Tag Archive: traditional publishing

What if there are too many self published books in the world?

Will the flock of self published books overwhelm readers or enrich our world? So many books, so little time…!

This is one of the biggest questions at the heart of the emotional furor against self publishing , regarding the publishing changes going on today. Bridget Kinsella frames it perfectly in her article in Stanford University’s alumni magazine, dated November / December 2010. Her question, and the discussion, continues to rage today, almost two years after the article’s publication.

Bridget asks, “If the traditionally high barriers to publication fall, will that produce a world of unimagined richness or one mired in dross?”

She first points out that one of the advantages of the changes is that books are available everywhere, and in a bewildering array of formats. Practically any book is available to anyone with an Internet connection… even out of print books because of the stashes in old bookstores made available.

But the disadvantage comes back to the issue of quality, not just of the books, but also of the reviewers. If any author can produce a book and any blogger can review it, how can a reader find a good one?

Bridget’s article goes on to pursue the issues of the business as a whole, with valuable interviews with key people in the big agencies… but my focus is the question she posed.
Will readers be enriched or mired in dross?

Because I believe this is the key issue behind the “stigma” of self-publishing and the root of the negative emotion behind so many of the traditional versus self publishing arguments. A real fear that the availability of publishing technology and distribution channels will flood readers with so much garbage that the good books will drown.

It’s not a frivolous concern on the part of traditional publishing. There are many, many, badly-written poorly-produced self-published books, and I’m just as mad as anybody else when I spend my money on one. As mad as I get when I spend my money on a bad one produced by a well-known traditional publisher.

But it is, and always has been, buyer beware.

  • I buy books from my favorite authors because of the previous books they’ve written.
  • I buy on the recommendation of friends and family with similar reading tastes.
  • I buy based on reviews that are specific about the story and its pros and cons.
  • I buy based on the back matter, the cover, the genre, and the table of contents.
  • I buy based on Amazon.com reviews, which are written by normal people. And I read every review when I’m getting ready to buy, especially the lower rated ones.

Nowhere in this list of things that drive me to buy a book is whether it is traditionally published or self published.
It simply does not matter to me… those other elements have to be in place before I will buy.

So a self published author has to do all those things same as a traditional publisher does, and has to do them well. And this is what will separate the dross from the riches, when it comes to actually selling books.

But there’s another element to the issue, and that’s outside of what is actually selling. So many self published books don’t sell very many copies. But they still exist, and the ideas contained in them, and the point of view of their authors, is an unbelievable gold mine of human thought and creativity.

In my opinion, it’s the best thing to happen to human thought since the Stone Age. Well written or not, it’s irreplaceable, invaluable, and inestimably precious.

But I still don’t want to buy a bad one, so I’ll stick to the way I buy books, and let the best book win.


Self Publishing Advice for Blue Hens

Inquiring Hens want to know, what is POD?

POD is a good way to get a book ASAP as long as you have a PDF.

Print On Demand (POD) is the heart of the new publishing revolution. A publisher, or author, or pretty much anyone with a PDF  (Portable Document Format) file (an electronic copy of your book, already formatted, sized, and totally ready to print) can upload the file to a POD (Print-On-Demand) supplier and order up a single copy of the book. The cover of the book is usually a separate PDF file, uploaded at the same time. The important point here is that the PDF file is totally ready to go – no edits or adjustments required. The POD company prints either a single copy of the book, or as many as you have ordered, and ships it out. Fast.

Print On Demand is a tool that self publishers can use. Traditional publishers can use it too.

When someone orders my book through Amazon.com, they are ordering up a POD copy. I do not have a stock of printed books sitting in an Amazon warehouse in one of their strategically placed supply centers… although I could do that if I wanted to. I could have the books printed up ahead of time and shipped to that center, then Amazon would pull one from inventory and ship it out. This is a core difference between me, a self published author, and Simon & Schuster, a massive, big, respected, resourced, old-school, traditional publisher. Or one core difference, among others. Because I don’t have that big book inventory sitting in a warehouse, I don’t have all that money tied up there either.

