Communion Of Dreams

What do you think?
March 2, 2011, 1:03 pm
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Feedback, Hospice, Marketing, Promotion, Publishing, Writing stuff

I’ve written a lot here over the last few years on the disfunctional nature of the publishing industry today. This blog was ostensibly started to chronicle the process of finding an agent and/or publisher for Communion of Dreams, after all. That was four years, and almost 31,000 downloads of the book, ago. Trapdoor Books is supposed to publish Communion of Dreams sometime soon, though that has been pending (and driving me somewhat nuts) for four months.

Also pending for four months has been a submission of Her Final Year to a publisher. They were supposed to get back to us a month ago, according to what they told us in our initial submission. A number of other publishers and agents we’ve also contacted have not bothered to respond at all.

Now, I’m not ready to give up on Trapdoor – they seem to be honestly working hard to establish themselves in the “geek fiction” world, and whenever everything comes together to get Communion of Dreams actually published, I think it’ll work to my benefit (and theirs).

But my co-author and I are giving very serious consideration to publishing Her Final Year ourselves. And I would appreciate your feedback on whether we should or not. Let me outline what I see as the advantages and disadvantages

First, and foremost, it gets the book out there where it can do some good. This is actually very important to us – there is a great need for more “nuts & bolts” care-giving information regarding Alzheimer’s/Dementia in general, and from a male care-giver’s perspective in particular. So, immediacy.

Next, there’s cost. Particularly if we concentrate on e-book sales (predominately through Amazon), we can likely keep the price down a fair amount over a conventional paper book (though we would likely set it up so that people could get a Print-On-Demand version if they wanted it). This will help get the book to people who need it. We could designate some portion of all sales to go to charities such as the Alzheimer’s association and still get a fair payment akin to conventional book royalties for myself and my co-author. There’s cost.

We would have more direct control over not just the book, but also for an associated website which could function as a support group for care-givers and their families. We’ve intended to do this from the start, but by bypassing a publisher we avoid issues related to control over the site. That’s control.

The disadvantages? A lot more work. We would probably form a small corporation to function as the umbrella under which all of this would be done. That doesn’t bother me, as I know how to do such things from previous experience with the gallery, but it would be more work and some cost. We’d have to do all the promotion ourselves . . . but these days, authors are expected to take a very active role in promotion, anyway. We wouldn’t have the gravitas of an established publisher behind us, and that would mean limitations in getting the book distributed though conventional bookstores. We wouldn’t have the benefit of an in-house editor and design team. Those are the big disadvantages that I see.

So, I’d like your thoughts. Do you think a niche book like this could be done successfully as a self-publishing project? Would you trust it enough to buy a copy, or would you want to see a ‘name’ behind it? What price point for the electronic version would compensate for that? $9.99? $4.99? Would say a pledge to donate $1.00 from every sale to the Alzheimer’s Assn or a Hospice organization make a difference?

Like I said, we’re giving this serious consideration – but it is a big step. Part of my motivation to do this is just based on how long the whole process of getting Communion of Dreams published has taken (and continues to take). Do you think I am letting my frustration over that outweigh more practical considerations?

Let me know, either in comments here, on Facebook, or in a private email.


Jim Downey

8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Given the special interest of the book, my uninformed opinion is that there is little to lose by doing it yourself. It will either sink like a stone or really take off. The big danger might be overwhelming success.

Comment by sm

Thanks, Steve – where would we be without uninformed opinion, after all? 😉

Comment by James Downey

You have a lot of really valid points on whether or not to self publish. From what I have seen, it does take a tremendous amount of work, but you reap all the rewards as well.

I have bought a couple of books thru and was very pleased by the quality. The writer (Wil Wheaton) chose it for many reasons, and seemed to be pretty happy with the process, though he does have a large fan base who are willing to try anything out in order to get one of his books. You can do a search of his blog for posts about self publishing if you are interested.

I don’t personally get a lot of ebooks, as I still find the tactile sensation of holding the book and turning pages to be part of the experience. (That, and my laptop is too heavy to haul around for just reading.)

One option you might consider for publicity is using something like Constant Contact. I have a musician friend who uses it for newsletters and promoting appearances by either the full band or just himself, with occasional plugs for his wife. It might be a way to get in touch with people who have previously downloaded the book or who are in the field and might find it interesting.

Comment by Jane Kilkenny

Danke, Jane. Yeah, I know about WW’s experience somewhat – I used to read his blog pretty regularly.

The suggestion on Constant Contact is a good one. We hadn’t started thinking at that level of promotional detail, since the big question is whether to take this step or not. Thanks!

Comment by James Downey

Even if you stay with an established publisher, you might want to consider a newsletter or email ad campaign. Especially if you do any signings or want to travel to support the book release.

Comment by Jane

A couple of thoughts:

I work in the public affairs department of a major academic medical center in association with the web team, developers of one of the major and most heavily traveled hospital websites in the country. A basic fact of health care today is that people do a lot of research on line, and they look for sites with substantial, credible information.

Second point: 30 years ago, I worked for what was a major publisher. They kept a lot of books on their backlist so long as they did some level of business, but it was really up to the authors to promote their work. After an initial push, the publisher tended to restrict themselves to listing the books in their catalogues.

I will qualify that comment by noting that this was 30 years ago and publishing has changed a lot since then; it was a major house, so I’m not sure the same truths about attitude and promotion would hold for a smaller, specialty house; and I worked for a division of the textbook division, so the marketing may have been different than for other areas.

With that in mind, I vote for self-publishing, because I think you will appreciate the greater levels of control in marketing and related uses that you will have. You’re also less dependent on the effects of the publisher’s other successes or failures.

Comment by Frank Moorman

Thanks, Frank. As noted in my piece, we’ve always thought about doing a website as a major component of the whole book ‘package’ – with excerpts, links to the original published blog posts from which we draw a lot of our material in the book, and so forth. My co-author is a very competent web guru, and brings a lot of that kind of ability to the table, as it were.

I appreciate the feedback.

Comment by James Downey

[…] the discussion has been had. Information has been gathered. Tactics and strategies have been considered. […]

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