Do It Yourself?

by Barbara Mende

Coordinator, Grievance and Contract Division

 Have you sent book proposals to dozens of agents and publishers and received no response? Are you in a hurry to get your book in front of readers? Then you’ve probably thought of self-publishing.

Self-publishing gives you control over your work. You can choose your book’s design, its price, and where to sell it. Sure, it’s hard to get reviews and sell to indie bookstores. You might think you’d lose the advantage of a publisher’s marketing clout, but there isn’t much of that around. Even Stephen King and Nora Roberts have their own publicists. The big downside is that you have to pay the publishing costs, but there’s a potential for much higher royalties.

You can sign up with a subsidy press. They’re sometimes hard to distinguish from conventional publishers. The big difference is that instead of them paying you, you pay them. We recommend against them, based on a long history of members’ bad experiences of poor quality, delayed shipments, and failure to send royalty statements.

You can go to a hybrid publisher. We saw one that didn’t charge up front, and promised royalties of 75 percent of net profit. It sounded great until you realized that net profit was profit after production and shipping and marketing costs. Probably you’d never see any money. If you receive a contract from one of these houses, check it out with the Grievance and Contract Division at

Or you can publish with Amazon’s CreateSpace or Ingram’s Lightning Source. We like that alternative. Consult the NWU-Book online discussion list before starting, as lots of self-published authors are eager to share their experiences there. Directions for joining are at You may want to hire an editor, a layout artist, a cover designer, a photographer, an indexer, and/or combinations of these. The process may cost as much as a subsidy press. But you can get the support you need, you control the quality and pricing, and royalties are easy to track.

It’s your book. Take good care of it.