A few notable names I’ve worked with include Dave Ramsey, Michael Hyatt, Shaquille O’Neal, Manny Pacquiao, George Foreman III, Lee Greenwood, Pam Tillis, Dr. Its short history is this: I worked on it for several years, acquired a high-powered agent, had some brushes with major publishers, then, crickets.
I could have tried to go for a small publisher, but I was told mine was "a bigger book" with more commercial aspirations and prestigious small publishers were interested in more literary tomes. Against the advice of my agent, I began perusing the big self-publishing companies' Web sites and evaluating what they had to offer. After much deliberation, I chose BookSurge, a print-on-demand (POD) outfit that Amazon owned along with the more no-frills POD operation CreateSpace. Royalties are better than what "real" publishers offer, but there are caveats, and true self-publishing pros prefer to cut out the subsidy press (which takes a cut) and go straight to a POD printer like Lightning Source to maximize profits. Well, thanks to a little publicity courtesy of Apple and a rejected-- then accepted-- free iPhone app, four and half months after I self-published "Knife Music," my agent sold it to The Overlook Press, an independent publisher that put the book out in hardcover in July 2010.
As I said, that's the short story, and many things have changed -- particularly for the e-book industry -- since I first wrote this column back in December 2008. You choose a size for your book, format your Word manuscript to fit that size, turn your Word doc into a PDF, create some cover art in Photoshop, turn that into a PDF, and upload it all to the self-publisher of your choice and get a book proof back within a couple of weeks (or sooner) if you succeeded in formatting everything correctly. After you officially publish your book, you can make changes to your cover and interior text by submitting new PDFs, though your book will go offline ("out of stock") for a week or two. Both CreateSpace and Lulu offer good instructions for the DIY crowd and it's not that difficult to come up with an OK-looking book (people's definition of OK will vary).
The first thing I tell authors who tell me they want to publish a print book is that print should be their secondary focus. Once you have your book finalized in a Word or PDF file, it's relatively easy to convert it into one of the many e-book formats -- or just offer it as a download as a PDF. Note: Please see my article "How to self-publish an e-book" for more information on e-book creation.
I can't speak for all self-publishing companies, but the quality of POD books is generally quite decent. One of the unfortunate drawbacks of having a low barrier of entry into a suddenly hot market is that now everybody and their brother and sister is an author. Again, because the barrier to entry is so low, the majority of self-published books are pretty bad. The average print self-published book sells about 100-150 copies -- or two-thirds to three-quarters of your friends and family combined (and don't count on all your Facebook acquaintances buying).
Barrier to entry may be low, but creating a book that looks professional and is indistinguishable from a book published by a "real" publishing house is very difficult and requires a minimum investment of a few thousand dollars (when all was said and done, I'd put in around $7,500, which included about $2,500 in marketing costs). Note: If it's any consolation, the majority of fiction books -- even ones from "real" publishers -- struggle in the marketplace.
If you have market aspirations for your book, buy your own ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and create your own publishing company. Even if you go with one of the subsidy presses for convenience's sake, there's no reason to have Lulu, CreateSpace, iUniverse, Xlibris, Author House, Outskirts, or whomever listed as your publisher.
Note: Most self-publishing operations will provide you with a free ISBN for both your print book and e-book but whatever operation provides you with the ISBN will be listed as the publisher. Note: On a more cynical note, some authors are creating titles that are very similar to popular bestsellers. You've written your book and God knows you'd like to just hand it off to someone, have a team of professionals whip it into shape, and get it out there. Personally, I'd never work with CreateSpace's in-house editors, copy editors, and in-house design people.
Down the road, I suspect you'll see more self-publishers offer high-end programs that pair you with a former editor from a major publishing house. OK, so I've just told to avoid "packages" from publishers and yet I'm now saying you need editing and copy editing.


