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Is Self Publishing Worth the Price? 69

vonFinkelstien asks: "I have written an adolescent novel and am having trouble getting it published. I have recently started looking at self-publishing, print-on-demand firms like Trafford or the many listed at pdfcreator. Trafford looks legitimate and offers a discount for those who do the layout themselves (I would use LaTeX). But the 'Bestseller Package' (which offers some promotional support) still costs $1399 when you create the layout yourself. Are such services worth the high initial cost ($500-$2000)? If any of you could give your experiences with or advice about these companies, I and other aspiring authors would be grateful."
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Is Self Publishing Worth the Price?

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  • iUniverse (Score:4, Informative)

    by Infinite93 ( 664963 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:49PM (#7836541)
    Have you looked into Iuniverse? Last time I looked through their material it was under $200 for a basic package with no Marketing support.
  • One question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr. Darl McBride ( 704524 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:49PM (#7836551)
    How the hell do you plan to reach distributors?

    Major publishers wine and dine the distributors, pushing hard to get their titles pushed out to the bookstores. The distributors won't listen to some nobody press without a large promotional package or a hot and controversial title.

    Without distributors' backing, do you honestly plan to sit down and call all the stores yourself? Are you okay with just selling a couple dozen copies on the web and in Amazon marketplace outside the main book searches and such?

    • Re:One question (Score:3, Informative)

      by gregwbrooks ( 512319 ) *
      True... but not in all instances. If you're writing a book with a strong local flavor that would be distributed regionally, the big-box booksellers will talk to you without a distributor.

      On the other hand, if you're talking about national distribution, you're not going to get into the biggest channels unless you're working with a major publishing house.

  • LaTeX? (Score:5, Funny)

    by GuyMannDude ( 574364 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:53PM (#7836611) Journal

    I have written an adolescent novel and am having trouble getting it published.

    Trafford looks legitimate and offers a discount for those who do the layout themselves (I would use LaTeX).

    How many equations are you planning on putting in this 'adolescent novel' anyhow? And you're wondering why you're 'having trouble getting it published'?

    "I'm not so sure we should be doing this. We'd better turn back!" Molly exclaimed.

    Sarah curled her lip in her characteristic unconscious show of displeasure. "I can't believe our one weekend away from our parents and you want to stop now! If you want to chicken out then go right ahead! But I'm going to \partial \rho \over \partial t + \nabla \dot u = 0 and that's all there is to it!"


    • Re:LaTeX? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Asgard ( 60200 )
      LaTeX is not only for math textbooks, it has macros for quite a few structures you'd want in a book; chapters, headings, Title page, etc. \documentstyle{book} gets you quite far. It also doesn't choke at all on large documents and lets you get on with writing the book instead of spending a lot of time getting Word to be consistent with tabs and whatnot. The output looks very professional, and can be easily converted into PDF.

      Oddly, the linked Trafford page uses Javascript to disable right-clicking. I can't
    • "I'm not so sure we should be doing this. We'd better turn back!" Molly exclaimed.
      Molly said would have been better. You've already got an exclamation point at the end of the statement so 'exclaimed' is redundant. It also reminds the reader that they're reading something, whereas 'said' is enough of an attribution without interrupting the flow. Mnyah.

    • Latex is actually an excellent way to get high quality PDFs with proper typesetting (spacing, hyphenation, ligatures) and fancy stuff like drop caps, even if you never enter math mode once. I used it for the novel I wrote [] for this year's Nanowrimo, and I'd definitely recommend it!
  • Gold Rush Games launched their POD/layout group, Golden Pillar Publishing (linked off somewhere), specifically for non-game stuff. Prices are good and they do nice layout work, basically everything except the writing.

    But you're going to have to push your book. Best model is, self-publish, sell 1k copies, use that to shop the book (or similar books) to publishers as a way to differentiate you from the usual slush pile-- you're proven slush!

    For game publishers, mind you, GRG started a se
  • ...but CafePress [] has a publishing service.
  • he's been selfpublishing for awhile now. He's using

    Posting other material you've written makes good advertising.

    You might not wish to, but I'm sure some of his sales came from the fact you can read the whole thing at
  • SFWA (Score:4, Informative)

    by andyhat ( 9136 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:01PM (#7836707)
    SFWA (The Science Fiction Writer's Association) has an excellent page on the subject at []. Should give you some idea what to watch for.
  • The best thing to say is really don't self publish at all. even with "some promotion" it still comes down to what the books stores consider a "vanity title" and many won't stock it.

