Option 2: The Self-Publishing Option
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For many new authors and even for very seasoned authors, their new first choice is to use the services of a self-publishing company or co-publishing company. Authors pay these companies to walk (shepherd) them through the publishing process. Many of these companies do not offer editing services, but give the client a list of possible editors whom they can hire on their own to edit their work. Some companies will edit the manuscript, but with a very hefty price tag attached. After the manuscript is edited, these companies then use a software program (often without human hands and human oversight) to typeset the manuscript into a book. In the end, it is not unusual for an author to end up disappointed with the overall quality of the book and frustrated with the entire process.
While most self-publishing companies do offer to assist the author with marketing for additional fees, their help in this area is usually minimal. Some of them will see that their book is listed in the Ingram Distributor's Database (which then goes to bookstores), and then make sure the book is listed on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and other related book-selling sites. Other companies will only list the book on their own website where it is unlikely that many people will actually find the book to purchase it.
While many of these companies feel proud of themselves for doing all this "marketing work," authors soon learn that they will have to "peddle their book on street corners." The harsh reality is that listings in the Ingram Database and on book-selling websites do not necessarily translate into book sales. Unless authors are willing to do their own marketing work, the prospects of people knowing about and buying their book is grim. Those who have their own website, send out their own review copies, schedule their own public events, and perhaps have their own following due to a radio show appearance, or sending out a newsletter, etc, will have a better chance at getting their book into circulation.
The fact is that "there are self-publishing companies and then there are self-publishing companies." There are some companies that do good work, but the author has to pay dearly for the privilege. There are other companies that use a flashy website, coupled with a high-powered pitchman to convince the author they are the ones for the job. Then, when the author signs on the dotted line, the company takes the author's manuscript, pushes it through their "assembly line" "cookie-cutter" book development process and produces a very generic and low-quality product that impresses no one. Even worse, they find out that these companies' so-called "marketing program" does not translate into book sales.
Typically, these self-publishing companies will print your book, then make you buy your own books from them at a discount. When they do, if they do, sell any of your books, they give you a royalty on the sale of your book. Imagine how many authors feel when they have to buy copies of their own book!