Reprinted with permission of the author - originally posted to the self-publishing list on Yahoolists.
With all the discussion lately on going from self-published to traditionally-published, I think some of you may be interested in how it played out for me taking the opposite path. My first book was published by one of the major technical book publishers, and it was a disaster. From ridiculous production delays to leaving out a prestigious foreword, this company made a mess of everything and refused to take my suggestions on many aspects of the book. I was so disappointed at their performance I made it my mission to get my rights back, and luckily I did. (long story)
Less than two years later I published an updated version packaged the way I thought it should be presented and without production delays. My self-published version went into a second edition and sold four times as many copies at 50% higher price even without the advantage of having an established book distribution network. Of course it did help that I had an established business, so I was able to change my business model to incorporate publishing, but the point is that you don't have to be big, to sell big. You do have to produce a quality product with compelling content and you must be committed to running a business!
My self-published version put a lot more in my pocket than the small amount of royalties I received beyond the 9K advance from the traditional publisher. Unless you've got the next blockbuster in your hands, or you're unwilling to approach your book as a business, working with a traditional publisher may not be the panacea you imagine.
Gary L. Chefetz