To Self-publish, or (try) to Publish... and I'm a snowflake
October 3, 2013 9:25 AM   Subscribe

I am writing a guidebook for my industry and while I want to catch some of the increase in reputation that comes from going through a real publisher, I also pretty much want to give it away (electronically but also in hard copy as gifts for clients etc) to as many people as possible. Is there a way to achieve both of those goals? Published by an independent, real publisher, printed for those that want to pay, and those I am willing to pay for, and free for me to distribute as much as I want?
posted by HopStopDon'tShop to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
LuLu gives you a whole lot of control over being able to print hard copies, and the process for doing ebooks through LuLu will create a file you can redistribute however you feel like. As for the technical aspects: if you can create a document in Word, you can make something that can be passably converted into book and ebook form, as long as you're not doing a whole lot of fancy tyographical and image-based things.

Edit: I guess I missed the part about a real publisher; the 'free' part is going to dissuade most publishers from doing business with you, so finding one may take a lot of footwork and emails to connect with somebody willing to work with you in this way.
posted by AzraelBrown at 9:34 AM on October 3, 2013

Speaking from a traditional publishing model perspective, the only way I can think of to accomplish this is to buy the books yourself and give them away. In order to go through the publishing-wholesale-customer pipeline you have a to have a list price assigned to your book.

You might be able to keep electronic rights, though that may prove difficult.
posted by lyssabee at 9:48 AM on October 3, 2013

If you're willing to wait the time it takes for your book to get traditionally published, many publishing contracts come with free author copies. I got 30 (which is more than I know what to do with)--after that, I can purchase more at a drastically reduced rate.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:00 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One of my college professors, Allen Downey, started his own publishing company to provide the books he writes for free. At Green Tea Press, he allows users to download an electronic book for free, but also has links to buy physical copies (looks like some printed through Lulu and others through O'Reilly). He is incredibly nice and very passionate about the accessibility of information, so I bet he would be happy to offer you advice/suggestions about alternative means of publishing.
posted by dormouse at 12:35 PM on October 3, 2013

Best answer: Just to give you a heads up on the kinds of costs you're talking about, should you find a non-vanity publisher to take this on. Costs for the first copy will range between $10,000 and $20,000, assuming you have no color and few illustrations. "Real" publishers have significantly more overhead than a vanity publisher and thus will have higher costs which, unless they think they can make up in sales, will probably fall on you.

But I'm also not sure if you'll find a "real" publisher who would take a book unless they saw a significant market for it and it made sense in the context of their existing list. Worth noting though that the line between "real" publishers and self-publishing has really begun to blur so if you're willing to try a hybrid, consider Archway, a collaboration between Simon & Schuster and Author House. It's still self-publishing, it just has S&S's shiny veneer on it, but without their actual imprint on your book.

Good luck.
posted by Toekneesan at 12:53 PM on October 3, 2013

"Real" publishers have significantly more overhead than a vanity publisher and thus will have higher costs which, unless they think they can make up in sales, will probably fall on you.

I may be misreading this, but if you pursue traditional publishing, you should not have to pay anything to be published. Some number of author copies come standard with most decent publishing contracts, and, as I said, additional copies can often be purchased as a significant discount.

Whether or not it's feasible to publish this book depends on the field for non-fiction, but there's no reason not to begin researching doing so, and to perhaps draw up a proposal and begin contacting agents.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:26 PM on October 3, 2013

You're absolutely right, PhoBWanKenobi. And if you are offered a contract, author copies, like everything else, should be negotiable. If that's something you can predict, it should be a part of the negotiations. I was trying to speak to the idea that you could pay a traditional publisher to publish your book. Maybe, but unlikely. But if you could, here's the kind of costs they'd ask for.
posted by Toekneesan at 2:33 PM on October 3, 2013

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