Self-Publishing Experiences

When people ask me about my book, I tell them I self-published it. This is true and untrue. I paid to have the book printed, I bought a set of the book and sold it to my family and friends, and was interviewed by my local television station about it. Mainly because I was a senior in high school and it was my senior thesis. But if I had gone the actual self-publication route, I would have found a printer, custom designed my cover and interior, and kept all the profits for myself. What I did in reality was go through a print-on-demand company, Aventine Press. This route means I used an interior template, a cover template; in other words, the company limited my choices to what they had available.

For my first time in the publishing realm, I really have to say that Aventine Press kept my concerns in mind. Because of production delays due to the cover designer needing a root canal, they custom designed my cover. My book was placed online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many more. My dad helped me with local marketing by sending the press release to the news stations. I can’t even tell you what it felt like to hold my book that first time after opening the package. But looking back, I should have waited. They require that you pay extra for editing services, and let’s face it, my first book could have used some last-minute editing.

Other things to keep in mind: yes, if you put forth a good quality product and perfect your marketing plan, there is a larger change of a traditional (aka commercial) publisher of picking up your writing, as long as you follow the rules (querying, sending partials when asked, etc). But out of the thousands of people who went the self-publishing route (we’re talking POD, Vanity, and Self Publishing), only 20 were picked by commercial publishers.

So, I guess my point is that if you have the money and patience, research the “actual” self-publishing route. It’s more impressive, and you complete control. But most of all, be careful with the Vanity, Subsidy and POD publishers. Seeing the market now, I realize I was lucky.

The following definitions were found here.

  • A commercial publisher purchases the right to publish a manuscript (often along with other rights, known as subsidiary rights), and pays the author a royalty on sales (most also pay an advance on royalties). Commercial publishers are highly selective, publishing only a tiny percentage of manuscripts submitted, and handle every aspect of editing, publication, distribution, and marketing. There are no costs to the author.
  • A vanity publisher prints and binds a book at the author’s sole expense. Costs include the publisher’s profit and overhead, so vanity publishing is usually a good deal more expensive than self-publishing. The completed books are the property of the author, and the author retains all proceeds from sales. Vanity publishers do not screen for quality–they publish anyone who can pay. For an extra fee, some may provide editing, marketing, warehousing, and/or promotional services (often of dubious quality), or they may provide variously-priced service packages that include differing menus of extras.
  • A subsidy publisher also takes payment from the author to print and bind a book, but contributes a portion of the cost and/or adjunct services such as editing, distribution, warehousing, and marketing. Theoretically, subsidy publishers are selective. The completed books are the property of the publisher, and remain in the publisher’s possession until sold. Income to the writer comes in the form of a royalty.
  • Self-publishing requires the author to bear the entire cost of publication, and also to handle all marketing, distribution, storage, etc. However, rather than paying for a pre-set package of services, the author puts those services together himself. Because he can put every aspect of the process out to bid, he may pay a good deal less than what’s charged by vanity publishers; self-publishing can also result in a higher-quality product. Completed books are owned by the writer, and the writer keeps all proceeds from sales.