The Revolution Continues....
The Electronic Publishing Revolution is growing stronger every day. But like most revolutions, the ideals that began as honorable, tend to become corrupted by those who seek profit and power from the struggles of the masses. With promises of fame and fortune, the Print On Demand Publishers sounded the horns of battle and wide-eyed authors joined in. One year later, the results are mixed. There have been successes and there have been casualties, but most of all there has been a major shift in the direction of publishing that will forever alter the way authors publish their books.
First the bad news. Because many POD publishers charge a fee and have little or no editorial control over content, they are considered "vanity" presses, a term that carries a severe negative connotation. Authors who publish with PODís cannot join the Authorís Guild, even though the Guild is in partnership with one of the biggest PODís iUniverse. Other writing organizations and associations exclude all self-published, "vanity" published, print-one-demand as well as ebook authors from their elite membership list. Itís as if our hard work and effort isnít valid unless another elite group of traditional agents and publishing houses bestow their seal of approval upon the author.
Major book reviewers such as the New York Times Book Review, wonít even look at a POD novel and POD books are also ineligible for most major book competitions and awards.
Distribution and sales are another problem. Because of their no-return policy, most major bookstore chains refuse to stock POD titles in their stores. And because most PODís only offer a 30% discount to stores instead of the 40% offered by traditional publishers, smaller independent bookstores wonít even look at a POD book, let alone stock it on their shelves. All this negativity can be very discouraging to any author who wants not only to be published, but to see their books sell.
None of these obstacles are found any where on the POD publishers web sites. In fact, some of them can be downright misleading. Terms like "books will be available in bookstores" implies that your book will actually be stocked in the stores, when if fact your book will only be in a computer system available to order at the customer service desk. Getting people, other than friends and family to order your book is another story. And thatís the bottom line.
There are thousands of unpublished authors who have dreams of being the next Stephen King or Danielle Steele. But it takes much more than simply putting your manuscript into book form and seeing it listed on Amazon.com to get you to the top. You must learn the business. You must make the marketing and promotion of your book a second (or new) career. Find creative ways to obtain publicity. Contact your local bookstore chains and introduce yourself to their community relations manager. Arrange your own book signing tour, and if possible, your own "fans" to follow you to each event. Use the Internet whenever possible. There are hundreds of author, publishing and reader sites that are invaluable to authors who need exposure.
Now, the good news. POD publishing offers authors an opportunity to publish their first novel. Add to this, promotion, marketing, creating a name for yourself, and you are no longer an "unknown" author. Possibly, your next book will be more appealing to an agent/publisher because of your knowledge and prior published experience. But, even if youíre goal isnít the traditional route, the growing POD industry is still a positive opportunity for authors. With more than thirty PODís out there, the competition will be fierce for authorís manuscripts. They need us more than we need them. We can be more selective where we decide to invest our money for the ultimate goal of seeing our manuscript in book form.
Check out the following sites. If you can, order a book from one or two and see what their product actually looks like. Check to see if the book is listed anywhere else, especially Amazon.com. Try to order it at your local bookstore service desk. Email the author and ask their opinion of their publisher. Do your homework before sending in that contract.
When the smoke clears, youíll find yourself standing on the winning side
of this new and exciting Publishing Revolution and not one of its many
U-Turn to The Road To Riches