James Floyd Kelly

Writer and Swashbuckler-for-Hire

Writing Advice – Opinions is a funny word, don’tcha think?

I originally wrote and  posted this on my Facebook page in November 2008… only friends could read it.  I’m reproducing it here with permission of the author… he’s very understanding.


Another question I received recently from a friend writing his first book concerns one of the advertisements you may (or may not) see on Facebook – over on the right side of your screen small advertisements pop up occasionally. One of them appeared on his FB page pushing “Get Published!” and he clicked it. What he got was a lead to one of those Pay-to-be-an-Author websites. Let me explain.

There are 3 ways to get a book out there:

1. Get a publisher to buy your book (idea) and they’ll deal with all the printing, binding, and selling stuff and send you an occasional check if the book sells.

2. Self-publish, using something like cafepress.com, that doesn’t require any up-front money from you (well, maybe a small monthly fee to have a business page, but nothing substantial). When a copy of your book sells, they take their cut and send you a check for the markup.

3. Vanity Press or Pay-to-be-an-Author companies charge you money to print a certain number of your book (say 1000 copies). You buy all the copies at a reduced rate and sell them yourself on a webpage or at flea markets.

It’s #3 I’m talking about in this note – you tell them how many pages your book is, they tell you that they’ll print 1000 copies for $3.00 each. You send them $3000.00 and they send you 1000 books. It used to be called Vanity Press because many people would pay this money just so they could see their book idea come to life. Hey, if that’s what you want… then by all means, go for it. But if you don’t sell those 1000 copies, you’re out $3000!

Some of these companies will throw in an ISBN tag for your book and maybe fill out the paperwork to get it listed on Amazon.com, but they’re still going to require you to purchase a specified number of books… sometimes that # is 5000 or even 10,000 copies!

Be careful – cafepress.com and similar print-after-purchase type companies are putting these types of businesses OUT of business. There’s just no reason to pay a company to print up X copies of your book and have you pay up front… if you can’t find a publisher, convert your book to PDF and sell it via cafepress or other service that only prints a copy when someone buys it – yes, you won’t make as much money per copy (unless you’re charging $50 per copy and then you’ll only sell 2 copies – one to Mom and one to Grandma) but with a reasonable markup ($2.00 to $5.00) you can still make some cash if the book is of interest to a large enough group.

Bottom line: Don’t pay to have your book published – find a real publisher or a print-after-purchase service and go through them.


February 26, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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