Giving the Self-Published Some Hope

It’s stories like this from that give self-published authors the motivation to keep writing those checks:

Touchstone Fireside, a division of Simon & Schuster, has
paid a six-figure sum for the publishing rights to Pamela Aidan’s Jane
Austen–inspired trilogy “Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman.” The first two books,
An Assembly Such as This and Duty and Desire, have sold some
40,000 copies through Aidan’s website—initially in digital form and then as
print-on-demand titles—according to Amanda Patten, a senior editor at
Touchstone, who acquired the book from Lloyd Jassin, of the law firm The Jassin
Office. (The third title in the trilogy, These Three Remain, is available
this month, according to the website Austenesque.)

“The idea is to hit an audience outside of this world of Jane Austen fans, who
discovered Pamela through a ring of Austen websites,” said Patten, who added
that the strength of the books’ print-on-demand sales made the deal especially

This is the one-in-a-million success story that drives the unrealistic hopes of most self-published POD  authors.  Those aspiring authors miss this important fact: Aiden didn’t attract a publisher until she’d sold 40,000 copies of her book, well over 100 times  more copies than most self-published titles will ever sell. And even with those sales, she still opted to go with a traditional publishing house rather than continue her POD self-publishing efforts. Why? For the money, ofcourse, as well as the wider distribution, publicity, and brick-and-mortar sales a traditional publisher offers.

For all the talk about the "advantages"  of self-publishing from vanity press novelists, the fact remains, not matter how much they say otherwise,  that attracting a  traditional publisher is still their ultimate goal.

38 thoughts on “Giving the Self-Published Some Hope”

  1. I would be curious to know how much effort she put in to try to sell it to a mainstream publisher before self-publishing. It may be that these books would have been good enough to have attracted an agent and publisher even without selling 40,000 copies.
    But, it is also a book that follows the main rule for successful self-publishing – find an underserved niche. Aidin is, in every real sense, writing fan-fic. Regencies are not as commercially successful as they once were, but there still are lots of fans out there. And rabid Austenites do read (and see) everything that comes along and is well-recommended. If a friend I trusted said these were good, I might well have bought them as a gift for my mother.
    The scary thing in the article for me was that BBC is doing yet another P&P miniseries. The last one came out in 1995!

  2. Just clicked through to read about the miniseries – the first article is incorrect. The creative team (or at least Andrew Davies) from the Pride and Prejudice miniseries is doing a Sense & Sensibility miniseries. Mom’s 2007 Christmas present is set.

  3. But will the money really be better? 40,000 copies at a 100% net profit royalty rate may get her a lot more money over the long run then she’ll get by going through a traditional publisher. I imagine it’s probably more for the convenience and the prestige.

  4. Well you have to deduck the cost of the operation from those profits but the bottonm line is this: the goal of vanity publishing is commercial publishing. I agree Lee. It’s this type of “Black Swan” success that makes the hordes think it’s possible. Rare and with many codiciles describes this event.

  5. Joe,
    I’m sure you will agree that she is, by far the exception. POD vanity presses will publish anything, as long as the check clears (as you proved in that hilarious essay on your website). The vast majority of POD books are unpublishable crap. Are there one or two vanity POD books that are terrific? I’m sure there are. What are their chances of selling big numbers and being spotted by a traditional publisher and getting a huge advance? Slim to none. It’s a bad investment.
    The only difference, in my mind, between someone who goes the self-publish POD route and someone who takes on the entire burden of self-publishing is that they are spending even more money on their vanity project. Could some of those books be good? Of course. How many will sell like ERAGON, attract a publisher and a major movie studio? Slim to none.
    My advice to aspiring writers is not to throw away their money on self-publishing, either through a POD program like iUniverse or starting their own vanity press. Because 9 times out of ten it’s a very bad investment that will a) cost them money they will never earn back and b) do absolutely nothing to further their writing careers.

