Friday, October 2, 2009

Writers Beware

Good note by Victoria Strauss about your search for a publisher, and the perils of doing so in the internet age:

I haven't done any publisher searching myself (yet), but I have done a fair amount of reading on the subject, and though it can be a contentious subject for some I don't think anyone can argue that getting sucked in by a vanity press (aka self published) such as Publish America is less ideal than going the traditional route. Some less read on the subject may not realize that vanity presses allow a writer to essentially get their book published whether it is a good or bad story, well edited or grammatically and thematically appalling. This may sound fantastic to some, but unless you just want to share your book with some friends and family, don't go there. Main reasons from what I have read is:

-High price, though they allow you to print very small numbers of books, they come costly. How likely is it really for the general public to purchase your fledgling efforts for above reasonable prices (in some cases they appear to charge incredible shipping prices if their face value is reasonable).
-Minimal to no marketing, a vanity press does not market your book, it will appear on their website and it may be listed for sale on Amazon, this leaves you to do all the marketing on your own. And guess what? You are probably better off spending your time fixing your book, and writing new ones.

You may query, "Well why does self publishing work for some musical artists?" It's a different market would be the main reason with different costs. You can consume music while doing other things, reading a book requires an investment of time that you can not put into something else. If you think of the cost involved in burning off a CD and shipping it vs. a book, there is a substantial difference. Most people can burn with their existing computer a CD and ship it for roughly $4, if they are selling them for $10, they have just made a nice profit. They could easily invest a little more money and print professional looking labels as well. But I have never even heard of anybody able to print and ship from their house their very own professional looking book. So you are at the mercy of a vanity press or a POD (Print On Demand - not a vanity press, they require from my understanding larger orders of books, and are not as expensive as a vanity press/book, but are still not a true solution monetarily speaking) if you don't seek your own legitimate publisher. Now granted you could release your book electronically and publish it yourself, but you still need to build a base of interested people with good marketing. You're also cutting yourself off from a large segment that still wants to hold a physical book.

Bottom line, do your homework. You just spent how long writing your book? I'm sure getting it published deserves a good chunk of time too.

Check a prior blog of mine for some resources for your search:

Any comments or questions? Did I miss something? Let me know.

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