I'm two-thirds of the way or so through a seven-book YA fantasy series with Simon & Schuster, and I don't have any plans to discontinue that relationship in the future. There are two books to come in the series, and plans for a new series after that, and for the most part, I have been very, very happy with my relationship with my publisher, and very grateful for the things they have done for my career. However...
...Like other authors, I often speak at schools and conferences, and I'm paid pretty well for it. However, most readers aren't aware that in the presentation I do at schools and libraries, which I've been doing for several years, I barely talk about my books at all. Instead, I deliver a presentation that's basically a motivational talk aimed at Middle-Schoolers and above. I average one engagement a month, with clusters of them in the Spring and Fall. It goes over well enough that a lot of librarians and teachers have asked for the presentation to be put into a book.
My manager didn't think a nonfic book from a fantasy author - which was mostly transcribed from a recorded presentation, and was edited and expanded in less than a week - was even worth presenting to my publishers. Several other publishers had expressed interest in it, but none could schedule releasing it in less than two years - years during which copies could be sold at every school venue I spoke at.
Because of my pre-novelist history in comics and graphic novels, I already had a publishing imprint, my own isbn's, and a working knowledge of how Things Ought To Work. And the way Joe Konrath has been doing things made a lot of sense to me, so a couple of weeks ago I finally released it as an ebook. This is the origin of DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS.
The reviews the book has already gotten have been humbling and gratifying, and it's affecting people in exactly the way I hoped it would. It has also sold around one-tenth as many copies as the ebook of HERE, THERE BE DRAGONS has (since whenever it was my publisher released that version - I can't recall offhand). In under three weeks.
(It isn't hurting the recognition factor that at Goodreads and Amazon and B&N.com, it gets listed alongside my novels; has "Dragon" in the title; and resembles my other books, which I both illustrated and co-designed, but still. Three weeks.)
I priced DotD at $4.99 based on some very unscientific reasons: one, five bucks is, to me, what an impulse buy price would be (and used to be at paperback racks and newsstands), and is still sort of a mental threshold. Five bucks is my "hey, I can give it a shot" price; the other reason is that at that price, I make about half again as much per sale as I get in royalties for a hardcover - so mentally, I'm thinking that around half is 'my' pay and half is income for my imprint.
I may or may not do a print edition, either through Coppervale Press or with another publisher - we'll see how it goes. And in terms of overall strategies, I certainly can't fault what Amanda Hocking is doing in getting a traditional deal - and the visibility it can bring her work, in venues she isn't in now - while she keeps her engine going with what she's already running so well.
I've BEEN a self-publisher. Go to Jeff Smith's History of BONE page and you'll see I was in the thick of things with self-publishing in the comics industry for a very long time. But in books, it's been a different scenario - until the last couple of years. I would not have the career I have now without my publisher - but none of the publishers I know would have been able to release this book in less than a couple of years.
A book that is professionally designed, with a cover by an award-winning artist, written by an author with very respectable sales and visibility.
A book that made money for me yesterday. And today. And will tomorrow.
That's something to think about - and I have. And announcing DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS won't be the last time I make an announcement about a new book from my own imprint. Far from it.