If you’re one of those writer (or aspiring writer) types, chances are you read this gal‘s blog or maybe this guy‘s. We live in a day and age when people who dream of writing a book can get a leg up on the competition just by being informed–and those two blogs are a great place to start cramming your head with helpful information.
Um, Marla, what in the world are you even talking about? Ah, yes. I’m getting ahead of myself. To fill you in (and if you’re one of my sweet readers who has no interest in writing or publishing, come back tomorrow for some fun pictures!), a couple publishers (Thomas Nelson and Harlequin) have recently announced new self-publishing divisions. Basically, if you have a story to tell and want to write a book but can’t find a way to get it into an agent’s (or publisher’s) hands, here’s your chance! (if you have a few thousand dollars lying around not earmarked for say, your house payment)
Have a little parentheses fetish, do we? Uh…
Based on everything already written about this, it would seem you’ve entered the conversation late. So why bother writing a post now? Ha! Can you read my mind? I’ve started this post several times in my head and each time concluded, “Why bother? It’s all been said already.” (Catch up on the conversations here and here.) But then I realized something. I don’t have to shed new light. I don’t need to solve any problems or offer conclusive answers. I don’t even have to take sides.
I just need to tell it like I see it. Bear witness to my own personal experience.
When (if ever) is self-publishing a good idea? In 1997, I spent 3 months on the island of Okinawa, Japan as a student teacher. That experience made a huge impact on me, and the writer/storyteller in me needed to get it on paper. Now, no one but my relatives and supportive friends (and the kids I taught in Japan) is going to care to read a book about an obscure college student’s teaching adventures. So, I self-published it with this company. It cost me a whopping $99 back in 2001. The best $99 I’ve ever spent. (their packages start at $599 now)
I love that those three months of my life are documented, bound and printed in this book. I never promoted it, have no idea how many copies it sold, but it was worth every penny and every minute I spent writing it. If you have a story to tell and want to preserve it for generations to come, self-publishing could be for you.
Well, good for you doing it 8 years ago for pocket change. Let’s say I spend $6000 to get my book self-published. How easy will it be to earn that money back and then some? Next to impossible. Well, that’s not true. If your book is fiction, then yes, it will be impossible. Unless you wrote The Shack. And non-fiction? You’ve got to figure out a way to get tons and tons of people to buy your book. It can be done, but marketing also costs money which just adds to your bill.
Do self-published books count as “real” books? In a word, no. When people ask me how many books I’ve written, I say four. That would be the three published by Harvest House and the one published by Howard Books. I don’t even count my self-published book in the total.
Are there exceptions to this “not a real book” thing? Heavens, yes. My amazing friend Tammy self-published two books that have probably sold more copies than all four of mine combined. She’s a brilliant writer and speaker, has met an incredible felt need, and she and her books are destined for greatness.
I have a great story to tell. What are my chances of getting a “real” publisher interested in my book? Um, not that great. And your chances (and mine) are getting slimmer every day, it would seem.But that doesn’t mean…
Hey, hate to cut you off before you even get to the good stuff, but this post is already a little long. Any chance you could continue your brilliant thoughts tomorrow? Uh, sure. But I kind of promised my faithful readers some pictures…
They seem to be a patient group. Back tomorrow with part 2 of “Self-Publishing: Profitable or Pointless?” Maybe you could talk about agents and stuff. Yeah, what he (she?) said. And in the meantime, if you want to read more, check out these interesting posts from my friends Peter and Jody.