publishing

Previews of coming attractions

This is the cover for my next book.

Cover design for "The Love Story of Paul Collins"

This is the novel that began life about three years ago as “And It’s Only Love.” I changed the title because I wanted it to be clear this was a novel about the tragedy of Paul Collins in particular. Otherwise, it is unchanged from the finished version of a couple of months ago.

I published this book using CreateSpace; it was entirely free. Except for purchasing the ISBN. The cover design came from a provided template; I designed the interior, and got permission from the artist to use his oil painting on the cover. I set up my own publishing imprint: B & B Books, Boulder, Colorado. (My younger grandchildren’s names are Brooke and Brenna.)

I have also completed the three main digital versions: iBook, Nook, and Kindle — because I have done digital editions of previous novels myself, that was fast and easy. It is currently live on Kindle and still pending on Nook and iBook. Kindle usually puts digital books up within 24 hours, while the other two can take a week or more. I don’t know why, except that I don’t think Kindle is as careful as the other two. Having viewed books on all three digital platforms, I much prefer the way they look on the iPad, more authentically realistic.

I have not yet received the proof copy of the print book, so it is not yet for sale via Amazon, or anywhere else. I will put out a notice when the print edition is available.

I intend and expect to use B & B Books to publish all my future writing. Is this to say that after 30 years as a traditionally published author I have given up on traditional publishing in favor of the auteur way? Yes. I would not turn down a decent offer to publish from a traditional publisher, but I am not soliciting one any longer. It took a while, and I struggled heartily against it, but I finally figured out that the changes in publishing that have been on-going for nearly a decade, are here to stay — there is no going back to the way traditional publishing used to be, and writers of literary fiction (like me) have essentially no place in the new publishing model, which has killed off the midlist and focused its business model on that of soap or cars or women’s clothes — the standard model of all conglomerate enterprises.

I am enjoying the amount of control I have in publishing my own work. It is also not unpleasant to receive 80% or more of the income generated by my work, rather than the usual 10%. I am also capable of doing at least as much marketing of my work as any of my previous traditional publishers ever did — more, really. The only thing I don’t have that traditional publishers offer is a wider distribution network. But if the publisher barely uses, at best, that network for my work, then it’s irrelevant. If bookstores disappear, then having a distribution network covering them is useless.

I believe that now the majority of all books (digital and print) are distributed by Amazon … and Amazon owns CreateSpace, providing a natural and obvious incentive to feature and promote their own products. I may, and do, bemoan the demise of bookstores as I knew them for most of my life, and I do bemoan the demise of the traditional publishing companies I knew and benefited from most of my writing life, but bemoaning their loss does not bring them back. Whining is just whining.

During the years left to me as a writer, for as long as my brain works to tell stories, I would rather my work have an audience than not. I would rather have readers than stacks of wilting paper in a box or computer files that will one day be unreadable when formats change again.

The best way to get my work to its audience is to do it myself. Maybe it is now the only way for serious writers of literary fiction.

Stay tuned, folks.

Advertisements

32 replies »

  1. Excellent. I’ve been looking forward to checking this out. I think it’s a good move to publish them under an umbrella like B&B Books. A surprising number of authors are doing the exact same thing. It’s just semantics, but somehow changing it to published by B&B instead of “self-published” alters perception in a reader’s mind. Good move. I like that cover too.

    • CreateSpace makes the publisher imprint option easy. I got a logo from somewhere on the Internet. I am becoming a fan of doing it this way, and not only because it’s essentially free. The only thing you have to pay for is the ISBN, and even that is included if you just want a one time use number. I wanted a universal ISBN because I needed it for all the digital copies, as well as the print book. I have never even communicated with any person from CreateSpace … yet. It’s all direct and simple from the website. They have dozens of cover template options, on which you can change colors, fonts, etc. I found the cover art I wanted accidentally and sent the artist an email asking permission to use it, and got it. It was just drag and drop. Word Processors these days make formatting easy, both for print and for digital, so I laid out the interior copy the way I wanted it to look and simply downloaded the file. I got back a PDF to check how it would actually look, and after approving that, they print one and send it to me for approval. (I am still waiting for that copy in the mail.) After that, it’s simply POD with an order. No expense to me and all royalties. I should have done this with Blossom, but I usually have a slow arc learning curve.

      It also helps that this book, and any future books, goes right onto my Amazon author page with all my other books. At this point I think I’ll have something like 7 books for sale through Amazon.

