Saturday, January 1, 2011

Desperate Authors

I recently heard from an author who has several books in manuscript form ready for readers. His woeful story of getting the books into his readers’ hands is quite typical. By the time I received his query, he'd already exhausted the established route of procuring an agent, and he’d received a drawerful of rejection slips from traditional book publishers. In desperation, he'd subsequently sought out “vanity” publishers, who demanded a lot of money for their layout and printing services and a large print run, and other print on demand (POD) publishers, who will print whatever the author presents, unscrupulously insisted he purchase a minimum 1000 copies of his titles.

He was persuaded to go with a POD publisher, but was badly burned. He invested over $3000 and was left with boxes of unsold, and unread, books.

His despair is not unusual.

It seems that too many commercial operations prey on writers. Each book project becomes a commercial transaction. If you can pay they will put your words into print. The author's sensibilities and painstaking and diligent work are subsumed in the process of transforming the manuscript into a product.

The designation “vanity press” has shades of depredation in its title, or perhaps more truly reflects a poor history. In the infancy of the vanity press, too many poor books were produced. Manuscripts were not edited, books were poorly designed and riddled with grammatical and spelling errors and covers looked cheap. No discussions occurred over a layout that might reflect the intent of the author. It was a service that failed to produce a quality product.

Unfortunately, the vanity press earned a long-lasting reputation, and now even the media often rejects POD books for review, regardless of their quality.

Authors believe that writing the book is the most difficult part of their project, but they are not told of the incredible stamina they need to market, promote and sell their book. Writers are rarely marketers.

If they struggle through the tangled marketing maze on their own, they are beset at every turn by commercial promotional companies who offer representational services -- for large fees -- but will not guarantee results.

At Diamond River Books, I cannot solve all authors' problems, but I do care about the quality of the books I produce. I was gratified to hear recently that a university book store took some of my published books because they didn't look like tasteless POD books.

I can personally guarantee that each book I produce is of high quality and that every effort is made to market the author, the book and the author's point of view.

Return to Diamond River Books website.

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