Jamendo lets you post and share as much of your music as you want, but you must post at least an album's worth, not a single or selections from an album. You can distribute your tracks free of charge -- allowing others to remix or alter your creations if you choose -- while retaining the right to sign an exclusive deal with a label.
Magnatune splits purchases 50-50 with its artists and allows them to set a purchase price, within reason (for example, artists can't charge less than US$5 for their CDs). You're responsible for recording your own tunes and paying for any studio time, if necessary. And if a record company just gave you a big advance (whether or not your tires were slashed and you almost crashed), that doesn't mean you can't keep peddling your wares here.
MusicSubmit helps you promote your music by sending your MP3s and artist/band info to hundreds of Internet radio stations, music magazines, blogs, and other sites. Sign-up is free, but promotional services range from US$17.50 a month to a one-time fee of US$239. (When we tried the service, it was offering special rates of US$99 for 400 submissions and US$210 for 800 submissions.) If you'd rather sell your own CDs, you can let people play the music on your own site by embedding the MusicSubmit player there for free.
Sony's slick AcidPlanet site allows artists to review other people's songs, and maybe get discovered by making the site's Top 25 list of the most-popular tunes. Among the useful freebies is the AcidExpress music-creation software. As on similar sites, the more you review other artists' songs and join in the forums, the more likely others will check out your music.
Musicians receive a lot for free at MP3.com, including 100MB of storage for their music, 10MB for photos, and unlimited space for video clips. The site has an egalitarian feel, with lesser-known acts enjoying equal billing alongside major-label stars.
Get your book read
Some online-publishing sites don't charge up-front fees, and unlike traditional vanity publishers, print-on-demand services don't require that you buy a single copy of your book.
BookSurge, Amazon's self-publishing arm, offers various fee-based services, each tailored for a specific breed of writer. Publishing fees for fiction books, for instance, start at US$500 and range upward to US$3600. The high-end package includes the talents of a professional editor who reviews your manuscript. Royalty rates -- the amount you make per book sold -- range from 25 percent of the list price for trade paperbacks purchased via retail channels to a mere 10 percent for those sold via wholesale. Frankly, these rates should be higher -- particularly since you're paying to publish and market your work. Then again, you don't have to buy copies of your publication up front, and BookSurge handles the printing and distribution. (First-time authors at traditional houses rarely get much of a marketing budget anyway. They do most of their own publicity until they demonstrate that their title can sell.) Amazon and other online retailers will offer your title, and BookSurge provides tips on how to boost your Amazon sales opportunities.
If you prefer not to pay up front, Lulu, an on-demand publisher, will print your book, even if it sells only a single copy. The process is simple: You upload your manuscript at Lulu.com, and then follow a series of steps to select a book size, binding, cover art, and other features. If you're serious about marketing your work, however, you'll have to pay. Obtaining an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), for instance, costs US$50. Lulu lets you set the book's price; it prints and ships each item, and its author-royalty rate is a very generous 80 percent. Lulu sells its authors' books at its site, as well. It's a good service for self-starters who are strong on marketing skills but light on cash.
Self-publisher iUniverse offers a Premier Pro package (US$1300 to US$1400) that includes guidance on polishing your manuscript, plus marketing assistance and a custom hard cover. There's even the (slim) chance that your book, if it's commercial enough, will appear in Barnes & Noble bookstores for eight weeks -- or longer, if it's selling. The bargain Fast Track service (US$400) publishes your work without editorial guidance, cover graphics, or illustrations. Choosing the best royalty rate requires a bit of homework, though. While 20 percent is the standard, authors who buy iUniverse's Premier Pro and Premier packages can take 10 percent if they agree to sell their books to wholesalers at a 50 percent discount. This sounds counterintuitive, perhaps, but if your book is cheap, wholesalers will show more interest. And despite the reduced royalty, you might make more money through volume sales. No promises of a best seller here; just an easier way to get your work published.