      Having said that, I have a long history with writing, I know how to edit my own work … I rarely had any editing done other than copy editing for my previous books. Copy editing is really the critical part. Even things I have read hundreds of times still have silly typos pop up. But lately I have been looking through a lot of digital books by famous writers with the digital done by their publisher, and still fine odd formatting and typos. I suppose a certain amount of that is just a given with this way of publishing. I can’t see a dime’s worth of difference in a digital book uploaded by Bantam or Random, and one I uploaded myself.

      You might want to give some more thought to this, Brad.

  2. It’s your point about how you’ll be able to do as much marketing as a traditional publisher would have that gets me. And how professional your cover looks. You do see some self-pubbed covers out there that are godawful but yours is certainly not one of them.

    And I second Brad’s comment that a growing number of writers seem to be coming up with their own “imprints.” It’s a nice end-around the still-lingering stigma of self-publishing. I’ll be very interested to see how many copies you move.

    • The one thing that is difficult and expensive for me alone is sending out review copies. As far as setting up readings, media advertising, anything I do would be more than has been done for my last couple of novels. Neither had one bit of media advertising, so anything I do is better than the nothing the publisher did.

      But then … I can’t see that being reviewed in PW, Library Journal, Booklist, etc., did much more than sell some copies to libraries. If you aren’t on Oprah (and Possessed was actually reviewed quite favorably in O magazine), or reviewed in either the NY Times or the New York Review of Books, it hardly matters. Amazon reader reviews do seem to have an impact, which is why I ask anyone who reads one of my books to please review it on Amazon. Pretty please!

      Maybe I should expand my “imprint” and publish other works than my own. No, not really. It is hard enough being a writer, especially when now the writer is also the agent and the publisher, to expand very far.

      Thanks for the cover compliment. But actually, I just made some choices based on a rather large variety of template choices. It wasn’t easy, and I tried a lot of them. Not easy because very many of the templates looked really good, so the problem was eliminating, not finding a good one.

      How many copies get moved is at this point a matter of fate, and how much of my own energy I am willing to expend moving it. And that answer is … not much. I am not going to hire a publicist, I am not going to pay money for ads. I am going to hope whatever I generate via social media will then generate some reviews on Amazon, and some word of mouth, and at least sell a few thousand … which is what my last two traditionally published novels sold.

      But the thing is, I never went into royalties with those novels, because the advance has never been recouped. With this method of publishing, I am in royalties after five copies … which pays for what the ISBN cost me. If this book ends up selling a thousand copies, I make enough to at least get what a McDonalds french fry cook makes in six months.

      But in my lucky position, that isn’t the point. I just want an audience. I don’t want to put everything I write now into the dead novel box and forget it. Unless one is just writing for the pure hell of it, isn’t having readers the key point? If this is how I can get readers, then I’m all for it.

      Thanks for commenting, Court.

      And note that I will be spending the month of June in Boulder … a get-together, maybe with Brad?

      • If you can drag Brad out of Texas ,that’d be awesome. I’d think he’d want to escape the boil of the sun during that month … but yeah, stay in touch, June’s beautiful in Boulder and maybe we can come on down again.

  3. Ooh! So I can go buy it right now and feed it to my Kindle app? Off to look for it. Looking forward to reading it.

    • Thank you, Cari. You are probably the first. I don’t have a Kindle so I haven’t seen what it actually looks like. I write everything using Pages, and, being Apple, documents transfer easily and accurately to iBooks. But for Kindle, I have to reformat the Pages document to Word, and more often than not, subtle bits of formatting don’t transfer accurately. So it might be something of a mess. Especially since my iMac has a very old edition of Word … like Word 06, or something like that.

      I hope you enjoy the read. It’s a short novel, about 53,000 words. Let me know, please.

      • At first glance on the Kindle app on my iPod, the formatting looks fine. Paragraph indents in place and all. This one’s getting bumped up to the top of the to-read queue. I have to finish a library book (line behind me for it, so no renewals) and then I’ll read this next.

  4. Congratulations! I’m glad you like CS–did you work out the delivery problem?
    Looking forward to reading it. Finished Blossom. 🙂 Love this cover!

    • So far they are only sending the review copy, and they are sending it through the post office to my address. I think the difference is that I have a US zip code, so it is not shipping internationally. But I don’t know why they wouldn’t ship your order to my address. On the other hand, I haven’t received the review copy yet, so we’ll see.

      Blossom? How was it?

