My Way Or the Highway!

A guest post
by Dick Waters

My way or the highway! You’ve most likely heard that expression, but hopefully you will see that my way is the highway.  Have you ever learned from someone else’s mistake? I have, and I’ve also learned from my own. I’m writing this to help at least one person not make the same mistake I did publishing my first novel.

As I write this I think of Route 66; a great road for a scenic drive, but not the one to take to get where you’re going in an expeditious manner. Super highways were built to provide a more direct route. Publishing is experiencing the same scenario – ‘traditional publishing’ versus ‘independent publishing,’ or self publishing.

First, a little history – twelve years ago I wrote my first novel. I was up all hours of the night capturing the story. Then, I tried to get an agent. Some never replied to my carefully constructed inquiries. One let me know the novel didn’t fit the correct style for a mystery. Years later, I reconstructed that novel in what I learned was the correct style.

Then I did a search on the Internet to find publishers accepting new authors. I submitted my manuscript via email and you can imagine how thrilled I was to learn that the novel had some merit and they were interested in publishing it. After filling out a very detailed profile and waiting, I finally received an email indicating how to proceed.

This is not a knock on that publisher or their process. It is what it is, and it serves a purpose. They’re in business to make money. However, I’ve learned there’s a better way for me to publish my novels. Their route might be suitable for other authors, but before you take that path please consider the following criteria to make an informed decision.

Publisher – 15 Months (includes edit time) for a printed version.
Self Pub – 2 days for an e-book version.

Publisher – About $1,000
Self Pub – Zero Cost

Publisher – The printed copy was high quality.
Self Pub – The format looks professional.

Publisher – Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and direct from the publisher.
Self Pub – Only available on Amazon Kindle (KDP)

Publisher’s Recommended Professional – Costly, untimely, required subsequent changes, and communication was an issue.
Self Pub – Elected to have several readers and two sequential editors.

Publisher – Did not elect to have any revisions, but anticipate both an additional cost and cycle time.
Self Pub – Revisions were made by taking original Word document, changing it and then reformatting for upload. It took only a day to republish the changed document and I did it myself without any additional cost.

Publisher – The publisher controlled the process.
Self Pub – I controlled the process following the steps outlined.

Publisher – The publisher recommended the price of the final printed book ($19) based on the size of the novel, production costs and target profit margin. That price was reviewed with me, but was too high for a ‘new’ author.
Self Pub – I have total control of the e-book price. $2.99 is the minimum price to obtain a 70% royalty. Anything less would result in a 30% royalty.

Publisher – The publisher set the format sequence for publication. Printed copy first followed by e-book version if desired. There was an additional fee for conversion to the e-book format.
Self Pub – I had the option of whether I wanted to go to a hard copy, e-book version or both. I elected to go with just the e-book version. I followed an instruction book and did the conversion from the Word document to the e-book format myself.

Publisher – They selected a cover designer. He did an excellent job.
Self Pub – I have a choice on the cover designer, and have recommended my cover designer to others. He welcomed my input, captured my concept and was inexpensive for the result.

Publisher – There were too many different people involved in the process and I had to request some additional help to find out what was happening.
Self Pub – I had only myself to deal with.

Publisher – Quarterly.
Self Pub – I can see the world-wide sales daily, or even hourly, of each of my novels.

Publisher – I can request royalty payments at the end of each quarter. Actual payments took an additional cycle time.
Self Pub – I receive automatic monthly payments directly into my bank account acknowledged by email.

Publisher – They provided an initial press release with the cost of publication. There were many other programs offered, but with associated fees.
Self Pub – This presents an opportunity for me.

Publisher – They provided an official web site
Self Pub – I set up an author page.

Publisher – There were many people I could contact for support. If I wanted a dedicated support person there was a fee associated.
Self Pub – Indies Unlimited has been an asset to my writing. They provide many articles that help explain programs which are beneficial to independent authors. I hope this article is a help to another writer as they learn the publication process.

There are many ways to self publish. I used Amazon’s KDP process and found it gave me timely publication at no cost with a respectable royalty.

Remember this as you consider the different methods to accomplish getting your work published – Route 66 is still a traveled road, and satisfies those who want to enjoy the countryside. However, if you want a timely arrival at your publication destination – you need to consider a faster alternative.

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7 thoughts on “My Way Or the Highway!”

  1. Nice overview. It looks to me, though, that your ‘publisher’ scenario also resembles those vanity publishers out there. I encountered most of those issues with iUniverse.

  2. Yvonne, You’re exactly correct. However, as a new author, I didn’t even know I had ‘discovered’ a ‘Vanity Press’ scenario. I’m sure there will be at least one other author who unknowingly takes that route.
    Have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving.

  3. I’m very happy with the indie route, though I don’t have experience with the traditional route to compare it to. I love having full control over all aspects of my ebook version, and Amazon’s CreateSpace allows me to have a reasonably priced print copy at nearly no cost on my part(I paid for the expanded distribution).

  4. The best advice on Publishers..Money flows to author.. not author to publisher..
    If you asked for even a penny run.. So glad you ran.

  5. Brian, Hello again.
    I think the Amazon’s CreateSpace is a good option too. The benefit is the print copy. That’s a direction I might also take in the future. The four things that I keep coming back to are; cost, cycle time, quality and control of the process.

    Thank you T.D. The excitement of somebody taking an interest in our ‘baby,’ can cloud the evaluation process. Like Lisa mentioned…run when money is requested.

    To all – have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving.

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