I have been kicking around the idea of writing a book. I have written about a dozen books in the past, and have had them all published. I used two different publishers before. One experience was a disaster, the other experience was great. Now, though, I am conflicted when it comes to publication.
Conflicted about what? Well, I am debating about whether to go the traditional way of writing a book and having a publishing house print it and distribute it, or whether I should self publish. If I decide to self publish (which is the way that I am leaning), I can see two paths to take there too.
- Go the traditional route of printing the book on paper, and distributing it to bookstores and such.
- Go the new route of doing an e-book (electronic book) and distributing it over the Internet.
It’s a tough choice. Each route has advantages. I know that from my past experience, you can expect to get maybe 10% of the sales price as your share of the money. So, a $15 book would bring you maybe $1.50 per copy sold. This, of course, is if you use a publishing house. If you self publishes, you would get a lot more than $1.50 per copy, but that means that you also have to front all of the costs for printing, distribution and such yourself.
One nice thing about living in the Philippines, though, is that you can self publish a printed book relatively cheaply here. So, let’s say that I got 5,000 or 10,000 copies printed and then distributed them myself. I can imagine that most sales would be off my own websites. I’m OK with that, because I have a lot of traffic on my various sites, and I think that I could sell that quantity of books relatively easily.
The electronic press path is attractive too. You just write the book, publish it as a PDF file, and you are ready to go. No real costs involved, except for your time (I already have all the software that would be needed for the project). You could then sell the book, even at a lower price, and still, make more money.
I feel that I actually have several different books in me, just waiting to come out. I just have to decide the proper path for publication and selling. It’s been a decade and a half since I’ve done this, and a lot of things have changed in that time.
So, what do you think? Which method of publication is best in today’s environment? If you are buying a book, do you feel that a paper book is better or more desirable than an electronic book?
Share your thoughts, I need them!
An interesting question. I recommend anyone thinking of taking the route to income should visit and absorb some of the excellent information on my friend Jack Reed’s website:
http://www.johntreed.com/ (this is not an affiliate link, I earn nothing from Mr. Reed, I am just a highly satisfied customer)
Jack self-publishes a number of books on various subjects and earns hundreds of thousands per year in profits. He has some ecellent, tell it as it is advice, in particular why one should _never_ use ‘real’ book publishers, bookstores and outfits like Amazon.
Incidentally, the cost of having a book printed, even in the US, is often less than $5 a copy and if the buyer pays the shipping the profit picture per sale is roughly 80% or 90% vice the standard 10% or 15% one might make from traditional publishing. I own his book on Self Publishing and recommend it.
Hi Dave Starr – Thanks for the insightful advice! As I said, I am leaning toward the self publishing method anyway, so I will certainly go check out Jack’s site!
Teel McClanahan III
As far as self-publishing goes, up-front costs can be effectively reduced to nothing by taking advantage of on-demand instead of offset printing. Don’t use any of those pesky subsidy houses, of course; you want to work with someone like Lightning Source (a subsidiary of Ingram) where YOU are the publisher and in full control, and they just take care of the printing, binding, and distribution. Since LS also handles eBook distribution to the major online eBook retailers, it certainly doesn’t need to be an either/or proposition of paper vs eBook. Oh, and you should probably google them anyway (to see what others are saying), but it’s http://www.lightningsource.com/
You could consider using a print on demand service like Wwaow (www.wwaow.com). No risk at all and the result is a professionally printed book after 1 week.
I’d love to open a discussion with you on the advantages of online books. MyVirtualPaper.com does exactly that…
I have published three books in the traditional way and one where I self-published. I have made more from the one self-published one than the other three combined.
If your plan is to sell the books in the U.S. and don’t want to invest a great deal in up-front money, I would encourage you to look at Lightning Source. The books are printed-on-demand as they are sold and you do not have a couple thousand books sitting in your garage if it does not sell.
I think for people like us who have multiple income streams, this seems to be the way to go. If your only business is publishing, then maybe you want to deal with shipping and all of that, but who has the time.
By the way, you might discover that there has been a change since last you published with a traditional company. While it used to be 10% gross for most companies, it now is often 10% net. Not a great deal.
Hi Bob, One thing I thought I would mention is that instead of the two buisness models you speak about deciding between there is really a thrird.
Write the book, have it printed (by a book manufcaturer, and then sell/ship it yourself … not necessarily with you own hands, but with control of your own distribution. This is far superior to the selling in a bookstore model. Book stores will hurt an auhtor two ways … theywill discount
Tom makes a valid point about not having books sitting unsold … but it’s completely practical to buy a print run of 500 or 1,000 books … and, IMO, if a book isn’t going to sell 1,000 copies, there’s no point in doing the work … no matter how you distribute it.
Hi Everybody – Wow, I woke up this morning to a nice conversation going here, thank you to everybody who has been offering ideas.
You know, I had not considered the print-on-demand option, and that is the best way to go, I think! No doubt that it would be the most economical as far as up-front costs are concerned. Now, I just have to do a little research into this type of publishing and get more familiar with what there is to offer. I had been familiar with only one print-on-demand service in past (Lulu), and knowing of these others is really important to me.
Thanks everybody! Your comments are very greatly appreciated!
Hi Bob! Here is a link that might be of help http://money.howstuffworks.com/self-publishing.htm
Hi Amiel – Thanks for sharing that! I’ll check it out!
Don’t publish this, but…
Maybe I’m wrong, but it appears that these blogs you’re writing are very recently published, but the comments are years old…
Is this a glitch? For example:
January 11, 2011 By Bob Martin 11 Comments
Dave Starr says:
April 15, 2008 at 9:13 am
April 15, 2008 at 9:17 am
Just a heads up…
Hi Mike – Not a glitch at all. Everything is happening exactly as I have it set up! Thanks for your concern though.
Hello, Bob. I don’t know if you’ve decided yet to have your printed but I’ve just come across your website today. Well, I have a printing company and it’s here in the Philippines and if you want to self publish, sure, no problem. We’ll print for you at such a reasonable price you’ll think it’s unbelievable. If you’re still interested, contact me at [email protected] or if you have anything else for printing, contact me 😀 We’ll be glad to give you a quotation. THANKS!
Hi Patricia – thank you very much for getting in touch. You may be hearing from me very soon.
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It is actually very easy to self publish a book using Amazon. I am sure you will be fine! Good luck.
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