    As a result you are basically out your money.
  • by Anonymous Coward can't sell it to the public. Well, you can try of course, but the reason publishers are in business is because they're good at spotting books that sell. If they don't want yours, either it's (a) not written well enough, or (b) doesn't have much market appeal.

    Self-publishing will mean a garage full of books. Sure, there are rare exceptions - the Celestine Prophecy dude - but they're exceptions. Are you really planning on driving around to book stores, spending time with the manager, giving him b

    • You are right. I'm an affiliate for a vanity press for poetry, one of the not so scammy ones (not the one with the easy to remember domain, they are sleezy).

      The only successful vanity press I ever see is stuff that is infomercial material. Weight loss... Make money, here's how... etc..

      Anything else is a severe uphill battle.

      The poetry anthologies are more akin to naming a star, or other vanity things. It's more for your own gratification, than any serious literary meaning. The winners of the contest
    • I'd have to say, that's a pretty simplistic view of getting published. I'd add a third:

      1. Move to Manhattan.
      2. Get any job you can at a publisher.
      3. Have plenty of cash ($50k/year should do it), so you can go to the right bars/parties after work, with the right editors, reviewers, and authors.
      4. Be witty, irreverent, clever, but not too full of yourself that you annoy the shit out of everyone. Make friends with all of the people that will one be in a position to edit, recommend, or review yo
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:09PM (#7836792) Journal
    There may be three reason no publisher wants it.
    1. You didn't send it to the right publisher. Publishers are humans too and it is not unknown for extremely succesfull authors to be turned down on their first attemps.
    2. You are to controversial. Your work may be excellent but just to hot to touch. Publishing a work about a pedo relation was fine a few decades ago. Now they would have a witchhunt.
    3. You are crap. If you send it to all and they didn't give reason 2 for refusing then maybe your story just isn't good. It happens you know. Live with it.

    Should you self publish? Only if you consider writing your hobby and then see it as a one time splurge never to be recooped.

    If you want your story out there just put it on the net. If you wanta make money with writing then you need a publisher. A real one. Not just a printer who cuts out the middle man.

    • I've seen this several times in comments so far, the idea that publishers are magical and if they don't accept a book it must suck.

      Do you realize that Stephen King couldn't get published for YEARS? You'll find the same with Piers Anthony and a number of chronic bestseller authors.

      There is nothing uncanny or special about publishers. They merely have a market lockin much like the music industry, the publishers after all, are NOT the readers.

      P.S. Controversial books usually sell well simply because their
      • by Uma Thurman ( 623807 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:48PM (#7837235) Homepage Journal
        Perhaps it took years for Stephen King to build his talents to a sufficient level, and to build his reputation to a sufficient level.

        No matter what industry you are in, you should expect to start out at the bottom and work your way up. Though we all hear about the computer programmer who made a million dollars at his first job, or a first time author who wrote a book about child-magicians that was turned into a movie, those are rare cases. Most people work years at their craft to perfect it.

        The companies that publish books for authors who can't get someone else to publish the book are collectively known as the "vanity press". They appeal to the vanity of the author, who at the end of the process has spent a lot of time writing the book, and then spent a lot of money publishing the book. In the end, he's out a lot of time, money, and all he has is a pile of books.

        If you really think your book is wonderful, then you should self-publish, without a doubt. But, don't expect to make any money. Put the thing up on a website with a tip jar.

        Then get to work, writing your next book. Polish your craft, because you're probably one of those people who just has to start at the bottom and work hard to get to the top. Nothing dishonorable about that.
        • King was publishing stories in small journals in college. And while there has been a lot of consolidation in the publishing industry, the publishing associations do not have the same kind of lockin that MPAA and RIAA do.
        • Perhaps it took years for Stephen King to build his talents to a sufficient level, and to build his reputation to a sufficient level.

          A little of both. I haven't picked up a King book in over 10 years, but I tore through a bunch the 10 years prior to that. Reading his collections (Skeleton Crew, Night Shift, etc.), there's often interesting and funny tidbits about how the stories were published. I think he even had some published in porn mags (hey, you gotta feed you wife and kids, right?).

          I don't re

      • Editors are a filter between the unwashed masses and you.

        If you take every science fiction story this year that somebody is willing to show people other than their closest writing buddy, put it in one massive bookshelf, and pick a single story at random, that story may be a bestseller. Or it may be a really bad star wars slashfic written by somebody who's really repressed. Remember, 90% of everything is crap.

