Monday, February 9, 2009

Guest Post - Annette Fix, author of The Break-Up Diet, talks about Self Publishing

D.I.Y. (Do-It Yourself) Publishing – Is It an Option for You?
By Annette Fix

When I was a little girl and someone tried to tie my shoes for me, I always insisted, “I can do it myself!” Maybe that same stubbornness and strong belief in my own abilities foreshadowed that I’d choose the publishing path less traveled. It wasn’t my original direction, but it’s eventually where I ended up.

Thanks to the advances in printing technology, it’s now possible—more so than ever before—for every writer to see her words printed and bound in book form. The easy access to cover and interior book designers, digital printers, and even offset printers, makes the once mysterious publishing process available to any and every writer who takes the initiative to utilize the resources.

The traditional route—through an agent to an editor at an established publishing house—was the only option for writers for many years. Now, the field of options has grown exponentially.

For a detailed explanation of the available publishing models, take a minute and read this article: There is too much information for me to explain in a single blog post.

Alternate publishing options I had to choose from:

Independent Publishing – Independent publishers function much like traditional publishers in their structure, but often take on fewer projects per year, and often do not pay royalties. They can range from micro presses with only one title to large indies like Wiley & Sons (the For Dummies publisher).

Joint Venture Publishing – A newer publishing model based on expense and profit sharing between the author and the publisher.

Subsidy/Vanity Publishers – AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris, et al. (Countless subsidy companies have cropped up online and often use the misleading terminology self-publishing company and/or POD publisher.*) This model is explained more in depth in the article linked above. *There is no such thing as a POD publisher. POD = Print On Demand—a digital printing technology, not a publishing model.

Self-Publishing – The author creates her own publishing company, purchases a block of ISBN, and moves her manuscript through the editing, design, and printing processes as well as securing distribution/fulfillment, and establishing wholesale accounts, including
Of those options, I chose to self-publish.

My book, The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir, is the candid story of a 30-something single mother and aspiring writer who is working as an exotic dancer, searching for Prince Charming, and trying to find the perfect balance between her dreams and her day-to-day life as Supermom.

Of course, living my life (and then writing about it) was a wild ride, but I had no idea how much I would learn about the publishing industry during my self-publishing adventure. To give you an idea, I’ve created a list of pros and cons—based on my experiences:

Complete creative freedom to choose your book cover image, interior design, launch date, and everything and anything associated with developing the product, fixing it in tangible form, promoting and selling it.

Complete creative freedom to choose a lame cover image, horrible interior design, poorly-timed launch date, etc. (laughs) Seriously though, it’s often challenging and costly to find the right freelance editor and designers to work with you to create a product that can compete on the same level with traditionally published books. It’s not unusual for many self-published authors fail to create a competitive product.

Receive the lion’s share of the financial return from book sales—which for a $16.95 retail paperback works out to be approx. $7.63 per unit for the author/publisher. Ok, so maybe it’s an emaciated lion. (Traditionally published authors make between $1.00 - $1.50 per unit—based on the number rumors I’ve heard.)

Assume all the financial risks, have trouble getting wholesalers to actually pay your invoices, limited distribution, and more confusing accounting and inventory paperwork than any creative person should ever have to deal with. And don’t even attempt self-publishing if you can’t blow through more than $10K without developing a facial tic, or if you’re allergic to standing beside the freeway off ramp with a cardboard sign and giving your books away with a bag of oranges.

Tally It Up:
When it comes down to it, it’s not an easy road. And maybe after reading about my experiences, you’ll have a better idea of whether self-publishing is the right publishing model for you.

Find out about Annette’s publishing journey from the traditional road to her self-publishing detour:

Annette Fix is a freelance editor, a publishing industry and single parenting speaker, Senior Editor of WOW! Women On Writing, and the author of The Break-Up Diet: A Memoir.

Visit her blog at Annette’s Paper Trail. She enjoys hearing from her readers. You can email her directly at annette[at]annettefix[dot]com.

For the length of her blog tour, Annette will be giving away free digital copies of her memoir. If you’d like a copy, send an email to promo[at]thebreak-updiet[dot]com, please put “Virtual Wordsmith” in the subject line.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I've got a brand new pair of roller skates...

Remember when you were a kid, and life was all about right now? You walked out the door with no plan, no agenda - whatever happened next was completely unknown to you, and that was the fun of it.

I'd forgotten about that, until I started reading Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. The book is about writing and life, but it's also about taking things small steps at a time, letting the characters show you what happens next. No-one sits down and pours out a full length novel in one shot.

The one thing that really jumped out at me is Anne's concept of the "one inch picture frame." As in, write only about what you can see through the frame. What a marvelous focus tool!

Bird By Bird has reminded me of the joy I once felt when I walked into my 7th grade English class and the teacher would say "Today, we write." She would give us a prompt, and then we'd scribble furiously for 20 minutes. The stories shared were what we saw through our respective tiny picture frames, but funnily enough, the views were panoramic.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sometimes life can't help but take precedence...

I was really hoping to be blogging every weekday again, but a few things came up in the last two weeks that took precedence. However, today is a new day, beginning a new week, and a new month - so here I am.

I went to Barnes & Noble on Saturday looking for 2 specific books (and maybe a side of inspiration). Picked up Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott and The Writing Diet by Julia Cameron. I figured while I was there I'd grab The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, as well, since it just won the Newbery Medal.

One would think it would have its own spectacular display screaming "Here I am! Buy me!" But, no, not so much. I walked over to the information desk to ask about it. The had no copies in-store, but they had just placed an order for... 12.

Now, I know the award was a huge surprise, to the author himself, even. But, come on, the book has been hyped all over the 'net - and Neil went on a whirlwind tour, reading a chapter of the book at each stop. You'd think bookstores, and Target, and Walmart would have some copies on hand.

So, I'm rather dismayed to say that will most likely profit from my book buying dollar. I really wonder if there will be any brick-and-mortar bookstores around by 2015.