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Old 07-15-2010, 04:42 PM
 
Location: Monterey Bay, California -- watching the sea lions, whales and otters! :D
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Is a Self-Published Author Equal to an Author with an Agent?

I have recently met several people who say they are published authors – and I guess they really are because they have actual books – however, they did not go through an agent or a regular publishing house – they self-published.

If there are professionals in the field here on this board, do you consider a self-published author a "legitimate" author? Is this the accepted way to publish a book of one's own? I keep meeting more and more self-published authors and wonder if this is now an acceptable means of publishing a book, especially in light of the financial problems and limits of big publishing houses?

For those writers who are not currently working as a professional in a publishing house, as an editor, or as an agent, have you self-published, and has it been successful for you? Do you find that with the internet you can easily market your book, and have you gotten your book into your local bookstore?

The people I have met who have self-published have managed to get their books into local bookstores, have had book signings, and have an ISBN number.

I have heard that some of the self-publishing companies have "editors," however, when I go through a book (by the people I've met) and read it, I see very poor writing. The book has, obviously, not gone through the hands of a skilled editor. That to me seems to be the main difference I have noticed in these books -- regular big publishers have (usually -- even now I find typos and errors) edited the book and the grammar, writing and style are pretty well-done. In the self-published books, there are many writing problems I've noticed, and that seems to be the major difference that I can discern. I am sure marketing is difficult in each case, although a large publisher would have more resources.

I'm just curious about this. I don't know why I keep meeting people lately who have self-published, however, I'm thinking that maybe this has become much more common and accepted.

What are your views on this, and how do you respond to someone who says they are a "published author," and then you discover that they have self-published their book? I am generally very polite to them, and I have not said anything disparaging, but I just am surprised at the poor quality of writing in these books. At the same time, they can say that they are a published author.

I am really curious about this because I seem to meet someone every week, now, who has a self-published book.

I'd like to hear both sides of this topic. Thanks.

Last edited by Wisteria; 07-15-2010 at 05:23 PM..
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Old 07-15-2010, 05:40 PM
 
Location: Monterey Bay, California -- watching the sea lions, whales and otters! :D
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Default Self-published authors -- have you had success with your book(s)?

I updated my original post above, and I am also interested in hearing from those who have self-published -- how your experience has been? Have you been able to easily market the book, or has your book(s) been picked up by a book publisher?

Honestly, I seem to run across someone every week with a self-published book and I'm beginning to think this is the wave of the future of publishing. My only issue that I, personally, have with it is that often there is little or no editing. But that's the main difference I have noticed. (But those are the ones I read -- there may be others that are very well-done and I haven't seen them.)

Thanks for any feedback.
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Old 07-15-2010, 06:48 PM
 
Location: Ogden, Utah
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Happy to.

It might be more appropriate to call it digital publishing. The company I use (lulu.com) is the best in the business. You do the writing, the front cover design, the editing and the page formatting. To that extent, it is "self" publishing. You can arrange for professional cover design, editing and layout services, but it is not required. Lulu does the printing, assigns an ISBN (if you want one) and does global marketing and placement on book lists.

The only thing Lulu charges for are the things in that last sentence. No other charge for anything, including maintaining a storefront from which you can sell books. When somebody orders a book directly from them or through Borders, Amazon, B&N, etc, they print that one book, ship it and pay you a royalty. (BTW, you also get to set the book price AND royalty amount.)

No warehousing of books, no "remaindering" of unsold copies, no agent commissions.

Now, the other realities. You know those half-literate goofballs who think they can write? They can publish digitally, also. You'll find awful as well as wonderful writing among digitally published books.

Mine? Well, mine are fabulous, of course! <grin>

This site does not allow posting direct links, so please just google my name or one of my titles: Baggy Zero Four or Mike Five Eight. Judge for yourself. For my storefront at LULU type that word and then .com/rraab in your address bar.
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Old 07-18-2010, 10:49 AM
 
Location: Coastal New Jersey
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I have not self-published, but yes, you are correct. It is far more common now than it used to be. I've gone to a couple of writer's conferences, and the firms that provide self-publishing are ready and eager to market themselves to you. In my opinion, it is likely that that's the very reason for the increase. They made it seem more acceptable to do so.

Incidentally, lulu is one I've heard mentioned frequently, as Rocky Raab did in the post above.

The only person I personally know who self-published was an uncle who had a change in his spirituality later in life and wrote a book to encourage others to believe as he does. He is moderately wealthy so he paid to have the books published and gives them away. From the part of the book that I looked at, he's an adequate writer--got his points across error-free.
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Old 07-22-2010, 03:21 AM
 
Location: from houstoner to bostoner to new yorker to new jerseyite ;)
4,085 posts, read 11,580,730 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wisteria View Post
Is a Self-Published Author Equal to an Author with an Agent?


I have heard that some of the self-publishing companies have "editors," however, when I go through a book (by the people I've met) and read it, I see very poor writing. The book has, obviously, not gone through the hands of a skilled editor. That to me seems to be the main difference I have noticed in these books -- regular big publishers have (usually -- even now I find typos and errors) edited the book and the grammar, writing and style are pretty well-done. In the self-published books, there are many writing problems I've noticed, and that seems to be the major difference that I can discern. I am sure marketing is difficult in each case, although a large publisher would have more resources.

