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June 22, 2012 / diannegray

Self-publishing #1 – Hard Copy

Even though I’ve been published by some mainstream publishers (which was wonderful, by the way), I made the decision about five years ago to self-publish. The reasons were varied:

  • It can take 12-18 months for a publisher to print your book (and I can be impatient)
  • Royalties can vary between 7 – 25% (if you’re lucky)
  • You don’t get a lot of control over the work (layout, cover, etc.)

The only real advantage of going with a mainstream publisher is their marketing power, which is huge – so the pros and cons need to be carefully balanced before these decisions are made.

There’s a lot of talk about self-publishing killing the mainstream publishing industry and how self-publishing is a fad that will burn itself out like the plague. I think both are wrong.

If anything, self-publishing will give mainstream publishing the boost they need (if self-publishing kills off anything it will be literary agents). Looking into my crystal ball I can see mainstream publishing houses sitting back and watching the self-publishing market. Authors who manage to float to the top of this http://www.slush pile will be scooped off the top and offered the contracts. This will save the publishing houses a lot of time and money searching for the next big thing. The author has already done the hard yards, opened up a market for their book and is carrying their fans money straight into the pockets of the publishing house.

If you think self-publishing is the way to go, I’ll tell you what I know about it and hopefully it’ll save you some time and money.

Hard copy publishing.

I’ll use the Lulu self-publishing site here because it’s been very successful for me. There are plenty of other sites out there and it would be great to hear the experiences of other authors. So please let us all know if you’ve got any tips.

What initially drew me to Lulu is that it’s free and virtually immediate. You finish your manuscript, upload it with a cover (you don’t necessarily need a cover for your first proof copy, but I’ll go into covers in a future blog) and several days later your book is in the mailbox. Seriously, I live in Australia, Lulu is an American company and I’ve had books delivered within days of ordering. It’s a wonderful feeling holding that book in your hands for the very first time.

There is a vast difference between reading a manuscript on A4 and reading it in book form. It’s easy to forget that this is actually YOUR book as you flick through the pages and once you get into the story, it’s even easier to pick up mistakes.

I usually order one book to begin with, because no matter how good we think we are at proofreading, there’s always a mistake somewhere! I can then read the book and re-edit if I find any mistakes. I then order several more to give out to family and friends (with a pen and post-it notes) so they can pick up any mistakes I’ve missed. Believe me, this is a good way to get your work polished, because different people pick up different mistakes. Sometimes my family and friends compare and can get very competitive if someone picks up something everyone else has missed (it can get quite funny).

So far this has cost me $0 to publish, about $5.00 for each book and about $10.00 postage and handling – so I’m out of pocket about $30.00 (which is a hell of a lot cheaper than using a vanity publishing company because they usually print hundreds of copies and you’re out thousands until you can sell them all – and if there’s a mistake it’s your tough luck!).

Once I get the books back I can re-edit if anyone finds a mistake. I can also get feedback about the story itself – was it interesting, would you buy it if you saw it in a shop, what do you think of the cover, etc.

Your book is now officially ready for sale and you can point family, friends, twitter, Facebook friends and fans in its direction. The other good thing about publishing this way is you get paid immediately for each sale (the amount depends on how much you’re selling it for – for example, my books go for about $15.00 and I get about half of that which is a lot more than you get from mainstream publishing houses.)

I’ll blog soon about my experience with e-publishing.

In the meantime, good luck with your book!



Leave a Comment
  1. makayladurfey / Jul 9 2012 12:45 pm

    Hello Dianne,

    I haven’t published with a mainstream publishing house, though I want to, and would like to ask a few questions. I’m only fifteen and I’ve self-published one book, but I heard that a person tends to make more money with it; plus I REALLY need their marketing power. I’m not very good at it myself lol. I want to be able to make a living from being a writer, so I am wanting to go the route with the most money. A person may get more royalty money self-publishing but if they can’t market and get the work known and sold, they would be making less than they would with a place that can get your name in the big-leageus. Or this is what i understand, at least. But how does the proccess go? I had thought that you take a contract with them, they pay you so much for the rights, then you get royalties. Is that true? Maybe you can explain this to me? Thanks a bunch.


    • diannegray / Jul 9 2012 9:17 pm

      Hey Makayla – thanks for your comment! There are a couple of things here. You’ve got a blog and have been published but I couldn’t find your book. This is a big part of marketing so a link to your book on your blog would be great. I think you’re heading in the right direction looking for an agent. Agents get you in the door of the publishing houses. As for the money? It’s up to you how you want to go with that. If you can get an agent and then a publishing contract everything else should fall into place. It sounds like (at fifteen) you’re doing very well!


  2. saywhateveriwant / Jul 12 2012 9:06 am

    This is some really great information, thank you!


    • diannegray / Jul 12 2012 9:27 am

      Thank you for reading my blog. I’m really enjoying yours 🙂


  3. Scott Johnson / Jul 14 2012 5:32 pm

    Dianne …. I have self-published a novel, The Guide, through Booklocker & Amazon. I’ve also self-published a couple of short stories through Smashwords & Amazon. I’m thinking of consolidating everything over to Amazon (& Createspace for printed copy). I think you probably increase your chances of selling and being “discovered” through Amazon. If I point people toward Smashwords or Booklocker or Lulu, they’ve probably never heard of these sites, and might be less likey to purchase–I don’t know, just a theory. Your thoughts?

    Can you give any advice on promoting writing other than blogging? I am gradually building an audience through blogging, but I’m always looking for other avenues — interviews, book reviews, contests, etc. Just curious what things you have found that work for you.


    • diannegray / Jul 14 2012 9:22 pm

      Hi Scott. Good questions – you’ve really got me thinking.

      My books are all available on Amazon, they were selling like hotcakes until soon after KDP came in (go figure).

      The main thing that has worked for me is the awards. I’ve received a few and there is a list of them on the left side of my homepage

      I think publishers need to take you seriously and to know that your writing can stand on its own. It’s very difficult to win an award because you’re up against so many people who are truly passionate and dedicated to their craft. Publishers see this and know that 1. You’re really serious about writing, and 2. You can tell good story.

      I like reading ‘Writer Beware’ because they keep an eye on awards and competitions and let you know what’s good and what’s not.

      My best advice to you is to continue to do what you love and stay passionate about it:)


      • Scott Johnson / Jul 14 2012 10:05 pm

        Thanks Dianne … that’s great advice. I haven’t pursued or entered any contests. But I have made efforts to polish my writing skills. I believe blogging, short stories and the help of a copy editor are bringing some improvements. I’ve also considered writing articles for magazines–anything to show credentials and that I’m serious about the craft. Look forward to following the topics here.


  4. nt12many / Jul 14 2012 10:57 pm

    Great advice. I am just finishing up a book and have been going in circles trying to decide the best avenue to get it out there. I love the idea of self publishing only a few at a time to get them edited and proofed first.

    Thanks for following my blog. I am honored!

    Jill Farrris


    • diannegray / Jul 14 2012 11:13 pm

      Thank you, Jill – and best of luck with your publishing!


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