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February 19th, 2011

A word about self-publishing

As the digital transition transforms the publishing landscape, a lot of aspiring authors are turning to self-publishing. Print-on-demand technology had already had an impact in making self-publishing easier, but POD books aren't cheap to produce and had to be priced above $15 or so, which made it hard for them to compete with trade press books. eBooks, on the other hand, have a base price of production but the incremental cost per book is virtually nothing. That means they can be priced very cheaply indeed.

The fact that an ebook can be priced at $2.99 and still make money does not mean that it should look cheap. My advice as an ebook reader is, if you want to self-publish, get help! Get help with the cover, and with editing, and especially with proofing. Proofing a manuscript to send to an agent or editor requires a decent level of accuracy but it's still way down from proofing a book someone is going to pay for. Once someone plunks down money, their expectation goes up. When you self-publish, you've got no one to blame but yourself if your product is full of errors.

What it boils down to is books are products as well as creative efforts. A publisher has staff to deal with the editing process, page and/or ebook layout, and quality control. With self-publishing, you have control, but you have to do the work. And it is work. If you decide to take the self-pub route, you need to know that up front.

But hey, at least it's an option! It's better than what we had before, which was spending thousands to produce a print book with no good way to sell it. Ergo, I decided to run a poll, to see how other folks feel about this issue. Feel free to weigh in in a comment, if the options listed don't match what you want to say.

Note: I've disabled anonymous commenting because of spam, so you need an LJ account to take the poll, or to leave a comment.

Poll #1706985 Would YOU ever self-publish a book?

If you have had no success with traditional methods, would you self-publish?

No way! I want to see my book in a store with a publisher's name on the cover.
1(9.1%)
No way! Self-publishing is the kiss of death. It's like giving up.
3(27.3%)
Well, maybe, but only after a decade of trying
3(27.3%)
Probably, if it looks like other folks are having luck with it.
1(9.1%)
Sure, why not? What have I got to lose if the other route isn't working?
2(18.2%)
Sure. It's the 21st Century. I would go right to self-publishing and not bother trying to sell my book to an editor.
1(9.1%)




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