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Deborah Plummer Bussey
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II. Publishing & Marketing Tips > What Your Friends Can't Tell You About Your Self-Published Book

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message 1: by Deborah (new)

Deborah Bussey (dlplummer) | 6 comments Interested in your comments and feedback on my latest post.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah...

Thanks,
Deborah


message 2: by Belle (new)

Belle Blackburn | 158 comments That is all so true. I had a frustrating time trying to get the cover designed and finally just paid $10 for a stock photo and it looks it. Just don't know if it is worth changing it now. I am going to hire a pro for the sequel. I am still glad I turned down a publishing contract, even if it looks it. And may I say that the best thing ever are five star reviews from strangers...


message 3: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2165 comments While it's true it's also brutally honest. a little too brutally honest to my liking. Nevertheless it's a good quality article that shines light on the self-publishing industry.


message 4: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Sonnenberg (jsonnenberg) | 24 comments Good article, thanks for sharing!


message 5: by Arabella (new)

Arabella Thorne (arabella_thornejunocom) | 354 comments Deborah...it is a good piece.I have read indie published books that were just....lame. And I am not saying my work is vastly superior....but so much of what I have read firmly resides in the you-know-me-so-love-my-book category.
One may be permitted to hope that the excitement will wear off, the dross will sink to the bottom and the indie authors who are working hard at their craft...and paying good money to refine it...will survive


message 6: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Ting | 3 comments I'd be interested in knowing how the $5000 estimate breaks down. I would think that there are opportunities for self-publishers to keep costs lower and make money without having to become the highlighted ebook of the month or even get onto a single bookstore shelf. Not necessarily by doing everything themselves, but by sourcing less expensive help.


message 7: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Jackson (paperbackdiva) | 108 comments This blog post was brutally honest--and helpful. Slushy Gut Slog


message 8: by Shaun (new)

Shaun Horton | 248 comments I believe the $5000 estimate breaks down to companies and corporations being drastically overcharged for products and services as compared to individual costs. For example, how much would you bet that this cover -

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1) by E.L. James

cost it's publisher between $500 - $1000 or more?


message 9: by Feliks (last edited Feb 04, 2014 09:12PM) (new)


message 10: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Grant (katherine_grant) | 3 comments Sorry I'm late to this conversation: what's the source?


message 11: by Martyn (new)

Martyn Halm (amsterdamassassinseries) | 916 comments While I agree with you for the most part, I think the 5000 to do a professional publishing job is exaggerated.

Like the comparison with Idols, though. Indeed, most people are unaware of the lack of talent.


message 12: by Mercia (new)

Mercia McMahon (merciamcmahon) The article is a prime example of what I was writing against in "Lifting Up the Ladder." http://wp.me/p3WsUY-3p

In essence this ladder lifting says that poor people need not apply. This is heard a lot from indie authors who hope that because they are middle class that they can price the poor out of the market and increase their own discoverability. It would be like me saying that you cannot produce professional non-fiction unless you have a PhD. My PhD is about an academic inspired by William James who was famous for his adage "let a thousand flowers bloom." Unfortunately, too many indie authors stand with weed-killer in hand and want to make their industry as restrictive as the Big Five, in the hope that they can buy their way to success.

However you publish, success comes from writing a great book or convincing thousands to buy your poor book (which trade publishing is very adept at doing). Just because you can afford to pay top dollar does not mean that you are the cream that deserves to rise to the top. Readers will decide who succeeds and sometimes they give the accolade to something with a poor cover and next to no editing (and that is just the trade published books I am talking about).

Note to Deborah, English is spoken and written outside the United States and New York's finest are not the sum total of English language trade publishing success, especially as two of them have English and Scottish roots.


message 13: by Melanie (new)

Melanie Ting | 3 comments Shaun wrote: "I believe the $5000 estimate breaks down to companies and corporations being drastically overcharged for products and services as compared to individual costs. For example, how much would you bet t..."

I think you're probably right, but I also think that particular cover designer deserved a big fee, given how many book covers are complete rip-offs of Fifty Shades. Obviously using professional services doesn't guarantee originality.


message 14: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 327 comments That $5000 probably is accurate, particularly if you are paying for a print run up front. Just cover, edits, layout, proofing etc. don't necessarily run to that much BUT and here's the kicker, it's hard to match the quality of services you will receive from a major publisher. Frankly, I think it can be hard to find the quality of services you get from a minor publisher.

So, you can easily be hundreds of dollars out of pocket and STILL have a product that looks like you whipped it up in the basement.

On my self-pubbed books I do it all myself, and while my formatting in particular is probably barely adequate, I don't think they look appreciably worse than a number of things I know other writers are substantially out of pocket on. As a result, they cost me nothing but time. Most months I make lunch money kind of profits, but every penny of it is profit. My books make me money rather than costing me.

