Self-Publishing Just Got More Interesting

[Edited to add, thanks to archangelbeth: that there's also Smashwords, which will do all this for *free*. YAY for free! And peer at the comments for details!]

Perhaps in a fit of trying to make money off of the wave of those realizing they can now self-publish, Borders is offering a $39.99 package to self-publish an ebook with retail links to Amazon, Borders, Apple IBooks, and Barnes and Noble. Royalties go the other way around, i.e. the retailers take anything from 30-45% of the sale price for themselves.

Cover art is extra. *laughs* And you get to find your own editor and do all the promotion yourself, but that's... well... expected with self-published books.

But there are some things that a publisher isn't going to look at twice, and this is MUCH cheaper than a lot of the scams out there, and after the setup, if a book sells most of it goes to you.

No further fees than the initial $40 setup. It's intriguing for me, as it really does set the bar far lower. Vanity presses do everything from $300 up... a $40 initial hurdle just marks the price of being able to make your work available to every MUCH lower than ever before.

There are a few SF and F folks are doing self-publishing now, and the fees are real for book setup.

Edited at 2011-02-19 06:53 pm (UTC)
I'm not entirely sure I will. *laughs* I've been going through publishing houses up to this point, but it's been for a certain level of work.

As it's a hell of an effort to get someone to notice a book enough to publish it. But they have better marketing to their audience, too. It's just one of those trade offs.
It's the marketing I would be interested in as well. I was talking to Sarah Ivany at Freehand Books, a small 'jewelbox' publishing house. She said that you basically have a year before your books are considered out-of-print. Before you even print them, your marketing strategy for booksellers has to be in place and ready to go, because there is only so much shelf space, and the faces of books will be featured for only a week or so before being turned to spines, and sellers will only allocate placement on those shelves for 1 - 2 months. Online publication works along a similar style, only instead of shelf-space, you are talking about placement in banners or sidebars or 'if you like this, then you will probably like this ...' sections.

Also publishers tend to choose authors based on statistics compiled by sources such as Book Net — at least they do in Canada, which means that there is probably something similar in the US.
This doesn't sound like too bad of a deal, but beware the fine print in the contracts. If they want a book printed, people can just go to a printer like Lulu or QOOP or, if they have the money, just have a short print run done and store in their basement. Most of the POD firms--I know!--are edging more and more into the vanity press area, and I think it's toxic.

Most of the sf and fantasy authors I know of who successfully self-published or small-press published books (think John Scalzi and Holly Phillips) went on to contracts with major publishing houses. It's a lot easier to be an author if you don't have to do all the work of publishing yourself. Self-publishing only looks like the easier path.
*laughs* I didn't think self-publishing was *easier*.

It just is another path, and in this case actually lists with all the online retailers. I'm talking ebooks, not print. So yeah... and free is even better. *laughs*
Well, heck, if it's an ebook, why not do it yourself? I was told just that by someone who's been doing it for a while. (I won't drop her name in a public forum, but she's a well-known and respected pro who runs a co-op ebook site.)

But if you're aiming at commercial distribution, why not submit it conventionally? (At least unless it's fanfic, and you can't get the rights to the characters.) I think your odds of acceptance are pretty good. Believe me, your work will leap out of the slushpile. It may not get bought, but it will get attention--you're a much better writer than most people who submit unsolicited manuscripts. (I sent you the "Slushkiller" link, right?)

[Edited to add] Did I mention that I live with a semi-professional editor? If you need an editor for a self-published project, I can put you in touch with her.

Oh, and Borders has declared bankruptcy. If you sign a contract with them, your book could be tied up for months, even years.

Edited at 2011-02-20 07:17 am (UTC)
*laughs* Yes, the link was because Borders was in bankruptcy, and there are two other services I now know of that are free, so I probably won't fall down that hole.

I do submit stuff conventionally, and I understand the rights. *laughs*

Cool to know about the editing skills! I shall contemplate. I do want a professional editor, but I also have another friend who is a professional developing editor that I am very happy with the thought of using.

And thanks for the vote of confidence. *grins* I'll do my best.
Hm. I wonder how that works with Amazon. Kindle pays either 35% (at certain pricepoints) or 70% (at other price points, with some other requirements that did not seem onerous*), and Smashwords pays like 70% of what's left over after Paypal takes its microtransaction cut (so the author gets about 50c from a 99c book, if that's the only book bought during the transaction). Plus, Smashwords will also market to everyone except Amazon (with a 40% to 60% return to the author, if I recall correctly).

And they do it for free, not $40. Sorry, Borders. Not impressed.

* from the most recent Kindle contract stuff; subject to change, check the contract personally, yadda, yadda.
Hee! *dances about* So glad you came out of the woodwork for this one.

Amazon takes 30% plus the delivery price, usually around 40 cents. So they pay 70% minus a bit. For price points under 9.99. So it's pretty close. So it includes Amazon.

*dances about at the not pay at all* I'll edit to add. *laughs*
Pricepoints between 2.99 and 9.99, Amazon does the 70% (last I looked). Under 2.99, they only give like 35%. (At this time, subject to change, etc.)
Given that each transaction has to cost them something in fees if it's credit card, that makes a ton of sense.

Coolness! Thank you!
*wabbles a hand* It costs something in fees, yes -- but Apple presumably has the same issues, and they're taking only 30% of the pie, as I understand it, whether it's 99 cents or 99 dollars.

It is possible that Amazon is running closer to the bone in many other ways, and is nibbling a bit more from this side of things. My speculation, base and rank as it is, is that Amazon is trying to manipulate what the public things of as "a fair ebook price" and wants that to go no lower than $2.99.

At least with ebooks, it really is a valid possibility that one can "make it up in volume." (Not that I really expect my little offering to get the gold ring. But the theory is sound. Enough more sales at 99c -- the lower pricepoint meaning a lower barrier to purchase -- than at $2.99, and presto, more money for author! (And tons more for Amazon, but eh, whatever. I'll worry about that if I become the next J.K. Rowling. And/or raise my prices. O;D )
Amazon gouges more than anyone else because they're the biggest online retailers, period. *laughs* And, yes, they've patently manipulated the 'fair ebook price' since the inception of the Kindle, including the $9.99 top price. Whew.

I do love the reasoning in that last paragraph. Especially since I was thinking about doing a serial of sorts with a guaranteed "it's all done, I'm just editing and then publishing each section on a schedule." Deal. Going Way Back to other forms of publication. *laughs*

Thank you so much! *dances about happily*
You may want to check the crowdfunding community -- there are some people there who are doing stuff like that, and who might have useful data for your particular project thoughts. (I don't follow it directly, but I do follow haikujaguar.)
Oooo... VERY interesting. I like that a lot, both as someone that can be a donor as well as a creator... *laughs*