Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Self-Publishing Experience

In the comments section of our previous post, "The Times They Are a’Changin’" a reader, BK, said she’d like to hear from someone who has published both traditionally and by self publishing during the last two years.

Well, I’m the only NovelMatters author who has gone both routes in the last two years. I’m not comfortable doing dollars and cents, but I can tell you from my experience some things you might not have considered.

Two years ago Zondervan released my non-fiction, The Mormon Mirage, and Moody published my fiction, Latter-day Cipher. They both had given me advances against the royalties that the books would subsequently earn at the rate of over 10 percent (I'm being deliberately imprecise here) on each copy sold at full retail price. So—until the point of “earning out,” technically I earned more than that percentage. Meanwhile, the publishers took the financial risk and paid for typesetting, cover design, editing, my book trailer, advance copies sent to reviewers, print advertisement, contacting radio and television stations, and many other elements of my books.

All of those became my job when my agent concluded that there was no interest from publishers in another nonfiction, The Hinge of Your History: The Phases of Faith. But I knew there was tremendous interest in this book because I spoke on it so often. So with my agent’s blessing I self-published it last fall through Amazon CreateSpace. My profit on the books I buy and resell is more like 70%. But, again—all the manuscript and cover preparation was my job. All the publicity is my job.

But you know what – I’m loving it. The sales on the initial printings (which all sold from two speaking appointments, one newsletter blast, and announcements on NovelMatters and Facebook) have given me the funds to create some neat promotional products I’ll sell/give away when I’ll speak next month before 900 women at the Women Walking With God conference in Wichita Kansas.

Here’s a picture. From the top going clockwise: the back of my book, the front of my book, a pen imprinted with my website address, two wristbands that read, “It’s a Contradiction!” and my website address, a pocket-sized notebook, a bookmark that has the cover image on the front and a list of my most popular speaking topics on the back. Center: a checkbook cover with the “hinge” image crossing from front to back (just as the book has.)

I’d like to give away some of these promotional products to a NovelMatters reader. I will choose from the people who make comments below. If you can answer any of the following questions (have read the book), you will be entered twice:

What is the "hinge" of the book title?

What are the four layers that span the spines of the book and the checkbook cover?

What are the three phases of faith?

What is the meaning of the phrase, "It's a Contradiction!"?



Marti Pieper said...

I see this as a great example of embracing the publishing options of the times. I have a friend who has a a traditionally published nonfiction book, but sales didn't warrant the publisher's investment in its companion workbook. She self-published it and, like you, offers it at her speaking engagements. Love your cover and the tie-in products, too.

I haven't read the book but Amazon tells me the three phases are Promise, Contradiction, and Resolution. I'm intrigued by this and by the concept of using Sarah to teach phases of faith.

BK said...

Two things:
THank you for allowing the "search inside this book" feature--for nonfic I always have to view the table of contents. It drives me nuts to browse nonfics that don't have this feature! After all, that is the cyber-equivalent of pulling a book off a shelf and looking it over.

Do you plan to release in e-book format as well?

Latayne C Scott said...

I am incredibly blessed to have overt images as "controlling concepts" for both the book and the products associated with it. The hinge and the four-layer model are ideal for helping people visualize the ideas in the book.

The book cover design (and subsequent other designs) were done by Noel Green the genius SIL who designs many things at

Latayne C Scott said...

BK, I am going to release it in e-book format just as soon as I'm competent with the software that will allow me to present it in a way that will be satisfying to people who read it on all kinds of e-readers.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Latayne, This is fascinating to know about your journey.

I already know I love your writing.

Love the hinge on the book!
~ Wendy

Susan Gregory said...

Thank you for addressing this issue. Quite helpful.

Unknown said...

Latayne, it was great working with you to create a couple of the products you featured. Best of luck with your new book. I look forward to reading it!

Latayne C Scott said...

Marti, good job on answering those questions! You get a double entry!

Wendy, you are so supportive. Thank you! The hinge is the artwork of the aforementioned genius SIL Noel Green.

Susan, good to hear from you!

