Follow-up to the Author’s Publishing Jungle

Last week’s post “The Author’s Publishing Jungle” engendered quite a bit of interest here and on Facebook. Authors and would-be authors chimed in on myriad experiences with publishing their work. On closer questioning on my part (after all, I’m a former reporter), it seemed not all publishing experiences are created equal. Even the language of publishing itself had different meanings, depending on who you talked to.

Photo by Jacob Colvin on

For example, whether formatting a manuscript yourself for free through KDP or hiring someone to do it (not clear who they were or how people found them and will they be around in two years to make updates or do you have to know how to do that?), questions for me remain. And what does the end product look like?

Whether working with small presses versus university presses or hybrid publishers (a term that seems to have a somewhat amorphous definition, depending on who you talk to) divergent opinions left me with questions. (If I were writing a memoir with a lot of history and historic relevance, I would definitely consider a university press, which one writer over on the National Association of Memoir Writers’ Facebook page suggested.) What about royalties or creative control?

I have been in the “game” of self-publishing since 2010 and I’m still convinced it’s the way to go, at least for my work. Ever since 2010, I never again queried a small press. Why? One of the reasons was that when I tried to get Again in a Heartbeat published, I was told my memoir could contain libelous material (I wrote about dating various men) and so they were not interested. Another reason was the length of time between submission and publication.

A formatter can be hired, it seems, but what if you want ebook and paperback? Can they do both and make them look right? Others said they loved their book, but it didn’t have all the bells and whistles. I want chapter heading fonts, design fleurons and running heads.

Some experiences went from using a small press to self-publishing. Why the switch?

In my mind, and this is just me talking, there’s a lot of “apples and oranges” comparisons going on when people talk about publishing a book. One book may not resemble what I envision for my book but might be fine for another. The book I want requires professionals who have skills I don’t. They should know how to create a good-looking product that resembles any traditionally published book you might find in a bookstore.

As I mentioned last week, I wasn’t willing to break the bank to get my work out there. I had selected BookBaby because I liked the one-stop shopping aspect. The pricing seemed okay since I wanted ISBNs and cover design and interior formatting for print and ebook. People answer the phone after a few rings and their online information/website is impressive. Concerned with the quote I received showing pricing for a trade paperback at $11 (compared to the $4 that I spent in 2015 for my novel of the same length as the new novel), a BookBaby representative clarified that for me this morning. The $11 is the initial price built into and included in the $2,109 self-publishing package. (Basically, those 25 copies become giveaways for marketing or gifts.)

Once I set my own price on Amazon, I pay 50 percent of that, plus or minus, depending on how many copies I order. So, if I set the price at $12.99, I will pay 50 percent of that with discounts if I order 100 books. If I order 50 books, the discount is not as great. That makes sense. The price becomes more reasonable when you factor in inflation and the high cost of paper and that I haven’t published since 2015. I was told they are keeping an eye on the cost of paper and will lower the price if there is a downturn, say, by the end of the year.

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I don’t pretend to be an expert on the many publishing platforms out there, nor do I have the time or inclination to study all of them. So that leaves me out when it comes to Apple or D2D, or whatever. What I know is that I am a writer and a small entrepreneur. I enjoy book signings, talks in the community and I’m decently adept at social media. (Note: In years past, I’ve tried blog tours and Facebook advertising, Goodreads Giveaways and other promotional book sites to some, but not much success.)

One thing I know is that I can depend on myself, my intuitive and professional savvy in weeding out the scammers and the companies here today and gone tomorrow. Of course, I banked on CreateSpace years ago and now what? They’ve been defunct for the last couple years.

Still, I think I’m at peace with my path “through the jungle.” No one said this business of being an author would be easy.

I would enjoy your thoughts and your experiences,or comments on this topic of publishing and the world of publishing options.

Published by Susan G. Weidener

Join me as I share reflections, always with an eye toward the challenges and struggles we women encounter and embrace in both creative and personal ways. My memoir, Again in a Heartbeat, was selected as a 2011 editor’s pick by Story Circle Network. Its sequel Morning at Wellington Square has also achieved critical acclaim. A Portrait of Love and Honor, a novel based on a true story, is centered around a story of two people, Ava Stuart and Jay Scioli, who are destined to meet and Jay's commitment to honor following his years at West Point. My new novel And the Memory Returns continues the story of Ava Stuart who begins asking herself those questions so many women face as they age. What had it all meant? Where does she go from here? In 1991, I joined the staff of The Philadelphia Inquirer and worked as a reporter covering news and writing feature stories until 2007. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs, I attended the University of Pennsylvania. In 2010, I started the Women's Writing Circle, a critique and support group for writers in suburban Philadelphia, which meets the second Saturday of the month at the Chester Springs Library. I live in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania with my Yellow Lab, Lily.

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