• Jan Fischer Wade
  • Please share your publishing experience! Self-pub? Indie/Small Pub? Traditional? Print-on-Demand?
Please share your publishing experience! Self-pub? Indie/Small Pub? Traditional? Print-on-Demand?
Written by
Jan Fischer Wade
October 2011
Written by
Jan Fischer Wade
October 2011

Many writers are curious about the different publishing routes, and want to hear actual stories and experiences.  PLEASE share with us!

  • If you self pubbed or did print-on-demand (POD), how much did it cost? What service did you use? (some listed below)
  • What about those of you who went with an indie or small publisher? What's your cut?
  • Strictly an E-publisher? What's your cut?
  • Who went the traditional route?  And your cut of the sales?
  • Did you use an agent? Their rate?


Issues writers are curious about (please share!):

  • How much control did you have over: cover art, editing, price, distribution, marketing
  • How much did the cover art, editing, distribution and marketing cost you?
  • How much marketing did your publisher do?
  • What other expenses did you incur?


Finally, how did your route work for you? Sales numbers anyone? Would you do it again?


Here is what I heard of some (I know there are many) of the self publishing services out there (it might depend on what package you purchase):

Outskirts Press you get 100% of the profits of the book, plus you set your own price.

iUniverse pays 20% of the profit

Xlibris pays you 10% of the retail price

lulu - has anyone used them?

Morris Publishing - anyone have experience with them?


A list of indie /small publishers can be found here:



And finally, fellow She-writer Jennifer Dinn Korman wrote a great blog "Becoming Your Own Publisher" found here:


Here were her expenses:

Creation of Publisher $
Creation of Publishing LLC (State of CO) 50
Register RNP domain name (Dotster) 15
RNP website domain mapping(WordPress) 10
Purchase of 10 ISBN numbers (Bowker) 275
Total $350

Publication of Waltzing Jimmy Jackboy $
Direct Book Cost:
Author’s Express Publishing Program (Booksurge) 299
Cover Design 500
Interior Design (Sonya Unrein) 500
Library of Congress Control Number 0
Elect. Copyright Filing (US Copyright Office) 35
Direct Book Cost $1,334

Register Website Domain Name (Dotster) 15
Website (annual fee and design: Squarespace) 178
Marketing $193

Total Cost for Robbers Nest Press and Waltzing Jimmy Jackboy $1,877

source: http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blogs/becoming-your-own-publisher


Again, PLEASE share with us!!!  Thanks and Cheers!  *clink* *sluurrrpp*  Jan

Here's my run-down:

I am represented by Jeanie Pantelakis at the Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency.  She takes 15% of my earnings.  MuseItUp Publishing is my publisher.  They started a year ago, but now represent many authors and titles.  They release your work in e-book first, then have one year to determine if they will release it in print (for sale online - if Barnes & Noble or another bookstore decide to carry it, that is up to the seller).  I get 40% of the profit. If they don't release it in print within a year, I then get the print rights back.  I have to add that my publisher and fellow authors there are AWESOME!!! Anyway, they pay for cover art, editing, formatting, publishing, limited marketing (they submit it for reviews to certain sites, fellow authors set up blog tours together, press releases) and they will give us buttons and banners to put online. Basically the only things I pay for is additional advertising I want to do, things to give away, my websites and business cards and other marketing materials (I use Vistaprint). They provide me with Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) to send out to other reviewers I want to send it to. I am not sure if they pay for copyrighting, because I had it copyrighted before I signed with them. They also get the ISBN number for it. Not sure about sales - my book comes out in February, 2012!!  www.veiledvirtues.com  www.museituppublishing.com  www.janfischerwade.com


For more info, please see my previous posts on: bling to market your book (vistaprint); book blog tours; press releases and sites to submit them to; and buying online adversiting.


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  • Jan Fischer Wade

    Thanks so much for sharing your story Amanda!! Best of luck to you!!! Cheers! Jan

  • Amanda Rose Adams

    My book Heart Warriors comes out in April.  I spent a couple of months looking for an agent.  I had somewhere between 15-18 (can't remember because they phased in and out) interested in fulls or the proposal.  Then one of the many, many who passed came back with a "deal."  Let's just say it was weird. First that she rejected me then came back with this deal and second that she refused to rep my book without this deal.

    So, not feeling totally good about this offer, I bought myself some time since I had a few agents on the line doing reads but without any offers.  I also sent queries to two smallish/medium publishers telling them that I had this offer and wondering if they would give my proposal a look, just in case.

    Well, one passed, and the other emailed me with all kids of questions about the deal.  Turns out the deal was shady without being totally evil.  It was a print-on-demand that didn't offer any advances and the royalties in the contract were suspicious.  At the same time I was communicating with Victoria from Writer Beware, and in the end I just walked away from that deal.  Sadly, I lost of a couple of agents who were considering in the mix.

