A New Alternative to Finding a Publisher: Do It Yourself!
By Diana Laurence (TNBW Star Reviewer)
Aspiring authors dream of the day they finally get “The Call,” and sign a real book contract, and wait happily for the first time a stranger buys their book for real money. To fulfill that dream, we writers have always depended upon publishers…we’ve been at their mercy, so to speak. And traditionally, publishers have called all the shots, from choosing what books see the light of day, to deciding when they come off the bookstore shelves for good.
But publishing is changing fast, and authors today can fulfill their dreams in many different ways we never dreamed of. My story illustrates that as well as any.
In 2004 I signed my first contract in the erotic romance genre with a small independent publisher. Six months later I had become their best-selling author. My career in romance was off the ground, and things went terrifically until early 2006, when suddenly I learned my publisher was closing business.
It was the second time in my career I had lost a publisher. The first time, back in 1998, I responded by forming a little company myself, so I could publish my existing two books. I found a printer that could do very short runs for a decent price. Since then I kept my company operational, and used it to produce a few ebooks for free distribution.
And when I lost my publisher this year, publishing myself was an even more appealing option than back in 1998. The advent of ebooks and print-on-demand (POD) means you can produce books with extremely low up-front costs. Internet distribution, especially Amazon, allow readers around the world to find small press books and buy them. So I asked myself if there was anything another small publisher could do for me that I couldn’t manage to do on my own, and to be honest, according to my experience there wasn’t much!
I decided to give being my own publisher a try. I recreated my two print books and six ebooks, as well as print and ebook versions of a new book my old publisher had also contracted to release. I worked directly with Lightning Source, Inc. to publish my books; LSI is the company many “self-publishing” companies use for ebook and POD production. I completed this project in less than five weeks, while holding down a full time day job as well.
Doing it this way was a lot more work than choosing the option of using a fee-based “self-publishing” company like iUniverse or Author House. But it was worth it for the total creative control as well as the savings. It cost me under $750 to publish all these books. By contrast, AuthorHouse would have charged over $3,000 for what I did on my own!
Sales have caught up quickly to what they were under my previous publisher, and because I take all the profits rather than just a royalty, my income is much higher than before. But best of all, I have full control of my destiny: the books are exactly the way I want them, and no one but me can remove my titles from availability. It’s hard to put a price on that.
Sure, it can be hard to let go of the dream of becoming a bestselling author with Random House, and I’m not saying no author should give that a try. But when you’re considering your various options as an author today, it’s important to consider the current state of publishing. The big houses become less and less interested in new authors every year. Independent bookstores close, and the big chains carry fewer small press titles. It’s sad, because this short-changes readers as much as it does writers.
But there’s good news too: there is a revolution among writers and readers to bypass this system. The new wave is small electronic presses, “self-publishing” companies, and authors like me who directly publish themselves. Authors and readers are finding each other now often without any intervention by traditional Big Publishing.
So I urge new and aspiring authors to look beyond the old models for success in publishing and consider all your options. You may be able to realize your dream in a completely new way. The approach I took to success as an author isn’t perfect for everyone, but if you have basic skills in business management, marketing, graphic design, and web design, I encourage you to consider the option of starting your own publishing company. It’s just one of the exciting ways you can get your words before the eyes of readers—and isn’t that the dream we all share?
Diana Laurence (writing as Diana Lau) details her complete blueprint for being your own publisher in her ebook Do-It-YourSelf-Publishing (www.dianalaurence.com/diyp.html). It is available for $2.99 from Amazon or 15% off from Living Beyond Reality Press (www.livingbeyondreality.com).