I always fail to understand why anyone would turn down a legitimate contract from a publishing house for exactly that reason. Not only is it a vote of faith in your product, but you will receive professional services without being out of pocket for them. You will pay for those services in the long term, but you'll probably make more money and receive more recognition. As a caveat, NO legitimate publishing contract requires you to pay the publisher. They pay you.


message 15: by L.F. (new)

L.F. Falconer | 92 comments Nice article, Deborah. Writing a book is hard work, but that's the EASY part, once it's done. Those of us who self-publish have to do it for the love of the craft, not for the love of money.


message 16: by S.L. (new)

S.L. (slgray) | 37 comments I commented on the site, but I don't think it got published. Ah well.

I too think the $5000 mark is very high, unless it includes all marketing money as well. I also find the bit about getting into a library or a feature as easy as raising one eyebrow. I've been able to do that since I was very young. Many people can, so I'm not sure it's the best comparison, but it did make me smile.

D.C., there are surveys that have been done and articles published about the reasons why people walk away from traditional publishing contracts -and- the fact that they've made far more money publishing for themselves than with any of the Big However Many. Another point: The Big However Many don't -always- pay you.


message 17: by E.B. (last edited Feb 05, 2014 07:59AM) (new)

E.B. Brown (ebbrown) | 73 comments D.C. wrote: "I always fail to understand why anyone would turn down a legitimate contract from a publishing house for exactly that reason. Not only is it a vote of faith in your product, but you will receive professional services without being out of pocket for them. You will pay for those services in the long term, but you'll probably make more money and receive more recognition. As a caveat, NO legitimate publishing contract requires you to pay the publisher. They pay you.
"


I used to wonder the same thing, until I was in that position to make that decision. At this point, it would have to be a very, very good contract offer for me to give up my ebook rights. A small advance offered to an unknown like me spread out in increments really is not a lot when you break it down. Coupled with the fact that I was still expected to heavily promote and earn a lot less in royalties (if the advance ever paid out) makes many of these deals simply not worth it. Unless you are a heavy-hitter with your publisher, it is not likely that there will be tons of resources utilized for promoting your books. Many mid-list authors are turning to self-publishing for the same reasons.

I've been writing my entire life. My dream has always been to land a publishing deal, to see my books in bookstores. That has not changed. The first time I had an offer, I about peed my pants I was so freakin' happy. Turning it down broke my heart. Yet I felt that was the best decision. After checking out other books by the publisher, I realized that my books are doing just as well, if not better, than most.

I know that publishers have access to quality resources that are difficult (but not impossible) for self-published authors to obtain. The solution, for me, is to put my earnings back into my business and keep working hard to keep my dream alive. Perhaps someday the right offer will come along, but I'm not willing to settle for anything just because it came from a traditional publisher.
Right now I make more with my books sales than I do as an RN. It's an okay place to be...for now. ;)


message 18: by Belle (new)

Belle Blackburn | 158 comments DC, I will tell you why I turned down a contract. Others may have other reasons. The contract gave me 15% of paperback sales and 5% of downloads. I am definitely in the black with my book and doubt I ever would have been with the publisher. If I am going to work that hard, I am getting more of the profits. Also, publishers are amazingly slow getting it out. I liked being able to say my book will launch whenever I feel is the time. As I said earlier, I am hiring a cover designer this time. I did hire a professional editor and will again.


message 19: by Martyn (new)

Martyn Halm (amsterdamassassinseries) | 916 comments D.C. wrote: "I always fail to understand why anyone would turn down a legitimate contract from a publishing house for exactly that reason. Not only is it a vote of faith in your product, but you will receive professional services without being out of pocket for them."

If you ever get a publishing contract offered and go over it with a dispassionate eye, you will notice how the standard boilerplate contract is geared towards a minimal risk for the publisher and a huge stack of restrictions for the author, including non-compete clauses and the term for reversal of rights.


message 20: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 327 comments Belle wrote: "DC, I will tell you why I turned down a contract. Others may have other reasons. The contract gave me 15% of paperback sales and 5% of downloads. I am definitely in the black with my book and do..."

15% of paperbacks is pretty standard. 5% of downloads is not. Without going into detail about what I get, 40-60% is probably closer. So, no, that's not a very good contract and I wouldn't have taken it either. Frankly, unless it was a well-known publisher I was very familiar with, those terms would make me question the legitimacy of the publishing house.

The publisher is slower, and that can be frustrating, but I've been enormously pleased with the finished product. I believe I write well, and I try to put out a quality product regardless of publishing platform, but it just looks vastly more professional than most self-published works, my own very definitely included. I'm also pretty sure I've sold more of that particular book, at a higher price, that all of my other stuff put together. So, for me, definitely worth it.


message 21: by Shaun (new)

Shaun Horton | 248 comments D.C. wrote: "That $5000 probably is accurate, particularly if you are paying for a print run up front. Just cover, edits, layout, proofing etc. don't necessarily run to that much BUT and here's the kicker, it'..."

See, here's the thing. Cost does not equal quality. Traditional publishers have used covers that were horrible (with no consideration given to the author I might add), and printed books so full of errors it's disgusting. I recently read the ebook version of Off Season, by Jack Ketchum. It was crammed full of homophones and they even misspelled one of the main character's name 40 - 50% of the time! Sometimes flipping back and forth within paragraphs of each other.