    I kept querying agents, but then in April (all this had happened in late Feb/early March) the publisher who helped me think through the bad offer ended up getting to my ms and offered me a deal with a perfectly appropriate almost generous advance.  So, I'm on the train to mainstream publishing.

    Ironically, I had five agents still reading when I got the deal, but since I got the deal myself I went forward without an agent.  I've stayed in contact with one of those five agents and will send her the full and proposal for my next book, which might or might not be a good fit for my current publisher.  We'll see how that goes.

    So, my road to publication was strangely short (I started querying agents the week before Christmas and had a signed contract by mid April) but also somewhat precarious in that I almost got a bad deal (P.O.D.s have practically no bookstore distribution).  I ended up with a better deal, but only because karma was being very kind to me this spring.  It could have easily gone a different way.

  • Barbara Ehrentreu

    I have to tell Lea, though. So she knows about it too!! I couldn't believe we weren't there. Shame on Wikipedia for not seeing how awesome we are!!!

  • Jan Fischer Wade

    Great move Barbara! Thanks for taking the initiative and adding Muse there!

  • Barbara Ehrentreu

    I meant MuseItUp was not there. Ignore the first.

  • Barbara Ehrentreu

    The sad thing is when I went to the Wikipedia link MiseItUp was not there! So I added it. I didn't tell Lea yet:)

  • Jan Fischer Wade

    Thanks Barbara! I wholeheartedly agree with you about Muse and Lea!!! Thanks for putting in your 2 cents here!!!

  • Barbara Ehrentreu

    I also just had my first YA novel published by MuseItUp Publishing and I am very happy with them? The publisher, Lea Schizas goes out. Of her way to let us know any new things she might be doing. She involves her authors in almost all decisions she makes. According to my contract I make 40 per cent royalties and my book, though it only was released last month, will be in print in November! I didn't pay for anything and the publisher sends our books to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and several other ebook distributors. My print book will be in Canadian book stores, since this is a Canadian company. I have used a little money for promotional materials,but they sent my book for reviews. We do get to send out for more reviews too! I love it there and will be subbing my next ms there!! This is a publisher who is only a year old, but we have grown to almost two hundred authors in every genre.

  • Jan Fischer Wade

    Thank you so much Dee! This is really helpful to hear from experienced authors like you who have gone different routes!  Jan

  • Dee Garretson

    Hi all,

    I'm going down both paths, traditional and self-publishing. My two middle grade books are published with HarperCollins Children's Books. There is a description of them here: http://deegarretson.com  I had an agent when those books were sold, so she got the traditional 15%. We didn't agree long term on my career path, so I gave notice on my contract with her. I am looking for a new agent for my latest book, also one for 4th - 6th graders. If I earn out my advances, I will get a royalty rate of 10% on the hardcovers and 8% on the paperbacks.

    After much thought, I decided to selfpubish my historical mystery, The Gargoyle in the Seine instead of going the traditional way. I originally queried agents with it and had two offer to work with me on revisions. Their ideas were very different from each other and from my own. With no guarentee of a sale even if I did the revisions and knowing the earliest the book would come out would be 2013, I decided to go ahead on my own. I just put it out in ebook and paperback so have no real numbers to give you. I'm excited about it but know I need to get the word out on it and that will take time.

    • If you self pubbed or did print-on-demand (POD), how much did it cost? What service did you use? (some listed below)
    • What about those of you who went with an indie or small publisher? What's your cut?
    • Strictly an E-publisher? What's your cut?
    • Who went the traditional route?  And your cut of the sales?
    • Did you use an agent? Their rate?


    Issues writers are curious about (please share!):

    • How much control did you have over: cover art, editing, price, distribution, marketing
    • How much did the cover art, editing, distribution and marketing cost you?
    • How much marketing did your publisher do?
    • What other expenses did you incur?
  • Jan Fischer Wade

    Thanks Deborah! I've heard your title before, so you must be doing something right!!!  Best of luck to you and your book! Jan

  • Deborah Batterman

    It's an all too familiar scenario:  My short story collection, SHOES HAIR NAILS, was published in 2005 by a very small independent press (Uccelli Press) that went belly up before the book had a chance to get off the ground. It was pretty much a one-woman operation (publisher/editor/book designer) and a pretty standard royalty arrangement. I took over the rights and the remainder of the print run when she closed up shop. Then, about year ago, I did the only thing that made sense -- self-publish a digital edition via Smashwords, which distributes to most major e-book retailers. More recently, I went direct with Kindle. The wonderful reviews I've been getting are proof positive that a book can have a second life. 

