Archive for August 13th, 2008

I actually didn’t think about how I was going to get my first book published until it was almost completed. Did I want to have it published by a traditional publisher? Or did I want to self-publish? Or did I want to go with a print-on-demand (POD) company?

Before making a choice, I took all three options into consideration. But what it ultimately came down to was to answer the question, what were the results I was looking for? At first I just really wanted to write a book so I could be seen as an expert in my field. All the marketing experts say having a book is a way to show yourself as an expert. So my original intent was not to make money but to establish that I knew what I was talking about. The traditional route seemed like the way to go because, as I understand it, you don’t get much after you get the advanced payment. Your royalties on each book are about 3%-15% with the higher percentage reserved for famous authors. So you are looking at getting 14 cents to $1.50 a book. Not much.

When I looked more into the industry, I realized that traditional publishers make you sign over all your rights to your work. I don’t know about you, but I have a problem signing over something that I put my heart and soul into creating. Yes, they take care of the marketing, promotion, bookkeeping, printing, assume all the risk and such but I don’t think that deserves all the rights to my work for the rest of the company’s existence. Also, it takes a long, long, long time for a book to be published by a traditional publisher. I’m talking two years or more. I didn’t have that kind of patience. I wanted my book out, yesterday. Not to mention that before you get to a publisher you have to find an agent who believes in your work that will shop you around. That takes even more time. And when your book sells you have to share and I use that word loosely with the publisher and the agent who get more of a royalty than you do on your own book.

That didn’t really appeal to me so I looked into self-publishing and honestly, it is just way too much work, time and money. In order to self-publish, you have to establish yourself as a publishing house, buy an ISBN, well, they don’t sell only one, they sell them in packs of 10 for about $250 or something. Then you have to find a designer and printer. You have to have books in your home, garage or wherever you are planning to store them. You are responsible for getting your book into bookstores. That is a lot of money to invest up front. I just can’t handle that kind of financial risk. Much to much stressful.

I moved on to print-on-demand. This format is almost a hybrid of self-publishing and traditional. What really caught my attention was that I didn’t have to worry about carrying books in my car or my tiny apartment, unless I wanted to. And the royalties were going to be higher. I wouldn’t have to worry about finding a printer, handling returns, bookkeeping and any type of customer service. Yes, I still have to hire an editor to ensure I put out quality work. Plus, all the marketing and promotion is on me, but I was okay with that. And I wasn’t going to have to put a whole lot of money up front.

So now that I had decided to go with a POD, I had to decide which company I wanted to go with. You have to be careful of which one you choose. There are some that maintain the rights to your work and the files you sent them to create your book. And you have to pay them to get them back, usually hundreds of dollars up to a thousand. Some offer marketing or editing services but they are super expensive. Some you can’t really tell what your royalty is going to be at the end of the day.

After comparing companies, I decided to go with Booklocker.com. I paid a little over $500 upfront to get the book laid out, original cover design, an ISBN, listed with Ingram and most importantly I retain all the rights to my work and files. And as if that wasn’t good enough, I make 35% off of each book sale and 70% off of each ebook. Oh, did I forget to mention that they create the ebook at no additional charge? So instead of making $1.50, I’m making about $5 on each book and $9 on each ebook sale. I am not locked in a contract, so if I decide I want to leave or get a contract with a major publisher I don’t have to wait or pay a fee.

I am so thrilled that I selected to go the POD route. I am making more money off of my book and can actually make a living off of it.

If you are considering publishing your first body of work, I suggest you also look into all three options and decide which one is best suited for you. And keep in mind that just because you get published through a traditional publisher doesn’t mean you’ll get rich. No matter which option you choose you are going to have to work your butt off to get noticed and get people to buy your book.

Good Writing!

–ChaChanna Simpson is the author of LIFE AFTER COLLEGE: WHAT YOUR PARENTS AND PROFESSORS NEVER TAUGHT YOU. Visit her website at www.twentity.com.

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