The industry has changed drastically over the last decades, but unfortunately, publishers are still keen to get as much as they can out of their
authors, so you still have to be careful about lost originals etc. Unfortunately, some of them still try to take advantage of younger authors, which
is in my opinion, disgraceful. It really is a shame that you lost all of your original artwork, but the computing mantra comes to mind here: BACK UP!
Always keep a copy for yourself, or give them a copy and keep the original.
I would agree with CreateSpace. They are a fantastic resource IF you are willing to handle the leg work yourself. If you need to get in touch with
them to resolve issues, they can be a little withdrawn, which unfortunately means that you're going to have to wait for responses. You have to
remember though, they are working with countless budding authors, and don't always have time to immediately respond.
Proof readers are always a great idea, and if you can find one that is willing to work for cheap, even better. You really should find someone that has
a genuine interest in your field though, which might make things a little harder. It's one thing to find someone that loves sci-fi, but if you're
writing fantasy, they may not be able to make the adjustments that you require. Investing in a professional cover is also a great idea, but the same
applies here I feel. You need to find someone that works with the same style artwork as your style of writing, or it may not suit.
I think the majority of the issue comes down to time. You need to invest a lot of it. A LOT. It's one thing to publish a novel, it's another to get
it read. Promoting locally is a brilliant idea though, and one that I've not explored to any depth as of yet. Quite simply, I lack the time. Along
with all the tips that I've offered, and those offered by other members, hopefully someone will get some use out of this thread
Just remember, nothing is impossible! Do your research on the publishing houses, apply for those that deal with your subject matter almost
exclusively. If you submit your fiction paper to a house that primarily deals with non-fiction, you're going to have a lot of trouble getting
noticed. If, however, you submit it (say it's fantasy) to a publisher that works almost exclusively with fantasy writers, then ensure that you have
presented a concise and detailed cover letter to go along with it.
I may do a little further research and offer up some more info later on publishing through the traditional route... It's something I've considered,
but never really tried, as I've been put off by the difficulty of it, but it doesn't hurt to look!
Just as a side note: Agents aren't necessarily the best way to go. Yes, they are better recognised by publishers, and yes, they have an in, but what
cut will they take from you? Will they include you in the contract process should your work be accepted? Will they include you when editing comes, and
the publisher wants to remove 2/3 of a chapter and replace it? I'm not saying they won't, but I'm not saying they will either.
Great to be a help to someone! Yes, sample copies are a MUST. Most of these print on demand companies will print exactly what you present to them
without question. This may mean that some of your text or images may be cropped or not printed correctly at the sides of the pages. It may even mean
that your cover cuts off half your name!
On the flip side, if you go through traditional methods and are "signed" by a traditional publishing house, they handle all the finer points
themselves, though it is still a good idea to get a pre-print copy to ensure that you're happy with the physical size, text size, layout, etc etc,
even the quality of the paper. They will listen to you.
I've not had any experience with B&N or Smashwords, so I can't really comment there, except that I've heard Smashwords is quite a wide reaching
site. I do find it amazing, however, that Amazon appears to have taken the lead with your sales. I've found Apple to be the best for me. While I
don't make "sales" very often, my free short story is downloaded several times a month, where I've had almost no action on Amazon at all.
iTunes no longer require an ISBN for publishing, though you do need to have an Apple yourself to be able to run their software. Yes, they have custom
software for publication. If you do want to get an ISBN however, they can come quite cheap. I get mine through a company in Australia for $80 each, or
a block of 10 for a much better price.
I would avoid smaller retailers, not due to their lack of experience, but the small sales won't justify the extra effort.
As to your second post: Well, I'm in two minds here. Most people are avoiding that route, like myself, which is lowering the number of submissions to
traditional publishers, making it a little easier to get noticed (theoretically). Not sure...