The owners weren't speaking to one another and one was secretly trying to establish her own separate press, and secretly asked my friend to come and be HER author, although this entailed having the manuscript edited again by another editor, with my friend responsible for the cost.
What should she do, my friend asked.
I said, "Pull out, today. Call. Tell them you don't want to work with them. Send a registered letter. They broke contract when they made you pay for an edit. They sound too penny-ante to hire a lawyer and fight you, but if they did, they broke contract and they will lose."
But oh...they'd accepted her first novel! She so much wanted to see it in print. And she knew that if she pulled her book, ahead of her lay months of submitting her manuscript until someone else accepted it, and she didn't want to go through that again, and self-publishing, well, that was death; so what should she do?
-Professional copyediting and proofreading of the initial manuscript and final proof. Money spent on this is money well spent. Don't economize by trying this alone. Your readers will love finding the inevitable errors, and you will hate paying the self-publisher to correct and reprint your book.
-Professional layout or setup of the book's interior. This may be called "the setup fee" and is often included in the base price. The self-publisher has the proper software for this.
-Professional cover design. You may supply the photo or illustration, but don't insist on drawing or lettering your own cover. If you don't like what the publisher's graphic artist suggests, ask for another design.
-Register your book with the Library of Congress. It sounds easy: Fill out forms and write a check. But the forms are complicated, rather like patent applications, and with my first book only an 18-month correspondence straightened everything out. Save your mental health and pay $100 to get it done.
Don't waste your money on:
-Independently buying your own cut-rate ISBN number for your book. A self-publishing firm will not be able to use it.
-The pricey package allowing you "unlimited customization" of your book. Why pay your chosen self-publishing firm thousands of dollars just for the luxury of spurning its help and advice?
-Promotional or marketing packages that will compose press releases, send your books to reviewers, and so on. Self-published books do not benefit from these tactics.
The ms. sent out in June got rejected yesterday. YAY! Now for Plan B. "B" stands for "Better"! With the social-software course I took this autumn, and the appearance of the very viable, buyable, Kindle reading pod at amazon.com, I can with confidence bypass traditional publishers and, if I decide, turn it into an eBook and do just fine.
That’s sort of like sending a movie not to theaters but straight to DVD.
To make an eBook is free unless an ISBN is required. Ridiculously, ISBN numbers are sold, by one vendor (Bowker), normally in packages of 10, and that package costs $245 plus $30 handling. They sell singles for $125 (!) but they don’t advertise that. (Info is from http://kk.org/cooltools/archives/000668.php and http://blog.selfpublishing.com/?p=145). Talk about artificially difficult!
But I might just do it for Fame: St. Louis Writers of the 1990s. Somebody must want to read interviews with Donald Finkel, Carl Phillips, Harper Barnes, Ntozake Shange, and seven more, for their historic value -- or just explore the minds of fine writers. This summer I researched and wrote killer introductions to each interview, and (in a rare instance) am still glowing from how well I did them. They kick! Wish I’d interviewed MORE writers.