Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Writers Turn to Self-Publishing

Marvin Kimble
Self-publishing has become more of an attraction for authors, such as those that wrote the above books. Some authors are finding it's easier to get published when they do it themselves.

The road from the initial brainstorming stages of a book to the finished product in a bookstore is a long journey with many twists and turns. Self-publishing is an avenue attracting more authors, despite its challenges.

"With new technology, print on demand, anybody could start a publishing company," said Martin Naparsteck, author and former professor at Utah State University.

A current New York resident, Naparsteck has published four books and more than 400 book reviews for the Salt Lake Tribune. He has now opted for his books "War Song" and "Hero's Welcome," novels about the Vietnam War, to be published through print-on-demand on the Internet.

Print-on-demand publishing is an option for authors who wish to self-publish, allowing them to hire a printer to manufacture the books as people order them online, cutting excess inventory.

"Clearly, it would save publishers a lot of money," Naparsteck said. "Some people estimate that more than 50 percent of books that are printed are never sold ... [and] nobody makes money with something that just sits on the shelf."

Naparsteck recommended IUniverse, a self-publishing support Web site offering the "new face of publishing" for budding authors who want to publish without the risks of an over excess of books or the headaches of marketing to bookstores.

"Normally, if you get published by a publisher they take care of the selling, and that's one of the problems with any small publisher," Naparsteck said. "They don't have a team of salesmen."

Salesmen visit bookstores and pitch books for the store to include on their shelves. Authors who do not promote their books through the venue of a publisher or distributor have to do the sales job themselves.

The process of publishing incorporates the stages between writing and printing: editing, revising, proofreading, layout process for printing and marketing. The difficulty with self-publishing is it puts the bulk of the weight of responsibility on the writer.

"When people self-publish, they have to do all of the steps themselves," said Linda Brummett, manager in the BYU Bookstore book department.

Brummett has seen thousands of books come through the Bookstore in her 33 years there, and she said she's seen an increase in self-publishing due to higher quality printing sources.

"Self-publishing looks every bit as professional as commercial," Brummett said. Desktop Publishing and new technology help in the process.

Brummett cautions those looking to self-publish, however, warning that it's a time-consuming path, and costly both in time and money.

"[Self-publishers] have money tied up in books that are in their basement, garage or closets," she said.

Anita Charles, BYU Bookstore sales floor supervisor, buys the books used for special promotions and book signings. She recommended new authors go through a publishing company and use the inclusive "Writer's Market" book to find the publisher that best fits the author's needs.

"Big publishers do so much work that an author can't do themselves," Charles said.

Currently the Bookstore carries a number of self-published books, including "Emergency Food in a Nutshell" by local author Leslie Probert. The book has done really well in the Bookstore, according to Brummett, selling hundreds of copies, and is even in its second edition.

Local publishing companies include Springville-based Cedar Fort, Brigham Publishing, Deseret Book and Eagle Gate.

For those set on self-publishing, there is the option of finding a local printer to create the finished product.

Doug Maxwell, administrator in the BYU Print and Mail Production Center, said self-publishers can digitally submit their work to be printed. The majority of printing projects at the BYU Print and Mail Production Center are for the university, including packets, mail distributions and textbooks. He said that the Print and Production Center completes 50 to 100 self-publishing projects a month.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Self-Publishing

* Control over the finished product
* Nobody makes changes without your consent
* No middleman

* Have to do it all yourself
* Big investment of time and money

Different routes to go with publishing
-Self publish and hire printer
-Print on demand
-Online e-book
-Hire a distributor

Article by: Crystalee Webb - 12 Apr 2007

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