When I began this blog I had two main purposes. The first was to update my readers on what was happening such as getting a website, publishing a new book, sales, etc. The second was to chronicle my journey so that others who want to take a shot at writing might be able to learn from my mistakes and successes. I had so many people who told me that they had always wanted to write a book after I published my first book, that I wanted to encourage them to try.
The email course for ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) this month is indie vs. traditional publishing. I have been so excited for this course because there is so much about publishing that I don’t know. Having someone who is in publishing (the teacher owns a small press publishing company) teach me the differences between the two, the pros and cons of each, the potholes to watch for, and seeing other authors who are figuring things out just like me has been so helpful.
One of the first things I learned was about a mistake I’ve already made in publishing. I fell for what they call a ‘vanity press’. These are publishers who stroke your vanity to get you to buy more from them. I don’t think it’s technically a scam, but their goal isn’t to sell your books. Their goal is to make money off of the author. They have you pay to publish your book, then try to sell you editing packages, marketing packages, and then sell you your own books. To top it off, they price the books too high so that they won’t sell.
This is an accurate description of what I experienced through Westbow Press. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have enough money to give them to feel like I’ve really been taken in. I paid for a low end publishing package, but nothing more. In fact, in a way I’m glad I went through the experience because I learned a lot. I learned to research things a little more. I learned to trust my ‘cynicism’ – that part of me that says, “Yeah, you’re telling me nice things about me and my book, but you’re also trying to sell me something, so I don’t think I believe you.” I learned that even though a company is part of a larger reputable company it doesn’t mean that the smaller company is necessarily a good one. On top of all that, if I hadn’t gone through them, I probably wouldn’t have made the step to have a marketing team, and I wouldn’t have found Merge Left Marketing which has been so good to me.
I’m not telling you anything I haven’t already told Westbow. They often send me surveys on my experience, asking if I would recommend them to others. The answer is no. I would tell anyone thinking about publishing to look around carefully, do a lot of research, and avoid a company that’s just a ‘vanity press’. As soon as they told me what they were going to price my book at, I knew I was done with them. When even my own family members are hesitant to buy it because it’s too expensive, something is very wrong. Even I don’t want to buy my own book because it costs too much. To top it off, my package included some ‘free’ books (I feel like I’ve paid for them with my publication fees), but I can’t get my books until I pay a separate shipping and handling fee. My books are being held hostage until I can afford the ransom.
I do want to get Sweetheart Suite into print, but I will not be using Westbow Press. I’m going to be doing some research on other means to get it done. Lesson learned.