Sunday, January 29, 2006

Should I Do This? VOTE Your Opinion!

I am in a publishing quandary, and I need your advice. So I set up a Mini Poll here, so people could vote their opinion in the matter.
(Tech note: To see the poll, you need to have Javascript turned on -- i.e. Internet Explorer should be in "default" running mode.)

The backstory: In the 1990s, I wrote a long science-fiction novel called DARC AGES. (Actually, it began as the script for a comic-book, with lots of character and concept art. )

I passed it around to publishers, and nothing happened. So I started to post the book chapters as a web-serial on my first homepage, with illustrations based on the concept/character sketches for the aborted comic-book version.

I got several positive reader e-mails about the first DARC AGES Web serial... but that version had flaws: typos and language errors. So when I took the offer from Xlibris to publish it as a Print-On-Demand paperback for free, it was an unwise decision. (But hey, it sounded so great then, and I was young and hungry.) It was released in 2000.

Unsurprisingly, the 2000 Xlibris print-on-demand edition sold a very small number of copies, and I made virtually no money at all. I tried to forget about it, and concentrated on writing other novels. Skip forward to 2004-2005, when I decided to revise the DARC AGES manuscript as a new Web-serial -- weed out typos, inconsistencies, bad language, make it really polished this time.

As this is being written, the revised DARC AGES serial is soon complete. I'm thinking: "Bury the Xlibris edition. Find a real publisher this time, or just leave the Web edition as it is."

And then, another print-on-demand opportunity comes a-knocking... and there's my dilemma.
I could release the revised DARC AGES as a print-on-demand book through CafePress.com. I tried it before, with a collection of previously published short stories.

But should I do this? Remember your disappointment last time you tried to self-publish DARC AGES, my Inner Yoda tells me. And I try to reason with my doubts: "But this time it could work! The script has been fixed. CafePress is reliable and recommended, I have more freedom to edit the book's layout and design. I am more experienced now. And this time I could include the illustrations, like I always wanted to.
Besides, it's too late to get that book published in the "traditional" way. You self-published it once, so it's tainted forever.

What to do? Please cast your vote: Click "No", "Yes", or "Don't Know" in the Mini Poll.


Marguerite said...

So, with print on demand, that means that a person pays money to be able to printit out on his or her own printer?


A.R.Yngve said...

Print-On-Demand (POD) means that a copy is printed individually for each purchase -- i.e. there are no advance "print runs" in the traditional sense. The printing and book delivery is done by the publishing company -- in this case CafePress.com.

Since this POD technology is so new, it is mostly used for self-publishing (="vanity publishing") purposes, chapbooks, and such. Many "vanity publishers" take a fee from the author. I wouldn't recommend any writer to pay for publishing his own stuff.

The special case with CafePress.com, is that when I have opened a free CafePress shop, I can sell one print-on-demand book through its POD service -- at no fee.

I have tested their system: once you learn the details of manuscript formatting (which can be tricky), you can set up a PDF file of your manuscript on your own, and create a cover design.

But: just as with regular publishing, proofreading and editing makes all the difference.

The rule of thumb for self-publishing: NEVER self-publish something that hasn't been proofed or at least approved by an editor.

Marguerite said...

Aha, I understand a bit more now.

A.R.Yngve said...

OK, now I have written to Xlibris and told them to cancel publication of the 2000 edition of DARC AGES.

Meanwhile, even if the revised 2006 edition won't be printed anywhere soon... a sequel to DARC AGES exists in rough form, and will be serialized on my homepage in 2006 or 2007.