And I don't mean just that anyone can chuck their book on Amazon these days. What I mean is you can start a publishing company in like two hours for about $10. How do I know? Because I did it already!
If you click the link you can go to the site for my imprint Planet 99 Publishing. The "Planet" part comes from my novel "Where You Belong" where my main character Frost Devereaux writes a series of books for a little publisher called Planet X Publishing, which in itself was based off the professor's company in Futurama, Planet Express. But there was already a Planet X Publishing, or something similar, so instead it's Planet 99 because all the books were 99 cents. Clever!
It really didn't take long to put the whole thing together. The most time-consuming part was to create the books and covers. A lot of small publishers go to stock photo sites, buy a couple of images, and splice them together in PhotoShop to come up with something like this:
You can do it even cheaper if you go to MS Office's free online clipart gallery, which I did for most of mine. A couple I did buy because there weren't suitable ones for free. Incidentally those are the most popular titles, so I guess it was a good investment. Still it was only an investment of like $13. Because when you're just selling online you don't need to worry that the image is very big or very high-res because it's essentially just an icon on Amazon.
But to actually go and create the website itself only took an hour or so. And to get the domain name cost just $9.99 from 1and1 Internet. The hardest part was figuring out how their FTP thing works to upload the files. I had to Email the help desk to find out how I could load the files for the Planet 99 site so they weren't in the same directory as my little-seen Where You Belong site.
See the other thing is "publishers" like S------ don't really do much more for you than that. They haven't done jack shit as far as promoting my book goes. Sure there are a lot of pie-in-the-sky promises about book trailers and audio books and whatnot. I'll believe that when it happens, which probably won't be for a year or more, if then. I don't think they've even sent a goddamned Tweet about my book. So again part of my thinking is, well hell if I'm doing all the marketing anyway, then what precisely are you bringing to the party? The answer was, not a hell of a lot.
On top of that they've had 2 changes of ownership in six months. Essentially some new people came in, and then decided to cut and run and now the original people are back in charge. Back in November they announced they weren't going to accept any new submissions until fall of this year. They might make an exception for series that are already underway. Still, what am I supposed to do the next time they change ownership? And in the end, what do I get? A link on their website. Whoopee.
So I decided to take control of my own destiny again and publish the rest of the series through my Planet 99 imprint. You can call that "self-publishing" if you want but really by that definition the first one was pretty much self-publishing. I wrote the book, Michael Offutt helped me edit it, and Rusty Carl did the cover for it. The "real" publisher did nothing except badger me into changing a lot of -ing verbs to -ed verbs, as if anyone gives a shit about that.
I've been giving some thought to expanding Planet 99's operations as well because my experience last year showed how easy this can be. If you're a self-published author, you can join Planet 99 Publishing for FREE. I won't take a cut of your profits or anything like that. I'll just give you a link on my site and if I'm feeling generous I'll even give you a Tweet or two. That's about as much as S------ did for me, well, and take a big chunk of the profits so I'm doing you one better. In return you can list Planet 99 as your publisher and everyone will think you've got a "real" publisher. (Unless they see this post or someone reports me to Preditors and Editors or Writer Beware or something like that.)
Of course if you want, you can start your own publisher too. I mean in this digital world it's incredibly easy. Just use this post as your tutorial. It ain't hard.
Tomorrow is a super-easy Superhero Trivia Question!