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    Self Publishing - Is it Really for You?

    As the silly argument rages on as to whether self publishing or traditional publishing is best, the bottom line is this ... is self publishing really for you?

    Pros and cons exist for both methods, so one must make an informed decision based on ones personal goals and preferences. It is not a matter of one being better than another, they both have their place in the grand scheme of things.

    If you listen to fans of traditional publishing, you'll get good reasons to go this route. If you listen to self publishing fans, you'll get some very good reasons why you should go this route. It can leave your head reeling.

    However, it's not good enough to just get advice, you must also learn the mechanics of each method before you can begin to wiegh the pros and cons properly.

    I happen to be a fan of both methods, and each has it's place. In fact, it's already been proven that one can lead to the other, and someday you may find yourself involved with both simutaneously.

    I don't believe in the "either" "or" theory. I believe both methods are valid.

    Now, here comes the first test to see if self publishing might be a good method for you.

    Not every book is a good candidate for self publishing. Many don't do well simply because of mass competition in certain genres such as mystery, romance, and sci-fi.

    The very best kinds of books to self publish are mostly non-fiction by a wide margin. Now I'm not saying don't self publish your romance thriller, I'm simply stating some facts as to the best chance for success.

    In fact, one very successful self published fiction title immediately springs to mind ...

    "The Christmas Box" by Richard Paul Evans - It's a little story about a struggling young family and a rich widow who had lost a daughter.

    The local demand for this homemade story became so great that in August of 1993 he decided to self publish 8000 copies to distribute in the Salt Lake City area.

    By that fall he had sold thousands of copies of his little story. Some major publishers were tipped off and became interested in this little book. In fact, dozens of major publishers took part in an auction that went on for 2 days, with Simon & Shuster taking home the prize.

    Author - Richard Paul Evans made publishing history that day with the unheard of advance of (are you ready for this) $4.8 million for a self published title.

    So as you can see nothing is chiseled in stone, it's just that most successful self published books happen to be specialized non-fiction titles, and for 3 very good reasons.

    1. The competition is much lighter, no 2 books are ever really the same, and an almost limitless array of subjects to write about gives you every possible niche area to fill.

    2. People buy these kinds of books to educate or help them improve their lives in some way, while most fiction is strictly entertainment, which also must compete for the entertainment dollar divided among many different activities.

    3. The competition in fiction is staggering. Most of the big publishers look for mass market appeal such as romance, mystery, and sci-fi. It has become very difficult for authors to compete in these already saturated markets, and it's not going to get any better.

    I guess you could say it boils down to competition. Now that's an over simplification of course, but it is a major factor.

    Now let me dis-spell a few myths, that for what ever reason, are being spread by the well meaning, but also uninformed.

    Myth #1.) "No publisher will give you a contract after your book has already been self published."

    My Response: I believe we've already put that one to bed with "The Christmas Box" by Richard Paul Evans, and there are hundreds more who were picked up by major publishers only after they were self published.

    That also reminds me of a particular non-fiction title, "Feed Me - I'm Yours" by Vicki Lansky - this is a little kid tested mother approved collection of recipes especially for kids.

    It was rejected by 49 publishers! before Vicky decided to self publish her book. She sold 300,000 copies of her self published version, then sold rights to Bantam, who went on to distribute a tremendous 8 million copies more. Vicki currently is the author of 24 books, with more on the way I'm sure.

    Myth #2.) "Self publishing is nothing more than vanity publishing."

    My Response: In every myth there is a certain amount of truth or it wouldn't be believed. However, in this context it is meant to be an insult obviously, and how to defend yourself against these labels can be difficult. First of all why try, let them think what they want.

    In reality the term "Vanity Publishing" is far different than a true self publisher. Vanity publishing is defined as an author who pays a large sum of money to a subsidy publisher to put their book into print and distribution.

    This arrangement generally involves the subsidy not only charging an author for services, but most are also involved in sharing in any proceeds as well as having some control of the book.

    In other words the author isn't really self publishing, he is giving up a lot and paying a lot just to see himself in print, hence the term "Vanity Publishing."

    Don't confuse self publishing with subsidy publishers or vanity presses. There is a big difference between hiring editing and other book details for production and distribution, and handing your book over to a subsidy or "Vanity Press."

    Most real self publishers do all the leg work and hire what needs to be done. They generally form a small business publishing company to do business and sell books under. This is quite frankly the only way to really be serious about self publishing for success.

    Myth #3.) "Nobody will buy a book that was not published by a major publisher."

    My Response: This one is really quite silly. Nobody cares who published the book, they just want to know if it's what they are looking for or not.

    Think about it. When you buy a book, are you looking for the publishers name, or are you trying to see if this book is for you or not.

    Looking for an author name is quite different, as it should be, but have you ever gone to a book store and asked the clerk where you could find the "Simon & Shuster" section?

    Of course not.

    Myth #4.) "Self publishers only self publish because they can't get published like normal people."

    My Response: Normal people, meaning what? Listen, lets face it, most people are sheep and anything outside the herd is abnormal and should be avoided. If being self reliant with the guts and determination to make it happen is abnormal, than I'll have an extra helping please.

    Myth #5.) "Most self published books are tripe."

    My Response: There are just as many bad books being published by conventional presses every year as there are good ones. It's all a matter of taste really.

    Now I'll readily admit that many self published books may or may not have had professional attention such as editing and formatting for instance. However, you can't simply lump them all togther and say they are all tripe, when indeed many traditional books could be considered tripe as well.

    Learn the ropes about both methods, I think you'll find there are many advantages and benefits to self publishing that traditional publishing is missing.

    In fact, as already demonstrated, it can lead to an extremely rewarding experience, and even a very lucrative publishing contract with a major publisher.

    Myth #6.) Self publishing costs a fortune to do correctly.

    My Response: This is a relatively new myth. While self publishing used to be rather expensive, it no longer is. With the new technologies of our day, self publishing is far more sophisticated but less expensive than ever. In addition, self publishers have a far greater chance of success then in any other time in history as a direct result of new technologies.

    Print on demand and ebooks are 2 of the most exciting elements of the new book model that is quickly gaining momentum. Get the true facts about self publishing in the 21st century. Don't listen to nay sayers, and make up your own well informed mind.

    Copyright © 2002 Nicholas Thomas

    Nicholas Thomas is the publisher of NetCity Press. Self Publishing Just Got Better With The All New POD Self Publisher Imprint Program. Enjoy true wholesale POD book printing, and other essential information and services for maximum self publishing success. Become a real self publisher at NetCity Press. Subscribe to "CYBERBYTES PUBLISHER" The book marketing tips newsletter for authors and self publishers in the 21st century. subscribe@netcitypress.com.

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