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Excerpts Begin Here
If you are looking to have a book published and in your search for information have found this small book, there are a few things that must be said up front. [Please note live links that will move you to sources outside this book and to places in it. Also, this is not a book on How To Write, but is a business book on publishing.]
It is quite possible one may feel my approach at presenting this information is condescending. I have no such motive…Knowledge is power. It’s that simple.
There’s an old saying: Truth will out….
By reading this concise overview, the reader will come to certain conclusions. The first could be…
If the reader chooses to continue in the business in any capacity, by the end of this small book it will be time to ask…
At the end of this book is included an article I wrote originally for Publishing Perspectives in 2010.
Why are you writing?
Publishing: The Hype of Myth vs. The Truth
First the Hype of Myth
Author submits manuscript to publisher they would most like to see as the imprint on their book. Author carefully crafts a letter of introduction, begging or pleading to be read, and includes a copy of the manuscript…
Author submits…manuscript lands on the desk of an overworked and overwhelmed publisher who reads the first few pages and all that is seen is the typos, meandering plot line, and changing character names. Shouts of goshdarnit… ring out through the office. Immediately the publisher, overwhelmed, puts the manuscript on the pile to send rejection postcard to…but may take months to get around to that chore…Author…wait…and wait…for at least two years to get the book out. To be fair to publishers, they are not sitting around twiddling their thumbs.
Let me get this out of the way:
Yes, there are some stories about massive and fast book publishing success. These stories are the exception to the rule. When one digs, one usually finds…marketing hype.
Dealing With Brick & Mortar Bookstores
Brick and mortar bookstores have a lot of overhead (rent, insurance, utilities, employees, and more), extreme swings of inventory (hard and soft cover books by thousands of authors from children to fantasy to crime to memoir and many more categories), and authors hounding them for open dates to come and do a signing event at their physical location.
Often self-published authors have badly designed, edited, and written books. As a seller of books, stores rightly must worry about the quality of their inventory: Does it attract or repel readers, also known as customers who come in to spend money?…No bookstore is a charity. Understanding their limitations and pressures will limit the amount of time and introductory approach methods for each. All that being said…
Booksellers of All Stripes Must Change With the Times
That means publishers, authors, and bookstores must find a way to better work together. There are many great books being ignored in the marketplace for various reasons. Reasons that are so widely varied and have their own explanations I cannot go into here without getting off track. But, look…Given that everyone has the exact same amount of seconds in a day, I am ever more relentless about making the following points to:
- Authors are not your enemy…
- Bookstores are not trying to ruin your life…
- Be partners with your authors.
Remainder shows come in all kinds of stripes and iterations. If it has been manufactured, there are plenty of that thing that do not sell and become leftover inventory. At some point, full retail price will not be had and so the inventory must be liquidated at a remainder show that carries that type of item. Books are no different. Pick any big name author and their printed books have and will show up in a book remainder show for sale by the pound…
What is a Publisher?
The Big 5…errr…Big 4
Readers of this book may have heard about the Big 5 book publishers….Add to that the purchase of Independent Small Presses that have been rolled up as imprints under one of the major publishers…No matter the size of the publisher or the genre mix they represent, a publisher has one job: Identify books the public will want to spend their money on.
While there are a few other distributors to bookstores, the major ones are Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Their requirements for taking on a book for fulfilment are multitudinous, often confusing, and not always the best solution for authors or small publishers…Regional distribution companies come and go with the wind…Make sure you read all the fees associated with placing a book with a distributor before you go shipping the books to them.
If one is writing a book of the history of their family, and are only wanting to give it as gifts to the family, all the writer needs is an editor, book designer, and a POD book printer.
However, before one even thinks about self-publishing a book as a profit-making activity, ask three questions.
- Who will buy it?
- Who will sell it?
- How will readers learn about it?
To answer those questions it is important to identify —
Goals Specific to You
Some of this has been covered earlier as a general thing. Now it is important to ask the following specific questions.
- Are you looking to make enough money to retire on?
- Are you looking to make enough money to supplement your retirement?
- Are you willing to work for yourself for free?
Whoa! Number 3 in the list: What the heck are you talking about?
Glad you asked. If you think that you will write the book and it will magically appear in bookstores all over the world, edited and designed and printed and shipped, then everybody would love to have your magic wand. But there are hard costs involved in getting each of those things done:
Creative endeavors take a lot of time to work on, build an audience for, and find a loyal following willing to help spread the word about your creative work.
But you have decided you want to write, so from this point on we will concentrate on how to make that happen. This small book will not focus on the writing process itself. There are thousands of books about that. Instead, we will discuss another option to getting your work published.
Independent Small Presses (ISP)
Submitting your work to an independent small press, that is, not one of the Big 4 and not one of their imprints. These are hard to find and usually you will hear about them from word of mouth….The best advice is this: Keep going or decide to stop. Neither is the best decision or the worst. Neither is good or bad. You must decide what is best for you, your life goals, your financial capabilities, and your time.
The Death of “Submit-Wait-Pray”: Self-Publishing as a Cottage Industry
Previously published in 2010 in “Publishing Perspectives” and shortly after picked up for newspaper syndication. [12/08/21 NOTE: This article has been updated.]
By Angela K. Durden
ATLANTA — As late as the start of the twentieth century, cottage industries supported many families. When automation arrived, “cottage industry” became an undeserved term for substandard work.
But the cottage industry has made a comeback.
I know because I am one. So are my co-authors — Marla Brown, Eleanor Morgan, and Peggy Parks. After meeting through an Atlanta-based women’s business group, we have written a book about the reasons, challenges, and benefits of being in business for yourself, with tips on how to pull it off. Opportunity Meets Motivation: Lessons From Four Women Who Built Passion Into Their Lives and Careers will be published soon.
Cottage industries are coming back through people like musician Ralph Roddenberry, artist Ann Bailey, and Tina LoCicero with her mother’s beloved chocolate fudge sauce. Then there’s me, and me, and more of what I’m doing, and going places I never imagined mere words could take me. We have the cottage industry mindset because we want lives to call our own. But how did we get there? Here’s my story…