    Working with smashwords is pretty straightforward -- easy uploading, and, since I had a cover design, I was all set. Same with Kindle. The big issue with publishing (traditional or self) is the time that has to be devoted to marketing. Since both the print and digital editions are available via Amazon, at least reviews will show in both places.  

    All of which is to say, I'm very thankful for the community I've discovered via She Writes, which was a beginning of sorts for me into the vast online networking world. The more I learn, the more I share.



  • Jan Fischer Wade

    Rachel - thank you too for telling us all about your experience with A Walk in the Snark! Best wishes with Mancode! They both are going on my to read list!  Jan

  • Jan Fischer Wade

    Thanks for your story Roxeanne!!!  Good luck to you!!!

  • Rachel Thompson

    I self-published my humor, non-fiction eBook A WALK IN THE SNARK using a professional editor and cover artist. I cofounded the Indie Book Collective last October and we have multiple affordable promos (Bestseller For A Day, Blog Tour de Force, 99cent network, Indie Book Blowout) which give authors excellent exposure. My book reached #1 on the Kindle Motherhood list over Labor Day (beating out the likes of Jenny McCarthy & Tori Spelling!) and has stayed in the Top 10 of Parenting & Family as well. Establishing a strong social media platform has been crucial -- in fact, a fairly large NYC agent found me via Twitter and is now reading the MS of my next book & we met in July when I was in NY for the Indie Book Event where I had been asked to speak on two panels. 


    As for cost, uploading the book to Amazon and Smashwords is free, and Smashwords will do the ISBN for you at no charge. I paid to have my book professionally edited and formatted -- that cost was about $400. My cover art was about the same. I pay $10/day for Google ad words (you pay/click at a cost you set via keywords). & of course, any additional costs are for promos or contests -- the IBC blog tours are only about $25-50. 


    I've sold 1500 books so far since January, not including this month's sales, which is about 85 so far. My price is $2.99, though I do pulse price at 99cents for promos. My next book, THE MANCODE: EXPOSED is due in December. It's with my editor now & I'm working w/ a graphic artist on the cover art. Too fun. 

    If anyone has further questions, I can be found @RachelintheOC on Twitter or on FB at RachelintheOC Thompson or [email protected] -- happy to help! 

  • Roxanne Smolen

    I have two books with small publisher, L&L Dreamspell. They pay for editing, formatting, and cover art. But they do not cover any form of marketing. I get five free copies to send to reviewers at my discretion. I also get a small advance to use toward marketing. The ebook and print book (POD) are released at the same time and are made available through major distributors such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The print books can be ordered through brick and mortar stores, but they are not stocked on their shelves--that makes it difficult to get in-store book signings. All in all, I love working with L&L Dreamspell. The books are nice quality. Whenever I have a question, they return my email within hours. It's been a nice publishing experience.

  • Jan Fischer Wade

    Hi Bridget! Thanks for adding your question!

    Ute - Thanks for the info about your two books! Good luck!  Jan

  • Ute Carbone

    My first novel, Blueberry Truth was published by Etopia Press, a small e-book publisher.  They released their first titles in 2011, so like MuseIt, they are very new. They pay for cover art, editing, distribution and the like. I get ten free copies to distribute as I like for promo and they distribute copies to reviewers as appropriate. I have an ISBN number and the book is available through them and also through major distributors, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. They are new, so haven't moved into print yet, but have the print option for the book. Though there was no advance, I get 40 percent of sales.

    I have a second book, a romantic comedy called The P-town Queen, under contract with Champagne Press. They've been around since 2005 and so are a bit more established. The contract is similar to Etopia, with the addition of print version on demand.

    It's a bit early to know about sales  just yet, but all in all I like small press so far. Both houses have terrific writers and the writer support networks that are wonderful. It's a learning experience in terms of marketing and editing, etc. And, I think, a good way to break into publishing.

  • Bridget Straub

    Thanks Jan, you have asked all of my questions but one. Has anyone tried Bookbaby yet? I know they are new but I have a friend who has used CDbaby (same company) and she has been very happy with them.

  • Jan Fischer Wade

    Thanks for sharing your story Kathryn! Best of luck to you! Jan

  • Kathryn C. Lang

    I self-published "Practical Proverbs" in June, 2011 through Createspace. I upgraded to professional so that the book could be distributed to other markets and that was the only expense (besides the proofs). I got into my book for around $100.

    I was blessed to be surrounded with people that helped me work through the editing, the cover production and the other little details that help to make a book look and feel professional (at leas I hope and pray it does :) ). I think that is the key to the self-published route - putting in the extra sweat equity to get a product you would be proud to show your English teacher.