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DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! × 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?

• iUniverse (Score:4, Informative)

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. http://www.iuniverse.com • One question (Score:3, Insightful) 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) 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) 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!" GMD • Re:LaTeX? (Score:3, Informative) 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 • Re:LaTeX? (Score:2) "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. • Re:LaTeX? (Score:2) 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 [tom7.org] for this year's Nanowrimo, and I'd definitely recommend it! • Golden Pillar? (Score:2) Gold Rush Games launched their POD/layout group, Golden Pillar Publishing (linked off goldrushgames.com 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 • Don't know if it's what you're looking for.... (Score:2) ...but CafePress [cafepress.com] has a publishing service. • Ask localroger (Score:1) he's been selfpublishing for awhile now. He's using lulu.com. 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 http://www.kuro5hin.org/prime-intellect/ • SFWA (Score:4, Informative) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:01PM (#7836707) SFWA (The Science Fiction Writer's Association) has an excellent page on the subject at http://www.sfwa.org/beware/subsidypublishers.html [sfwa.org]. Should give you some idea what to watch for. • Don't Self Publish (Score:2) 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. • If you can't sell it to a publisher... (Score:2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward ...you 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 • Re:If you can't sell it to a publisher... (Score:1) 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 • Re:If you can't sell it to a publisher... (Score:2) I'd have to say, that's a pretty simplistic view of getting published. I'd add a third: (c) 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
• Re:If you can't sell it to a publisher... (Score:1)

also, 2 more things that may help:
1. Learn to suck dick.
2. Learn to write fake referral letters from famous people that mention how good your skills are, and that you can suck dick like a pro.
• There may be three reason no publisher wants it. (Score:4, Informative)

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.

• Re:There may be three reason no publisher wants it (Score:3, Interesting)

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
• Re:There may be three reason no publisher wants it (Score:4, Insightful)

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.
• Re:There may be three reason no publisher wants it (Score:2)

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.
• Re:There may be three reason no publisher wants it (Score:2)

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

• Re:There may be three reason no publisher wants it (Score:2)

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
• good writing is hard (and rare) (Score:2)

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
• Re:good writing is hard (and rare) (Score:2)

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
• Re:good writing is hard (and rare) (Score:2)

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
• Re:good writing is hard (and rare) (Score:2)

"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
• Re:There may be three reason no publisher wants it (Score:2)

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

• Re:There may be three reason no publisher wants it (Score:1)

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.

• Re:There may be three reason no publisher wants it (Score:2)

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
• Re:There may be three reason no publisher wants it (Score:2)

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.

• Re:There may be three reason no publisher wants it (Score:2)

curious, why do you say her?

I have an BA in English, but I am male, I am not wussy, etc.

There was treatise quite some time ago, probably written tongue in cheek, about the inordinate amount of BA's who gravitate towards the Unix environment; English students in particular. It was naturally well thought-out and well written. It was as if the author knew me!

• Re:There may be three reason no publisher wants it (Score:2)

curious, why do you say her?

I don't like to write "his or her" all the time so I choose one at random.

• How much is your time worth? (Score:1, Interesting)

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?
• or do you just want a book with your name? (Score:2)

If you just want a book with your name on it check out places like bookprinter.com 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 copy...you 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!
• I've never heard anything good... (Score:3, Informative)

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.

http://hollylisle.com/fm/Articles/faqs3.html will give you a good start.
• Kevin Kelly's Self Publication Experiences (Score:5, Informative)

<leoaugust AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:15PM (#7836867) Journal

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

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

• Re:A tale of two writers (Score:2)

"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. • Re:A tale of two writers (Score:2) "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
• Re:A tale of two writers (Score:1)

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.

heehee:

Now, that no one is reading this, I shall flame Wally Lamb, who said in my hearing, "Windows, where would we be without
• Lulu has a low entry price (Score:2, Informative)

Check out Bob Young's (yes, that Bob Young's) Lulu service [lulu.com]. No setup fees.
• Self-Publishing: Bad Idea (Score:2, Informative)

I've been fielding communications from people like you for almost nine years now over at Speculations [speculations.com], 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 [speculations.com] 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).

http://www.gorhamprinting.com
• Self-Publishing (Score:2, Informative)

You ought to check out www.imprintbooks.com 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
• Not unless it's a cookbook... (Score:2)

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
• Self-Publishing -- not for the meek (Score:4, Informative)

on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @09:24PM (#7841405)
Greetings,

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.