        The goal of a publisher is to filter this out. A publisher is doing their job if you can pick a
      • I've seen this several times in comments so far, the idea that publishers are magical and if they don't accept a book it must suck.

        While it's not necessarily true, the fact is that publishers (yes, all of them) have huge piles of unsolicited manuscripts, and yes, most of them DO suck! An occasional good work may get lost in this pile. But they (or at least most) do actually have people to read these "slush piles" (the most feared job in the industry), and they occasionally find good things in there. Bu
        • When those books are first piled on the desk, the very first thing that happens is 3/4 of them are tossed in trash without ever getting past the cover page.

          Why? Because there will be another 50 tomorrow and maybe 3 can be read by then. Out of the first 50 you've narrowed down to about 12, most of those will be tossed out without more than a chapter read. Maybe due to a slow start, or the formatting, or perhaps some other annoyance. When this stage is completed you'll be down to about 2-3. Those will be
          • When those books are first piled on the desk, the very first thing that happens is 3/4 of them are tossed in trash without ever getting past the cover page.

            The cover page can reveal a lot. Like, whether you have the faintest clue about the publisher's guidelines, whether you can compose anything resembling a coherent sentence, whether you've had the common sense to talk to an agent, etc. A lot of publishers don't even accept unsolicited manuscripts. So, if you send your "precious first novel" to one of
            • "I think there's a strong correlation: 90% of all writers are unpublished; 90% of all writers are bad. Give or take (those numbers are probably underestimating the situation)"

              Here is the biggest flaw in your argument (aside from your made up numbers), If 90% of whats out there is crap, that's means that 10% of it is not. I think that's a reasonable number. Now only 10% of what's out there is published. Here's the problem, 95% of what is published, is polished crap. That means that the other 9.95% of wh
      • You my good man are right on the money. I was *ASKED* to "pitch a book" (technical book) to a very large technical publisher. Even when *ASKED* to submit a proposal I was subject to constant "market evaluations" that changed the book completely every few weeks. After the second or third time they changed the scope of the book entirely myself and my partner and I told them we weren't able to do business with them.

        Point being that, the book publishing industry is every bit as bankrupt of integrity as the

      • Do you realize that Stephen King couldn't get published for YEARS?

        Having read half a dozen of his books, I'd agree with the publishers that turned him down.

        Yes, he's popular, but so are Windows 98 and Brittany Spears, and soap operas.

    • I agree with the above. I've also written a short story once (it's on my website (in Dutch (un)fortunately)) and I now want to publish a few more stories there before thinking about publishing. So far I've gotten mostly positive responses about my story about Sophie. However, I am quite sure many people say that it's good just to be nice, so I am not too satisfied about that. It's now time for Sophie to have her next adventure; hopefully I get more negative responses about that one. Of course this could als
    • You are crap. If you send it to all and they didn't give reason 2 for refusing then maybe your story just isn't good. It happens you know. Live with it.

      If I had just written a book, I'd print out a copy and pay a English grad student to read it and give me her honest opinion.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you've really invested some serious hours into this novel, then you have to ask yourself if it's worth the investment to get it published with some support. Unless you think your novel will be some sleeper word-of-mouth success, you are going to need some help selling it, and frankly 1300 doesn't sound too bad. Additionally, if no publishing houses, who have infinite advertisement resources, were interested in your book, do you think you can get your book sold with zero support?
    • If you just want a book with your name on it check out places like they're just a printer, but have decent prices for only a few copies. That said, printing anything professionally, covered and bound is 300-500 just to set up the proof get a better deal if you buy at least 1000. Of course you're looking at $2k-$5k minimum...if you can't get published, consider it an expensive hobby!
  • by Eneff ( 96967 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:13PM (#7836845)
    But your mistake is going straight to the publisher. Go to literary agents working in adolescent fiction. will give you a good start.
  • by leoaugust ( 665240 ) <> on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:15PM (#7836867) Journal

    There is a good article by Kevin Kelly on "Printing small quantities of books cheaply." []

    In addition to heavy-duty self-production he also talks about his experience of

    I recently produced a 120-page book that reproduced a sketch journal I kept while bicycling across America. I scanned the images and sent the printer the files of the completely designed book. They sent me back 200 copies at $3.23 per copy. And I could have ordered as few as 10 books.

    There is also a longer descrition of Kelly's Latest Publishings in Wired - Kell's Catalaog of Cool. []

  • 1st
  • (Score:4, Informative)

    by Stoke ( 86808 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:40PM (#7837131) Homepage
    I'm not sure why more people haven't head of []
    It's a great service and I've used it already to publish a small book to give to family members.