  6. Lee, I really don’t get what happened to Joe Konrath. He used to be a pretty stand-up guy. Joe used to go out of his way to bash the deceptive techniques of self-publishers. Now, all of a sudden, he’s defending it. All you have to do is look at his 8/21/05 comment on your blog:
    “POD (as both a technology, and as used by Xlibris, I-Universe, Publish America, etc.) is set up to fail for several reasons.
    1. Higher cost than comparable offset printing.
    2. Non-returnable, so bookstores won’t carry it (the discount is also much less).
    3. Traditionally published books are edited, re-edited, re-re-edited, typset by pros, with pros designing the covers and layout. POD is only as professional as those working on the book.
    The result is an expensive book that doesn’t read, look, or feel like a tradionally published novel, that the bookstores won’t carry.
    There are exceptions, of course. But I’ve got a unique perspective on this.
    For two years in a row, I’ve helped judge a well-known self-publishing contest for a major magazine. Most of the entries are from Publish America, I-Universe, and Xlibris.
    1 out of 80 is readable. Not ‘good’, just readable.
    I’ve never read one worthy of traditional publication.
    While I agree that talent and success aren’t interchangable (people can become successful without much talent, and have talent but not be successful), and while I believe that just because a book is publishable does not mean it will be published, I also believe that failure is helpful to new writers.
    No one learns how to ride a bike without falling. Those skinned knees are part of the learning process.
    But POD offers people the abilty to ride a bike without having to learn how. Plus, it promises that the bike rider will be just as good as those riders who have been riding for years (the ones with scarred knees to prove it).
    NY publishing doesn’t care if you pay your dues or not—they just want a book they can sell. But writers need to pay their dues to learn what does sell, and why.
    If a new writer spent a day, just one day, learning about how the distribution network is set up for books, they’d never self-publish.
    It’s like buying a new pair of Air Jordan Nikes and thinking you’re ready fro the NBA. That’s insane.
    If you work hard enough to finish a novel, you should work hard to learn how publishing works. Paying $400 and crossing your fingers isn’t how authors become successful.
    After I signed a three book deal with Time Warner, I got spammed by a POD outfit. I exchanged several emails with them, to see how far I could take it.
    I took it pretty far. If you think these folks really care about the author, you need to read this:
    [NOTE FROM LEE GOLDBERG 10-15-02, 3:23pm– This comment was originally posted under Joe Konrath’s name. He didn’t write it. Since this comment wasn’t defamatory and raises a valid point, I didn’t delete it. Instead, I’ve done something I have never done on this blog before — I have edited the comment to change the poster’s name to “anonymous.”]

  7. And I stand by my comments about vanity POD presses.
    Doesn’t anyone else see the difference between Xlibris and what Sandy Tooley is doing?
    One is paying a fee and hoping. The other is starting a business.
    I’m not defending I-Universe. I’m defending self-publishing.
    And Lee, I disagree with you saying “9 times out of 10 it is a bad investment.” I think it’s probably closer to 9999 out of 10,000 times it’s a bad investment.
    But if the writer/publisher does a decent job, it’s doable.
    As for being a ‘stand-up guy’, when I post on a blog, I use my name. Whoever posted the above used my name, and a fake email address. Is that being ‘stand-up’?

  8. From the language of my last post, I think it’s fairly obvious that I’m not JA Konrath. I use the “Konrath” name tongue-in-cheek because I was just re-posting Joe’s old stuff verbatim.
    My concern is that Joe markets himself as something of a guru for new writers. A lot of people take his opinions seriously. And so they should. He normally has a lot of great things to say. His website is very informative.
    I’m just not sure many of them are going to understand the distinction he makes between POD and self-publishing.
    I’m still not sure I understand it. Sounds like a distinction without a difference to me. But I will just respectfully disagree.
    [NOTE FROM LEE GOLDBERG…AGAIN . I’ve edited this post, too, for the same reasons as the last “anonymous” comment. In the future, I will DELETE, regardless of content, any future posts using Joe’s name that are not from Joe.]

  9. One is paying a fee and hoping. The other is starting a business. I’m not defending I-Universe. I’m defending self-publishing.

    I don’t see the difference myself, Joe. I think all the arguments you’ve used against POD presses like iUniverse still apply.

    1 out of 80 is readable. Not ‘good’, just readable. I’ve never read one worthy of traditional publication.

