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A Self-Publishing Cautionary Tale Indeed

Books2Despite the fact that I work for a large publishing house I'd like to think that I've always been fair and balanced, as Fox would say, about my assessment of the self-publishing world.  Given the right circumstances, elf-publishing, print-on-demand and other related services are viable options.

This article in The Wall Street Journal is a nice reminder that an option only becomes viable once you do all your homework on it though.  Yikes, what was this fellow thinking?  Ordering 15K copies of a book, having them stored in his garage, not lining up endorsements, distribution, etc., in advance...  What's even more amazing is that he's going back for more with an audiobook edition and a commitment to stay "in it for the long haul."  Here's to hoping he does all the necessary research for the audio side before another truck backs up to his garage with 15K clamshells full of CDs.

Thanks to reader Jeff Lash for sending this one my way.  Btw, as I mentioned to Jeff via e-mail, I have a subscription to the WSJ's online service and I didn't catch this article till he sent it to me.  Call me crazy but I'm finding that the blogs and other non-mainstream RSS feeds I follow closely are providing me with so much information that I'm starting to ignore the commercial sites/feeds.  No wonder Rupert Murdoch wants to attract a wider audience and make the WSJ online a free service...

Comments

Timothy Fish

What is interesting is that this is a success story. It states that "he also says he has recouped the $40,000 or so he has invested in the book's production." He still has half of his original stock, so if he can sell the rest he is looking a $40,000 above what he started with. That isn't great, but is isn't bad either. Considering that many publishers are losing money on several books, even after doing all the right things, I would say that he is ahead of the game.

Joe Wikert

I wonder if the subject of the article would say he's "ahead of the game." It doesn't sound like the book is on a favorable sales trajectory, so it seems unlikely he'll sell through all or even most of the remaining copies. Then there's the 2,500 hours (minimum) he said he's invested. That's more than most people work at a 40-hour per week job in a year. If he were to truly add up his expenses, inventory write-off and his personal time I'm not so sure it would show anything but a financial loss, at least to date.

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