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Your Book, Your Publishing Choices

The New York Times acknowledged recently (and on the front page no less!) that self publishing is on the rise even as the traditional publishing industry is laying off workers and cutting back on acquiring books.

In case you missed it, the editor of Publisher's Weekly just lost her job and the Washington Post announced it would no longer publish its Book World as a stand-alone section.

As dire as it all may sound, there's actually good news for you as a writer because you have more options available to you with self publishing. There are many services that can help you find your way. However, it doesn't mean you get to abdicate your responsibility in producing the book you want. That responsibility especially includes how you'll choose to respond to the many self publishing companies competing for your attention.

I received an email recently where the writer was complaining about being bombarded with requests from companies wanting to publish his book. I found it curious: how is this any different from the millions of advertisements showered on us on nearly every moment of the day? You don't feel the urge to respond to every ad for washing machines, nor do you fret that "They want me to buy their car" or "they keep on me about using their window cleaner". You pay attention to the services and products you want. You ignore the others.

Keep in mind that if you ever expressed any interest in that self publishing company, they will pursue you until you say, "No" because they assume you want to do business with them. It's up to you to decide what services you want and turn the others away.

And what services do you want? Think of self publishing your book as if you're building a house. You could either act as your own "contractor", which means you would handle every single detail: picking the kind of paper the book will be published on, hiring a text designer, a graphics designer, and editor. You would also have to find a printer and arrange for distribution for your book. You could also use a self publishing company that would handle pieces of the book, or do everything for you.

Not long ago, self published books were considered just a few steps above pamphlets run off on a Xerox machine. How did this big change come about? Let's look at a few points:

Quality Product
The amazing changes in printing technology has made it possible for self published books to be produced with a level of quality that can rival that of books done by traditional publishers. In the past the look and feel of a self published book was the telltale sign that it wasn't a "normal" book. The design (of both text and cover) was often poor and the paper sometimes badly cut. These days print on demand companies can offer similar, if not the same, technology used by traditional publishers and they can do it without requiring print runs of thousands of copies that often ended up unsold in authors' garages and basements. And many of the designers used by traditional publishers also freelance their services out to self publishers. Again, the same quality and talent is available that was once only accessible to the big companies.

The same goes for editing help. Many self publishing companies offer editing as part of their packages. It's also easier to find a professional editor for hire via sites such as

Respectability for Being Published-No Matter the Form
Many newspapers and magazines didn't review self published books, and there are some that still don't. But now they look at it this way: a good story is a good story. If your book handles a subject that's important to their readers or viewers or hits upon a trend currently in the news, the media would be very interested in doing a story on you and your book. Again, it wouldn't matter how it was published. On television they seldom mention the publisher, and in print they note the price and publisher no matter how large or small the company.

Distribution Problems Gone
Once upon a time, bookstores resisted stocking self published books. Why? Because unsold books are usually returned to the publisher and the store doesn't have to pay for them. But unsold self published books were non-returnable, which made them more of a risk. However, many companies have made it possible to include distribution as part of their publishing services. That means they have worked out deals where self published books can be returned, making it easy for you to have your book available in stores. Note: a store may still choose not to stock your book, but if someone comes in and asks for it, your book can be ordered by the store. If they get enough of such requests, they may decide to stock it after all.

While quality self publishing is still an issue of "you get what you pay for", you don't have to spend what you used to in order to get your book done well. Many companies package their services which allow you to pick and choose what you want in the production process.

The Choice is Yours
Is self publishing right for you? Only you can know for certain. Consider all the things you want out of being published-what will a book do for you or your business? Is this book just for you and family or is it for the masses? Do you have a way of getting the book's message out to the public? How will you sell it? The best way for you to be satisfied by the publishing process is for you to be clear about what you want and then pursue the path that will get you there. It's up to you to decide the level of service you want, how much you're willing to pay and who you want to work with. No one can make these choices but you. Do your research!

2009 Sophfronia Scott

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, but you must include this complete resource box with it: Sophfronia Scott is Executive Editor of the Done For You Writing & Publishing Company. Learn what a difference being a published author can make for your business. Get your FREE audio CDFeature Articles, "How to Succeed in Business By Becoming a Bestselling Author" and your FREE online writing and book publishing tips at

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