Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Hot Button

This morning I had a before work half hour conversation about something that is a BIG deal with authors:  Traditional Publishing, Vanity Presses and Self-Publishing.    His wife has written a book (which according to some very well know authors who have seen it say it IS really good).  She sent out those dreaded inquiry letters.  And she has had a request for a synopsis from a traditional publisher.  Great.  It will mean taking the time to write the synopsis though.  And then it is hardly a sure thing.  But then she is contacted by Tate Publishing out of OK.  They insist they aren't a vanity press and yet they require money upfront (to be refunded once you sell so many or whatever).  Now, there isn't that much negative about them specifically on the web.  So she gets tempted with Bird in tha Hand mentality. Understandably.  Getting published can take a VERY long time.

So she has a decision to make.  And if she makes the wrong one, it could affect her future books as some have bitterly learned with DEFINITE vanity presses.  They are marked and might NOT be considered by serious agents and publishers in the future after a first book with a vanity press. 

YET some great books can come out of such presses and self-publishers (look at Amanda Hocking's success).  But those MUST be edited perfectly because bad editing can leave a lasting negative feeling - I know there have been books that have done that for me.  One in particular was set in Victorian times yet the ladies wore big bouffant powdered wigs...  Cringe.  And spelling and grammer are crucial.  And we have spell checks and so on so use them.  And I have even had discussions about how more mistakes like that are slipping through traditional publishers as well as economic cutbacks decrease the editorial staff.

I think though, a wannabe published author has to research publishers beforehand and assess what they hope to achieve.  And if self-publishing is the route is one they want, they need to REALLY get an editor or have it edited by people who will be honest and harsh if necessary - friends hold back.

For some people, just getting the book out there is the real goal.  But for others it might be more about being taken seriously and right or wrong self-published authors are not taken as seriously by many people and organizations.  And a big part of that is because there are LOTS of crappy self-published books out there.  Especially now where Amazon makes it so easy to self-publish.  So readers are wary of spending their money trying to find the flower in the weeds.

And without the traditional publisher an author has to make an ever larger investment in promotion and exposure.  Marketing is expensive and these Self-Publishing and Vanity houses might promise a lot of it, but mostly fail to deliver.  People can't find what they don't know exists.  Bookmarks, postcards, all of that cost money.  A lot of these firms just count on the sales from family and friends of the author to make their profit and that is it. 

So my message to them was do your research, figure out what you want and expect from publishing and be patient and work the process the right way if you choose to go the traditional route.

So a very interesting start to my morning before the tedious task of editing attorneys time submissions at work.


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