Here’s what happened when one writer contacted Xlibris, one the largest and most global of the self-publishing organisations, about their services…
…As our conversation about Xlibris progressed (about 90 mins first time around), I was led deeper and deeper into the jungle of the global self-publishing world…
To be read you need to be published. And there’s the rub.
I watched Fellowship of the Ring last night (again!) and that last scene – showing the two hobbits looking bleakly out over the rugged and tortured terrain between them and Mordor – well, that’s what it feels like as you sit perched with your book clutched metaphorically under your arm. Trepidation, confusion, despair, grim resolution.
The next step for your finished work is an important one. How do you get it out in front of the people who would want to read it? A writer wants to be read. It’s like painting a piece of art – the observers eye landing on that painting makes it make sense. I only know one writer who does not care whether she gets read or not (she just loves using her imagination and writing stuff down and making it work as a story) but she is highly unusual. For the rest of us less surrendered and less spiritual beings, writing is only half the process.
On the verge of screwing up my courage to be rejected by the usual number of dismissive publishers – and then realising I might not even get the opportunity to be rejected because they would not accept an unsolicited submission… it was tempting to think I could take fate into my own hands.
I was curious about the organised self-publishing giants. Here’s my brush with one.
Me and Joe-from-Xlibris
I contacted Xlibris – who are undoubtedly one the largest and most global of the self-publishing organisations. Well, I’d like to say I contacted them of my own volition, bravely and without fear, but that was not the case. Here is what happened.
I started viewing Xlibris because their website seemed the least scary of all the self-publishers I was confronted by (honestly, the columns and columns of services being thrust at me were almost physical in their verbal/visual insistence). Plus XLibris were giving out handy-looking publishing manuals for free. Great! Let me sign up… o damn. Too late I realise that by clicking in your details you have somehow agreed to be contacted. That’s how it happened.
With unseemly haste I was contacted by ‘Joe’ on my mobile who thereafter referred to himself as my ‘Publishing Consultant’. He was roughly in my time-zone but not Australia: ‘My region is the Asia-Pacific,’ he said. As our conversation progressed (about 90 mins first time around), I was led deeper and deeper into the jungle of the global self-publishing world. There would be printed versions, my own leather bound copy, a possible film clip, an author website, social media, articles, media releases, contracts with booksellers online and real around the world. Would I be available for book-signings anywhere in the world, he asked.
Several levels of publishing ‘packages’ were made available and I think Joe made a cool assessment about what level of package I would require, probably based on my level of enthusiasm about my own work, the fact that I had ‘completed’ my mission, and maybe about how funded up I was.
Over the next few days (yup), I was called with further and further information, case studies of success, and the increasingly clear picture he was painting that ‘all publishing is self-publishing these days to a greater or lesser degree’. Look, maybe he is right there. An author is required to have a lot of involvement and engagement in building up an audience even before offering their work to be viewed by a publisher.
Getting past the glamour
It can seem like manna from heaven. Your name, your books, your words in print appearing on a bookshelf. Eventually I wiped the glamour from my eyes, put on my journalist’s lens and took a sigh. I checked the components of the package, referred to others in the industry, asked around. At the price they were willing to go down to (eventually), it was a pretty good deal. Especially if you are a bit clunky with setting up your own website, social media, Amazon presence. Attractive also is the inclusion of the editorial services to bring your work up to publishing standard. That can be an expensive component of self publishing in any scenario. But many components you could do yourself, or have done for you without having to sign a contract.
To be fair, Xlibris would say that the work they do on your behalf is something that is out of the reach of many writers, and they will do it on a global level. Handholding appears to be something they are willing to invest in – to take authors step by step through the process (editing, cover design, reviews, etc).
What about their claim that they can help you break the publishing ‘glass ceiling’ (with the argument that many publishers will not even consider unsolicited manuscripts). That’s a good argument in some scenarios. But so is building up your own writing profile – entering awards.
Next time I want to talk about options that authors choose depending on the nature of their book, using some case studies.
Here is Xlibris speaking for itself, and may suit some writers (excerpts from material sent by email):
Xlibrisis an independent or self-publishing Print-on-Demand (POD)company.
By independent publishing or self-publishing, we mean full ownership and rights of the book stays with the author, thus, there will be upfront cost. Please be advised, that you will only need to invest on the publishing services; you do not need to shoulder any of the printing or production cost for the book, we will take care of it for you. On top of it, we do not give you any deadlines when to submit your manuscript and you can also choose our easy installment plan for the payment process.
By print on demand, we mean to say that it is always available. We print copies of your book as orders come in. This can come from you or from your readers. The order can be as little as a copy or as many as thousands. The order can be made after a month, after a year, or after 50 years. The Book never runs out of print.
We have publishing imprints in the US, Canada, UK, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Now with over 80,000 titles in print, you can count on Xlibris’ expertise and experience to provide dependable, long-term, individualized support through the publishing process and in the years that follow. We are able to provide services that are not normally offered by other self-publishing companies: worldwide book availability, Book Ordering Service, an open-ended and non-exclusive agreement, money-back guarantee (Satisfaction Guarantee) within 6 months until Submissions stage, you (the author) retain all rights to the book and have full control of the publishing.
Xlibris also partners with celebrated publications in the industry like the New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, The Library Journal, School Library Journal, The Reader’s Digest, Bookseller Magazine UK, ForeWord Magazine, Kirkus Reviews, RTIR Magazine, Australian Book Review and others. Owing to our wide selection of publishing packages and growing number of marketing services, many of our authors have had considerable success in publishing and marketing their books.
What we offer:
- Guaranteed publication
- Worldwide distribution among 2,500 major resellers aside from our Xlibris bookstores
- Guaranteed printing for every book ordered. Our printing facilities are located in the US, UK, Singapore and Australia.
- Royalties for each book sale
- Author support and professional consultants to guide you in both publishing and marketing
- Advantage to the author:
- A good content with the right distribution & marketing, plus positive feedback from book readers can lead to a greater possibility of having a good offer from mainstream publishers and media companies.
- Lifetime publication.
- Your stepping stone to mainstream publishing. Traditional publishers today are searching the shelves of self-published books for new titles to pick-up and republished.
- Availability of your published book through major book distributors and resellers across the globe.