Hands With The Devil
by A.P. Fuchs
Self-publishing is on the rise. More and more writers
are putting their own work out themselves nowadays than
at any point in recent history. Unfortunately, many who
are doing so are kissing their writing careers goodbye
by getting sucked in to can't miss deals and falling for
a wealth of misinformation.
is an address to the serious writer who, for whatever
reason, has chosen to put their work out themselves, the
writer who is set on making it in an unsympathetic industrythe
mad, mad world of book publishing. I say "book,"
as in the fiction novel. There are self-publishing "give
ins," such as poetry collections, chapbooks and cookbooks,
items where it is very, very difficult to land a traditional
publisher for a project unless you're an established literary
figure and/or celebrity to begin with. But these types
of books are another topic altogether so let's just stick
with fiction book publishing.
biggest pitfall is the misuse of the word "self-publishing,"
which in turn has led many hopeful writers down the path
of let down and despair and, for some, the victims of
criminal behavior. By definition, self-publishing is the
act of an author putting out his/her work by themselves
through their own publishing company even if that publishing
company exists solely to put out that particular author's
work. It has been misconstrued that self-publishing also
applies to subsidy print-on-demand outfits like Authorhouse
(formerly 1st Books Library), Iuniverse, Lulu, Xilbris,
Heliographica Press, Aventine Press, Page Free Publishing
and others. It does not, and that point must be emphasized.
This is shaking hands with the devil, my friends, and
I will tell you why.
is a beautiful technology. It saves trees by only printing
books as they are required and, in the final cost analysis,
are easier on the struggling writer's wallet and for the
publishing company who uses it to keep their backlist
in print. However, it is a technology that has been abused
by subsidy outfits, who in turn accept works "submitted"
by writers and "publish" them for a fee. (In
other words, they accept all works submitted provided
the author has enough money to pay them; even Lulu, who
has no upfront costs, makes their money on the heavily
marked-up per-unit cost of their print-on-demand books
when a reader purchases an author's title.) There is no
editorial input or correction. These companies' jobs is
to format your book for print, do up a cover and make
it "available" for sale-all for an especially
high fee (which varies company to company).
the serious author who has elected to self-publish his/her
work by joining forces with a subsidy companywhether
they use print-on-demand or offset printing (commonly
used by vanity "publishers")they are stomping
on their own foot in their goal of one day writing fulltime
and/or publishing for a living. The drawbacks to using
a subsidy company are plenty, but there are two issues
that arise that, when weighed against the others, are
the most detrimental: high cost/little return and zero
respect, both from the publishing industry (including,
but not limited to, other writers, editors, agents, traditional
publishing firms, bookstores) and, eventually, and most
importantly, the reader.
cost/little return. On average, these companies charge
anywhere from $400-$800+ to "publish" your book.
Pretend it ends up costing you only $400. On average,
these companies pay out only a 20% Net royalty, typically
defined as book cover cost less any wholesale distributor
discounts less per-unit print cost of the book. For this
example, let's take the average cost of a self-published
book, which would be about $15 for a 250-page paperback
novel. Using the above formula, $1540% industry
standard discount$5 (average) per unit print cost
= $4 (Net). 20% of $4 is 80 cents. For you to merely break
even on your investment if you paired with a subsidy print-on-demand
"publisher," you will need to sell 500 copies
of your novel never mind being compensated for the thousands
of hours it took you to write it and polish it. Can you
sell 500 copies of your book by marketing it yourself,
which you have to do with these outfits? And this is best
case scenario, mind you, despite what most authors actually
pay to these places. Think about it.
of respect. There is a stigma associated with self-publishing.
Well, there are many, but the main one centers around
the fact that the vast majority of self-published books
have not been edited by a professional editor, in turn
allowing a product riddled with spelling errors, poor
grammar, terrible punctuation and more, in to the marketplace.
Subsidy "publishers" in spite of what printing
method they use do not care about these things. They have
your money from the start and if your book is full of
errors, they don't care. They've already profited. Bookstores,
agents, editors, professional writers and traditional
publishers have wisened up to these places and know them
all by name. If they see that your novel was "published"
by one of these places, more often than not, you will
not be taken seriously as a writer despite how serious
you may be. In an industry where image and respect and
networking are important ingredients to getting one's
literary career off the ground, these are people you do
not want looking down on you. Sure, there is the occasional
subsidy"published" author who lands a
book deal for their subsidy"published"
book, but these are few and far between compared to the
thousands of authors who subsidy"publish"
their novel each year. Please do not use them as an "if
they can do it so can I" example. The hard reality
is you will most likely wind up with a hole in your wallet
and zero credibility to your writing ability because you
have chosen to "publish" your book this way.
there is hope: true self-publishing. Do everything yourself
save for at least farming out the editing of your book
to a professional editor for clean up.
on that later.
2006 by A.P. Fuchs
Fuchs finished writing his first book, A Stranger Dead,
at age 19. It was published in 2003. Since then he has
written and completed 6 more books, ranging from fiction
to non-fiction to poetry.
2004 he founded Coscom Entertainment, a publishing firm
specializing in superhero and speculative fiction. Coscom
Entertainment also has a comic book division.
as an advocate for the independent press and self-publishing
author, Fuchs believes it is there that the future of
great literature lies, where authentic voices will be
heard and where excellent reading will be born for years