It's all about TRUTH.

Location is determined by position
Evidence will vary by location.
Facts will change according to evidence.
But TRUTH is unchanging.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Three blog day. Entry #1, On "Self-Publishing"

One of the people on Twitter has been sounding off About "Self-publishing."  For her, it may be a good idea, and the way to go for her.  I know someone who has used that route.  But I find the drawbacks of "Self-publishing" to be not worth the effort to try it.  That is not to say it can't be used successfully.  But there is nothing wrong with the traditional way -- and if you're rejected you can can quit, learn to live with it, or try again.  It's always up to the author-to-be, or if you prefer "author-in-waiting."
What are the GOOD parts?  Well, you DO get to keep every dime you make (Excepting taxes, of course).  You get to decide where to go, when to go, how to go -- when you promote. 
But there are drawbacks...too many for the average "Author wannabe."  And they all relate, somehow, to money.
Too many of these places are "Vanity Publishers".  They'll charge by the page, or by the book, or by the type of cover, or all of those.  I looked into one of them.  A small book for kids (140 pages), paperback -- would cost more than $20.00 to print.  No kid can afford to spend 1/2 of that for a book.  But that was PRINTING ONLY!  That didn't include shipping.  That didn't include editing.  That didn't include illustrating (If wanted).  It didn't include promoting.  It didn't include critiquing, or the like.  And it didn't include adding your commission to the book (your profit)
That same book, 140 pages, would cost more than $30.00 per book just to turn a profit...but to make matters worse, if you wanted a professional to edit, that would be another thousand or so. 
So, ONE BOOK, 20 for printing, 8 for shipping, 3 dollar profit, plus an editor:  Your first book would cost more than $1030.  I'll grant you, if you bought 500 books, it would be less on a per-book basis.
Let's say the cost of ONE (as above) drops by 35% if you buy 500. 
That's 13 per book, right?  6500 bucks, right there.  If they manage, they cut shipping to 500 for the full lot, so that's 7000.  Just to break even, you'd have to sell at 14 per book.  If you add the 3.00 profit (just as a figure) per book, you'd still have to sell 412 of the books before you make money.
What a crock.  And what about PROMOTION?  IF you got a 3% response ration on 500 letters, that's 15 answers.  Expect 2 in 10 to say "yes" if you're lucky.
So, add up all the letters/envelopes/postage.  IF it cost a total of $.60 per letter, that's another 300.00.  So, two "Yes", cost of 17 each, You've got $34.00 in your pocket, and it's only cost you 7300.00  Your net loss is more than 7200.00.  It isn't worth the effort.
If you have to travel to do your own promotion, the cost rises, profit falls.  Editor, ditto.
It's easier to try finding an agent.  You can figure on 10%, minimum, plus whatever expenses are added in.  If you're lucky, figure a straight 10%.  IF the book is sold, figure at max 8.00 on paperback, you MIGHT get 10% on each retail.  So, that's .80 per book.  But, you need to pay the agent, so you've dropped... You might get .72 per book.
Your editor, publisher (if you're lucky enough), agent will all want long term contracts.  Who knows what's showing up.  You'll want to check with a lawyer on those! 
IF you're lucky, you'll get an advance.  MAYBE.  Some people do better than others.  Stephen King sold the rights to CARRIE for 750,000.  YOU, an unknown, might get 500.  But you'd still need to sell 700 books to make any sort of money after that.
The publisher will supply the editor:  IF he thinks the book is worth it.
Would you rather have a stack of rejection notices (let's say 50), 10 agent turndowns, for a cost of 400, or a huge debt  of 7000 and a stack of books you may never sell?
SOME PEOPLE can use self-publish.  But it's because they've already been published professionally.
My advice to the aspiring writer:  Stick with tradition.  It may be slower, more frustrating, and result in a stack of rejection notices a mile high (Dr. Seuss had more than 25 rejections for his first manuscript).  But it's going to be a HELL OF A LOT CHEAPER than going self-publish.  Unless you've got the TIME, the KNOWLEDGE, THE MONEY, AND THE SALES SKILLS... Avoid self-publish.  It's all you can do.
That's my take on Self-publish :  AS I SEE IT!
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