    Lulu Enterprises is the latest venture of Red Hat, co-founder and open source enthusiast Bob Young. allows anyone to publish and sell digital files--including books, artwork, and photographs--over the Internet.

    Publishing work on is free, and content creators are asked to establish a royalty fee for each item they upload.

    Lulu's revenue model is based on receiving a small percentage of each content purchase, as well as on fees for a line of planned additional services, such as editing and formatting.

    • I just went over and scoped it out. It is attractive on some levels - but say it catches on- how do you filter all the gunk for the good?

      For example - check out the database administration 'books'. There aren't any books there- just a bunch of $105.00 cd rom tutorials on running SQL Server and Oracle. There are a couple $30.00 cd roms on Access and all of them were 'written' by some company- there is no author listed. There was 4 or 5 pages of it. No biggie. But what about when there are 100 pages
  • More info (Score:4, Informative)

    by vonFinkelstien ( 687265 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:43PM (#7837165)
    I wrote the question a few days ago (moderation is feeling the slowness of too many holiday goodies).

    Since then I have found that same SFWA warnings that someone has posted and this article [], which highlights a lot of the problems facing POD and self publishers:
    1. Bookstores won't order books that they cannot return. POD's mantra is NO INVENTORY, so they will not take the books back.
    2. Reviewers will not review POD or self published works, because they want a pre-release copy to review before the book comes onto the market.
    3. Some distributors do strange things (like making the stores have the books on backorder) with POD books, which make the titles even more unattractive to book stores.

    One POD publisher that the article mentions is Superior Books. For several years they have tried to merge the old way of publishing with the way of the future (POD). Offering free publishing, selective acceptance, delayed releases to make reviewers happy, and more. However, they have all but given up. Now they will only refer a good author to a literary agent or publish niche non-fiction (perhaps my ESL book would work here).

    I will look at small presses which specialize in fantasy and adolescent literature and try to get an agent (which are all but unheard of here in Sweden for authors).

    • Consider that POD inevitably costs much more per book than normal publishing, even after returns, warehousing, etc. Thusly, it's inevitable that if you take the same book in two parallel universes and sell it with POD in one universe and the normal way in the other universe, the one that was printed the normal way in the other universe will end up making far more money.

      So Superior Books was pretty much doomed from the beginning. I've felt that book editors do a valuable service ever since I read my first
    • Had responded to the article before I saw your comment. There, I wrote:

      For whatever it's worth, John Derbyshire self-published his second novel (his first novel, and his subsequent pop-math book about Prime Number theory were published traditionally, and have been modest successes) using a Print-on-Demand shop. His account of the whole self-publishing experience (he's generally happy about it) can be read here [].

  • Ctrl+C Ctrl+V and post your entire novel as a Slashdot comment.
  • for conspiracy theorists, people peddling business schemes (ie, "tiny classified ads")or regional/local histories.

    Publishers don't just print books, they get them in the stores where consumers can buy them.

    If you have a desire to make money writing books, write something that a publisher wants. Once you are published, you'll have a better shot of successfully pitching your current book.
  • Maybe this [] will help.
    • From the FAQ at Monolith:
      Are you currently accepting unsolicited submissions?
      Not at this time.

      As long as I have been aware of Monolith this has been the case. I have always assumed that Wil Wheaton created Monolith purely as a vehicle for publishing his own work (maybe allowing for it to become something bigger down the road if that worked out) - and I am curious to see what he does with it now that O'Reilly has picked him up.

      On a side note- I've been meaning to email him for some time and ask how he
  • Two people I know are writers. One wrote a novel, and used one of those print-on-demand services. He wasn't happy with the formatting or anything, really. But the book was really horrible, anyway, and I doubt any of the publishers he sent it to read beyond the first horrible page. I read the whole horrible thing, though, because I'm a nice guy.
    The other writer wrote three chapters, showed it to a friend, who showed it to his boss, who is an editor at a major publisher. She just signed a contract, got a $50k
    • "If you are good, people will pay YOU"

      Actually, I read your anecdote as the very accurate "if you know someone in the business, or a friend-of-a-friend, you can get published. Otherwise, you'd better be both good and topical."

      Not a bad lesson, but a far cry from a meritocracy.
      • Major publishers don't give $50k advances based on friendship.
        However, if I wanted to get published, of course I would use my network of friends to try to get the book read by someone who matters. If my book were horrible, I'd lose the chance of using that path in the future.
        • "Major publishers don't give $50k advances based on friendship."

