Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Traditonal or Self

Elaine asked if I would post on what I know about self-publishing as it seems going the traditional way is often a long hard road.

I've been involved with many authors of self-published books. You can find a few of their covers posted on my blog. Probably the most successful one so far that I'm aware of is the one published by Xulon Press --Women of Passions. Jan and Jeanice have worked hard on their marketing to get their book noticed. I think that's where the success comes into play if you self-publish. Their book even won an award in a category of books published traditionally.

I also have a good friend who published her own book but had another advantage most don't. She owns a huge Christian bookstore and has contacts in the marketing industry so she was able to get a picture and blurb about her book into millions of homes.

I've also know writers who published their own only because they wanted to give it as a gift to family and friends and were happy for that possibility.

I really feel that motive comes into play with both possibilities. If you are looking to get your book out there in more places and bookstores and a bigger realm, I would keep trying to find an agent and sell it that way. If the market isn't taking on what you want to write --for example I read where Chick Lit fiction isn't being taken on right now--then write something that readers will buy or go the route and selfpublish.

As a former Christian bookstore owner, I had dozens of people try to sell me their book to put in the store.I had to turn down most all of them. For one main reason--NOT that their book wasn't any good--but most buyers bought what they saw in ads or were being pushed by the big publishers. Bottom line, I had only so much room for books and they needed to sell to make profit for overhead. So I bought what I thought would sell.

That sounds harsh but I don't mean it to be. If your motive is to have a book in print and you think you have a sound marketing plan, then I would consider self-publishing. If you don't have enough of a platform, audience or reasonable way to sell--then rethink the plan again.

Your book will be advertised on Amazon etc. with many self publishers, but having it there means you have to point people to it. How will you? Do you have a customer base already?

Finally, the choice is the author's. Success stories and failures exist in both realms. Whatever way is chosen, work to get the reader to find you. As I said in an earlier post about blogging, it isn't like the movie--"If you build it, they will come."


Angie Ledbetter said...

Good post. No matter which publishing route you choose, you still have to work your bahonkus off promoting.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Thanks for your post. Good thoughts. I suppose that with all the "doom and gloom" out there on publishing websites and blogs (and I just got my Sally Stuart's 2009 which is noticeably shorter than last years...) and the economy as it is, coupled with past rejections, it seems that the only way I might see anything in print is to walk the route of self-publishing.

You're right. Motive is a huge part of the process.

So much to think about. Thanks for adding your "two cents" into the mix. You're a dear to jump on my request.


Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Excellent post! Thanks for all the info!

Janna Qualman said...

Great insight, thanks!

Melissa Marsh said...

As a former employee of a major self-publisher, I know how hard it is for your book to "make it" in that business. There were only a few "break out" books out of literally hundreds.

I think self-publishing is a viable option for some, but unless you really have the marketing savvy (or is it savy?) and the energy and drive to push it to where it needs to go, then you should probably try the traditional route.

But it also depends on what your goal is - like you said, if you just want it for your family or just want the satisfaction of holding your published book in your hands, then definitely go the POD route.

Kathryn Magendie said...

An informative post, Terri!

Writers have to do more and more of their own self-marketing/promotion - even when they go with the "big guys" !

Whatever a writer's choice, they should think it through thoroughly, and do their homework thoroughly!

Barbara said...

Thanks for sharing this useful info.

LisaShaw said...


Thank you for this. I am familiar with Xulon. They sent me information last year.

I agree with you regarding the Christian stores. My husband and I owned a Christian bookstore and gift shop several years ago when we lived in Virginia and we had people who would bring in their self published works and it was so difficult for them.

Thanks for your tips. Bless you.

jinksy said...

The thought of an actual book to hold in the hand is alluring, but an instantaneous blog-mind-link is equally exciting in its own way..

Pat's Place said...

I had a great experience self-publishing through

Jessica said...

Nice post. I was actually going to do something along the lines of this so I hope you don't mind if I link? Later on. Not sure when.
Anyways, I enjoyed reading it as I don't know much about it at all.

Renee Collins said...

Very interesting. I think it's cool to hear this perspective, from you, a former bookstore owner.

Thanks for sharing your opinion!