Saturday, May 18, 2013

Lynn Osterkamp – What Does It Mean to be a Self-Publisher?

What Does It Mean to be a Self-Publisher?

by Lynn Osterkamp

If you believe what you read on some discussion groups, a self-publisher is someone—let’s call him Bob—who writes and pays a company to publish a tedious, badly-written, book about his Grandpa Sam’s struggle to save his family’s farm—let’s call it Fighting For the Family Farm: Grandpa Sam’s Struggle to Survive. And, since no one outside Grandpa Sam’s immediate family and maybe a few neighbors has any interest in wading through Bob’s narrative, Fighting For the Family Farm sells only a few copies at inflated prices to people on a list the company requires Bob to provide.

Wrong. Bob is not a self-publisher. Bob has paid a subsidy or vanity press, sometimes called a “publishing service provider” to publish his book. That company—let’s call them has charged Bob a fee to edit and set up his manuscript for printing, design a cover, and print the books. On top of that, YourBookInPrint has used their own ISBN number for Bob’s book, has sold him a marketing package, and has set the book’s selling price, which is higher than similar traditionally-published books. Bob can buy copies at an “author’s discount,” but even then, they are expensive.

If Bob were a true self-publisher, he would have started his own publishing company, bought some ISBN numbers, maybe paid someone to edit and lay out his manuscript and design a cover. Or, if he has skills in layout and design, he may have done those tasks himself. Then, when Fighting For the Family Farm was ready to go to print, Bob would have chosen a printer—either offset or digital (POD technology)—to print his book. Or maybe he would decide to simply put his book up as an eBook on Amazon, Smashwords, or other online bookstores. He then could set the cover price and decide how and where to market the book.

As either a self-publisher or a subsidy publisher, Bob has paid the costs of publishing his book. But only when he is a true self-publisher does he have control of all aspects of his book. Either way, Bob’s book will be subject to negative prejudices, but as a self-publisher, his book will get more of a chance for reviews, etc. than it would through YourBookInPrint.

Will Bob make a lot of money from publishing Fighting For the Family Farm? Who knows? But that may not be the point for Bob. Authors who self publish often have goals other than profit and fame. Some of these include:

  • Getting the satisfaction of having their book printed and bound for themselves, and perhaps friends and family.
  • Testing the waters to see whether there are buyers for a book. It’s hard to do that when all you have is a manuscript that you’re spending your time sending out to agents and publishers.
  • Making specialized or technical information available to a small niche market.
  • Speaking out on a controversial topic.
  • Learning about publishing and marketing a book by actually doing it.

Sabrina Larson wants her fortieth birthday to be a major milestone—the beginning of a new life. But it looks more like the end for the Boulder, Colorado nurse when she mysteriously disappears while celebrating with her women’s group in a mountain wilderness area.

Search teams comb the region for days, but find no trace of her. Close friends and family fight bitterly amongst themselves telling different stories about what happened. Is she dead? Kidnapped? A runaway?

Cleo Sims, a local grief therapist who has discovered a process that lets grieving people contact the spirits of departed loved ones, is pulled in to help by one of Sabrina’s friends who is desperate to find out the truth. Cleo is reluctant to involve herself in yet another possible murder investigation, but the friend’s brother is Cleo’s benefactor who funds her Contact Project. When he prevails on Cleo to help find out what happened to the missing woman, she can’t refuse.

As the search goes on and the mystery deepens, Cleo finds herself digging into some dangerous secrets. As usual, her persistence, curiosity, and compassion keep her enmeshed in the investigation even when new developments threaten the very core of her personal life.

Too Many Secrets is the third book in the award-winning Cleo Sims mystery series set in the mountain community of Boulder Colorado. Like the others, it can also be read as a stand-alone book.

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre - Mystery

Rating – PG

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