To self publish or publish commercially

A new author is faced with a problem once their work is written: to publish the book themselves or to have it published by a company. Eva H, a new author, writes the comments about the consideration.


I finally completed writing “My Memoir,” which focused mainly on a small slice of our family’s life in its quest for freedom after the 1956 Uprising in Hungary against the Russian invasion. Writing the book was a very long and challenging journey. Although my memory was quite vivid of that moment sixty-four years ago, I still needed to tease out the minute details and emotions of that time.  It took me six years of sometimes sporadic, sometimes intense writing to complete the book. I am finally ready and able to move to the next step in the world of authorship.  Should I publish it? Or should I not?

I reached out to Friesen Press, a Canadian Publishing Specialist based in Victoria, B.C., for advice and guidance in how to proceed and possibly to have the book published. I found the cost to be steep. The starting price is $2,278.00, including an initial evaluation for progression, recommendations for added value; final editing; formatting; promotions; and distribution. I understood that this was the standard route to publishing. I was assigned a publishing counsellor who insisted that before the book is accepted for publishing, they must do the final editing. The counsellor also encouraged me to have Friesen Publishing design the cover. Once all the stated criteria were met, my final cost would top $2,500.00. This cost, however, also included fifty copies of 6×9 soft covered regular bound books.  Friesen and Amazon both keep “My Book in Word” on file for two years. My book would be printed if and when there is a demand for it. Otherwise, books do not take up unnecessary shelf space.

After researching Friesen Publishing, I explored Self-Publishing. I felt that I could try to publish on my own as I own my story, and I would have total control of the direction I would take it. I welcomed this strategy as a learning curve, so I fully accepted the challenge. The printing is free, but with Kindle Publishing as that is where e-books are published, there is a 40% royalty. In Self-Publishing, I decide on the book size, the font size, and I do the formatting and the cover design. I would call upon my good friends and contacts to edit my book five times by five people. It would still be cost-effective to Self-Publish my book. Kindle Publishing at Amazon was more than delighted to assist me. The book cover design came to $500.00; book editing costs $45.00/hr; the interior design of the book is approximately $900.00. The cost was adding up. It was impressed upon me that using different editors is essential for fact-checking, proofreading and developmental purposes. It would be crucial for me to hire a professional copy editor to review the final draft, to make final suggestions and add the final touches to it. This could make or break the book. “It’s important to judge the work rather than the fee.” (Ingram Spark). Once all these strategies and skills fall into place, I purchase a low-cost software to publish the book electronically. There are numerous cost-effective e-book software platforms such as- *; *; *

Having analyzed the steps in Self-Publishing and the potential readership it could reach, I decided to stay true to my original purpose in writing this book. It is to leave a legacy of my immigrant family’s journey to our two boys. I did not feel the need to publish my family’s turmoil, struggles, tears and laughter. Being a very private person, I thought that I should leave the book to remain confidential. I decided to set my sights on finding a printing company instead and proceed from there.

After many weeks of consideration, in-depth conversations and electronic communications, I chose Greenwood Creative Print House. This local printing company is owned and managed by two sisters. I followed the guide in Renaissance, The Retired Teachers’ Publication, and I created a checklist of how to go about preparing my book for the printer. Preparation included tapping into my talented friends for some assistance. One friend designed the cover; another was the developmental editor who gave me suggestions of areas I should omit or include; another edited for accuracy and fact-checked the text for historical value; another friend did intense proofreading for correct grammar, capitalization, punctuation and proper word usage. My last two editors were also friends who were professional copy-editors in their own right who contributed to the nature of my monumental task. In the end, I had the five required editors going through the book, line by line, page by page, chapter by chapter. Finally, it was one of my sons who formatted the text for me into a required, standard paperback book. He added a few pictures for a personal touch and also added the cover page. Now my book was ready for printing. I contacted Kim at Greenwood Printing and put in an order for fifty copies. I feel comfortable and confident that I made the right choice for me in choosing Greenwood Printing. I receive personal suggestions; the process is comprehensive and the cost is between $500.00 – $600.00. This sum is not an astronomical amount but a fair price for me.

While it’s not printing on a dime, which I didn’t expect anyways, it is close enough, but most importantly, it allowed me to accomplish my mission of leaving a legacy to our two boys and two grandchildren. It was worth the time and effort I spent on writing My Memoir.


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