...and that is my problem with self-publishing in a nutshell. I've never run across a self-published book that wasn't poorly written or edited, and didn't have the cheesiest cover --complete with a title in some horrid outdated script-- known to mankind.

My other problem is that everyone seems to think they've got a story to tell. Maybe so, but newsflash: every story isn't worth telling!

To answer your question in a word, no. I don't think they're equal by a long shot.
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Old 07-22-2010, 07:54 AM
 
Location: Hagerstown MD
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I believe that most self-publishing companies have editorial services, among many other optional services, but the problem you are seeing is that most self-published authors do not bother with the service. Hence the many mistakes you will find in their books. As far as which is better - self-publishing or the traditonal route with a publishing house well that remains to be decided with the reader. A publishing house certainly carries great prestige with it but it also seems that more and more authors/writers are going the self-publish route. Sure, there are some people who feel they have something good to say and really cannot write a readable book but you could find that just as easily with an author backed by a big publishing house. What is probably happening is that the writers chosing the self-publishing method are not taking the time and effort to go over the design and other options available to them with these companies. One poster mentioned terrible artwork on the covers, you already mentioned poor spelling and grammar. These are things that a self-publishing company leaves up to you to work on your own or you can employ their services with it. I would never forsake the editing option. Although I think I would do pretty well in that area I don't trust myself enough to leave it "as is" and would welcome a second pair of eyes to pick up on any mistakes that I could have easily overlooked.

Is a self-published book as good as one from a publishing house? Sure, why not? Remember, while the big name houses carry the clout they are also getting fussier these day on what they want to publish. And while they may "know the market" they are not always right. Stephen King was rejected the first time he submitted his work. I forget who the company was but it wasn't some small name publisher. I bet they are kicking themselves constantly for missing out. There are many drawbacks with self-publishing but it does give one the opportunity to get their work out there when/if the big names will not take an interest in it. The trick is to do your research (there are some very bad self-pub companies around) and take enough pride in your work to utilize many of the options available. Editing should never be considered as an "option" by any writer. Having a second or even third pair of eyes cannot hurt and may be very helpful. I hope this helps in answering your questions about this topic.
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Old 07-22-2010, 01:58 PM
 
Location: NYC
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I get the sense that this section of the board is not interested in the business side of publishing, and instead are just happy to see their words in print. If you are going to give books away to your mom and maybe sell a dozen to friends on Amazon, it does not matter whether a book is self published or now.

Speaking from the business end of things, no, self-published books (I'll now start calling them POD since that is what most people are discussing) do not carry the same weight as a traditionally published books. There are exceptions, but for the most part, the answer is no.


1. The SRP and discounting structure are not supportable by resellers of books. As a single-title publisher, you would need to sell through a wholesaler like Ingram or Baker & Taylor to get it into the stores. The cost to produce a POD does not support this level of discounting (55% off the srp). And to make things even more difficult, the srp of POD books is very high because you are not getting that economy of scale that comes with buying bulk paper and printing large runs. Add all this together, and book stores, gift stores, catalogs etc... the cost is such that will not carry your books. Online will do it, it's just raw data to them. They don't have to pay any $$.

2. The cover are is almost always terrible. Sorry, but yes it matters. Rock Raab, I am sorry but your books look amateurish. Furthermore, the copy on your website isn't very good, which also reflects badly on your books.

3. Too many bad POD books are out there, so you can't get any reviews. I would estimate that 99 out of 100 are poorly written titles which should have never seen the light of day.

If you just want to see your words in print, perhaps have some copies to give away, and sell 20 copies per year, go for it. If you want to make a living as a fiction writer, this most likely will not lead to success.

Exception: Non fiction books, written by a respected expert in a given field, professionally edited if not ghost-written. A person like this, especially is s/he does a lot of speaking engagements, can often make more money than going the traditional publishing route. This type of person would not use POD though...
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Old 07-22-2010, 05:37 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn
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Authors are equal. Publishers are not. (Translation: you've got to draw a distinction between a publishing house and a vanity press).
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Old 07-22-2010, 07:27 PM
 
Location: NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred314X View Post
Authors are equal. Publishers are not. (Translation: you've got to draw a distinction between a publishing house and a vanity press).
No they aren't. Some authors are better than others. Whether they have a commercial publisher isn't necessarily an indicator, but all authors are not equal.
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Old 07-22-2010, 11:54 PM
 
Location: Cushing OK
14,545 posts, read 18,027,069 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OngletNYC View Post
No they aren't. Some authors are better than others. Whether they have a commercial publisher isn't necessarily an indicator, but all authors are not equal.
Very very true. And when you look at online publishing sites, you discover the people that write well and edit end up being followed, and the ones painful to read don't. One I frequent has a favorite author alert so if you really like the style and skill, anything new gives you an alert.

As to editing, every site I've seen stressed you need someone to edit your work. They have lists. People tell their strenghts and weaknesses. I got my current person by sending an email. They aren't pros, but only someone else can tell you is you said what you thought you said.

And pro stuff doesn't necessarily mean its edited. My mil circled the mistakes that were easy to spot in a book by a well known author. Many per page. For me, pro publications, self publication or web posting, if its riddled with that kind of distraction I don't want to read it.
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