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Self Publishing

$elf Publish for Profit
(by avoiding booby traps) — by Jack Simpson

Self-Publish for Profit by Jack SimpsonAside from the writing, producing a book is a fairly complicated undertaking. The complications of the publishing world itself are many times that. Beautifully produced hard-cover books end up being remaindered for less than a dollar. Authors of well-written books sometimes earn virtually nothing, while their printers or publishers realize more-than-respectable profits.

Does this fit your understanding of book publishing? Probably not. There are near miracles that take place, and I’ll mention a few. Unknowns do get published, become known and even get rich. But the numbers are few. Of the millions of boys and girls who grow up playing basketball, how many can become NBA superstars? Very few. A comparison would not be far off. By self-publishing correctly, however, and by avoiding booby traps, the writer can eliminate issues that make publishing (as we generally understand it) complicated and, believe it or not, the author can make money.

After half a century in journalism, I have a few tips for you. Since the left side of my brain doesn’t always know what the right side is doing, I’ll repeat myself occasionally. The value of what I write will depend upon you and how serious you are about publishing. For the author who is considering self-publishing, this book can be invaluable. As for repeating myself, I believe some information is important enough be repeated. That’s especially true when the discussion is about publishing and booby traps. My intention is not to trash honest publishers and printers. There are some unscrupulous ones, to be sure, but most, I should think, are not. When I write about booby traps, I’m referring to the bad arrangements you can get into by not understanding the business. I’m not suggesting that publishers, in general, set booby traps for you, which would lean toward scamming. You can set your own traps by moving too fast and not understanding what you are getting into. Fortunately I work with a printing firm whose employees I believe are scrupulously honest. Unfortunately, there are exceptions.

If you walk across a minefield in Iraq, the people who buried those mines are really out to get you. Their target is anybody who comes along. But if a mountain man sets a bear trap for grizzly, and you step into it, even though you are a victim, the trapper was not out to get you. Some people set mines.

Business arrangements offered by publishers simply are not always designed to make money for you. Among the worst offenders are subsidy publishers who offer to "share" the cost of publishing with you, and you end up paying the entire publishing bill, producing profit for them and little or no hope for you.

You have to find the arrangements that are more in your favor. Self-publishing is. Admittedly, you pay the entire bill, but you’ll also get virtually all of the books. People who do the kind of work I do are called "packagers," I’m told. And I should think they could be found all across the country. Most printing firms should be able to supply the names of packagers, for packagers specialize in pre-press work. But be careful how you pick ’em, and ask for references.

There are people, however, who purposely take advantage of unsuspecting writers and clean up handsomely, while the authors eat cake. Most bad situations can be avoided. I am writing to help you avoid booby traps and, at the same time, benefit financially. I hope you take it in that light.

Don’t be intimidated by people who publish books; they don't all have an MBA. They are only people, just like you. You have a right to ask questions and receive answers. It’s one way to avoid booby traps. Remember the bottom line. — Jack Simpson

BJ 1961
University of Missouri
School of Journalism


I was privileged to read this book when it was in rough stages, in finished pages and a final rendition. As the leader of a writing group for emerging writers for the past five years, I've spent time with people of all ages who were writing a journal, beginning a novel, or writing something for their grandchildren. I tried hard to read everything I could on new trends that would help writers who wanted to share their work with others without breaking their bank account or waiting two years to see their work in print.

I read book after book on how to publish your work. Most left me with a lot more questions than answers. I can't wait to have this book available to my class members this Fall.

Jack Simpson's years of professional writing, editing and publishing experience contribute to his knowledge of both the author/publisher roles. His sense of fairness and his respect for the "bottom line" qualify him to share his "trade secrets" in a one-on-one way. This book starts where most books about publishing end: "I have a manuscript, now what do I do with it?"

He most definitely answers that question.

And Jack does it in a simple, straight-forward "Let's talk" kind of delivery that makes you believe self-publishing doesn't have to be the nightmare that some people have experienced.

Joanne Wiklund, publisher,
The Great River Eagle Press, Ltd.

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