Saturday, March 7, 2009
Ask the Editor - Should I Self-Publish?
My memoir, Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis is completed. The sequel, Please, God, Not Two; This Killer Called Alcoholism is being polished.
My question is this: I'm leaning toward self-publishing because of my platform that I've built. I don't want to wait two years to get published, but I have my eye on an agent in California.
In November 2006, my first memoir A Healing Heart; A Spiritual Renewal was published. I'm already doing speaking engagements at rehabilitation centers, Catholic organizations, etc. They all want my book. I want to be able to present it when I do the engagements. I also teach a writer’s workshop.
Am I making the right decision to self-publish to get the book out right away and then query the agent?
Alberta H. Sequeira
Alberta, thank you for your question and the run-down of your books.
As an independent publisher, I see a number of submissions where the author has recounted his/her personal experiences, and have selected a few of them for publication. It is a very tough area, however, and the risk of the title earning back its production costs is a big one. This makes most publishers think twice and twice again before taking on the project.
The first thing an acquisitions editor must think is: “Who will read this book?” More specifically, “Who will want to read this book enough to buy it?” This question and its answers are going examined more and more closely as our nation works through this economic downturn. I know, at Oak Tree Press, I am focusing more on the marketing analysis than ever before.
In the rundown of your projects, you enumerate your platform, your speaking engagements, writing workshops and connections to recovery centers. This, in my opinion, makes your books ideal candidates for self-publishing. You’ve identified your market, have already established yourself as an authority on your subjects, and have a ready-to-go list of sales venues.
My advice to you is to go for it! There are many ethical and credible companies who can help you with cover design, layout and printing options. It’s possible you could have books in hand in 6-8 weeks.
So far as contracting an agent goes, if that is still something you want, you can do that. An agent can arrange for things such as foreign sales, audio and even film options, if your books lend themselves to those venues. I would be less optimistic about leveraging your self-pub experience into a book deal with a larger house. Yes, it happens, but not that often. Besides, a well-executed self-pubbed book can make you more money over a longer period of time than a deal from a publisher that will front the book for 6-10 weeks, then consider it backlist.
I think you are very wise to consider this course, Alberta. You are right, the process of finding a publisher, negotiating a deal and getting on a list is very time consuming. Most of my books come out 9-18 months after contract, which is really fast. Big houses run much closer to 24-30 months. Plus, by publishing yourself, you will be in control of the project, and there certainly is something to be said for that!
Billie Johnson, Publisher
Oak Tree Press