The writer/publisher – part 38

The dark side of self-publishing

Yvonne Divita cares about authors and she has a lot to say in her recent post Changing Trends in Book Publishing .

Yvonne runs an an author services company, Windsor Media Enterprises, LLC  which helps authors self-publish and get their book in front of the right audience, via the right medium, all over the world, both online and offline.

Yvonne warns new writers of the pitfalls in the brave new world of POD (print-on-demand) technology and suggests some ways to beat the odds. New authors definitely need help if her summary is correct. She writes:

Think about this: the average first-time, print-on-demand author sells about 75 books. Not even enough to cover the print costs. If you’re serious about your work, and you should be, get serious about producing a professional book that your publisher can help you sell.

I self-published the old-fashioned way, which Yvonne describes in this fashion:

Let’s look at the details. First, the author would have to find a reputable printer, she would have to produce a manuscript with the exact specs the printer needed, and then, she would have to be prepared to pay the printer for all of the books at once. After receiving her books, she would then have to sell them — herself.

To contrast with this, Yvonne makes the point that much of the POD advertising is misleading. Authors sign away their rights, get locked into seven year contracts, the printing is often inferior, Barnes & Noble refuses to handle POD books, etc., etc.

Well, Bunky! It sounds kind of bleak, doesn’t it?  The aspiring author has to pay and pay and then has to do all the work herself anyway!

I say, write your book anyway! Publish it somehow, POD or short run printer, and then figure out how to market it to buyers outside your immediate circle of friends. Get the damn book out of your system and push it out into the marketplace!

You will learn more about your writing in a hurry than you will in years of classes and research. You will learn what readers consider valuable as opposed to what professors and literary types consider valuable. Just don’t give up your day job until you start earning real income.

Some people want to write perfect prose before publishing their book. Fair enough, but don’t let that get in the way of your story-telling. Your writing skill has only to be good enough so that your errors don’t get in the way of your message.

Content should be your first concern, delivery is your second. All of the writing skill in the world will not make a recital of banal homilies into an inspiring story. A gripping and original story written from the heart wins hands down over polished platitudes.

Now, if you really don’t want to expose your work to the light of prying eyes, keep on sending your manuscripts to the overworked underlings at traditional publishing houses. It will keep you busy for years and you will never lack for conversational fodder at family gatherings. Like playing the lottery, manuscript submission is a harmless pastime, as long as you don’t spend too much money on it.

On the other hand, those of you who really have something to say and want people to buy and read your book should look at self-publishing as a coming-of-age step for an author. It is not as scary as it seems and it gets easier with practice!

Finally, make sure that you learn how to promote YOUR book. You can read all of the expert advice you want, but you need to find promotional techniques that work for YOU. This is where an author services company like Yvonne’s can make the difference between breaking even and breaking out into a higher range of book sales.


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