I have talked to many authors. Very few have nice things to say about the publishing aspect. It was a little over a decade ago that Self Publishing became popular. It seemed to many a panacea, no pesky agents, no wicked publishing house taking the lion’s share of the sales dollars. Of course, this is a very simplistic view. There are many facets to self publishing, so many factors are in play, and each and every book has its own provenance.

I was talking to author Jim Serritella a few days ago, he published a book about his wife’s travails fighting cancer. [link] and asked him if he would be willing to share his story….. my friends, I give you…


Lessons Learned about Self-Publishing


HaHaHa … once upon a time a writer wanted to publish his book.  He searched far and wide in the realm for a worthy publisher of texts, for there had been talk of unscrupulous scallywags bilking authors of their funds for unsuccessful events prolonging any publishing events.  And this, my friends is the tale of the Lessons Learned about enlisting a publishing house to prepare and market your works for sale.


Know these 5  things:


  1. There are no employees in the publishing firm – 98% of the staff are contract workers. Off-shore, out of state, editors, graphics, typesetters.  Very thin support group.  Ask for Jones, oh Jones is on travel today…. Lots of excuses. The print-on-demand orders are even contracted out to a specialized printing company.
  2. All selected packages are pre-paid by you. From a $600 basic package to a $9,000 ultra-supreme-deluxe-chairman’s-club announcement package…. All packages are pre-paid before they lift a finger to address your document.
  3. THEY LIE – once they have your money – they lie about anything and everything…. The editor will be finished in 3 weeks (slippage), the graphic person (more time), it has to be set for electronic image generation (a great scapegoat time grabber)… you have paid for their time…. With no firm results or compensation rebate – remember – it is their contract YOU SIGNED and they have your money!
  4. Once they provide you a milestone document – your are committed to this effort – you have to review the pre-final proof of text, the clock restarts again. You have to approve it, sign their acceptance documents and then return the item for the next step.  Move time is lost – and they don’t care – they have your money!
  5. Be ready to be pressured for the UP-SELL to the next package – better book exposure, “we can get you on national TV”, let our national radio broadcaster give you a 60 minute interview over ABC-FM radio with 750 million listeners. Pressure, pressure, and more pressure and of course it causes delays in your final production POD (print on demand) date.


What you need to do – BEFORE – you select a self-publishing house.  This is a multistep process – do not jump ahead and talk to a publish yet… the time will come and you will be reminded of the step processes.


  1. Do your research on 4 or 5 potential publishing houses.
  2. Compare their publishing packages to one-another – apples to apples – in some cases it will be difficult to sort out, but do your best – you’ll need this information later.
  3. Compare prices for what you get in each package – don’t let the number frighten you. Some provide business cards, others provide web sites, book signings, and the list keeps coming…..
  4. AFTER STEP 3 – establish a budget in your mind of what you want to pay this self-publishing effort. Keep in mind – they will try to UP-SELL you at every turn.
  5. Additional money questions>>> How many copies of your book will you receive FREE? What is the author’s price to buy additional copies? When do I get paid a royalty check for books SOLD? (this is a very nebulous answer – they will have your money for as long as 90 – 120 days AFTER the sale of any books BEFORE you see ONE CENT!!)  WHY?  Well that’s the way it’s done in the publishing business!!!!  Be forewarned.
  6. Be mindful of the publisher’s advertised marketing outlets or wholesale distribution activities. There are several ways to skin the cat here… write down what you think is important to your book topic.
  7. NOW you may call the potential publisher of your book.
    1. Keep accurate notes
    2. What do I get for how much
    3. Send me a publishing contract to review (you might get some push back here – we only send out contract to committed clients – hey – no contract review –thanks good bye.
    4. How long will it take to get my book to market? (lots of slippery slope talk here… it depends, maybe, well if YOU do this… very non – committal phrasing)
    5. Do you get to modify the contract with your specific clauses? Ie Publisher misses the publication date (specify expected publishing date), author gets a full refund of all monies paid to the publisher!


  1. Compare what you think is a good deal
  2. Review the estimated timeline and expenses of the projected activities needed to get your book to market.


Sounds like a simple process… I write this document as a precautionary list of things to do…. I am on my 3rd publisher – meaning the first 2 publishers failed to deliver as promised.  When entering in with the 2nd publisher – the excuse log was very lengthy (keep notes EVERY time to call and speak with them), so they were put on notice and I received a partial refund for Air Force.  missing specific publication dates.  The 3rd publisher contract was amended to include a full refund date if not published by a specific date (and signed and accepted by a company manager authorized to sign such a document).  My book is now up on Amazon and Kindle, along with other marketing outlets.


Lessons Learned…. They come with all self-publishing experiences.  Buyer beware!  Good luck.


Jim Serritella is the author of The Journey Though Cancer  and is a veteran of the US Air Force. He spent more than fifty years in the world of systems, computers and consulting.



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