In a comment to a previous post, someone mentioned they had a good experience self-publishing their non-fiction work.

Let me make it clear, I’m not knocking self-publishing, except for people who think it’s
going to get them into "brick and mortar" bookstores, reviewed in tne
New York Times, and onto the bestseller lists… or that it makes them "published authors." (That’s a seperate rant for another post).Mygunpbk

When my book UNSOLD
went out-of-print after ten years, I reprinted it for
free through the Authors Guild’s "Back in Print" iUniverse program (in
a cheaper, two-volume set) and have been very happy with the results. I
get a few hundred dollars in royalties every year… it doesn’t sound
like much, but it’s more than I’d get if the book remained

I also reprinted for free MY GUN HAS BULLETS, through the now-aborted Mystery Writers of America/iUniverse program, and I’m happier with the way it turned out than I was with the original, hardcover, St. Martin’s release… and I’m getting some royalties every now and then.

My experience with iUniverse has been terrific. I have no
complaints at all about the service, the quality of the books, or the
timely payment of royalties. Then again, iUniverse doesn’t pretend to
be anything it isn’t.

14 thoughts on “Self-Publishing”

  1. That’s right Lee. My iUniverse book is competitively priced and although they try to sell you copies at discount, there are no deceptive business practices here. I wouldn’t do it again unless the out-of-print scenario you described applied to my work as well.

  2. Lee,
    I was once a section editor at iUniverse, back when they had various communities (unless they still do? haven’t checked in years). I edited the TV section (of course).
    I’m curious about your thoughts on self-publishing. As someone who has self-published a lot of stuff (magazines, books, etc) over the years, I happen to think self-publishing is legit, and has grown from the “self-publishing is only for those who can’t sell it the real way” days. I think that writers can actually live in both worlds.

  3. I don’t. Nobody takes fiction that’s self-published seriously. On a few very rare occasions, writers have managed to break out for their self-published novels.
    I don’t know if the same is true for non-fiction.

  4. They don’t. But as journalist Laurie Notaro proved it is possible to move up from iU. Hers was a nonfiction memoir and even as a columnist for the Arizona Republic couldn’t get reviews. Of course true self-publishing is another matter than vanity publishing but this is costly and the ultimate goal is traditonal publishing. Hello? We’re “back to one.”

  5. I’m not so sure about that Lee. I can name 5 writers off the top of my head who were noticed by their first self-published books and went on to get agents and book contracts from traditional publishers. Both fiction and non-fiction, though I agree it’s not the norm.
    I should probably clarify by what I mean by the phrase “writers can live in both worlds.” I’ve been self-publishing magazines since 1989, and they have been successful and even made money. Then I went on to more “traditional” publishing from there. In fact, I still publish a magazine online. I self-published my first book (non-fiction essays), and I don’t see why having that book would hurt my chances. Especially when, to get an agent or publisher, you have to send them a query and/or sample chapters or clips or a link to your site. How is that different than showing them a book you had published, whether it’s self-published or not?

  6. The idea of self-publishing fiction is a rather scary thought. With non-fiction, you can market it in so many, many ways that just don’t exist for unknown fiction writers.
    Even with a website, you are more likely to get sales as an unknown non-fiction writer than an unknown ficiton writer. It’s much easier to convince people that you have information that they want. It’s harder to convince people that you have a story that they must read now.

  7. But Mark, self-publishing and vanity publishing are two different things.
    Here are the examples I thought of:
    James Redfield (“The Celestine Prophecy”)
    MJ Rose (“Lip Service”)
    Marty Beckerman (“Death To All Cheerleaders”)
    David Barringer (“The Leap And Other Mistakes”)
    And Dave Eggers continues to self-publish books even though he also publishes through major publishers.
    Now this isn’t to say I disagree with Lee and Thomas David and Mark, I’m just saying that there are more options nowadays. I self-published my first book and that got me a lot of attention and press. Will I do it again? Probably not (unless I do it as part of my publishing company), but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth looking into.

  8. What attention? What press? What are the sales figures?
    Redfield truely self-published not vanity published e.g. with returns offset printing distribution and so on. Same with MJ Rose. Never heard of the last two.

  9. Lee, I agree with you about the IUniverse bits except for the part about royalties. I have sent dozens of letters to them inquiring about my royalty receiving the automated reply “no sales last months X 48 months. No human has bothered to answer my query. This is false manifestly because I checked with Amazon com, BN com and also Wal Mart com and see that my book is rated well. If I had the money Id sue them though through the labyrinth I can only talk to a small office fall guy.


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