      • When I called CS, I didn’t actually give them the zip code, just asked if they could send the books here to a P.O. box, and they said absolutely not. Probably just as well because the regular mail takes so much longer, but how I dread the day at Correo Internacional!

        You are a wordsmith, Don. I loved Blossom, and especially enjoyed seeing what the beginning of the civil rights movement must have been like in a small southern town. I mean, with KKK and everything. I would really like to know how much is autobiographical!

        • Thank you for the compliment, Cherie, it is more appreciated because I know the writer it comes from. Feel free to review it on Amazon. Next time we are person to person I’ll tell you what’s autobio and what’s imagined.

  5. Your comments about the (lack of) marketing by traditional publishers is well-taken. I’ve been published by six or seven traditional publishers and not one of them (including Doubleday) did what I would consider to be a creditable job of even attempting to market the books. I find it appalling that authors have to include a marketing plan with their submissions to ‘traditional’ publishers these days. What are marketing departments for anyway?

    I wrote about my own relationship with publishers at http://backstorywriting.wordpress.com/category/book-publishers/.

    • Thank you. Our stories have much in common. I have had 4 “traditional” publishers for my books: Coward-McCann, Putnams, Bantam, and Other Press. None of them did any more marketing than I have done for myself — less, really; far less. In one case — none at all. As I wrote in this post, very little of what traditional publishers do (for their 90%) can’t be just as well done by the author. It used to be important to have access to the traditional publisher’s wider distribution, especially to bookstores. But these days one is quick to say — What bookstores? Unless you are a movie-like blockbuster writer, most of your sales will come from digital editions, not print editions. That is very simple DIY. You don’t even need a printer.

      The only really valuable, nearly invaluable, service of traditional publishers is copy-editing. You cannot do that yourself, or shouldn’t. You can, though, hire an editor to do it for you. The only thing the publisher does for writers in this regard is offering the service without an extra cost.

      As for the rest, designing covers in these days of computer templates is not even falling off a log. Formatting the mss is equally a no-brainer. Printing is printing, and with POD printing, you don’t even have to pay for that, the buyer pays for printing in the purchase.

      So remind me again … what do we need traditional publishers for?

      Thank you for your visit and comment Ms. Parsons. Your blog is filled with goodies!

  6. Thank you, Rose. And when you do, please let me know what you think.

    Oh, creating your own publishing company, even if you only publish your own work, makes a lot of sense. It’s a mind-fuck in a way, but what isn’t? Like Brad wrote above, it is essentially just semantics, but on the other hand, aren’t you a publisher if you are doing everything a publisher does? A writer friend of mine calls her imprint Mirasol, it’s the name of her cat. But it sounds great” Mirasol Press. I used my the initials of my two youngest granddaughters. And they happen to live in Boulder, so that’s where the publisher is located. Maybe I should expand my imprint and publish you and Brad?

    • Go over to the website of the woman in the comment below, follow the link at the end of her comment, and in the previous posts section on the right you will find a post about co-op publishing. Interesting idea, I think. In many ways better than going it alone.

  7. Donigan, thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve been querying for my first novel for over a year and just feel that there is a sense of apathy out there. So, rather than put my work through that I’m going to explore self-publishing. I know I’ll refer back to this post for its insightful information.
    Best,
    Kimberly

    • Thank you for the comment, Kimberly (also my younger daughter’s name). There are some regular visitors to this blog who have been submitting their first novel for two or three years. I don’t know what you write or how well, but regardless, usually the problem is “them,” not you. It’s the new nature of the publishing industry.

      if I were young and starting now, especially if I knew what I know now, I think I would just stay away from traditional publishing unless I were writing easy to market genre books (like vampire romances or scary stories). Mainstream (now a misnomer) literary fiction doesn’t usually make big money for this industry, and competition has forced publishers to stick with the easy sale.

      Self-publishing is not easy, because you have to do yourself the tasks that in the past were always handled by publishers. But there are rewards, and not only financial.

      If you have specific questions, feel free to ask. Although I may not always have answers.

      Good luck, however you get your work out there.

      • Thank you so much for your encouragement! I’ve gotten close. I had one agent read the entire novel and was extremely complimentary, but she didn’t offer representation because she didn’t have an editor to sell it to. So yeah, I see what you mean about what’s easy. (And, my work is commercial fiction, which I think is just as tough to market as literary). And, I may take you up on your offer to ask questions. Since I’m just starting this journey I don’t know what to ask yet.