Why you DIY (or at least DO YOUR HOMEWORK)

OK, I know I bitch and moan, and I just figured out how to edit an ePUB file (did you know they're really zipped files? Wonders never cease) in order to add cover art to the Nook version, only to have B&N reject the final product as being The Wrong Sort of ePUB file. (Snobs.) So, it's not like this process is without its little frustrations.

But then I read this WSJ article about how this one digital publisher is going to resurrect backlist books via electronic and print-on-demand publishing, and it makes this all worthwhile. For one thing, the authors are getting a 50% royalty on the e-books, which, yes, is twice the industry standard, but it's also less than 70% you can get by doing it yourself.

Thing number two is that the books are really expensive. The e-book of Midnight Guardians is fricking $14.99, but don't worry! That's still waaaay less than the POD paperback, which is $23.08.

Holy freaking Moses! I'll just point out that the book is 210 pages long, which is not long, and $23 for a 210-page paperback is just ridiculous. This is, in fact, the big criticism that used to be leveled against POD publishing--the resulting book is so expensive that you price yourself out of any market. Nowadays there's no need for the book to be that expensive--Trang is 370 pages, $14.99, and I do make a decent royalty off that (on Amazon, anyway).

And it's not like there aren't plenty of other published authors who have self-published their backlists profitably and are eager to tell you how.

Oh, and the digital publisher releasing those costly books? Made a million dollars (on 420 titles, so we're not talking Amanda Hocking levels of sales success here) between May and December--but still hasn't turned a profit.

I realize that it is normal to pay for convenience. Don't want to thrash around like I have, trying to create cover art? Pay someone to do it for you! Want someone else to deal with the formatting headaches? Hire someone! Pay someone to do your social media and videos, if you feel that's key to sales. I could totally see ponying up for all that if you really don't want to stretch. But I don't ever see giving up all control over pricing and 50% of your revenues (AFTER the publisher recoups their costs) when you're not getting any advantage from a distribution standpoint. Midnight Guardians isn't in Wal-Mart or Target--it's on Amazon, just like everybody else.

ETA: In other words, to quote Konrath, "[I]f you’re going to be one of these two animals, don’t be the frog. Better to be the monkey."