Choices, choices, ego, ego, control. Control wins.

It took a long time for me to decide to take the independent (P.O.D.) route to publication. I vacillated between traditional (finding an agent who would represent me then hoping they could sell my manuscript), or going with Print On Demand.

The pros of the traditional houses are: the possibility of large advances, the boost to the ego that someone “in the know” feels your work is worthy, and status.

The cons, however, were trumped by the realization that when (or if) they purchase your manuscript, they purchase your manuscript and they can do whatever the hell they want with it. This includes, but is not limited to, sitting on it for a year or two, asking you to make changes that don’t make sense, and losing all control over that which you slaved and sweated over for months. It’s like having a teenager only without the grocery store mother’s day card every May.

After talking to a couple of folks who have traditionally published author friends, I learned that you may not even get to name your own book! Seriously… I wrote it, why can’t I name it? Another friend was asked by their publisher if they would mind changing the race of one of the characters, and also to “please make the African American people ‘edgier’.”

Not kidding.

When I looked at all the independent publishers, my brain nearly exploded. There are so many out there, finding one that wasn’t going to cost me a small fortune and still give me the results I wanted was going to take some serious research. While several of them promised to publish for free, I would have to purchase a large quantity of my own books. At full price (or a small discount).

Many independent publishers will publish anything you want printed, which is nice for families who want to see their great-grandmother’s stories in print. But they don’t all do that. At least one of them checks it over for certain qualities, because they make their living on the sales of the books they publish. That was the route I chose, so having it accepted was a boost to my ego.

Others will publish your e-book for free, but the hoops you must go through in order to correctly format your work might make you weep. So I looked, and I shopped and I finally settled on the one which with I was most impressed. They are not free, but they respond to emails promptly (although I’m probably going to drive them to madness with my incessant questions). I not only get my e-book published, but my work will be available in print format as well, so now even my mother can read my work! 

It was still a chunk of change to dish out, one that made my already tight budget cringe and make stink-face at me, but…I’m hoping it will be worth it.

With most, if not all, independent publishers you get to keep ALL the rights to your work. All of them. That’s important to me, more important than the ego rush of being published by a big house. Retaining rights and control over what I created far outweighs being able to drop a familiar name as “my publisher.” Knowing when my book will be available for purchase (and that time is measured in weeks, not months) is also a plus.

I’m pleased with my decision, and I’m learning to ignore the looks of “you paid to have it made” I get when I tell people about it. It’s about having control over my dreams. It’s knowing that I can go to any online bookstore and order my book. I can even go into any brick and mortar bookstore and order my book. I can even get a copy of it on my Nook if I want.

That’s my dream, folks. I got to make it happen. My only regret? That I didn’t make it happen sooner.


About Ms. Karen

This is what happens when you live with a writer: there are pens everywhere, except by the phone; many notebooks with strange scribblings that make no sense but must never be thrown away; and long rambling monologues about what certain characters would, or would not do in a given situation. It's almost as difficult as living with an artist. Man, THOSE people are bizarre...
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One Response to Publishing

  1. Selma says:

    I think that whole ‘you paid to have it made’ argument is a bit obsolete these days. I know some writers with deals with trad publishers and they are being screwed hard. One of my friends owes her publishers 50 grand due to a loophole she missed when signing the original contract. Her book didn’t sell as well as the publishers thought and now she owes them money. It would have been cheaper for her to self-publish. I’m all for self-publishing. There is no stigma associated with it if you go with the right people and it certainly could lead to many other opportunities. I am proud of you, Karen!


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