Publishing on our own

About two weeks ago Chuck and I made the decision to proceed with self publication and marketing. This was not easy as the allure of a traditional publishing contract is powerful. Visions of talk shows, a savvy publisher marketing team, our book displayed in bookstores everywhere is enticing.

But there are significant downsides to going with one of the major New York publishers. For one, you surrender all control. They select the publication date, and worse, they decide when to stop shipping books. It is, as well, very difficult to coordinate your marketing efforts with those of the publisher as they withhold so much information.

Next, you give up ownership. In the old days a year after the book went out of print the rights returned to the authors. No more. Now the publishers turn to print-on-demand and sell just enough copies each year to keep the rights indefinitely. The consequence is to keep you from self-publishing or pursuing other potential deals.

Finally, your rate of return per book is very low with a traditional deal. True, if you sell millions of copies you get rich, not as rich as the publisher who is making a lot more money than you are, but still, rich. But the average book doesn't sell millions and the difference between making three dollars per book versus ten or fifteen dollars can be significant.

Going our own way was a difficult call, especially because the first of the books of the Summit Murder Series, Murder on Everest, is simply so good. We've never doubted that if we stuck with a traditional agent that we'd find a home for this book in time. But then the publisher would want to wait on sales figures before committing to publishing the other books in the series.

No, we have too much invested to go that route. We've worked hard on developing an independent marketing, publishing and distribution plan. We've always known this might happen and kept this option on the table.

We're wrapping up Murder on Elbrus over the next few days. It's a fine read. On to Murder on Mt. McKinley. Now where did we lay that Alaska map?


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