selling sequels.  And I’m sure there’s others, too, especially in various hot-button areas of non-fiction.

But then again, there’s a few millionaires around that have won lotteries too…

In my own case, self-publishing actually made me an author by giving me the incentive to finish my first novel, knowing that I would have a book to share with others once I was finished.  I’m not sure if I’d have ever finished that book if that guarantee hadn’t come around.  Now, though, after having my work published by two small press publishers at no expense to me whatsoever and even getting hefty amounts of marketing help from one of them, it would be highly unlikely that I’d go back to it.  I enjoy the idea that I’m now a “legitimately” published author, and the advantages that come with that.  I don’t look down on my friends or anyone else who self-publishes.  I know why they do it, I respect those reasons a ton, and I’d never judge their work simply by the fact that it was self-published.

But I also know how much they have to pay for it, and how little their publisher cares whether their book actually sells well or makes any money.  After all, they’ve already made their money…


Amazon bestseller - Teen/YA Literature and Fiction

“Imagine the unimaginable.”

That was the mantra of young prodigy Hector Chevas’s mentor in architectural design, Gellini. But even Gellini couldn’t imagine the horrors that his prize student and adopted son would fill Suburbia’s new Heartland Mall with to wreak revenge on those who killed Gellini and murdered Hector’s only friends. “Black Friday” was never blacker.

But Hector couldn’t imagine that, in the middle of his deathly rampage, an “angel” from his past would re-appear into his life; wild-child Janey, whose life he’d saved years before, and who’d never forgotten her promise to “always love him…for reals.” But was that love strong enough now to learn the unimaginable truth; to call Hector’s “dead” soul back to life and resurrect him from his mad plunge into oblivion?

MALLED is a story filled with tragedy, terror, raw emotion, unspeakable horrors, and, above all, the awesome power of ferocious, undying love. Go for it. Get into it. Dare to “imagine the unimaginable.”

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre –  NeoGothic Horror / Thriller

Rating – R for violence & language

More details about the author & the book

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