I've had an interesting question come up a few times in the past several weeks. Several of my friends who are thinking about self-publishing have told me they are looking at publishers, but they all seem so expensive.
What? The first time this happened, it took me a little bit to make sure I understood correctly...people are charging to 'help' you self-publish? Apparently that is, indeed, what is happening. So, I decided to post a blog just in case someone else out there is thinking about forking over a huge amount of money to 'self-publish' their book.
I'm not sure how all of these work, but I did receive an email from a company who wanted to represent me. If you receive an offer, read everything carefully! I'm surprised by the amount of people this particular company represents.
In essence, this is the offer they had: All I had to do was commission my own cover art, hire my own editor, and get my formatting done. Yes, they wanted me to pay for all of this. Are you curious what they were offering to do for me? I certainly was. They would kindly put their name as my publisher, upload my book to all the various vendors. I think they might have offered to arrange a blog tour. It actually said something like - for all of this, we will only take 60% of your royalties.
Excuse me? Thank you very much, but if I'm paying for everything anyway, why don't I go through the very simple process of uploading them to the various sites myself and earn 100% of my royalties? Okay, it's not really 100% of what the book makes, but I will take 100% of what the book vendors pays me, not 40%. Also, organizing a blog tour isn't that hard of a process. You can hire a company just to do this. Or, if you don't have that in the budget, it's usually pretty easy to get bloggers to host you. Look around and find bloggers who feature other authors on their blog and then ask them if they would mind hosting you. Many will be willing.
If it is important to you personally to have a publisher behind you and you are willing to pay for all of these things and take this deal, I would just recommend you see how much it is going to cost and weigh all your options. Avoiding the stigmata of "self-published" is worth it to some people, but make sure you read everything and aren't being taken advantage of.
I am fortunate because I have a very wonderful group of author friends who went through everything before me and told me what I needed to do. However, if I hadn't know any better, I might have been taken in by an offer like this, thinking it was what I had to do to self publish. Don't be taken in. You do need the three things that particular place asked me to get on my own, but after that it is a simple process of signing up for an account at the various vendors and uploading your file.
Here are links to instructions at the most common book sellers (USA links):
Amazon Kindle: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help
Barnes & Noble Nook: http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/pubit_app/bn?t=support
If you want a paperback book available, you have two options that I know of, Amazon's CreateSpace or Lulu. I use CreateSpace and have been very happy with the quality of the books. These are on-demand publishers, so they only print books when a customer orders them. They take care of inventory, customer complaints, shipping, everything. You just upload your book (it does need to be formatted differently than a digital book but there are instructions at CreateSpace on how to do this), check it for quality, and set it live to sell.
If you are going the traditional route, money should flow from the publisher to the writer, and you should not be responsible for the costs associated with publishing your book. A legitimate publisher will pay for the cover art, editing, and formatting.
Read every offer carefully. Whether you self-publish or go with a publisher, I wish you all luck.
Happy writing, friends. Have a great week!