Thursday, July 21, 2011

Self or Traditional Publishing: How, Why or Why Not?

Angela Breidenbach is here today to talk about her experiences with self-publishing.

Angela teaches at writers conferences, is published on Kindle with Creative Cooking for Colitis,
Creative Cooking for Simple Elegance from Westbow Press, and traditionally published in Gems of Wisdom: For A Treasure-Filled Life from Journey Press: An imprint of Sheaf House. All her books are available on Amazon and autographed copies of the print versions are available directly from Angie’s website:

She sent me loads of information for you guys, so I'll be posting part one today and part two early next week.

(I just paused to reread what I'd typed and found about 10 typos. My fingers are clearly working faster than my brain today. Oy.) Luckily I get to move on to the interview portion of today's post:

Stephanie: Why did you self-publish?
Angie: I had a cookbook that I wanted to sell to help people with a problem I’d successfully overcome. I didn’t want to wait the year to two (or longer) it often takes to “shop” a book. So I tried a few different ideas to decide the best format. Ebook wins this round for me. Kindle is the easiest to manage the first timer experience with Nook falling right there behind for being able to handle color photos.

Stephanie: Tell us what you've liked about it, what you've disliked.
Angie: I really like the personal control I have over my material and price. I’ve published my cookbook into CD, ebook, and even a PDF version before I had a paperback version created. Then I took it to Kindle and am now working on the Nook version.

What I don’t like about it is the many versions of ebooks out there. I wish it were a simple one-epub-format-fits-all. Smashmouth is a great way to send a book into all the different versions of epub, but it doesn’t handle photography well so I’ve had to format myself. There’s a small learning curve on each specific format. I’ve had to fit it into my regular writing and speaking schedule. It’s also hard to get a paperback self-pubbed book into bookstores.

Stephanie: What surprised you, what you'd do differently next time?
Angie: International sales in Australia and the U.K have surprised me. But I produced something that people need in a niche market. A niche market is a smaller market that has a group of like-minded readers or a similar problem. Since my first cookbook deals with a specific health issue,
it’s considered a niche book. The topic narrows to those interested in that specific information. The paperback and soon to release (when I finish the formatting) Creative Cooking for Simple Elegance, includes the health issues in the back as bonus material so the reader gets more for their buying investment but it’s a general market product for higher sales. If I could do it differently, I’d have someone do the formatting for me for about $115 or so. But right now, I’m doing it to keep my costs down.

Stephanie: Many people have asked me about cost, so if you're comfortable sharing numbers (or even a ballpark)…
Angie: Every book is different due to page count, images, and design. There’s interior design and cover design, both handled as separate cost factors. Going to paper right now, I feel is very cost prohibitive for any author. You’re talking thousands unless you do a POD (print-on-demand). But in POD style of self-publishing, you’re also up against less profit. My suggestion is to test your book in the Kindle, Nook, Smashmouth markets first. Begin to reap the rewards of putting your work out there for no cost, set the price based on the guidelines, carefully read the guidelines, and then let it build.

A crucial element of self-publishing, regardless of format, is that your work must be pristine. The book must be professionally edited before it goes out for public consumption. Yes, you do have to pay for that if you are self-pubbed. But it’ll kill your career if you put out inferior product.

The other thing that helps is to have more books out there. Start with small books of 20,000 – 40,000 words so you can build momentum off of a lot of product creating name recognition. I’ve been meeting some traditional contract deadlines or I’d have a few more up on Kindle as fast as possible. They’re in the works, but you have to recognize your own time constraints. Another super important detail is the understanding that everything takes time. Building a platform with twitter, facebook, blogging, and learning how to get and do interviews helps build name recognition.

Stephanie here. Whew. Are you on information overload? Angela is super nice, so if you have questions for her, please leave them below, and I bet she'll answer them.


  1. Thank you for having me here today, Stephanie.
    And go ahead with any questions, I'll check in a few times today to see what you'd like to know.

  2. I'm learning so much about Self-Publishing today!

  3. It's so awesome to see you here, Angie! What a great interview. Thanks for sharing. Great question, Steph.

  4. Wow, this to was great Stephanie!Thanks for all the info Angela! I am hoping I can find a good publisher once I finish my book and get a little older.Do you have a publisher?Sierra
    Keep Growing Beautiful♥

  5. Hey, gals. Thanks for dropping in. I decided I needed to check back and here you all are!

    I should clarify that it's hard to control the price with print self-publishers. They tend to high price your book and it's harder to get it into bookstores. But you can control the price on ebook self-pubbing. Love that!


  6. What self-publishing companies would you reccomend for novels? I've looked into and

  7. Hey Gretchen S., when I'm done with the editing that I'm going to do, I'm planning on using so that it's up there. I looked into createspace, but found it confusing. Plus, I like knowing that I can publish directly to Kindle. Those are just my two thoughts, though.