          True, but my point is, you don't even have access to a major publisher unless you have an 'in'.

          It used to be, for SF, the magazines were a good way to get the attention of book publishers. SF mags aren't a good gateway anymore, though. Friend-of-a-friend is still the best way to get attention. (Then, as I mentioned, good work actually gets a fair chance at being considered).

          So yeah, the work has to be good, but friendship gets it looked a
          • I won't drop any names, but I can put my hypothetical manuscript into real famous hands with an email or phone call. This required ordinary socializing, and not actually putting a BAD novel out to get shot down.

            Consider yourself one degree of separation closer.

            However, *you* can work for Border's or B&N and get even closer. Anywhere in the industry is a good start, actually.


            Now, that no one is reading this, I shall flame Wally Lamb, who said in my hearing, "Windows, where would we be without
  • Check out Bob Young's (yes, that Bob Young's) Lulu service []. No setup fees.
  • I've been fielding communications from people like you for almost nine years now over at Speculations [], and I keep saying the same thing to everyone: please don't self-publish your work.

    With very few exceptions it ends badly for the author, with a garage full of books, an empty bank account, and no chance of a career as a professional author. Pointers upstream to SFWA and Writer Beware are excellent places to start; I would also recommend looking around the Speculations [] site, paying particular attention t
    • Some friends and I discussed this whole issue of self-publishing quite some time ago.

      I brought up the question of what effect it would have on a book's popularity or chances of being picked up should a stack of your books "mysteriously" appear on the shelves of Barne's & Noble? Really, what would happen if you loaded a backpack full of your self-published book (that is done very neatly and would stand up to the other books in the store in appearance, at least), then found a spot where it would attrac

      • Interesting idea, in theory, but it wouldn't work with most bookstores. See, bookstores don't buy books from publishers. They buy books from one of the major bookselling middlemen. If the middleman doesn't have the book in its computer, the book never gets ordered, regardless of what one Barnes & Noble store wants.

        When a publisher decides to publish a book, that doesn't mean the book automatically gets to bookstores. The publisher has to sell the book to the middleman (most authors have to fill out a s
  • Self Publishing (Score:2, Informative)

    I have worked for several printers in the past, one in particular specializes in short-run self-published books. Suprisingly inexpensive, especially if you do the layout yourself. Has excellent documentation on website on how the prepare the files + tips (click on the information link).
  • Self-Publishing (Score:2, Informative)

    by burtC ( 736664 )
    You ought to check out I have published two novels with them and been very happy with the outcome. Am I wealthy enough to retire and write, yet? Nope. Will that happen any time soon? Who knows? A lot of it goes to why you write in the first place. If you write for yourself, because you need to write, and getting it out there--even if it's just to a handful of people--is part of that need, self-publishing is a road to get there. The world is full of nay-sayers and people who only
  • They used to call these "vanity presses," and there was and is a stigma attached to them. Think about it carefully, because you could be tossing aside your chances ever to be picked up by an agent and publisher.

    They work better for non-fiction pieces; for example, if the Ladies' Guild at the First Self-Righteous Church decides to collect and publish their recipes, self-publishing is the way to go. In the non-Slashdot part of my real life, I refer to self-published books on dealing with esoteric "How to do
  • by MaxNomad ( 736680 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @09:24PM (#7841405)

    There have been alot of interesting comments on self-publishing in this thread. Some are pretty good, some are bitter, and more than a few seem to be coming from people who haven't really followed the publishing industry since the early to mid 90's. I've been studying the publishing industry for about 5 years now, started my own publishing company, produced 1 of my own books, 1 almost finished, and 2 other author manuscripts in the chamber for production. I've got alot to share about the publishing thing - good, bad, and ugly. Mostly through word of mouth, I've sold several hundred copies of my first book, a collection of poetry and short stories. It's been my guinnea pig to build from.

    For starters, if you're going to self-publish your book, you'll want to do so with the knowledge that, at worst, the endeavor serves as a huge time and money sinkhole. At best, you'll set out on what will become a great success story. And if you're smart early on, you'll be able to break even. I've got alot to share and I've been writing on this post off and on for several hours now in and around last minute work stuff, so if it seems a bit jumpy in parts, forgive me.

    The publishing industry as a whole has been undergoing a slow, steady shift as a result of current technologies and changing trends in information distribution. According to a study done by the Publisher's Marketing Association, while large publishing companies have barely held their own over the past five years, the 80,000-plus independent publishers in the U.S.A. have grown at a rate of 22 percent per year. Their combined revenue now amounts to approximately $30 billion per year. The numbers aren't earthshattering, but they're enough to have the majors already nervous about what the future holds.

