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.


Anonymous said...

"And don’t even attempt self-publishing if you can’t blow through more than $10K without developing a facial tic..."

I agree! Many people self-publish without making a monetary and time committment. If more self-publishers took their role as a "publisher" seriously maybe, just maybe, self-published books wouldn't have such a negative rep.

Annette said...

Good morning, Ladies!

I'll be stopping by throughout the day to answer questions and respond to comments. So, let the conversation commence!

Annette said...


I agree completely. An author who decides to self-publish should want her work to be presented in the best possible way--professionally edited, designed, and printed--otherwise, what's the point?

I would be embarrassed to put my name on some of the self-published books out there because the quality is not what it could have been if the authors had treated publishing as a craft--just like writing is.

Anonymous said...

Wow what an eye opener this is. Thank you for explaining this in such clear concise terms. I appreciate the info.
Jo Ann Hernandez

Annette said...

Jo Ann,

I'm glad what I wrote was helpful to you. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. =)

Self-publishing--in it's true definition--is quite an involved process. For anyone considering it, I highly recommend Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual as a first-book investment.

Anonymous said...

If money were not an obstacle, what's the single most productive thing a self-published author could do to promote book sales?

Annette said...

I just realized I missed this question.

Anon, the most productive thing you can do for promotion whether you're a traditionally pubbed author or a self-pubbed author really doesn't have anything to do with money. It's more time intensive than anything. There are so many ways you can promote online without spending any money that I couldn't possibly type them all into the comments section here. I wrote an entire post about it on one of my other blog tour stops:

The important thing is to try different methods of promotion. Some things will work for one book and not another. Some things will reach one portion of your audience, but not another. For instance, I may reach mommy bloggers on my blog tour, but not reading groups. So, I have to find a different way to reach those other readers.

Don't try to do it all at once. Create a marketing plan that takes your book through phases.

Good luck!

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