Print On Demand also makes it possible that no book needs to go Out of Print ever again, as long as there are servers and electronic data in the world. Many books that existed before the publishing revolution are not yet available POD and so are still Out of Print… but this is a main strength of electronic publishing. Ebooks are another, but that’s another post for another day.

AND, this is a new industry. A new science. It has bugs.

I recently added a disclaimer paragraph to my PDF file at Amazon that tells my reader that their book was from a Print On Demand supplier, and if it is not perfectly printed, to please contact me at www.TheWestchesterPress.com. Because I had tested the system, and been in contact with readers, and some people got books that were not perfectly trimmed or perfectly printed. Quality control was running at about 90%, which still left some readers getting weird-looking books – and this was my only way to combat that issue.

But the benefits truly outweigh those problems, and Print On Demand is a wonderful thing… it makes Self Publishing possible.


Finishing a book is an enormous accomplishment.

Self Publishing Mountains

Mountains to climb in the process of self publishing.

I was so psyched to have actually finished that it felt like I had achieved the top of Everest.
And like the top of Everest… after a couple of hours of admiring the view, I began to think about what came next.
Because finishing the book was half the journey.

I began to submit my manuscript to traditional publishers and immediately realized that… even if I was one of the very few authors who got a book deal with my first book, it was going to be a long time before my book was on the shelf… and my book was a timely story about economic collapse, family, and chickens. I wanted to get it into stores NOW.

So I began to think about self publishing and immediately realized that… producing my own book was going to require an enormous amount of my own time and a steep learning curve.

So I looked into the services of companies offering to give me an ISBN number for free and manage most of the work for several hundred dollars and not-so-immediately realized that… I had to make smart decisions to protect the rights of my book.

One step at a time, I put in the time and climbed the steep learning curve and self published my book, and it did sell. I consider it a continuing success. Now I’m rolling out my second book… and here is my answer to the question of whether an author should self publish a book.

Do you have basic or intermediate computer skills and equipment – and a willingness to learn new computer skills?
If you do, consider self publishing.
If you do not, consider submitting to traditional publishers or subsidy presses.

Do you intend to write more books and eventually make as much of a living as a writer as you can ?
If you do not, then the effort and time required to produce one book might not be worth it.
If you do, once you’ve set yourself up to self publish one book, doing more books is very efficient.

Do you have a use for the skills you will learn in addition to producing your own books?
If you don’t intend to use these skills for publishing more of your own books, or publishing other people’s books, or hiring yourself out for employment, or using these new skills for current employment, then it might not be worth the investment of time and learning. Your time might be better spent writing writing writing, and paying for the publication services.

If you’ve got only one book in your heart and you just want copies to pass around to family and friends, then go through a vanity press.

If you’ve got the next Harry Potter in your heart and you can wait and you know your time is better spent writing, submit to traditional publishers and never give up.


If your readership is a niche market and you know your book will sell and you are up for the climb (including the climb down) then roll up your sleeves and self publish.



Just like the world of film / video / DVD has changed…. And just like the world of music / cassette tape / CD / MP3 has changed…. The world of book publishing is changing.

The Lilypond of Self Publishing Advice

Self Publishing... there is a deeper pond of information under the surface.

It used to be very expensive and difficult to produce a hard copy book, and producing a single copy of a hard copy book was out of reach. Getting that book into readers hands used to be very expensive and difficult too… and this is what has changed the most in book publishing.

It is now much easier and more cost effective to produce a book and get it into readers hands. Authors can do it themselves. They can publish themselves.

It is the technology that has changed, giving anyone with the determination to learn access to the marketplace. But the fundamentals of publishing have not changed. The book still has to be well written, on a topic someone wants to read about, and well produced so that it sells at a profit.

Self publishing is the act of the author becoming a publisher, and therefore taking on all the concerns and expenses of a publisher. This immediately created a market for companies offering to take over all the headaches of publishing on behalf of the author… for a fee. Those companies are called vanity or subsidy presses.

Those services are not the same as self publishing… but they do have a place. They can be a good solution depending on the book project, (more about that topic in my upcoming post about vanity and subsidy press). But self publishing is the process of the author taking a book from conception to sale, themselves.

Self publishing a book is an adventure… Is it the right adventure for you?
(see my post… Should I self publish?)

Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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