Has anyone here ever self-published a book? I have a novelty book I would like to have published, and while I think it’s unique and funny, I have no idea how others will respond to it. With so many people wanting to publish and so few who actually get their books accepted by the major houses, it seems like it may be the only option for some. But I was wondering…have any of you had any experience with this sort of thing, and, is there any reason why someone would rather self publish?
When one does so, you are the one with sole ownership of the book’s rights, and it seems that you have more control over things. On the other hand, you have to design and distribute the book in many cases, and it does cost a lot to publish a book by oneself.
And why, when I did some googling and found some self publishing houses, did some of them-the ones who did not use the POD (publish on demand) option, imply that this is a bad thing to do? I would think that printing a book as it’s needed is a most cost effective option.
Anyone have any info?

Successful self-published books are those that fit a small niche market. For instance, a church recipe book could sell to members of the church and make some money. A book on local history can do well if picked up and sold at the local historical society. I’m not sure what you mean by a novelty book, but it may be a possibility.

What doesn’t sell is general nonfiction or fiction.

Also, don’t get waylaid by the difference between self-publication and vanity publication. Vanity presses (and nearly all POD presses fall into this category) make the already difficult task even more impossible. The worst part is that they have control of the manuscript. If you need 50 copies of signing, you have no guarantee that they will be there in time (most POD presses use the same printer – Lightning Press, and their books get a lower priority). In addition, the POD presses have terrible discounts for bookstores, so bookstores don’t like to carry them, especially since they cannot be returned if not sold.

If you really want to go this route, you must take on all the publishing tasks. Find a local book printer and print the books yourself. You will need to have something to hand people. If you go to a bookstore with a few copies, most likely they’ll take them on consignment. You can also hand them to people at readings, etc. They are much less likely to give you money if they don’t get something solid to hold in return.

So the best chance of success is to print a bunch of copies, and hand them out, and hope for reorders. Do everything you can to market the book (you’d have to do this if you go to a POD vanity press anyway.) It’s also more cost-effective in the long run; POD books have to be priced considerably higher than traditionally published books, since there are no economies of scale.

Thank you for that helpful advice. I might actually be a candidate for this route because I am not as interested in making a lot of dough as I am in the ego-trippy experience of creating my own book, and having something that I loved doing actually worth doing. I can give the books away as gifts, and just sort of stare at them for long periods of time. I am retired and I am trying to realize a few dreams.
A novelty book is anything that has an unusual premise and is usually not linear, but funny, particularly beautiful (usually in a small, sort of precious way), or gimmicky in an esoteric way (kind of like the one I wish to do). Picture those little books that are about specific emotions or holidays.
I fantasize that ithe book will “catch on” and make me a household name, but that can’t happen if I self-publish as I am not the best marketer in the world. But that’s okay.
To do what I speak of is going to be costly, especially since I am going ot want to have my own stash of them to give away, and they cost about $8-9 per copy, plus shipping. Urk! But this is an indulgence to me, so maybe that may be the way to go about this. For the heck of it, I may send a manuscript to a publisher that was named on the back of one of those big house gift books in Barnes and Noble that I saw the other day. I don’t know. Thanks again for your help… NWW

Your website looks great! I am going to look at those books…!

Since the question is about books and publishing, I’ll move this thread to the Cafe Society forum.

moderator GQ

If you’re in it as a hobby, that’s fine. And sending it to a regular publisher is always worth a shot – you’re only out the postage and if they like it, you can satisfy your writing urge and make a little money at it, too. Just go to a reference like Writer’s Market to determine who the editor is, and read up on manuscript submission.

It’s an investment, but you’ll get back more of it if you do everything yourself than if you go to a vanity press to do the job for you (which they won’t).

There are alternatives.

First of all, GET IT COPYRIGHTED; you can get information off the Library of Congress website. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s insurance against getting ripped off.

I agree completely about vanity presses; they charge out the blue wazoodle, and what you get is a nicely bound, good looking book with NO distribution. Your only hope of making your money back is to have all your relatives buy a copy, or go hawking the things door to door, practically. Do it yourself. Kinko’s has all the facilities necessary; it ain’t cheap, but it’s easier and cheaper than a vanity press.

When I published, I did it partly as a challenge, and partly as a hobby; people had been telling me for years I ought to “collect all those funny stories you post on the internet and publish a book.” Finally, I said, “If I actually publish a book, who’ll buy one? Put your money where your mouth is.”

Weirdly enough, a fair number of people on message boards I frequent actually agreed to the terms I set. Out of sheer incredulousness, I had a first printing of thirty copies run off at Kinko’s, where I added laminated cardboard covers, and comb-bound the things.

I sold out in a week. I also lost money, but that didn’t really bother me too much; I was still kind of stunned at the interest in my book.

I’ve been printing up copies for sale through the mail ever since. Every so often, some complete stranger, either on this board or some other, runs across a funny story, thinks to check my WWW link, and emails me for information.

I will agree that it’s more a hobby than a career, though – it wouldn’t even be cigarette money, if I smoked – but there are worse things than having complete strangers send you twenty-dollar bills, out of the blue, periodically. And it’s a wonderful ego-boo to know that I’m making complete strangers do spit-takes out there, somewhere…

Meanwhile, at least now all those kind strangers are subsidizing me sending copies of the manuscript around to various publishers, instead of having to pay for it out of my own pocket. I don’t have to make compromises. I’m my own boss. I control my work. I own everything.

I’ll never get rich doing it, but it’s certainly better than never publishing at all.