The book I have just completed, “I Am Your Brother” Short Story Studies, is not the book I announced I was working on a year or so ago. I am still working on that book, tentatively titled Reading Short Stories or How to Read Short Stories (I haven’t decided yet.) This book is a study of the short story form that I have been developing throughout my career and is largely made up of revised essays I have previously published. I just thought it was time to revisit these pieces and see if they indeed had a unifying theme sufficient to make a book.
Why am I self-publishing this book using Amazon’s Createspace? For the following reasons:
I have been retired now for seven years. I obviously do not need credits on my resume to support advancement and promotion that juried publication by a commercial or university press might bring.
If I were to try to get this book published by a commercial or university press, I would have to undergo the tedious process of sending out proposals and getting rejection, and then sending them out again until I found a publisher that might be interested. I am well aware that university presses are being financial squeezed these days, and I know that the short story form does not have academic interest among university faculty that still seem to favor cultural studies, social studies, and political studies of the novel.
Furthermore, even if the manuscript were accepted by a university press, it would take a year or more to see publication. Then the press would only publish a few hundred copies and probably charge $60.00 or more per copy, sell it only to a few libraries, not have enough money to promote it, and pay me about 10 % royalties, that is, once they had sold enough copies to recoup their publication expenses.
By self-publishing this book with Amazon/Createspace, I can charge a nominal price--$9.99—making it quite affordable to my readers while still earning me a modest royalty. I can promote it myself by announcing it on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter. It can be made available on Amazon on my author page within a few days of submission and format approval. The book will be what is known as a POD—publish-on-demand, which simply means that once Amazon has it on their data base, they can immediately publish, bind, and ship a copy as soon as it is ordered, and not before. Thus there is no stocking, no returns, no discounted remainders, etc. A little later, I can easily convert it to an ebook version available on Kindle and other places.
There are some downsides to this decision to self-publish, as well as some unknowns. First, I had to learn features of Microsoft Word that I was not familiar with. Second, I have to follow specific formatting procedures that will make the book acceptable for publication by Createspace, procedures which are still giving me fits when things don’t turn out the way I expect.
I have had to design my own cover, and I am still not sure how it will look when it is printed. I have to do my own promotion, which, in spite of the interest shown in my blog, may not be sufficient to get the word out to teachers, professors, students, and general readers who might be interested in the short story, but not familiar with my blog. I have no effective way to distribute review copies to academic journals, magazines, and websites, and I will have to bear the expense of review copy distribution myself. Furthermore, I have no way to make the book available to bookstores, other than Amazon, or to libraries.
As soon as I finish the final editing and indexing and submit it successfully to Createspace, I will provide more information here on what the book covers, complete with a table of contents and brief summaries. The book is not based on material I have posted on this blog, but rather on my essays and articles that are not easily available elsewhere.
If anyone has any cautionary tales about self-publishing with Createspace, Smashwords, or other companies, I would appreciate hearing them. Suggestions about getting the word out about the book to interested readers would be most appreciated. Expressions of interest would also be encouraging as I labor to complete the final editing in the appropriate format that will make this a useful and professional contribution to the study of the short story.