Monday, May 24, 2010

An Expensive Lesson

I am currently in the process of changing printers. Unfortunately, the one I have been working with turned out to be the "bait and switch" type I was trying to avoid. Unless you happen to know someone who has experience with the online publisher you choose, you could end up discovering this the hard way. At that point, you will have to make an important decision. Do I go ahead and stay with this company (your chances of getting a refund are poor once you are into the process) and keep paying for "extras," or do I start over?

I chose to start over, which wasted both time and money. I had already decided to have the cover designed on my own when I found out that the cover that came with the publishing package was for simple graphics, few options. I could, however, for a not-so-small fee, get something more to my liking if I wished. I will discuss this in a separate post. My next clue to having been hoodwinked was when the editorial analysis I purchased turned out to be for seven pages with a somewhat cursory overview of the rest of the novel. The full edit they recommended cost close to $2,000 so I declined their invitation and did the editing myself.

The next step was formatting the book's interior, and when I reviewed the finished work, I found my novel had been padded to such an extent that the page count increased from what should have been about 250 pages to 303. More pages means more money in the printer's pocket, of course, and less in mine. Not only that, but if I wanted to make even the smallest change (fix a juxtaposition, delete a space) I would get ten free changes, then pay $40 for each additional five. Either that or I could proofread the 303-page format, make whatever changes were necessary, then pay $200 and have the manuscript formatted again.

You may think this is no big deal, which is understandable if, like me, you have never had something formatted before. Formatting corrects font disparities; designs chapter headings; inserts page numbers and headers; lays out title, copyright and picture pages; creates a table of contents and saves the manuscript to a pdf. My manuscript is 86,000 words long, so you can imagine the potential for inconsistencies, typos, omissions, rogue words, and my own penchant to keep rewriting. I find something that I think needs to be changed almost every time I read it.

Starting over not only cost me the $600 I paid to my online publisher, but I had to (a) purchase my own ISBN and bar code (b) find someone else to format my manuscript (c) hire a proofreader, and (d) pay for my formatting and cover design esentially twice. All of this resulted in a two-month delay, a swift kick to my self-confidence, and some bitter feelings.

Hopefully the lesson I learned will help others beginning this journey. Just be aware--it's a challenge to jump into self-publishing without a mentor or some thorough advance training.

1 comment:

  1. I commend your description and advice for self-publishing, also your gumption to self-direct the progress of your book. Yes, it sure is a challenge, plus expensive, tho I figure paying Xlibris $1600 for professional, supportive consultation, editing, interior & cover design, email and press releases, on-line sales, and my own website ( was a good deal. I discovered you in June's Firefly and think we have a lot in common. Good luck with your marketing. I've started pages on facebook and am doing my best to get the word out.
    Polly Thompson