Saturday, July 26, 2014

Beware the Axis of Evil in Self-Publishing

Copyright © 2013 Robert W. Walker
Originally published by 1st Turning Point

A friend who thought this a good article in the New York Times sent it to me, and on reading it, I nearly had a cow. Frankly, I could not believe that the prestigious New York Times Business Section was so far out in left field, behind the times, and out of touch regarding the revolution in ebook and independent authorship that has made the term “self-publishing” with vanity presses obsolete!
The article makes no sense: it makes no mention of the amazing, enormous strides for authors and readers, and how the Kindle publishing revolution has closed so many gaps between writer and reader, but that is just the tip of the iceberg of what is wrong with this article. They instead gave over an entire story to the old methods of doing things and ignore current and really cool methods of doing things with regard to self-publication—that authors are taking their cues from musicians with the technology available to us today. Instead, the whole of this article depicts only the methods that for decades only harmed authors and robbed authors of monies and pride.
Here is the article and below is my red-veined reaction to it:  Options for Self-Publishing Proliferate, Easing the Bar to Entry.
So I say on reading this article “Oh My God!”—OMG! Please, I implore you, do not use the “self-publishing” publishers listed in the article in the New York Times Business Section as all of them are expensive and in the long run a heartache. You will waste a huge vast sum with them and get nothing in return. I have known many who went with such services as these with terribly sad results. You are paying through the nose with these companies, and even if you pay for their top “package” they do not edit or promote your work as promised. It is no longer Self-Publishing you want to go into but Createspace or other free publishers for paperbacks, and Kindle, Smashwords, PubIt, and others for ebooks. None of these charge you a cent to put your ebook up for sale. So there is that.
You do not want to associate yourself with the term “self-publishing” but rather “indie or independent author” as the old field of self-publishing is still hanging on as vanity presses charge you for services sometimes never rendered. These companies take far more from you than they give. They have been the target of author associations and Predators and Editors for years. Furthermore, I cannot believe how far behind the New York Times is on this subject in this article recently published….geez.
Think of it, Smashwords and Amazon take a percentage of sales and give you a huge slice, 35-70 percent! Vanity publishing venues take a percent of sales even after they have you pay for the privilege of working with them which really means giving them your money. I cannot stress this enough, that anyone wishing to take a percentage of the life of the book is either your partner in promotions and sales or not at all, so run like hell.
Use the free services of Smashwords, Amazon, and others, and do it yourself.  The HTML conversion is very up to date now, but even then if you feel helpless with the ABC’s of putting up your own, there are people who do it for a one-time fee and do not set you up for life, paying them a percentage of the book’s earnings. As to cover art, most of these people who are doing conversions of doc files to HTML to place you on Kindle or Createspace or both are also doing cover art. My son does cover art, charges a one-time fee and does not rip you off.
The article I am referring to in the NYT is interesting only in that it is sorely, sorely out of date information about the old ways of doing things at a time when you had two choices—publish with an established large market or small press publisher after a thousand rejections if at all, or turn to vanity press publication. This is a huge disappointment to see that these self-publishing companies are still in business at all! They prey on the vanity of anyone coming within reach, like recluse spiders waiting to grab up the unsuspecting. I am glad someone shared this so-called up-to-date article in the Times with me so that I could attack it!
And anudder thing….from the streetwise….
Look when anyone hears you are getting a whopping 70% on each title you sell, they are going to want in….but do not let them. Cropping up all over the place are new “publishers” who will entice you to join forces with promises of doing for you all that you can do for yourself — and you can keep your 70%. How they will make their slice is by selling your book in venues other than Amazon (the largest bookstore on the planet right now), or somehow taking a slice from Amazon’s 35% — not sure how they plan to work that but perhaps via a publisher’s deal with Amazon?  At any rate, be cautious out there. The wolves are at the door.
Let me lighten this up a bit.  I just posted images of a paperback series I was selling in the ’80s onto Facebook. These books were selling for 3.95 USD and a buck more in Canada. These paperbacks returned for me a mere 8% per unit sold….and even then I had to wait an eternity until “All Returns” were back in-house (or at least the stripped covers were sent back to Pinnacle/Zebra) before I saw any funds.
A couple of things to take away here is the more you make, the more others want to take. But there is also the strange thing about prices being that low in the ’80s and now Indie books, Kindle, etc. has brought book prices even lower than $3.95 in many, many instances. This is especially true among the now hosts of indie authors doing “true” self-publishing, although I am loathe to use that term.  I like the term indie author or ebook author.
The other thing to take away is that with ebooks the number of returns by comparison is a clipped fingernail to what I had to put up with back then when it was not unusual to have books returned (stripped and discarded really) by the 1000s. I get maybe six, seven, eight returned books via Kindle a month, and no stripped covers ever! I must say I was a bit surprised to see as many 99¢ sale books returned as there were—maybe ten for the entire month. I suppose it is easier to make the decision to return a cheap-o book than a more expensive one at 2.99 or 3.99. Ha! But I will not complain. What a difference the return and remaindered book situation makes with indie books…. as it is basically non-existent.
So beware and take care and be careful out there on the web-corner.
Award-winning author and graduate of Northwestern University, ROBERT W. WALKER created his highly acclaimed INSTINCT and EDGE SERIES between 1982 and 2005. Rob since then has penned his award-winning historical series featuring Inspector Alastair Ransom with CITY FOR RANSOM (2006), SHADOWS IN THE WHITE CITY (2007), and CITY OF THE ABSENT (2008), and most recently placed Ransom on board the Titanic in a hybrid historical/science fiction epic entitled Titanic 2012 – Curse of RMS Titanic. The original Ransom trilogy straddles the Chicago World’s Fair circa 1893, and has had enthusiastic reviews from Chicago historians and the Chicago Tribune, which likened “the witticism to Mark Twain, the social consciousness to Dickens, and the ghoulish atmosphere to Poe!”  Rob has since published DEAD ON (also an audiobook), a PI’s tale of revenge as a reason to live—a noir set in modern day Atlanta,  followed more recently by Bismarck 2013, an historical horror title, The Edge of Instinct, the 12th Instinct Series, and a short story collection entitled Thriller Party of Eight (also an audiobook).
Rob’s historical novel CHILDREN of SALEM, while an historical romance and suspense novel exposes the evil in mankind via the politics of witchcraft in grim 1692 New England, which one professional editor reviewed as:  A title that only Robert Walker could make work—romance amid the infamous witch trials. The author followed this ANNIE’S WAR, an historical romance set in 1859, a tale from the point of view of the daughter of the infamous John Brown of Harpers Ferry notoriety.
Robert currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia with his wife, children, pets, all somehow normal. For more on Rob’s published works, see,, books. He maintains a presence on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Killer Instinct, the first book in Robert W.  Walker's Instinct series.
DR. JESSICA CORAN - A brilliant and determined FBI medical examiner, she was an expert student of the criminal mind who thought she could face anything. 
That was before Wisconsin. Before she saw one of his victims... 
THE VAMPIRE KILLER -The FBI agent had a special code name for his unusual method of torture: Tort 9, the draining of the victims blood. The newspapers called him the Vampire-Killer. But his own twisted love letters were signed "Teach"... and were addressed to the one woman he wanted most of all: His hunter, his prey, Dr. Jessica Coran.

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