For the last year I’ve been working on a short book based on a teaching series I did in my small group. My original plan had been to write a series of essays based on the study to provide to our group members. From there it grew into a full book.
The material itself is pretty solid, and I’m pretty excited to share it with people.
Truthfully, I do want to publish this work. I think it’s actually worthwhile and people who’ve been reading snippets here and there have found it enjoyable and helpful.
Where I’ve been stuck has been on the issue of publishing.
I’ve been looking at the material that exists on writing book proposals and manuscript submission sites and it’s all incredibly overwhelming—to be perfectly honest, it freaks me out a little bit. There’s enough involved that it makes my head spin a bit. There’s some financial out-go to get a manuscript vetted and submitted, in the hopes that an agent might like it and submit it to publishers. And if they like it and see a fit in their publishing line, they will offer a contract.
Then, there’s self-publishing.
I never really took self-publishing too seriously when there was only sites like Lulu out there; perhaps unfairly, I assumed that self-publishing was the option for getting poorly written books published. A lot of this goes back to my days working at Coles in White Oaks Mall back in college. We’d have self-published authors come and set up a table in front of the store with their poorly written and even more poorly designed books, expecting to sell thousands of copies (typically, they’d sell 8-10).
While the quality has certainly improved with operations like Lulu and Xulon, there’s still a bit of a stigma.
And then Thomas Nelson went and introduced Westbow Press.
When Thomas Nelson CEO Michael Hyatt announced Westbow Press, I was quite surprised. Not because it’s a bad idea, just I didn’t expect a move like this from a major publisher.
Here’s what Michael wrote on Thomas Nelson’s reason for entering this segment:
- We think there is huge growth potential in this category. Increasing numbers of people are moving from being merely consumers to being creators. They want to express themselves creatively. Just witness the phenomenal success of user-generated content sites like YouTube, Flickr, and Scribd.
- We want to offer a legitimate alternative to traditional publishing. Why should all the power be in the hands of publishers? If prospective authors are convinced their book should be in print and are willing to fund it, they should be able to do so without the fear that they might be ripped off.
- We want to find the new voices for tomorrow. Publishers aren’t omniscient. We miss numerous opportunities every year. Finding the next bestseller is like searching for a needle in a haystack. WestBow Press provides us with a kind of “farm team.” We intend to watch the sales of these titles carefully. We will offer traditional publishing contracts to those authors whose self-published books begin to gain traction.
There’s something really exciting about this… I guess the question for me is: Is this the right direction for me? My wife isn’t a fan of self-publishing in general, and I don’t blame her. Neither of us are terribly high-risk people, particularly in terms of financial risk, but…
I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being a coward about the idea of writing a book proposal.
So, what do you think?
If you’ve self-published, what’s your experience been like?
If you’ve been traditionally published, what were the greatest challenges you had to overcome?
Your comments are greatly appreciated.