    I think you’d find this just as true among self-published books as those that come from iUniverse or Authorhouse. The only difference between authors who go to iUniverse and those who start their own press is the money and time spent on the effort.
    Whether you’re spending $500 or $5000 to publish your book, the same truths about self-publishing apply. And the amount of money spent doesn’t change the quality of the writing itself, which is usually every bit as awful as the Authorhouse stuff. Nor does it change the stigma, well deserved in the vast majority of cases, attached to any vanity press title.
    [FWIW – I haven’t read Sandra Tooley, I’ve only read her Crimespree column about self-publishing, which I found actually reinforced all the myths she hoped to debunk. Her books may be wonderful, but I wouldn’t recommend that any aspiring writer follow her path. Nor do I think it’s wrong for professional organizations to not accept her company as a legitimate publisher or to not accept her as a published author.
    I’ve read the sample chapter on Jim Hansen’s site and have seen the covers of his books displayed there. In my opinion, they’re not up to professional standards. They read and look like self-published work. I think he’s got a real, uphill battle ahead of him…but, for his sake, I hope I’m proved wrong.]

  10. “I’m still not sure I understand it. Sounds like a distinction without a difference to me. But I will just respectfully disagree.”
    I-Universe, PublishAmerica, Authorhouse, and Xlibris are POD vanity presses.
    You pay them money, and they print your book. They make unrealistic claims on their sites, they actively solicit the naive and uninitiated, and they omit truths about the publishing business while intentionally misleading potential buyers.
    These are predators, preying on the gullibility on new writers. They should be avoided.
    Self-publishing also involves the author paying money. But the money isn’t paid to a ‘one-stop shopping’ company who profits off the author. Starting your own press means hiring a printer (usually offset printing) and being forced to LEARN about how the business works. This requires knowledge of accounting, warehousing, distribution, advertising, marketing, reviews, copyrights, licensing, ISBNs and Library of Congress forms, etc. Many people get paid throughout the process.
    A self-publisher is essentially a small business.
    Self-published books are returnable.
    POD is not. This is a very important distinction, when it comes to distribution.
    A self-published author invests quite a bit more time and money than a POD author. The POD author simply signs a check to Xlibris and hopes for success, without having to learn anything about the process.
    In short, the self-publisher knows what they are getting into. It requires learning many different things. For a POD press, the only thing an author needs to learn is where to mail the check.
    I’m not sure how I became a spokesman for self-publishing, simply because I said I’ve enjoyed some books that were self-published and have tried to show the difference between a true self-publisher and a POD outfit.
    Let me restate my opinions:
    1. Try to get published through a big house. That’s what I did.
    2. Don’t ever use a vanity POD press, unless you’re printing 50 copies of your memoir for your family. You WILL NOT sell many books, or even make your investment back. The books are overpriced, look and feel inferior, can’t be returned, and can’t be distributed.
    3. If you want to try to self-publish, realize it takes a great amount of expense and effort, and learn about the business before you try. Keep in mind that it is unlikely you’ll be successful. 4 out of 5 tradionally published books fail to make a profit. With self-publishing, the numbers are even worse. It will be hard to get reviewed, and you won’t get any respect from your peers–in fact, other writers won’t even consider you a peer.
    But… it can be done. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  11. Just because something can be done theoretically doesn’t mean it’s a wise move. I get the difference, but it’s still a bad business move based on the previous attempts by rheems of writers. As the others here have said it’s still vanity because you’re paying and there’s no filter telling you if the book is good or not.
    I have to conceed this point now thanks to the analysis of Joe Konrath. Nice job.

  12. Joe,
    You’re focusing on the business and mechanics of producing, distributing, pubilicizing, and warehousing the book itself. I’m talking about the novel…the words, characters, and story… and the impact it has on a career as an author.
    Whether it’s produced through a vanity press company or vanity published by the authors…the majority of self-published novels are hideous crap, are rarely reviewed by respected publications, are nearly impossible to get into bookstore and don’t sell. The author/publishers of such books also aren’t recognized by professional organizations. It does nothing positive for your career…if anything, it might even become an obstacle. All of which is true whether you go the iUniverse route or publish the book yourself.
    Are there cases where people have bucked the odds and the stigma of self-publishing and achieved great success? Absolutely. People also win the lottery. But those are the one-in-a-million exceptions.
    The fact remains that most self-published novels are rejected manuscripts that, for whatever reason, aren’t good enough or marketable enough to interest paying publishers…or from authors who have never been able to break in because they lack the patience, back-bone, skill or talent to do so.
    There’s a reason some authors can’t get into print. Because they can’t write. Publishing their unpublishable book themselves doesn’t change that. Most of the time, it just means they have money, time and energy to waste.