    When it comes to self-publishing your book, before you embark on this endeavor, do alot of homework.

    Go download this PDF; it contains what many startup independents would consider the quinessential reading list for how to crack into publishing, whether just for your 1 title or as a small press: []

    Investing in all or even at least half those titles can save you literally tens of thousands of dollars in the long run.

    Although, by default, when you pay for the production of a book, even though you are the publisher, it does NOT make you *A* publisher. There's a huge difference. I'm going to hit on some key points and do so in real broad strokes, so forgive me for any details I may gloss over.

    FORM A CORPORATION - cheapest alternative would be to set up an LLC in your state... roughly $50 for your local biz license, $100 or so for the State Corp Commission registration. Get your EIN number from the IRS as well. Set up as a company and you'll have a legitimate means of using all of your invested monies as a tax writeoff against what you're earning with your day job. The profits and losses within an LLC flow back to the owner(s) in the form of K1-statements from when you file the company's taxes. These K1s are then used when filing one's own taxes. In the early days, you're almost always going to take significant losses, thus significant gains on income tax refunds.

    CONTENT EDITING - I don't care if you've spent half your life as an editor for your local newspaper, it's a bad idea to act as the editor of your own work. Do as much editing as you can on your end then contract an outside editor to go through the whole manuscript. Be sure it's someone that is accustomed to real content editing and not just proofing/spell checking. The editor will ultimately help turn your book into a streamlined readable work. Not working with an editor foreshadows failure.

    ISBN Numbers - can be purchased in blocks from RR Bowkers.. sorta like IP addresses. Anyway, if you're going to self-publish, you're going to want your own ISBN numbers. Some of these all encompassing services will offer to put an ISBN number on your work; avoi

  • For whatever it's worth, John Derbyshire self-published his second novel (his first novel, and his subsequent pop-math book about Prime Number theory were published traditionally, and have been modest successes) using a Print-on-Demand shop. His account of the whole self-publishing experience (he's generally happy about it) can be read here [].

  • by Tom7 ( 102298 )
    No, they're not worth hundreds of dollars, because lulu [] will do it for free. There are still some kinks in their process, but they have pretty good customer support and a great attitude.
  • I am wary of self-publishing generally, but I have heard good things of Lightning Source [].

    The YA novel Eragon was published by Lightning Source, and was subsequently purchased by Knopf. Eragon was written by Christopher Paolini, who was 15 when he started the novel, and 18 when it was published. It has recently been optioned as a feature film, and is actually remarkably well-written, especially for a novel in the fantasy genre (irrespective of the author's age).

    Anyway, google Christopher Paolini. He see
  • my experience (Score:3, Informative)

    by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @12:17PM (#7845660) Homepage
    I self-published these free-information physics textbooks []. It's worked out well for me, but it really depends on the details of what you want to accomplish, how you want to do it, and how hard you're willing to work at it. Do you want it to be (1) something you can just give to friends as a present, or (2) something that will reach an audience, or (3) something that will pay your rent? If the answer is 1, then just find a printer, get a couple hundred printed up, put them in a closet, and hand them out at Christmas. If the answer is 3, stop now and pick a genre that's more profitable (cookbooks, romance novels,...), then write an outline and a sample chapter and shop it around to publishers.

    OK, let's assume it's #2, and you really think your book has something special to say, and your main goal is to get it to some readers without losing an arm and a leg. Then I'd suggest simply putting the PDF online and bypassing the whole print publishing thing. If you do a good job promoting your web site, you may reach 100-1000 readers a year, and you'll do it without losing your shirt.

    The reason self-publishing has worked for me is that I am able to reach physics professors through the web and inexpensive print advertising in trade journals. Basically I try to get them to come to my site and download the PDFs to see if they like them. All it takes is one professor who likes them, and then I get a wholesale order for 20 or 200 books. I hired a printer, paid him a bunch of money, and filled my closets with books. I'd recommend against the vanity publishers; they take a really hefty chunk of your money. Although my method has worked for me, it's been capital-intensive --- right now I have about $10,000 worth of inventory in my house. (For tax purposes, you're supposed to account for inventory at the price you paid for it.)

  • I believe his recent book, Pragmatic Version Control [], is self-published. Last I heard, he was in his garage boxing up orders, due to a really large spike that arose from the recent book report on /.. He would probably be able to give you considerable insight into the process.

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all different.