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Oh boy

No matter what I say here, I am going to upset someone.

So this blog is my personal opinion! I am only making my own observations from my own experience.

I don’t know what it is like in other parts of the world, but down here in little ole NZ trying to get your work published via the traditional mainstream publishers is like trying to win Lotto when you haven’t bought a ticket.

Why? For three main reasons;

  1. Traditional publishers like Random House, HarperCollins, Penguin (now merged with Random House) have been reducing the number of books accepted for publishing from New Zealand.
  2. Fiction is low down the list. If you are an authority on a topical issue, a previously published author, or a celebrity, then those books will get priority over your work of fiction as an unpublished author.
    Sound like sour grapes from me? Well actually no. They are in business and are looking to maximise their profits, who can blame them. I actually never bothered sending in a manuscript to anybody. Why, because of No 3 below.
  3. Cost and return. What do you expect to pay to get your book published?

So what does it cost to publish a book?

By a Traditional Publisher.

The publishing companies deluged with manuscripts. If you want to get your work published by one of the big-name publishers, you need to follow a fairly prescribed set of actions.

To avoid instant rejection, you must follow the instructions on submitting a manuscript exactly as described on their website. The if you are lucky you may get a reply in a year or two.

  •  Proof Reading.
    • If you want to get published, your best chance is to engage an agent.
    • If you want an agent to take on your work of art, then it had better be good. Oh, I’m not talking about your subject, I’m talking about your literacy skill. Orthography, semantics, syntax, morphology etc. So before you tackle the job of finding an agent, you need to have your work proofread. Some agents may do this for you, but they get buckets of manuscripts, and they will be more likely to take you on if your work has been edited and assessed.
    • The Cost (Average)
      • Assessment  (i.e to 60,000 words) ……………….NZ$   480
    • Editing ……………………………………………………..NZ$   25-$70 per hour

Now, Once your book is accepted, here is an example breakdown of what to expect in returns

A Simple Model of Book Costs as an Example

  • Consumers. Retail Price …………………………$27.95
  • Retailers – 40%. ………………………………..  – $11.18
  • Distributor – 10%. ……………………………..  – $  2.80
  • Publisher – 40% ……………………………… … – $11.18
  • Author (That’s you) .10%………………………..$  2.79

By an Independent Publisher.

The publishing industry is changing.

It is now possible to get any book published, you just need an independent publisher who is willing to take on your project. Yes, they too get flooded with manuscripts, and they will decide if it fits their particular niche market.

Now often you have more of a choice. You can pay the publisher to do all the work of proofreading, editing etc, or you can do it yourself.

However, just because you are using an independent publisher, don’t think that you can skimp on the quality. Their name is on the book as the publisher, and they are not going to publish rubbish.

This great thing about using this form of publishing is that once you have paid for the setup costs, you are in control of the quantities to be published, and can get another print run done at any time.

The profit is all yours.

Costs will depend on what you are asking for. At least with an independent publisher, you can negotiate a deal, but you are still only going to get about 10-15% as the author.

I think that the primary benefit of this form of publishing is that you can get exposure to retail outlets and will be listed on whatever marking the do.

Self Publishing.

Or Indie Publishing as it is commonly known is now readily available to anyone who wants to publish something, and the cost to you the author can be as little as $3 or $4 dollars per book. You can publish one or a thousand, you are totally in charge.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? But Beware!!!!!!!!

Indie publishing means you are in charge. Yes, I said that above. I will say it again. YOU are in charge of EVERYTHING.

Writing, editing, proofreading, formatting, layout, artwork, marketing, selling, book launches, distribution etc. All those things that the Traditional or Independent publisher can do for you. That’s why you only get 10 – 15% of the retail price. They do a lot of work for you.

If you are only writing for your friends and family, then this is definitely the way to go. No question.

If however, you are hoping to sell your masterpiece to the general public, then you need to consider the following;

    • ISBN – International Serial Book Number.

    • To publish to the world you will need one of these. You probably will have seen them on the cover of a book you bought. This is mine for Kennard’s Valley.
    • You can get them online at a small cost, in New Zealand, we get them for free from the National Library. (They require them to send them 3 copies for free).
    • Be aware. It is always the publisher of the book who should apply for the ISBN. For the purposes of ISBN, the publisher is the group, organisation, company or individual who is responsible for initiating the production of a publication. Normally, it is also the person or body who bears the cost and financial risk in making a product available. It is not normally the printer, but it can be the author of the book if the author has chosen to publish their book themselves. *
  • Distribution
    • Depending on who you use to publish, there will probably be a set of templates that you must conform to, to be acceptable for public distribution. You will need to make necessary adjustments before they will release it.
  • Marketing
    • You can (at a price) get a marketing package to help you get your book out there, but if you don’t them all the marketing is up to you.

Personally, I use LULU for my print copies. I have found their print quality excellent. I could not tell the difference between their books and any you would find in a bookstore through a traditional publisher.


The new way of getting your work out in the wide world is e-books. This has turned the publishing world upside down. You can sign up with any number of e-publishing sites. Personally, I use Smashwords. Again, you need to use a set format to publish. You will need an ISBN (Usually different from your print one), and you will have to all your own legwork.


The choice is really up to you. You need to decide your target audience and make your decision accordingly.