  13. “There’s a reason some authors can’t get into print. Because they can’t write. Publishing their unpublishable book themselves doesn’t change that. Most of the time, it just means they have money, time and energy to waste.”
    For the majority, I’ll agree. But that’s too black and white.
    If Five Star hadn’t picked up Man with the Iron On Badge, it might not have gotten into print. Would that mean it wasn’t worthy of print? One editor’s decision on any given day determines if you have talent or if you don’t?
    How about those 4 out of 5 books that are tradionally published, but lose money? Should they have been published at all? These were picked by that savvy editor who determines what is good enough. But were they really good enough?
    Do you truly believe the pilots you’ve pitched and couldn’t sell aren’t good enough to produce?
    I’d love to believe that NY publishing always picks winners, and never makes mistakes, and if a manuscript is good enough it will always find a home. But that isn’t true.
    While the majority of the good stuff finds a home, and the majority of bad stuff gets rejected, there are some good things that don’t sell, and some bad things that do. That’s my point.
    Publishing isn’t a fair or honest business. If editors, in all of their wisdom, knew what would sell, every book would be a bestseller. But that isn’t the case.
    Since editors are human, and make mistakes, I think it is possible for a small percentage of good manuscripts to slip through the cracks.
    Hunt for Red October was originally published by a small miltary press. Time to Kill was a small press. Chicken Soup for the Soul was self published. Christmas Box was self published. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was a regional press. None of them had big NY publishing behind them, at first.
    Sure, they’re all one in a million. And sure, most self-published stuff sucks. Getting published tradionally does weed out a lot of the bad writers.
    The reason I’m even debating this issue is that I know too many authors who have been burned by POD vanity presses, and the reputation those presses have is well desrved, but it isn’t the same thing as self-publishing. The difference is that POD is a scam, and self-publishing is a business.
    The literary worth of a manuscript, whther it is traidonally published, self-published, or unpublished, is largely subjective. Why did I sell my first book? Luck. Pure luck. I got the right book in front of the right editor at the right time. Had I been a month early, or a month late, I might not have had the sale.
    Did my book have to meet a certain standard to get accepted? Sure. But several houses rejected it, even though it apparently meets that certain standard.
    It’s a one in a million shot that ANYTHING becomes successful. The odds of finding an agent are staggering. Getting a book published is even harder. Having a book that makes a lot of money is harder still.
    That said, assuming I knew I had a book that was good enough but couldn’t sell, I still wouldn’t self-publish. It’s too much work, too hard to get reviewed and to distribute, and the stigma attached to self-publishing is damaging.
    I’m against POD services. I’m not against self-publishing, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, even though I think it can be done successfully. For all that has been said about Sandy, she’s been doing this for almost ten years, and has 1000s of books in print.
    Is she deluding herself? Perhaps. But what’s so terrible about that?

  14. Lee: One of the falicies of your arguments is that NY buys everything that is good and throws out the rest. The reality is that there are literally thousands of extremely good MSs presented to NY every year backed by hundreds of very reputable literary agents. The NY presses can print only so many books and choose what they think are the best. The end result is that literally thousands of very good books are not picked up. If you were to change out all the editors in NY and replace them with new and equally competent people, the list of accepted versus non-accepted books would no doubt change dramatically.

  15. Delusion is a bad thing wherever it may be found. I used the POD services for free and agree they’re a bad deal even at that price: because of the company one keeps, the stigma od illegitimacy and the business model.
    The business model of self-publishing is the same. Pushing books nobody wants on the fringes of the system at their own expense.
    Everything else Joe says I agree with. It’s a crap shoot but there has to be a basic professional level of work attained. I fail to see how books from big houses compare with self-published efforts.

  16. I doubt that Jim. If they’re not accepted this year possibly there will be space the mnext. It’s a competition for space in the marketplace and space is finite. What you want is editors who accept slush. Ain’t gonna happen.

