Getting published elsewhere is a wonderful feeling, a form of acceptance by peers and contemporaries which helps the inner ego as much as spurs on the desire to write, to create. It is not, however, an easy process and, as any published writer will tell you, also not one – except in a few well documented cases – one which is either going to make you world renowned overnight or self-sufficient. My own experiences show this very clearly indeed: many of my works have been published by others – including in print – but finding those publishers, especially reputable ones, and earning a living from what has been produced remains a massive stumbling block. So I’m not planning on giving up the day job (college) any time in the near future but I am looking at other possibilities.
It was suggested to me that I take a look at self-publishing, even though this avenue is fraught with even more difficulties, costs and, depending on the publisher, bad reputations. Paying to have a work published by one of the many vanity publishers who advertise their services is not something I have ever, nor will I ever, consider. So the answer appears to be the setting up of a small publishing company of my own, with all the hard work, worries and costs this brings. It is not quite as simple as some people may think.
The first stage is, of course, having something to publish. I have a small advantage here in that there is a portfolio of works I have already written, some of which have not yet seen the light of day, and another file filled to overflowing with notes and plans, drafts and working copies. Putting several works together would not be a great problem although none of those which have been written have any great length. I’m not talking about fully-fledged novels, more about short stories and long articles which could either be put together as a form of anthology or be published in booklet form individually.
The next stage is the purely legal one: creating a publishing company. This is also not as difficult as it may seem, assuming that all the necessary equipment and knowledge is there. It is a case of going into the Town Hall here and registering my planned firm officially, with all the initial costs involved for the registration. Then comes registration of the new company with the publishers’ association in Germany and with the tax office; which involves the issuing of a special tax number. Next the setting up of a special bank account for the company, since the fees involved are different to those for a private individual and the tax office requires separation of assets.
The next stage is the production of the first title and its registration with the ISBN authority in Germany, a very costly undertaking. The basic registration costs about one hundred and forty Euro. Added to that comes the cost of the ISBN numbers themselves, another eighty Euro or so, and the payment for entries in the printed version of the German book catalog, another sixteen Euro. Registering a single title with the ISBN authority – and each subsequent publication – costs nearly five Euro but there is a minimum payment of eighty Euro per year. If I were to go for the single ISBN – the publication of only one book or booklet – the costs are less, but hardly worth my while since I want to bring out several titles. For a single book retailing at about five Euro I would need to sell about thirty copies just to break even, without including all the additional costs outside of the ISBN system. For multiple titles the number that would need to be sold each and every year is considerably higher, as the basic costs are considerably more.
And then there is the publicity, getting the new works known and recognized in the open market, getting them into bookshops so that people can see the physical entity, getting them online by Amazon or any one of the other major players in the book-selling marketplace. Of course I could set up my own little online shop and sell them that way, even without an ISBN, but I don’t think that is really a viable alternative.
And what happens if I publish works by other authors? There are royalties and legal fees to take into account.
I will be perfectly honest and say that I am considering it, that I am looking at how it could work and whether I can afford such a major change in my life, in my finances. The idea is enticing, as I say, but perhaps just another dream.
Love & Kisses, Viki.