Independent Publishing Pros and Cons

My first book, Toto’s Tale and True Chronicle of Oz is a middle grade retelling of The Wizard of Oz from the point of view of the little dog, Toto. I published it through an independent publishing program at Bookshop Santa Cruz.

My most recent book, The Weaver’s Daughter, a middle grade border crossing immigration story, was published by a small independent publisher, Desert Palm Press.

I’ve learned there are advantages and disadvantages to each of these methods of publishing. I haven’t yet had a book published by one of the larger, main-stream publishers. Perhaps my next book . . .

When I published independently, I had to assume all the costs. I didn’t have to do the layout or book and cover design. That was done by Bookshop’s expert, in consultation with me, and I was very happy with the results. I did have to take responsibility for editing at all levels.

I, of course, have had to do all the marketing and publicity. In the past, I would have had to pay for a print run of a certain number of books and then try to sell them. Now, however, books are print on demand, so I don’t have a garage full of cartons of unsold books. I did author readings in schools, put my book up on Goodreads, Net Galley, Amazon and Ingram in both paperback and e-book formats and received excellent reviews. I got it into the local library system. I took total responsibility, had total control, and receive all profits from book sales.

With The Weaver’s Daughter, I didn’t have to pay anything for the design and layout of the book. My publisher hired people to do that, including editing. She paid for the marvelous cover design, and consulted me about suggestions and preferences, something which a large publisher might not have done.

Since I went with a small publisher, I’ve still had to be responsible for almost all the publicity and marketing. I understand this is more and more the case even with larger publishers. Unfortunately, like many authors, marketing and publicity are difficult for me. Also unfortunately, the book came out during the pandemic. There have been fewer opportunities to get out in public to promote it.

It might seem that the marketing aspect is no different than with my independently published book. But, because I don’t have as much control over the book, some aspects have been more difficult. I order books for consignment and other sales through the publisher. I ask her to do things such as getting the book up on Ingram for distribution to bookstores. And, of course, I get only a percentage of the profits from sales.

If I were trying to make a lot of money from my books, I’d be disappointed with either method. But I’ve been happy to have my books out in the world and have people reading and commenting on them. See comments on Goodreads or Amazon.

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