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Dreams of Publishing
by Tina Morgan
What is your dream? Are you hoping to see your novel in print? Most of us have aspirations of being published authors. We each must decide how best to pursue those dreams. There are two roads a writer can chose: the traditional way of building a writing portfolio, or you can go the route of self-publishing.
Before you decide to invest your hard earned money into vanity press, you need to be completely honest with yourself. Why are you considering self-publication and what are the results you hope to achieve? If you don't want the hard work of the traditional approach and you think POD is the fast track to success; consider the following.
Self-publication is not a guarantee of success regardless of how well a book is written. You may have just penned a novel worthy of great awards but it doesn't matter if no one reads it. When you decide to self-publish, you must realize that the job of marketing your book rests squarely on your shoulders.
POD printers are just that, printers. For a fee, they will gladly reproduce whatever you've written, be it good, bad or otherwise. They will not promote your book. You are paying a fee to have your manuscript made 'camera-ready'. Once that is done, you pay for every copy of your book your receive, just like traditional vanity press. The difference between the two is the print-on-demand printer allows you to only buy the number of copies you think you can sell. There is no minimum print run, meaning your garage won't be filled with unsold copies of your cherished book. In effect, you pay the printing costs as you go.
It's almost like paying someone to say they like your work enough to publish it, isn't it?
If your dream is simply to see your novel in print, then POD or may be an option for you. You need to ask yourself the following questions before you decide.
(1) Are you prepared to take the time and invest the necessary money to promote your novel? Yes, most of the POD printers on-line say they will list your book with on-line book sellers and your book can be ordered through brick and mortar stores, but how will the average customer know to order your book if they have never heard of you or your novel?
(2) Are you willing to put yourself on the line and approach people directly to sell your book? If you have a non-fiction book to sell and you're a good public speaker, vanity press can be a very valuable tool for you. Make certain you have the ability to line up venues to speak at.
(3) If you hope to tackle the lecture circuit and sell your non-fiction book, make certain there is a market for it. Research your topic. Is the market saturated with books like the one you want to write? If it is, you are going to need a very compelling reason for people to listen to you. If you are naturally charismatic, you have half the battle won already, if not, then you have a long uphill battle ahead of you. That does not make it impossible, just harder.
(4) Are you shy and withdrawn? Do you have a hard time talking about yourself and your accomplishments? If so, it is going to be difficult for you to promote your work. You have to sell your name to people as an author, along with your book.
(5) Do you have the initial funds necessary to print your book to start with? Most POD companies are low cost, but if you are living pay check to pay check or out of work, even this low cost can be too much. It may be months or even years before you recoup the printing costs. Is the investment worth it to you?
(6) Is your book as polished as you can get it? Did you run it through your computer's spell- and grammar-checker? Did you eyeball check it again? Have you had someone else re-check your revisions for spelling and grammatical errors? You have a responsibility to yourself to make certain your book is perfect. There are no editors at POD printers (unless you pay extra for the service) and every error you miss will reflect poorly on your finished product.
You have to play the multiple roles of writer, editor, spell-checker, marketer, sales manager, and sometimes even webmaster for your book. If this sounds like more responsibility than you want to shoulder, then you should consider the traditional approach to publishing. The hard route of earning your publishing credits one small market at a time will take more time than self-publishing but you will have editors and publishers to back up the quality of your work.
Traditional press is not an instant road to success either. There are problems and pitfalls to any type of publishing. We will be addressing marketing techniques and self-promotion tactics for both types of publishing in the next issue of Fiction Factor.
Paying someone to print your book for you can be a rewarding experience, but only if you are willing to do the research required and to invest the time needed to market your book. When you self-publish, you step outside your dream and into the hard world of business. Make sure you have the tools necessary to succeed before you embark.
© Copyright 2001 Tina Morgan. All rights reserved
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