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Old 09-02-2007, 02:15 PM   #1
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Default Self-publishing info

I had the bright idea of looking into alternatives for those who want to self-publish books. It turns out to be an amazing tangle of an issue, with many traps for the unwary.

Conventional publishing
It is clear that if you want to get your books into conventional bookstores — the ones people walk into, where the majority of books are sold even today — you need a conventional publisher. The others have neither the clout nor the motive to push their authors’ books through the distribution channels.

However, there can be occasions for self-publishing. Then you merely (hah!) need to decide how.

One option is to use an offset book printing company, such as Whitehall Publishing (which my client used and I worked with for a dozen years, with few complaints). Thomson Shore is another established company, though one I have never dealt with. And there are others; search for book manufacturers if book printers doesn’t seem to yield useful results.

Even if you think you want to use a print-on-demand (POD) print service, it is a good idea to look into offset printing. If nothing else, the web sites provide good information about standards, practices, and other details, and you will be able to see a wide range of possibilities (size, paper, covers, binding, etc.) You will probably have to send an e-mail to get a quote, but it does not incur any obligation.

POD publishing
Another option is to look into the dozens (hundreds?) of POD “publishers” (who usually refer to themselves as “vanity” or “subsidy” publishers) who have sprung up on the web, including Lulu, iUniverse, and many, many more. If what you want is to sell books to those who are already primed to ask to buy a copy, these services can work out well — nothing is printed before it is sold. The manual for FontLab software is produced by one of these companies, and it is easy to see that a limited-demand publication like that would be suited to this process.

But if you want to self-publish and expect to have the marketing and distribution effect of having published with a conventional publisher, you may be disappointed with many (even most) of these companies.

Anyway, so far I have found some resources with additional information. If there is enough interest, we can gather more, and even find some of the better suppliers.

The print book Writer’s Market from Writer’s Digest Books was the bible of my writing days (it is now in its 80th year), and I am glad to see it is still available at Amazon. The publisher also sells several online subscriptions, including a monthly one, at its web site. Unless it has changed focus recently, it emphasizes conventional publishing but probably has occasional articles on POD publishing.

Another place with a focus on conventional publishing: Absolute Write, a vBulletin forum with many sections of information for writers looking to be published, including a couple of interest to self-publishers: “Bewares and Background Check” and “POD Self-Publishing and E-Publishing.” Jenna Glatzman’s article on “How Real Publishing Works” is an excellent run-down, and good background information no matter how you intend to publish your book.

A blog, Writer Beware on the perils of writing today, including comments on agents and publishers who they believe are bad choices for a new writer. Scroll down on the right to read the blog’s “thumbs down” list of literary agencies or publishers. The latter is on subsidy or vanity publishers who have received many complaints at this site. It includes a very useful list of “abusive practices” which could be considered for any publisher you might consider. The bloggers list 13 companies that follow two or more of the practices in that list.

Another blog, POD-dy Mouth, covers uses for POD/vanity publishing.

So: Any interest in this topic?


Last edited by ktinkel; 09-03-2007 at 06:40 AM. Reason: fix typo
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