  17. Actually, I might add, that NY picks the books that they think are the best for their paritcular business model at the time, taking into account such things as existing inventory, anticipated direction of the market, past sales return in the particular genre, etc. For example, a NY house may already have cozies purchased for the next three years and are really not interested in more inventory for that genre, but may be really interested in expanding Da Vinci niche materials. Bottom line, it’s all very subjective and relates to business plans. To suggest that something is crap, not good or otherwise non-publishable simply because NY does not pick it up is an argument that doesn’t recognize the realities of the business.

  18. Actually, even among the books that are accepted, or are not accepted, there is often discord among the editors themselves. The first editor who reads it may like it. Then it goes to a 2nd reading, doesn’t make the grade there and ususally dies. Some discord. It may pass the first few editors and the board may not like it for whatever reason. Or it may pass the board who then sends it to finance for a P&L evaluation. If the numbers aren’t particularly good, it may die at that stage.
    Also, if a reputable agent submits the book, it doesn’t go into a “slush” pile. When I went the agent/publisher route on my first MS Perfect Shadows many years ago, the book was read in full by everyone it was sent to. That was obvious from the detailed comments submitted back to my agent.
    Sometimes non-acceptace is based on the quality of the work. Sometimes, however, the work may compete with an existing author in the stable, or the house may have options with existing authors and want to see what they submit prior to giving other work serious scrutiny, etc. Bottom line, it’s very subjective and many good books that readers would enjoy tremendously don’t get bought.
    To equate “publishable” with “Did you get paid?” is not particularly convincing, at least to me.

  19. I think a key to remember in all this is the word – LUCK. You may have the greatest book on earth but if the editor in the big publishing house just doesn’t like it– then it gets canned! Harry Potter almost wasn’t here for this reason.
    The future of publishing is changing greatly as technology starts to shape the publishing world. Just look at what the iPod and iTunes has done to music and the video iPod is about to do to DVDs…
    As the POD industry scales up and gets it’s act together it gives authors something that is lacking from the big publishing houses – CHOICE.
    In publishing SECRET REVELATION ( ) I had a cast iron certifed contract with a major publishing house – and I dropped them. WHY? because they were taking away my choice. The book would have been mutilated to a point where it was no longer the work I wanted. In their opinion it was becoming a better commercial product. in mine it was becoming garbage.
    Will I sell as many copies as Dan Brown? Or be as big as Harry Potter – NO. But by being with a big publishing house I got no guarentees either!!!
    POD and self publishing is probably a more realistic avenue for the 99.9% of authors out there and if enough take this route it may wake up these mega monster publishing houses to change the way they do business.

  20. Jim wrote: To suggest that something is crap, not good or otherwise non-publishable simply because NY does not pick it up is an argument that doesn’t recognize the realities of the business.
    I’ll be generous. Let’s say 10% of all the books rejected by traditional publishers are brilliantly written works of art. Still, the vast majority of rejected manuscripts are horrific crap. Self-publishing that horrific crap doesn’t make them any less crappy or give them much of a chance at success.
    But what about the hypothetical 10% that are brilliant works of literary genius? Let’s say THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE is one of them. It was rejected by just about everyone. If Five Star had passed, I probably would have put it in a drawer. At some point, a few years down the road, I might have considered revising it and sending it out again. Most likely, it would have just stayed in the drawer and I would have moved on to something else.
    But would I ever have considered POD or self-publishing? Never. Why? Because it would have cost me money that I probably never would have earned back. Because the book itself probably wouldn’t look or feel professional. Because the book wouldn’t get reviewed. Because the book wouldn’t get widely distributed. Because the book wouldn’t get any respect. Because the book wouldn’t sell worth a damn. Because self-publishing would probably hurt my career more than help it.
    To get published, your novel has to be good enough, and marketable enough, to a) attract an agent, b) attract an editor and c) get a publishing company behind it. Those hurdles weed out an awful lot of crap…and yes, a small percentage of those discards might be great literature. Of those rejected or unsaleable novels that are self-published, perhaps one-in-a-million generates the sales of a typical mid-list hardcover.
    So does self-publishing make sense? I don’t think so.
    So does a self-published novel usually deserve the stigma attached to it? Yeah, I think it does.
    Steve wrote: POD and self publishing is probably a more realistic avenue for the 99.9% of authors out there
    I agree — because 99.9% of them aren’t good enough to be published and POD is the only way their sludge will see print in book form.

