Having finally completed my novel, And the Memory Returns, I once again have entered the publishing jungle. My novel, at 40,000 words, is considered “too short” by the established “gatekeepers” to make a marketable novel—the going rate is 60,000 words or more. Nor is the topic idiosyncratic or blatantly catchy or a marketable genre like romance or suspense. A literary fictional story of a woman’s search for meaning as she ages, And the Memory Returns, is probably not going to set the book world afire. Nor can I add to the length when I feel the story is just perfect and compelling, as is.
How could I publish my book? I’m not willing to wait years required by the traditional publishing industry to see my book make it into readers’ hands, even if an agent would want my story.
So it was that I began the quest to find a self-publishing company that offered the services I needed, hopefully, without breaking the proverbial bank. I heard from so many “vanity” publishers under the guise of “small publishers” that my head began to spin. Somehow, they even got my phone number. One talked to me over an hour as to how I had to consider my book a “spiritual endeavor” and put all my heart and soul into it, including setting myself up with a website as a speaker at national events. All for a fee, of course.
Another pretended to be a “traditional” publisher by saying publishing my book would end up costing me nothing. We accept your manuscript, they said, (without even reading it) because we know you have the “following.” But remember, we don’t accept just everyone. Upon further evaluation and emails back and forth, I learned I had to crowdfund $6,000 to meet their expenses of formatting, editing and cover design. Were they kidding? Not a fan of crowdfunding even for noble causes, I wasn’t about to ask friends and colleagues if they would donate to my publishing endeavor and then buy my book too.
For now, I have landed at BookBaby, a one-stop shop, much like Amazon’s CreateSpace, now defunct, which I used with great success to publish both my memoirs and my first novel. Except at CreateSpace, you got two cover samples. This time, just one. I have to write my own synopsis and prepare notes on my design, front and back, and hope that the one and only sample I am offered works.
I never had to worry whether my manuscript was properly formatted because I was paying CreateSpace to do that. And there were no additional charges with CreateSpace for fixing minor typos. Now, I need to consider that if my manuscript isn’t pitch perfect, there are additional fees. For example, fixing typos begins at a base rate of $50 and then $2 for every typo after that. Fair enough, although it makes me nervous since attempting to ensure the manuscript is flawless, without having to spend another several hundred dollars on copy editing or proofreading off the base price of $2,190, not including taxes, is a bit intimidating. That price is based on a shipment of 25 paperback books. Price goes up by just over $11 for every paperback I purchase, far above the approximately $4 which I spent at CreateSpace for a book of the same length and page count. (BookBaby did waive the shipping fee of $90 for 25 books because I live within an hour of their printing distribution center.) The pricing means I have to charge at least $15 to make even a little money off sales of the paperback. I can set my own price for the ebook on Kindle, and will get 70 percent for each sale.
Still, after much research BookBaby came highly recommended by indie publishing groups. And factoring in inflation and the years since I last published, I am getting ready to write the check. That is, unless you know of something better. I’m all ears.
This isn’t to say that I hadn’t already spent $1,350 on professional editing over two iterations of my manuscript because I did. I also had two beta reads, which a writer friend did in exchange for me taking her out to lunch and I’ve read numerous excerpts with feedback in the Women’s Writing Circle. In the end, all my hours of hard work writing the book will end up costing me about $3,500, which is far above the $1,900 I spent seven years ago on editing and CreateSpace.
Will I ever recoup my expenses? Probably not. But it could be worse. I know authors who have spent literally $10,000 or more to publish their work. I won’t be paying for the marketing package some of them bought. As a former journalist and publicist, I’m hoping I have the tools to do that myself. And the time, of course! It’s a jungle out there. Yet like most authors, I owe it to myself to “birth this baby.”
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences in publishing your book.