FINAL UPDATE: Should You Self-Publish?

Final Update: Feb 2019

To read my original post, CLICK HERE

I receive a check from my publisher well within the promised time-frame. At this point, I feel that the bad press I’ve read about Christian Faith Publishers is mostly fake news. 

I’ll say several things here, then lay this post to rest.

  • When self-publishing, YOU are in charge of your success or failure. Don’t expect that giving the publisher extra money to promote your book for you is going to do much.
  • Be prepared to DO YOUR OWN PROMOTION WORK
  • Watch over every aspect of the work, from editing to layout to online promotion. Step in and insist on changes when you see a problem
  • Make sure that your project is as good as you can get it before you give it over to the self-publishing world. Have it read by critical reviewers who know what they are doing. Pay for good content editing by an experienced editor, no matter how good a writer or editor you might be. 
  • Be patient. It all takes time. 

To read about the original project, click HERE

 

Should I self-publish?

NOTE: I recently got an email asking about my experience self-publishing with a certain publisher. I think most points are applicable for most self-publish services. This post is not promoting or denigrating any particular publisher.

Advantages…

  1. Pretty well any publisher will provide stability to a project, too often missing in self-published books. [Be sure to do an internet search for other people’s experiences because there are a few bad eggs out there.]
  2. They provide some editorial and design services.
  3. They put you in contact with sellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble
  4. They take care of the e-book formatting, etc.
  5. Many will allow you to pay for their services over a ten month period.
  6. I have heard and experienced mostly good reports from in house “publishing experts”

Disadvantages…

  1. The price often seems very high for the services they provide.
  2. In my case I needed to find my own contact editor. The publisher said that they edit the books but it was only a copy edit, and they didn’t edit structure or story flow. This is a very important editorial function and a normal sized book will probably cost you an additional thousand dollars or so. When I contracted with them, I thought this was part of their editorial process. My book was too far into the process for me to pull, so it actually didn’t get the editorial treatment I like for my writing to have. [Make sure you know the details.]
  3. I ended up doing a suggested cover layout of my own. Their designer added finishing touches which were good, but I’m not sure what they would have done otherwise. I get the feeling they have certain templates they use that allow them to fast-track design. You have to be clear in your expectations and not afraid to ask for changes. BUT each change request adds a month to the process. My project ended up taking close to a year.
  4. The first uploads to Amazon and Barne’s & Noble had obvious errors in the descriptions. While my publishing expert was quick to get this fixed, it again depended on me to ask for it. I felt that for the price I paid, they should have been more careful about details in various times throughout the project. I asked for advice different times and it seemed like the person in charge of my project was reluctant to step out with concrete suggestions.

More Thoughts…

Maybe my expectations were too high. But it is the little things that derail the success of your book. If you feel comfortable being your own general contractor, here is what you probably need to expect.

  1. You need some good reviewers, not just people who pat on the back for your “wonderful work.” You need critics. Cost? It depends on who you know.
  2. You need a good content editor. Say a thousand dollars? Depends on book size.
  3. You need a thorough copy editor. Another thousand? Amazon has both available, but look for some good freelancers. I’d say that a good content and copy edit would cost you at least $1500 and maybe as high as $2,000, depending on the length and complexity of your book.
  4. You need someone to design the layout and the cover of your book. Maybe $750 or so.
  5. You need someone to design / format your e-book. Another $500 – 750.

My publisher also did a video trailer, which makes a good sales point, but I’m not impressed with mine and I don’t think it will really generate a lot of sales. They gave me a page on their website, but I have my own website. They do a press release, but I don’t know how many get printed or read. They do make the book available on a world wide distribution network.

I’m waiting to see how much their marketing efforts will help my book. But I suspect that in most cases, you will have to do your own promotions to make it work. It is hard to know who much these things help and how many simply make a good sales pitch. I don’t feel that they are dishonest, and a lot of people do seem to like their work. The books I have from them are good quality.

I paid them around $4800, most of which I borrowed. Add content editorial and I would be at close to $6000. [That was CND $$. US $$ might be cheaper.]

To produce the same thing on my own, if I had to hire everything, would cost around $3500. Say $4000 to be safe. So the extra $2000 goes for services like getting an ISBN, getting the book into the distribution chains and online, and giving me some security. Is it worth that? I’m glad in some ways that I took this route for my first self-published project. I know what to expect now. However, I used to do layout and cover design when I worked for Rod and Staff Publishers, so I could probably knock up to another $1500 off that. If I do another self-published project I’ll likely do it myself. But my next book has already been accepted by a regular publisher, and they have made me an offer on writing future books for them that I really can’t turn down. It takes some of the variables out of everything. Especially, they pay for editorial and review and do all the design without me financing it. 

That should be your long term goal. Look at self-publishing as an investment in your future. But be sure that you do a good job of it, so that you can use your books to sell yourself to a publisher. I haven’t been very impressed with many of the kindle books I’ve download from Amazon to try to get a feel for the market.