  21. To get published, your novel has to be good enough, and marketable enough
    I think you hit on it with the word ‘marketable’. What’s being looked for this year, might be different a few years from now. We hear the tales from authors who are ‘sudden successes’ with a manuscript tossed in a drawer a decade ago because it just wasn’t right for the market. Or the ones who spend a lot of years submitting and revising and writing other things and collecting rejections and learning who suddenly become ‘an important new voice’.
    In other words, have another source of income because this is a helluva industry requiring balls of steel and the patience of a doting grandmother.
    To play the flip side, I’ll quote an author I greatly respect:
    “Being published doesn’t mean you can write. Being unpublished doesn’t mean you can’t.”

  22. Ultimately, I think it comes down to what you’re looking for as a writer. What is your goal? Is your goal to have “a book published” no matter what? Even if you have to pay for it yourself? If that’s really your only goal, then self-publishing or vanity publishing may be right for you. As long as you know what you’re getting yourself into and know the very real limitations of that strategy, then it might be a viable option.
    There are definitely some significant negatives associated with that path, though: it will cost you money rather than make you money; the book will likely not be up to the standard of traditionally published books, either in form or content; most people will never have the opportunity to see your book as it probably won’t be in stores; your book will almost surely not be reviewed, other than by internet sites if you’re lucky; your book will not, in most people’s eyes, earn you the status of published author.
    If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a career as a writer…If you’re looking for the best opportunity to make money writing books. If you want to have the chance to see your book in stores across the country. If you want to pick up the New York Times or the Washington Post and read a review of your book. If you want to join the professional community of writers on an equal footing… Then there is really no alternative to the traditional way of doing things. Self-publishing is not a path to those destinations.
    Some people, though, don’t want to write as a career. They don’t want to be professional authors necessarily. They wrote a book and they want to share that book with a limited number of people. And maybe, if lightning strikes, they might make a couple bucks. The likelihood is that the entire enterprise will be a flop. But even given that, it might be worth the money to be able to point to a book on the shelf and say “I wrote that.” If that’s all you’re looking for, and you’ve got the cash to spend, you might as well self-publish.
    For most people, though, I don’t think that’s what they’re looking for when they dream of being a published author.

  23. Certainly. The only way out of the vanity trench is to expand, rewrite and send the book out again. The goal is always commercial publication and viable market for the work. This is the only avenue for that goal. As for the testimony of Mr. Bell here “mutilation” most likely meant the work needed remodeling to be vaild for the marketplace. It won’t be now. He should have followed the advice.

  24. Since the article about me started this string, I thought I might weigh in and clear up all the rampant speculation.
    No, I did not submit my manuscripts to an agent or publishing house. I considered it, but after researching it believed that the process was too lengthy and, from reading the stats, the probability too small to go to the expense of hiring an agent.
    I had a large, world-wide fan base already (readers from over 90 countries according to my statistics monitor)due to posting the books in pieces on the web for free at Austen fanfiction sites, then on my own site. I knew I had a good number of people who wanted my work in print form. I looked at outfits like IUniverse and concluded that with some work, I could master the process myself and cut out their take of the profits, not to mention save myself the start-up fees.
    Thus began a learning process that resulted in my setting up Wytherngate Press as a business and publishing the first book in fall 2003 using a print-on-demand printing company and the influence of Ingram Books as the “distributor.” Ingram’s offerings are automatically taken up by Amazon & Barnes & Noble, probably other online bookstores as well.
    I hoped for sales of 1,000 books in the first year. Actual sales were just over 10,000 for the first book (Oct 2003-Dec2004) and almost 7,000 for book 2 (Aug. 2004-Dec 2004). Profits depended, of course, on how it was sold, but ranged from $2.00 to almost $9.00 per book. As someone pointed out, this is quite a better profit margin than the 7% royalty of NY publishing houses.
    Well on my way to 30,000+ books sold, I was contacted by Simon & Schuster. I refused their first 3 offers and then was asked what I wanted. I wanted a lawyer. I hired Lloyd Jassin, an associate of Publishers Marketing Association–an association of small presses–to take up the negotiations because, frankly, it was all out of my league. He negotiated the six-figures and only after I was able to have in the contract a provision that I could sell my books, including the third which had not been finished yet, until S&S began publishing them, did I believe it was a wise business decision to sign.
    I had been perfectly happy with self-publishing. They came to me and only after much negotiation did it make financial sense to sign.
    How did S&S “discover” me? The fiction buyer for Barnes & Noble in NY told them that I was outselling their writers writing the same genre and that was even though my books were not in the brick-and-mortar stores.
    So, in my view, self-publishing is a viable alternative. Granted, the vanity PODs do merely take the money and run, so to speak, but that does not mean the entire means of production or the small presses who begin with POD resources such as Lightning Source should be tarred with the same brush.
    Expose the fakes and the cheats in the publishing business–that’s beneficial to everyone, but really, the disdain I’m hearing with some of the comments sounds suspiciously like elitism. There’s enough paper out there for the vast majority of those who actually take the time to put their thoughts down and there are niches that small presses, etc. are perfect to fill.
    –Pamela Aidan

