My vision is one I want to make come true and start on this journey having the end product most represent this vision. Not that I could even convince a top end publishing house to be interested in my stories yet, but they will hand the story over to an editor whom has their own vision based on what they read. They may not be versed in the background, and may not convey the original intent with the right style illustrations, colors, sense, feelings, or overall package. So this is part of the reason why I intended to self publish first. To, 1) have control, and 2) Because the odds are against someone who is not yet established in the market. And I have a day job, and young kids, and no time to spend sending thousands of query letters to prospective publishing houses. And 3) Because the market is rapidly changing. E-book sales beat out paperback this last year for the first time ever. More self publishing companies are offering conversions to e-books like Kindle and iPad in their publishing packages or as add-ons.
So, the first night I found a few companies. Some offered free newsletters or publishing guides and asked for some brief information. To my surprise the next day 2 companies were knocking on my door. Now I fully understand that publishers are putting their own money into the production, while self publishers want to sell you their services. But I was still shocked at the immediate response. One company really seemed like they were just trying to sell me something. Wanting me to call them back and wanting to know if I wanted more information or was ready to sign up. But I still needed to know more. The other company's publishing consultant took the time to answer my questions, send me the contract upfront for review, explain to me the packages, the options and learn from me what I was looking for without sounding like a telemarketer. They took the time to build my trust. They offered a great discount and shared much advice with me. I spent the last week searching and researching many more companies, but still really feeling comfortable with this one until I found some complaints about them. The complaints did seem to sound like they came from others whom may not have done their research so well or didn't fully understand the contract they entered. I questioned the company and they calmly and rationally explained the reasons for the complaints and in many cases websites set up by competing companies, and honestly just plain stupidity of some people to not comprehend that your book is not necessarily going to sell. You have to market it. And if they didn't for example take the time to get it professionally edited, that could also be a reason why it was not selling.
Some self-publishing companies are called vanity presses. This one was referred to as such, but is not that way today. This is where you publish and have to pay for a certain amount of books like 1000 to be printed and delivered to you, but they do not get distributed, and you have to sell and store them.
Others are called Print-On-Demand or POD publishers. These publishers print on demand when someone orders the book from a site like Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com. However most of these companies also offer editing, distribution to wholesalers to be printed or ordered, list you in the Library of Congress, and so basically your book is out there and able to bought by many. They also offer artistic services (but Helena has that covered for me), layout, and even marketing services. Marketing services range from free business cards and bookmarks to guide on setting up book signings, doing radio and media promotion, and more. They offer discounted prices for the author to purchase books, handle copy-writing, and supply ISBN.
Being the big engineering nerd that I am, I created a big spreadsheet to weigh and rate each company I reviewed. In the end, the services with the right price and the ability to still be in control of the final product and know that the company is one of the largest, has the best possible rating with the Better Business Bureau (despite web slander) and is not going anywhere gave me the security I needed to make the decision. I also read some articles saying you have to create your own publishing company, or don't go with a vanity press as no large publisher will ever take you seriously. I think these are mainstream elitist authors/publishers, etc. And times are changing, rapidly. What worked yesterday does not necessarily work today. Doing things the same for the sake of it does not allow progress or improvement.
But in reality I do think it is all about exposure, initiative, and intent. You have got to get your product out there if you want it to be useful to others. And if you can get others to believe in you then you are on your way. But believing in yourself first is the key.
Ok - so, I reviewed the following companies: Lulu.com; Blurb; Self Publishing; Outskirts Press; iUniverse; BRIO; Trafford; Instant Publisher; U Build-a-book; Create Space; Friesen Press;Heirloom; and Author House. I am sure the longer I look the more I will find. At some point though, enough is enough, and I didn't want to over think it or stress about it. This is a journey I am taking for the joy of it. I do not want it to become obsessive.
So I signed up with Author House today! I got a spectacular discount - essentially developmental editing for free, flexible schedule, and non-exclusive contract (able to walk away and on to a larger publishing company at any time).
So I am another pea in the POD, but this author in this house is ecstatic to complete and publish a book with Author House!