Blessings on your work. If you have more questions, feel free to ask in the comments, or contact me using the contact form. However, I’m finding my way as well, so I’m not an expert. Note that the costs I mentioned are off the top of my head, but they should be close.

There’s no end to the publishing of books, and constant study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else.
(Ecc 12:12 MSG)

UPDATE: This book has now been on the market for about nine months. I have found the biggest downside of self-publishing through a publisher to be the fact that you can’t set your own prices. You can’t do any kindle give-aways, or sell hard copies at a discount. My impression is that the pricing is about 25% to high.

The marketing my publisher did for me [if any] accomplished nothing, as far as I can tell. On the other hand, about four months ago a traditional publisher released a small book that I wrote. I didn’t really expect much of it, but someone I knew wanted a book on that subject. They sold over a thousand books in the first three months. No cost to me for editorial, marketing, or layout. I won’t tell you how many self-published books I’ve sold in the past nine months.

Poor Me!

My best selling book

God and Uncle Dale

Available in English, German, Ukranian, Spanish

This was my first “novel” and has sold over 10,000 copies in English. Not sure about the others. I wrote this under contract and don’t get any royalties, so it’s hard to know for sure what the sales figures are. It was published in 2005, in English, 2012 in German, 2011 in Ukranian, and 2014 in Spanish. All but the Ukranian copy are available from Rod and Staff Publishers.

Back Cover:

20180502_120247-2324597990-1525287944652.jpg

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Where is God,

When Life Doesn’t Make Sense?


  • Where is God when I need Him?
  • Why doesn’t life make sense?
  • How can I find meaning in life?
  • Why isn’t life fair?

Solomon asked over thirty questions in Ecclesiastes. Many of them we can relate to, because we face them as well. That is why Ecclesiastes is a book that we should pay attention to in the modern era. The questions don’t go away. Rather they increase.

Can you find meaning in life through intellectual pursuits? Solomon couldn’t. Can you find meaning in life through pleasure? Through luxury? Through sensuality? Through work? Through beauty? Solomon couldn’t.

Nor can you. But you can find meaning in life. That is what this book is all about.

This book may not answer all your questions, but it will give you a foundation to work from when you face questions in life. It will show you how the wisest man who ever lived faced them. And what he finally discovered about God.

Every “thinker” needs a sanctuary—a quiet haven with no distractions to disturb their thought processes. Here is how I envision Solomon’s sanctuary.

Solomon’s “thinking room” was a little cubicle he would have called his study, had there been such a thing in his time. It was little more than a cell furnished with a writing table, a chair, and some rudimentary writing materials. His working area was lit by several candles since he did most of his reading and writing either late at night or early in the morning. 

One wall had a window, of sorts, facing west. Mostly it was just a hole in the wall, with shutters that he could close if the breeze was too cold or the sun too bright. It was big enough that he could see out without needing to stand up.

The door in the sidewall opened into his sleeping quarters and was the only way to enter the room. The room was heated through the door by the fireplace in the next room.

The other two walls were the most important. They contained his library of scrolls, stored carefully on roughhewn shelves. Some of the scrolls were obviously quite old and fragile. Others were newer, and several were written by Solomon himself. Many were copies of older clay tablets that Solomon’s scribes had recopied onto parchment imported from Egypt. A few were even copies of oral traditions handed down from the unknown past that Solomon’s men had tracked down. Perhaps the most important scrolls in the collection were the copy of the Pentateuch Solomon had copied painstakingly in his own handwriting during the first years of his reign.

That library would be worth a king’s ransom today if we could recover it somehow. It contained the thoughts and writings of wise men and scholars, as well as scientists and political gurus of the time. Some were old and some were new—the king’s men had collected them from far and wide. They contained the wisdom of the world at that time.

Every chapter has a series of discussion questions for group or personal study. They will help you delve deeper in to the topic of this book. Here are some samples…

  • Think of the idea of the universe being a senseless, meaningless, perpetual motion machine with no escape route but death. What modern-day philosophies mirror this kind of thinking?
  • How does satisfaction in life help people find meaning in life? In what way doesn’t it?
  • Is creativity useless? In what ways do you agree with Solomon’s sentiments? In what ways do you think he is wrong?
  • Think of this statement: If life is all we live for, then we will find ourselves fighting the same kind of pessimism Solomon struggled with. Why is this true?

Writing Sample…

Solomon said: 

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after. (Ecc 1:9-11)

Paraphrase

Do you want to write a book? It’s already been written by someone else, and he’s done a better job at it than you ever could. Besides, that book has already been forgotten and so has its author. The same thing will happen to you. It’s no use trying to create something new or beautiful. No one will appreciate it. You’re just wasting your time. You’re just a part of the meaningless cycle the universe is stuck in.

Want to buy?

At this point, this book is only available from Christian Light Publications