  25. after researching it believed that… the probability too small to go to the expense of hiring an agent.
    I’m glad you had a success, but I don’t think much of your research skills.

  26. Yeah hiring an agent is a common fallacy among vanity press advocates. If that means paying one a priori at least. So is the elitism charge. On the whole it’s about quality and salability. Vanity presses offer neither.

  27. You’ll notice for all her yippee-yahooing about self-publishing, she still chucked it for a traditional publisher. If self-publishing is so great and profitable, why didn’t she stick with it? Why go with a traditional publisher at all?
    You’ll notice the traditional publisher didn’t come calling until she sold 30,000+ copies. How many self-published novels have that kind of success…virtually none.
    I congratulate her on her well-deserved success. She has every reason to be proud. But I think even she should acknowledge that her success is extraordinarily rare exception in the POD/self-publishing world…and that traditional publishing is still what every author seeks…including her.
    When all is said and done, she didn’t refute any of Mr. Goldberg’s informative observations about the pitfals of self-publishing. If anything, she bolstered them.

  28. OK, this last and then I’m outta here.
    Self-publishing for me WAS great! I was amazed and happy with how my books were selling and VERY happy with the money they were making. And I had done it MYSELF! But, if someone with more reach makes you an offer that makes financial sense, still gives you control over your book sales for 6 months after signing, and offers you what you can reasonably project is 2 years worth of sales profit in the advance, am I going to cut off my nose to spite my face? Remember, I refused 3 offers and only signed after hiring a lawyer to make sure that I wasn’t being taken by the publisher. What is wrong with this? I don’t get your point. I’m not a crusader for self-publishing, just an authors who had a market and took the time and effort to try for the gold ring herself. Self-publishing, setting up my own small press was a step in what turned out to be a continuum. I didn’t know that when I started.
    Secondly, I didn’t write to refute Mr. Goldberg. I wrote because you guys were indulging in rampant speculation, ascribing all kinds of motivations to me and how I went about my publishing venture without the honesty of finding out (research, anyone?) what really happened, or why or how I did it.
    Thirdly, I continue to run my small press as a business, publishing other authors. I have one title in production and two more in the finishing stages of writing. If S&S doesn’t like my own next book, I will publish it myself. If all goes well, I hope to start printing books without using a POD service. Until I am ready to make that capital investment, I find POD services the ideal method to get books into print. The service I use is the same used by the NY publishing houses and has the same quality any other trade (note: trade, not mass-market) paperback. It is economical, hassle-free, and lucrative. Going to off-set printing will increase that margin, but contracts with distributors, etc. will eat into it.
    So, fellas, gripe all you want and continue to bolster eachother’s egos talking to yourselves. I’m outta here, working hard to build my little small press, and maybe help some other writers along the way.

  29. “The service I use is the same used by the NY publishing houses and has the same quality any other trade (note: trade, not mass-market) paperback.”
    Been taking lessons from Publishamerica? Because this is exactly ehat they say. POD is in no way a viable way to get books in front of readers. As countless attempts by 99.9999 precent have shown. That’s the data to consider.


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