Experiments in Self-Publishing I

(Original posting 3/9/2017) I’ve been wading into the self-publishing waters of late, avoiding the traditional submission-to-established-publishers route for the time being (more on that decision at another time), and have just had my first piece accepted at Sheet Music Plus. It’s an arrangement of the hymn tune HYFRYDOL for brass quintet. You probably know it better by the hymn name, Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus. It’s available for preview, listening, and purchase at Long Expected Jesus. It’s a great piece for the Advent season and, no, it’s not too soon to be planning for Christmas.

Sheet Music Plus is one of three organizations offering digital storefronts for self-publishing composers which attracted my attention. Each has its own set of pluses and minuses but overall they look to be viable avenues for self-published sheet music.

I first registered with Swirly Music (www.swirlymusic.org) for two main reasons: they’re small, giving my pieces a better chance of being noticed by casual browsers and allowing for a degree of personal service, plus they have IMO the best user interface, one that allows for full-length preview of scores yet still protects against freeloading. Swirly specializes in high quality printing by expert music printers. If you desire good quality scores that can be touched and felt Swirly is a great source. I currently have three titles available at Swirly Music. Two are for SATB choir and piano, Lo, a Rose, and At the Cross. The other is for solo piano, The First Noel.

Sheet Music Plus (www.sheetmusicplus.com) does a huge amount of business, has a vast catalog, and has a simple and free submission process. On the downside, it’s very easy for works to get lost in the oceans of titles that they offer. SMP currently offers digital downloads only. So far, I only have the one title mentioned above at SMP but expect to add more shortly.

My Score is the self-publishing brand of JW Pepper. They are one of the most respected publishers/retailers of sheet music for educational and church musicians. They maintain a very nice professional user interface for self-published composers that integrates smoothly with their main business. They also are a big business with a large catalog that has the same face-in-a crowd issue as SMP. So far I don’t have any titles at My Score simply because there’s a small financial hurdle to get started with them and I’m cheap. Once I get the kinks worked out on getting my business model set up I expect to list titles at My Score also.

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