While I didn't use his copy editor (I used a friend of a friend who currently works at a big publishing house), he and other editors in his group can suggest people. CreateSpace and other self-publishing companies are always offering special deals on their various services.
In today's business world writers have more choice than ever but sometimes that makes life harder rather than easier. With indie publishing you write your stories, get them out to the world, and then wait for the book to be downloaded, read, reviewed and, ultimately, earn money so you can continue to write (and eat!). I am an avid reader, writer, blogger, programmer and tinkerer, though perhaps not in that order.
Choose Your Own Adventure stories seem to be making a modest comeback thanks to tablets and smart phones.
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I’m a ghostwriter, collaborative writer, and editor who works with publishing houses, authors, agents, and literary agencies. I'll also come to your conference and give your audience the low-down on the writing process, and a behind-the-scenes look at the workings of a publishing house. I also learned that many small publishers were being wiped out by the "self-publishing revolution," a movement that's not so unlike the "citizen journalism" or bloggers' revolt of recent years that's had a major impact on mainstream media, including this publication. But I was less concerned about making money from this venture and more interested in putting together a well-packaged product that I wouldn't be embarrassed to sell and some strangers might be willing to buy. But most of what I learned along the way and what I picked up from other people who've also self-published, applies more than ever.
I'm advising people who have text-based books (no graphics, illustrations, or photos) to test the self-publishing waters with an e-book before moving on to hard copies. There are several e-publishers geared to "indie" authors, including Smashwords, BookBaby and Lulu, to name just a few. That means you're dealing with a ton of competition, some of which is made up of hustlers, charlatans, and a bunch of people in between.
You wonder why "real" books take nine months to produce -- and usually significantly longer.
For instance, if your objective is to create a book for posterity's sake (so your friends and family can read it for all eternity), you won't have to invest a lot of time or money to produce something that's quite acceptable.
But even if it's a masterpiece, there's a good chance it won't fly off the shelves (and by shelves, I mean virtual shelves, because most self-published books don't make it into brick-and-mortar stores).
Nonfiction books with a well-defined topic and a nice hook to them can do well, especially if they have a target audience that you can focus on. For around $100 (what a single ISBN costs) and a little added paperwork, you can go toe-to-toe with any small publisher. Also, some authors use pseudonyms that are similar to famous authors' names so they'll show up in search results for that author. Well, there are a lot of companies that will offer to make just that happen -- and do it in a fraction of the time a traditional publisher could. But I've also heard a lot nightmare stories where people come away disappointed with the process and feel ripped off. And since they're probably not going to sell a lot of your books, they make money by with nice margins. It's also worth mentioning that Amazon has become a publisher itself, with several imprints that it's either bought or created. To be clear, this isn't going to be a better deal than what you'd get from a package deal with a self-publisher, but these people are experienced and are going to be upfront and honest with you. There are plenty of good book consultants out there, including Alan Rinzler, who has an excellent blog and straddles the line between being an executive editor at an imprint of John Wiley & Sons and providing services to private clients.


There isn't whole lot of leeway, but it doesn't hurt to ask for deal sweeteners -- like more free copies of your book (they often throw in free copies of your book). Today writers can choose whether to self publish or submit their work to a traditional publisher. These days the choice between publishing independently and publishing traditionally is made on a project by project basis. You will recieve the logo in both JPEG and EPS format, so you can use it for websites, email templates and company documents. My clients include professional athletes, CEOs, pastors, professional speakers, award-wining musicians, reality TV stars, and entrepreneurs. So, apologies to gadget-heads as I take a brief sojourn into the land of self-publishing, which has become a lot more high-tech than a lot of people realize. If I did it right, I thought, and managed to get it some attention, some "real" publisher might come along and discover what a gem those 20 some odd publishers had passed on. As always, feel free to add your own experiences to the comments section, and thanks to all the readers who've e-mailed in the past.
It's much easier to produce an e-book, particularly when it comes to formatting and cover design. And needless to say, Amazon's CreateSpace steers you toward uploading your book to the Kindle Store via Kindle Direct Publishing.
While that growth has started to level off as fewer writers have unpublished novels in their closets to publish, you can still expect to go up against thousands of other motivated indie authors.
Unfortunately, many authors make the mistake of using a title that has too many other products associated it with it -- and it gets buried in search results.
You can do a search in Google for the companies you're considering and find testimonials -- good and bad -- from authors who've used the services. Amazon is in the process of developing a new hybrid model for publishing that aims to take the place of traditional publishers, which it sometimes refers to as "legacy" publishers. They're not just pushing your book out to move it along the line on the conveyor belt, though they are trying to make a living.
Sometimes the right choice is to self publish and sometimes it isn't, so how do you decide? I've been collecting the names of book review blogs that accept queries from independent authors and, let me tell you, there aren't a lot of them. It's hard to get everything just right (if you're a novice at book formatting, Microsoft Word will become your worst enemy). You'll be lucky to make your investment back, let alone have a "hit" that brings in some real income. Ideally, you should be able to meet with an editor, copy editor, and graphic designer in person -- and they all should have experience in book publishing. Basically, you want to get the maximum SEO (search engine optimization) for your title, so if and when somebody's actually looking to buy it they'll find the link for your book -- not an older one with an identical title. With its flagship Encore imprint, it selects certain "exceptional" self-published titles from "emerging" authors and brings them under the Amazon umbrella so to speak. And you take home a bigger royalty than you'd normally get from a traditional publisher--if you sell any books. It was pricey ($1,000 a month) but in a special sale I bought 3 months for the price of 2 and ended up being paired one month with John Grisham's new novel, which put the thumbnail image of my book in front of a lot of people.
However, after I'd made the changes he suggested, he made some calls to agents he knew and some were willing to take a look.



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