Writing for Self-Publishing: Ask the Book Doctor


Q: I am simply a hobby writer. I do get the occasional how-to article published in a magazine; however, I want to write some western fiction novels. One problem, as I see it, is my surname. It is of eastern European origin and sounds strange to most Americans. If I write under an alias, are there any special rules that might apply to using a nom de plume, getting paid under the assumed name, copyrights under that name, et cetera?


A: Without being an attorney, I cannot give you the full and legal answer you deserve, but as I understand it, pseudonyms are not a problem in the publishing business. Your publisher will know your real name and send your checks to your legal name. Once you produce a written piece of work, the copyright automatically belongs to you until and unless you sell those rights, and the rights will belong to you no matter what name you may choose to use when and if you register the copyright.


What would you like to ask a book doctor? Send your questions to Bobbie Christmas at Bobbie@zebraeditor.com

Quality and Control in Self-Publishing

A very informative article was recently published outlining one author’s success self-publishing over traditional publishing, most notably in terms of higher net royalties on book sales. In fact, the case study recorded significantly higher royalties on a lower quantity of book sales along that self-publishing route.

The book pricing advantages of self publishing is no stranger to this blog, nor the increasingly successful population of authors who follow that path. But this particular article also mentioned that writers should never have to pay for publishing upfront.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen authors who have been pulled in by that concept, but end up publishing an often poorly produced book sold back to them at highly marked-up costs. (Publishers are businesses and need to make money, after all.) So that model really only puts poorly produced books right back in the hands of authors, not readers.

The successful alternative does involve upfront publishing fees, which opens a direct contract between authors and publishers including quality, professional production on books that are competitively sold in the marketplace, where readers buy books. Make sure your self-publishing choice includes those things like cover design, interior formatting, and full distribution. Also, as I’ve mentioned before – and the significance here is worth the redundancy – make sure your publisher offers pricing flexibility (control) and 100% royalties on book sales.

I hope that helps. Have fun and keep writing…

Karl Schroeder

Self-Publishing Resources

Self-publishing continues to gain footing in the book industry, bringing authors to the captain’s chair in terms of creative control, book pricing, and marketing. As this wave continues to build in speed and size, publishing options will inevitably follow.

Finding quality, researched information on self publishing options is important for authors looking for an advantage on the back-end, when sales help get good work into the marketplace. Stacie Vander Pol’s recently published book, Top Self Publishing Firms Revealed, is a new and sound resource in that arena.

The book is the product of Vander Pol’s own search for information about how several leading self-publishers fare in terms of book sales performance – actually helping authors get books in off press and into reader’s hands. Information about upfront fees, book pricing, and distribution is profiled as well.

Vander Pol notes in one interview that the her favorite part of the book is the enormous listing of current top-selling titles published by the organizations profiled. Keep an eye out for this one. It includes some solid, independent advice based on quality research.

– Karl Schroeder