It has been a while since I posted a blog about independent publishing…or a blog post at all…so what do you say we jump back in?
As I mentioned in an earlier installment, probably muddying the waters as I waded along, it is my opinion that there is a difference between self-publishing and independent publishing—however slight it might be. Now it’s decision time. How much work do you want to do? How much time are you willing to invest? How much control do you want over the final product? How willing are you to let other companies take a share of your money?
That last one got you, didn’t it? I know, you were thinking you wanted to do as little work as possible in as little time as possible, while retaining full control, and keeping all the money! Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. If you want someone else to do most of the work, then you will relinquish some control over the final product. No publisher can offer you a self-publishing deal for $700 when you insist on a cover that will cost $500 to create. They will produce your book in the most cost-effective manner possible for them. Keep that in mind as you move forward. Publishers are in business to make money. They are not going to publish your book for you if they can’t make at least a few hundred dollars profit. It’s just that simple. Accept it, it’s a fact of life. That doesn’t mean a self-publishing company isn’t right for you. There are plenty of good ones out there. Many of my author friends have found Create Space, an Amazon company, to offer what they want for the right price.
I chose a different path. I toiled with the decision for months and none of the self-publishing companies offered—or even came close to offering—a product or package that met my requirements. I was not going to invest a lot of money in something I wasn’t 100% satisfied with. So when I came to the fork in the road, the same fork you might be standing at right now, I had to make a decision. Take the road to self-publishing with another company or the road to independent publishing. It was a difficult decision. I had to think about my decision long term. Where do I want my writing career to be next year? Five years from now? Ten? Do I really want to wear a publisher’s hat? How much does control over the final product really mean to me and will it matter to the reader?
What I found was that control mattered…and what the reader thought mattered even more. So, I chose independent publishing and have not regretted a day of it. Some days the long to-do list can be frustrating, but at day’s end, it’s worth it.
Independent publishing offers me the flexibility and control I couldn’t get from any of the self-publishing companies. I choose everything; cover design, interior design, you name it. And, as the publisher, I have to pay for it too. There is a cost to your wallet and your time. But there is satisfaction when you have control over the final product. I was not willing to relinquish control and let somebody else make a profit from my hard work and then possibly wind up dissatisfied with their results. If you’ve written a book you understand…it’s a labor of love. A part of you is in every manuscript you churn out. Because a part of me is in every manuscript I turn out, I took control. And if I turn out a bad product, I take the blame. I can accept that. Remember: do it right!
You know what the best thing about independent publishing is? There are no one else’s fingers in my pie. I spend the money; I get to keep the money. I know my costs up front and I know how many print books and e-books I have to sell to move each new project from red ink to black. After it makes that move, it’s all black. I do short-run printing with a print-on-demand (POD) printer so I only keep a small amount of inventory and have the flexibility to reorder as often as needed. POD printing costs a little more per book than offset printing, but it allows me to place smaller short-run print orders thus maintaining a smaller inventory. I only order books when I need books. And, in most instances, they will be delivered within a week of placing the order. However, if you have the spare change and want to order 10,000 print copies, be my guest, your cost per book will come way down. Find a good offset printer but be sure you have room to store the inventory of books. Even though it costs more per book to print, there is money to be made with a POD printer provided you use good judgment in pricing your project and controlling your other expenses. It certainly isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme by any measure, but with hard work and diligence, it can be profitable.
Put your independent publisher’s hat on and follow along with me as I explain how I forged into the world of publishing. After you’ve finished, maybe you’ll decide to follow the same path or strike out in a different direction. Perhaps down a path I have yet to discover. For anyone who buys this book, all I wish for you is success in publishing and selling your book(s).
Now grab your hiking gear and be prepared to climb Switchback Mountain. Yeah, yeah…a cheap plug for my imprint Switchback Press. But, as I’ll explain in a minute, your imprint is a reflection of you.