Wednesday, 9 June 2010
An author's thoughts on Self-Publishing, by Stephanie Burkhart
Back in 2006, I decided to self publish my 40,000 word novella, "Across the Fickle Winds of History," using Lulu.
Across the Fickle Winds of History was told in the first person from the perspective of Olga Romanov, the eldest daughter of Nicholas II when she was seventeen years old in 1913. (The epilogue is told in the first person by Anastasia.) In the story, three mysterious strangers come into her and her sisters' lives offering friendship, but their goal is in direct opposition of the Prime Minister's who wants to make Olga the Heir Presumptive after her brother, Alexis. The story is a historical "what-if" and focuses tightly on Olga and her love interest, Paul Kerensky.
Lulu is known as a self publisher that offers FREE self publishing. In other words, they will publish your book with no cost to you. This is because they offer Print On Demand Technology – they print the book when it is ordered. It's smart in one way because it keeps overhead costs down, but it takes a while to get the book since it has to be printed.
For the most part, their statement is true, but if you're a first time author or a new author giving it a go, there are some hidden costs you might incur. Like Kimm, who mentioned yesterday, this is a difficult route to go. It requires research, hard work, marketing, and promotion plan. If you've got the budget for it, it's affordable. If not, you just might publish a product that isn't up to snuff. Lulu can be found at the following link: http://www.lulu.com.
I really liked what Kimm said about using outside editing services. Like Bekki mentioned, I can't catch my own typos to save my life. My beta reader is usually pretty good about catching them, but I also used an outside editor for the book. See how the cost is adding up? *grin*
I had heard good things about Lulu and they offered affordable extra services which I knew I needed to use. When an author self publishes, they take a lot of the burden of constructing the book as well as marketing onto themselves, things I wasn't really aware of. I just wanted to get my book out. I was attracted to self publishing simply because I wanted to call my book completely my own.
Lulu has a comprehensive menu of things that need to be done to make the book, from choosing the size, binding, paper grade, and cover help.
I used the editing services that Lulu had offered on their author services page. Now, their services can be found in this link: http://www.lulu.com/services/?cid=us_bk_services. I also used the graphic artist services and PDF conversion services. I bought a worldwide ISBN distribution service as well. I was very pleased with the services rendered and I think the book is a polished presentation. Still, if you count those costs, it wasn't free and it ran me about $250.00. The book earned a 4 star review from Shannon Yarbrough at the Lulu Book Review.
Where I faltered was marketing. Lulu now offers a marketing packages, but these aren't cheap. Back when I used them, their marketing support was still limited. I had no plan, no marketing savvy and no where to really turn to for guidance. My marketing attempts were dismissal, but back then I had no idea the power of blogs, yahoo groups, and other low cost Internet marketing techniques. I also had no idea of the time commitment it would take to market the product, nor was I making time for it. I went on to writing my next project, because I'm a writer and that's what I want to do – write.
Across The Fickle Winds of History was the last book I self published. Partly because I wanted to actually sell a product and have help in those areas where I thought I needed to learn and get better in. (like marketing and promotion)
Another thing to keep in mind is that while self publishing is slowly growing a more respectable reputation, there is still that stigma that self publishing efforts aren't as polished as manuscripts and novels published with legitimate, recognized publishers. That's why it is so important to put out a quality project. I appreciated the help I got with editing, graphics, and PDF conversations, but researching my options was challenging.
For me, the pros of self publishing were in having total control from the first word to the cover. I learned patience. Writers can be impatient because they want to see their story NOW. Not only that, I learned that it takes a TEAM to bring a good, quality book to the bookstore.
The cons of self publishing (for me at least) was marketing. I had no idea how to really go about it. I would recommend self publishing if you research well and determine it's for you. You have to be able to afford it because there are hidden costs, especially if you want your project to look polished. You've got to be able to dedicate an intense marketing effort for it as well. Lulu has a fairly user friendly presentation on the web, but it's not as "free" as it looks. I've learned a lot about the "production" side of putting a book together and I appreciate the experience.
Here's a link to my book: http://www.lulu.com/product/file-download/across-the-fickle-winds-of-history/1572130?productTrackingContext=search_results/search_shelf/center/1