If a self-published author outsourced everything, for the highest quality they could get, I would estimate you're looking at between $2500 - $3000 at most. Not even close to this $5000 at least number.


message 22: by D.C. (last edited Feb 05, 2014 09:24AM) (new)

D.C. | 327 comments Martyn V. wrote: "D.C. wrote: "I always fail to understand why anyone would turn down a legitimate contract from a publishing house for exactly that reason. Not only is it a vote of faith in your product, but you wi..."
Once again, without getting into a lot of very specific detail, while I do have various terms for rights reversal, I don't have much in the way of non-compete terms. I very definitely own my characters and may do with them what I will and I have no restrictions on submitting my work.

I'm always suspicious that some of these things depend on genre and that I may be working in a more writer-friendly genre than most.


message 23: by Martyn (new)

Martyn Halm (amsterdamassassinseries) | 916 comments D.C. wrote: "Once again, without getting into a lot of very specific detail, while I do have various terms for rights reversal, I don't have much in the way of non-compete terms. I very definitely own my characters and may do with them what I will and I have no restrictions on submitting my work."

I write suspense fiction, maybe that's the issue?


message 24: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 327 comments Shaun wrote: "D.C. wrote: "That $5000 probably is accurate, particularly if you are paying for a print run up front. Just cover, edits, layout, proofing etc. don't necessarily run to that much BUT and here's th..."

Exactly. Cost doesn't always equal quality, and while we've all seen scary things from major publishers, they are consistently better looking, by a lot, than most self-published products. There are a great many editors, proofers, and cover artists out there, of wildly varying quality, at wildly varying prices, with no qualifying filters. There is nothing stopping me from hanging out my shingle in one of these specialties, and while I might have some talent as a copy editor, I don't have the patience to proof, and as a cover designer, my homemade covers are better than some other people's homemade covers.

So while you are hostage to a publisher's judgement, you are also not going to pay a substantial amount of money for substandard professional services.


message 25: by D.C. (new)

D.C. | 327 comments Martyn V. wrote: "D.C. wrote: "Once again, without getting into a lot of very specific detail, while I do have various terms for rights reversal, I don't have much in the way of non-compete terms. I very definitely ..."I don't know, but I do wonder. If you'll recall from another thread, you, Henry and I reported fairly different experiences with submission guidelines, and I wondered then if genre was the difference. It might be the same thing with contracts. I'm definitely not getting a sweetheart deal because I'm a heavy hitter, LOL.


message 26: by Andy (new)

Andy | 5 comments For what it's worth, I'm planning to self publish with extensive beta reading feedback. I'm doing the cover with Vue Pioneer 11 digital artwork which is the same software that movie studios use, albeit with a smaller package that only ran $50. Is it a perfect approach? No. But I don't have much to spend on this so it will have to do.

I don't have any worries about a publisher actually offering me a contract but the single key thing that I refuse to ever do is give up all control over my work. Anyone who requires me to do that isn't getting my signature regardless of how much they offer. That requirement tells me they either want to make substantial changes I wouldn't approve of or they think they could sell them for other deals worth way more than I'll get from the original deal. That's how business is done.


message 27: by R.F.G. (new)

R.F.G. Cameron | 443 comments Martyn V. wrote: "D.C. wrote: "Once again, without getting into a lot of very specific detail, while I do have various terms for rights reversal, I don't have much in the way of non-compete terms. I very definitely ..."

Genre and publishing house guidelines and contracts vary a lot. In part it's the set formula a particular publisher sells and what readers of a genre typically are accustomed to seeing from those publishers.


message 28: by Auden (last edited Feb 05, 2014 10:03AM) (new)

Auden Johnson (audens_dark_treasury) | 13 comments Andy wrote: "That requirement tells me they either want to make substantial changes I wouldn't approve..."

I've gone the self-publishing route. When thinking about traditional publishers, that was one of my biggest fears. They would change something I didn't want changed or give me a cover I hated. From what I understand about the traditional publishing route, the author gives up control to the publishers. The author can dig in their heels about a change to the text and win, but the cover is pretty much out of their hands.

I like the idea of not having to spend thousands of dollars to publish one book and then have to do marketing by myself, which is what traditional publishers offer. But, I also like maintaining control over the final product.


message 29: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 158 comments Auden wrote: "Andy wrote: "That requirement tells me they either want to make substantial changes I wouldn't approve..."

I've gone the self-publishing route. When thinking about traditional publishers, that was..."


The cover is, the pricing is, the copyright is, the marketing is...

Yes they edit professionally
Yes they sometime produce high quality covers
Yes they have access to reviewers in mainstream media and access to bookstores whom they pay to get on the best shelves. If your book stock doesn't sell in six weeks it is returned and pulped.

Remember they are in it only to make money for their shareholders not for you, just like any other for profit business. If the contract is good and you think you will sell lots of books then fine, if not then self-pub


message 30: by Shaun (new)

Shaun Horton | 248 comments The blog post caught the attention of the Passive Voice. For those interested, more conversation going on over there.

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/02/201...


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