I have chosen to forego the usual publishing route in favor of publishing my own books without the support of a traditional publisher. This wasn’t a decision I made lightly, but it followed my one and only experience with a publisher, albeit a non-traditional publishing house. In late-2006, I was finishing up a massive novel which I had entitled Eternal about a group of people with extremely long lifespans. In typed form, it was more than six hundred pages.
It was around this time I discovered PublishAmerica, which billed itself as an Internet publishing house that offered all the services of a full fledged publisher. Once I finished Eternal, around October 2006, I submitted it to PublishAmerica and they accepted it. One request they made was that I change the name of the book, because they already had a book by the same name. I chose The Long-Timers as the new title.
From the start, I began having second thoughts about publishing with them. First, I discovered quite a bit of negative information about them online, which raised more than a few red flags. Second, their editorial services consisted mainly of them telling me how best to edit my book, without much oversight from them. At no point did I receive a draft from them with tips on how to improve the manuscript and I came to believe that no one at their end had ever read the book.
Still, I was very inexperienced and they were promising to market and distribute the work, something with which I had no experience at the time. Once the book was published, my apprehensions continued to mount. The book was print on demand and the price for the six hundred eighty page novel was $35. I seriously doubted anyone would want to pay that price. Fortunately, I could order copies at a significant discount and was able to offer them at a lower price than what the publisher was asking. Most of the copies that were sold I sold direct to people I met at shows, music venues, and elsewhere.
Once the book was published, pretty much all publisher support vanished. I would get occasional reports on how many units were sold and in most cases the numbers corresponded with books I had purchased at a discount. There were sales for which I couldn’t account but I never got a reliable accounting of how many units were sold apart from my direct sales. I still see copies being sold by resellers for various prices. At one time the book was listed as a textbook and the reseller was asking hundreds of dollars for it. I’m told these were clickbait scams meant to catch those who had one-click sales enabled. Nowadays, when I see a copy in Amazon Marketplace or eBay, the price is usually around ten or fifteen dollars or less.
Throughout my time with them, they would occasionally make me various offers, such as deep discounts off the author price, which I had used to acquire copies I could resell for more. One such offer was for a hardcover version of the book, which produced the one and only such version of The Long-Timers, which only I have. After several years of dismal sales, PublishAmerica at last offered to sell me back the publication rights and I accepted. Rather than go through the hassle of querying publishers, I decided to strike out on my own and publish my own work. A friend from Gather had written up a guide to getting self-published, and I followed this with some variations. I started breaking up the novel into smaller volumes that would hopefully be more affordable.
Within a year of acquiring the publication rights of The Long-Timers, I published the first volume of what I was now calling The Long-Timer Chronicles entitled A Tale of Two Sisters. Creating it was relatively straightforward, as it concerned the main character, Victoria Wells, and her sister, Allison Stepney. I had more material on Victoria, but was able to distribute the material on Allison to balance out the story. Other than condensing the story into just the two sisters, I changed very little from the original story.
When I created the second volume, entitled Crazy Like the Foxes, I had less material and combined the story of Charles and Renee Fox and two of their offspring, Katherine and Roland, with the story of the Tremaines, Francis and Bethany, who interacted with members of the Fox family over several hundred years. I also created a new character for Foxes who hadn’t been in the original story, Eleanor Goulsby, who changes her name to Eleanor Rigby, after the Beatles’ song. This required an edit of the first novel, since Eleanor has a brief interaction with a young woman who also appears in Sisters.
Since those initial books, I have gone on to self-publish all my work, under the imprint Lupo Digital Services, LLC, a company I started in the 1990s as a web development firm. The business had been dormant for most of its existence. Finally, I had a focus for it and registered with the Secretary of State in Georgia as a corporation. After Foxes I went in a new direction with my writing, developing what I call my Expanded Universe of Fictional Atlanta that has yielded two novels and two story collections. I’m now focusing on my third story collection as well as reimagining The Long Timer Chronicles.
While I’m nowhere close to Random House or Simon & Schuster, I’m satisfied with the results. Publishing my own work gives me the freedom to move in whatever direction I want creatively and still produce quality books that have good distribution. to all the major online retailers. I’m certainly not getting rich, but I am able to publish whatever I want whenever I want. The rewards will hopefully follow one day.