Paul, your company was such a help with the wristbands and the pens. Thank you!

Latayne C Scott said...

BK -- I'm sorry I couldn't give more detail about the financial part. I think most people would be greatly surprised to hear how little money even "successful" midlist Christian authors clear.

baleen said...

I'm excited you will release it in ebook format! Eager to hear how that goes. A colleague and I have self-published a book since 2005 for parents who have children with challenging behavior. We make most of the money but it has been a pain with orders, printing, shipping, etc, so we gave it to a publisher and it will be out this summer. Can't imagine the 10% we get will make us much money but the 70% option sounds good! Sorry I can't answer your questions. I'd like to have a book so I can read it!

Nick Cassidy said...

Latayne -
I'm so glad you were able to publish this material - what a valuable resource it will be. Here are my answers:
1) If I remember correctly, the hinge is the connective link between the unseen and the seen realms.
2) The four layers are: the Holy Spirit, revelation, faith, and language
3) the three phases of faith are: promise, apparent contradiction, and resolution.
4) Not sure what the phrase, "It's a Contradiction!" means (having not read the book yet), but I'll venture that is has to do with reminding ourselves to represent our current difficult circumstances in light of what God has revealed about Himself and His faithful promises?

The preacher from the church in Patchogue, NY and I recently exchanged pulpits, and I took the opportunity to preach about the phases of faith from Psalm 105. Got some feedback about some folks who were greatly helped by these things that I have learned from you and Mike.

Megan Sayer said...

I'm living in a contradiction! And yes, I'm kind of excited about it - but only because I've read your book Latayne. I'd be freaking out otherwise.

God gave me a promise late last year, which was fabulous! I love it when you know because you know because you KNOW you've heard from God (phase one). This was a new venture, a very exciting one, that takes a bit more money than we're usually comfortable spending, but if it's God it's okay, right?

And then we entered phase 2. The money dried up. Everything else dried up. Nothing. Zip. Nada. All looking very OFF the agenda right now...the contradiction.

And I'm standing here, swaying in the breeze like the stalk of grass that missed the mower. I feel a bit ridiculous, but I'm still believing. I'm really grateful - God HAS given me little hints in the last month or so, financial miracles that prove He's right about the promise. I'm grateful because so many people in this stage don't even have that.

I'm really, REALLY looking forward to phase 3 - the resolution. And Latayne I can't tell you how grateful I am for having read your book. Believing is possible only because I know it's not just me, I haven't mis-heard Him nor have I fallen short. Thank you!

Latayne C Scott said...

baleen -- your experience represents another facet of self-publishing, which is that you have to be the distributor of the books, too. One good thing about Create Space is that they will mail books for you on a royalty basis. It's nice.

Nick -- so good to hear from you, dear friend! And you know just how helpful the 3-D model is! How encouraging to get your input.

Megan, I know from my own experience if I didn't know about the phases of faith, I would lose heart when things get really rough. But be of good cheer, as Jesus would say. Your redemption is nigh!

Sara said...

promise, contradiction, resolution.

Confession time: I pulled the phases from the book description on Amazon, and it looks like something I'd love to read. Do I still get two entries? :)

Latayne C Scott said...

Sara, sure that counts!

Megan Sayer said...

Latayne I had this big revelation last night: the three phases of faith correspond directly to three acts of story structure:

Act 1 - the hero receives a Call to Adventure - promise
Act 2 - while the hero tries to move forward/act on it everything goes completely and absolutely wrong, leaving the hero wounded, broken and lost - contradiction
Act 3 - the hero stands strong in the final battle and wins the ultimate reward promised in the beginning - resolution.

I'm really excited! I love it when life mirrors art (or the other way round) and God shows His creative nature in those ways.

Latayne C Scott said...

Oooh, Megan. I like that!

Unknown said...

I was THERE and heard you speak at the Women Walking With God conference, so already know the answers to your questions. I also bought your "Hinge" book and love it!!! Thank you for making the effort to publish it, in spite of the discouraging attitude of the publishers you had worked with.