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Reader question about publishing choices

Hi Cyndi!
I've really enjoyed the chapters of your eBook that I've downloaded! I'm looking forward to reading the others. I have a book idea of my own, and while I haven't ruled out traditional publishing, the eBook option is one I'm seriously considering. 

I was wondering. What made you go the eBook route as opposed to, say, using CreateSpace or Is it something you would recommend? Also, do you have any tips for successfully promoting an eBook?


Hi Sara,
I'm really glad you asked these questions, because I've been trying to figure out whether or not it's something that readers would be interested in.  Since you asked, I think I can safely assume that there are quite a number of others who would like to know but weren't sure whether I would answer!

Let me take them in order.  If you can secure a traditional publisher, I would never tell you to turn it down!  However, I would caution you to first read every single word my friend Margot Potter has written on the subject.  Through knowing Madge, I have learned how to be very very careful about the contract you are offered.  You will not get a first draft contract that is in your favor, ever.  However, if you are successful with your first few books, you are then in a better position to negotiate much better terms.  I'm not going to go into all the details, because Madge already has, and you should definitely read her blog diligently.  I've created projects and even written chapters for the books of artist friends over the years, and I've seen what they go through.  Would I ever do it myself?  If I were offered the right topic by a publisher I respect (and there are plenty), yeah, probably.    

After having written primarily for magazines for years, I learned how difficult it is to make any real money doing this.  It helps to establish your reputation, but it doesn't put a lot of money in your pocket.  Plus, you are forced to sell full rights almost all the time.  I had one wonderful magazine where all I was selling was first North American rights, but I don't think that happens anymore.  So the publisher can reuse your work, pay you a very small amount for that reprint (I never was paid for reprints back in the day), and you have no right to reuse your work, ever.  This was enough to make me think twice and even thrice about staying with traditional publishing.

So, why not Lulu or something else like that?  I did think about it.   There were three drawbacks that applied to me, but may not apply to you.  First, expense.  I wanted my books to be as inexpensive as possible so that beginners wouldn't have to hesitate, and the cost of the POD books is too high.  Secondly, I had a number of discreet topics that I wanted to write about, and I didn't want to have to wait until they were all written in order to publish the earlier ones.  Related to that was my thought that I wanted readers to be able to pick and choose the chapters, buying only the ones that interested them. 

I've thought about compiling all the chapters of my first e-book, Every Bead Has a Story, and offering it as a total package.  If I do end up doing this, I will still offer the chapters just feels right to me.

Promotion is something that most of us struggle with.  Promoting an e-book is not much different from promoting a paper book, at least the online part of it.  My friends who have published traditionally were mostly shocked by how much was expected of them personally when it came to promotion.  I've got lots of posts about promotion on Beading Arts, and I would also recommend Madge's blog, Problogger, and All Freelance WritingAFW is the source of an excellent e-book by Jennifer Mattern called How to Write an E-book in Just 14 Days.  Get it.  It's free, and Jennifer is brilliant. 

So, go forth and publish...any way that suits you!

[Note: Funny enough, my friend Anne who writes All Freelance Writing just posted today on How to market your book!  Yay Anne!  This is a great introduction to her blog if you've not read it]

Copyright 2012 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Shirley said…
Great post Cyndi, and very helpful information. Off to read Margot's now.
Congratulations, Cyndi! This beautiful, wide-ranging blog has been chosen to receive the Versatile Blogger Award by Eileen at The Artful Crafter. Please hop over to pick up your award button.
Anne Wayman said…
Thanks so much for mentioning my article and site... there's also a category there about self-publishing. And I do answer questions.
Cyndi L said…
I've learned a lot from you, Anne, and I appreciate your candor about your own experiences!
Great points. Despite the hurdles of getting a book published, a true self-publisher is willing to put the time, effort and money into their book. In return they get to keep control over their creativity and style. They do not have to conform to the standards of others. For some authors, that is well worth their time and money and marketing limitations. It is a choice they make, not because they could not get published elsewhere, but because they want to keep control of their own success.