Books and Self-Publishing by Author Robert George Reoch Part 1
Book World and Self-Publishing
In the book world, self-publishing has taken off over the last ten years. I learned about self-publishing in 2009 as I was writing my first book of short stories, Travelers’ Shorts: Stories That Move. I discovered on the Internet a company called iUniverse and decided to give myself and them a try at publishing my stories. I had no idea what I was doing, yet I was determined to give it my best shot. I was certain people would love my short stories. Once my books were published, and once people began buying my books, I would get rich! I’d have a best seller!
Books Don’t Sell Themselves
“…once people began buying my books.”—that’s the telling phrase. Nobody buys your books if they haven’t heard of you. I worked for nearly two years with iUniverse and finally finished my project. When all was said (written) and done, I eventually realized that if iUniverse had things their way, I would have bought hundreds of my own books myself. They actually expected me to buy caseloads of my own books from them so I could peddle them on the street myself. They aggressively offered me discounts for buying quantities of my own books. I live in an apartment. I don’t have room to stockpile books. Fortunately, being a salesman from way back, I could see their angle. Get me all happy that I’ve written a book, then turn around and sell it to me for their own profit! Nuts. I’m the type of person who has foresight. I can usually see the end-game coming. iUniverse had already charged me hundreds of dollars for holding my hand and doing some minor editing (which mainly threw me off my rhythm). They reformatted my pages to fit the printed book (tasks that, later, I realized I could have done myself for free). Yes, I was that green.
Books on the iUniverse Shelf
iUniverse offered marketing and distribution options for my books, including some expensive ad campaigns. I remained leery because they were still constantly trying to sell me box loads of my own books (and I wasn’t biting). Once—just once—I paid them a large sum to show my book at a book fair in Miami. Unfortunately, there was never any concrete evidence that my book even made it to the fair. I never received any sales as a result of the fair. In fact, in following-up, I checked my account records online at iUniverse and discovered that nobody at iUniverse had procured a copy of my printed book prior to the fair, which they would have needed in order to show it. When I mentioned this to iUniverse after the fair, they refused to refund the promotional fee. There later appeared a post-fair record of an internal request for a copy of my book on my account records. Someone had attempted to manipulate the records and backdate an order to make it appear as though they had procured a copy, but the system wouldn’t allow it. It showed the true date confirming the internal book request was made well after the date of the Miami book fare. They were trying to cover their tracks, it was obvious. It wasn’t worth pursuing. Without having flown to Miami on the day of the book fair, I couldn’t prove anything. I laugh at the absurdity of the book fair ploy (and my gullibility). Nobody bought my book in Miami, and it took months before anyone purchased my book through iUniverse, or from any of the other bookseller’s to whom they claim to distribute. By the way, your books are not sent to retailers at all. These books are printed on demand by those who sell the printed copies online. iUniverse did nothing to promote my book. It sat on their online shelf in virtual reality. Of course, they offered other advertising options costing thousands of dollars, but . . . are you kidding?
Second Book Similar Fate
I also published my second book, Travelers’ Shorts 2: Tethers, with iUniverse. Am I crazy? Well, since I already knew the process, I went ahead with iUniverse again. Once you understand the mechanics of self-publishing, the venue at iUniverse works fairly well—enough to get a book out there. Your books find their way to Amazon (see Part 2). I wanted to get my second book published quickly as a way to show legitimacy. I had written several good short stories. People who read them loved them. For my second book, I made the mistake of using one of iUniverse’s book cover designers. (I designed the cover of my first book myself and was quite happy with the way it turned out. It kept with my vision.) For the second book, instead of trusting my gut and going with my own cover design again, I used one of iUniverse’s “professional” designer’s. That was a mistake. I had created a design of my own, but I took a chance with the iUniverse designer and it isn’t what I had pictured. I should have taken the time to change it. One day, when I publish a compilation of all of my short stories, in a single volume, I’ll design that cover myself. I may republish the second book and use my cover. At least, I discovered I’m a better cover designer than at least one paid professional. See my book cover (below) for Travelers’ Shorts? Those shorts are an actual pair of mine that I photographed and photo shopped.
Travelers’ Shorts 2: Tethers
Travelers’ Shorts Contain Gems
My books are gems. Of course I say that because I wrote them! The stories speak for themselves. In my first book, Travelers’ Shorts: Stories That Move, my prose leans toward being overly rich, or “purple,” as my aunt would say. However, I learned to move the story telling at a more contemporary pace in my second book, Travelers’ Shorts 2: Tethers. You can click on the image below to find out more. Don’t let me stop you.
Self-Publishing Book Companies Have Their Own Agenda
Most self-publishing companies are in it for their own profit, not yours. They profit from the process of publishing your book for you. They will charge you for editing services, formatting, cover design, advertising, etc. They will then push your finished book right back at you to buy it from them (in quantities) so you can go out and peddle it yourself. They want you to buy your own book from them in large quantities (at discounted prices, of course). Just remember, the marketing onus is on you. Nobody sees your book if you don’t market it, but that’s another story which I’ll cover in my next article about self-publishing. Also, in my next article, I’ll talk about my positive experiences in self-publishing with Amazon and their affiliate company CreateSpace.
Good luck with your writing. For more information, read Part 2.
Copyright Robert George Reoch Publishing