Thursday, March 12, 2015

An Easy Choice

Zestful Blog Post #96

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said a journalist had interviewed me for an article about the benefits of writing by hand? The article came out on March 2, but I forgot to give you the link last week. Here tis:

The writer, Marianne Hayes, did a great job pulling together multiple sources in a concise piece. As I wrote to her when I thanked her, I too had read about Neil Gaiman’s preference for writing by hand. I still have a bottle of Private Reserve Black Cherry ink that I bought after he mentioned he liked it. (One could imagine that it looks like dried blood on the page…) What do you think of the article?

I feel this week’s installment of Elizabeth’s Publishing History will bring us more or less up to date. I’ll call it:

#15 An Easy Choice

It’s funny, this whole sequence of posts on my publishing history is basically a long answer to the question of why I chose to self-publish a novel (Left Field, Book 5 in the Lillian Byrd Crime Series) after having achieved the (arguably enviable) goals of:

1) getting representation and

2) having all of my prior books initially published by publishers of note.

The capsule: I went the trad route; while some things worked out well, others did not; given the tools now available to authors who want to control their whole process, it made sense to give it a go.

In an earlier post I mentioned there was interest by trad publishers in Left Field, but I declined to discuss anything with them. My reasons:

1) I just plain wanted to see what would happen if I went solo;

[Do you believe it's me inside that solo space-walk suit?!…]

2) I wanted to keep the vast majority of the proceeds; and

3) I wanted the up-to-the-minute sales information a publisher (or self-pubbed author) gets but an author who is merely part of her publisher’s supply chain does not.

As I’d already reissued all of my novels in Kindle e-book form, I’d learned how that whole thing works. I’d run promotions (basically just the ‘free days’ you can do with Kindle Select) and been gratified by the results.

While preparing Left Field for publication in e-book and paperback forms toward the end of 2014, I also reissued my seven other novels in paperback on Amazon. This was no small task: I did all the design and formatting myself, worked with a graphic artist on cover designs, and handled all the steps for listing and releasing the titles via Create Space. (I know Amazon omits the space between Create and Space, but I atavistically write the two words as two words.) It's a painstaking process. As a Russian-born housecleaner once told me, "To do a good job takes time."

Why Create Space? Initially I thought I’d use Lightning Source (not least because they represent their two-word name normally), but I discovered that the publisher’s cut of the list price per book is much smaller with Lightning Source than Create Space. Knowing that the huge majority of all online book sales go through Amazon, I elected to use Create Space, which still leaves me the option of issuing the books via Lightning Source as well, for other sales outlets.

Each in this series of publishing history posts has been fairly long, circa 800 words or more, in order to catch us up. Now I’m gonna scale back to a more modest length.

Next week I’ll tell you how Left Field is doing, and answer some questions I've gotten about marketing.

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  1. Your Russian cleaning lady's comment certainly applies to CreateSpace! I used them to put out a second edition of The Not-So-Grim Folk Tales and did everything myself. A real drill in check, recheck, and check again.

    1. (Actually it was a male housecleaner.) Anyway, yeah, the devil's in the details...


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