Old Publishing Rant That’s Still Relevant

I originally posted this on August 21 of 2008.  And given that two pieces of news came out yesterday that seem to conflict with each other, I realized the content of the rant is even truer today.  The two pieces of news?

Essentially, that means more units of a product are being produced when demand for that product seems to be in a decline.  Why?  I think this old post explains why.  Feel free to leave your comments.

To say the world of publishing is in a constant state of change is a lot like saying the sun is hot. The ever-advancing realm of technology has not only transformed the method of production and delivery of books, it has also changed the buying habits of the reading public. Because of print-on-demand and the growth of online commerce, the barriers to getting a book to market are virtually gone. Anyone with a computer can write a book, upload it to a POD provider and make it available for sale with an online retailer. Inventory is no longer necessary. The cost of publishing is frighteningly reasonable, certainly more so than it ever has been before. The publishing world is no longer for the elite. It is an industry for the everyman. In short, we are in the midst of a publishing revolution. The question begs, however, is it too late?

Trends suggest we are reading less, yet more books were published last year than ever before. In fact a greater percentage of Americans would rather write a book than read one. I doubt this phenomenon exist with any other product on the market today.

So what is our love affair with writing, and ultimately publishing? Why is there a seemingly compulsive need to be an author in America when there’s arguably a relatively small market for books? It is a desire based on a lie or at the very least a misconception. Popular culture would have you believe that an author lives a life of leisure and luxury. They attend parties and rub elbows with celebrities from every walk of life. People want to publish for the same reason they want to be on reality shows. It seems less like work and more like being the center of attention.

If you want to write to be famous, put away that story idea. There are easier ways to be famous. Becoming a doctor and separating conjoined twins in a 27 hour surgery may be easier. It is certainly less time consuming. Training everyday for the Boston Marathon may be easier than achieving fame through publishing. You’ll certainly be in better shape than 99.9% of writers. Winning the nomination for presidency from one of the major parties may be easier than becoming famous through the written word. You will at least get to do less work and attend those parties with celebrities that you wanted to attend.

Writing is hard work. Publishing is hard work. Selling books is hard work. The rewards are not usually commensurate with the amount of work you will expend. Write because you love it not because you think there is a pot of gold at the end of the publishing rainbow. If you’ve ever said, “I need to publish this book because I have to pay some bills.” Back away from the computer keyboard and start flipping through the classifieds.

Publishing should come from a place of passion. If you want it to be your main source of income, then plan to do the following:

    • Practice your craft.There are enough crappy writers on the market.Don’t be one of them.
    • Hire a professional designer for the interior and cover.Don’t be all things to your book.You’re the writer.Leave the rest to more qualified artists.There are rare cases where one person can write and design the book, but chances are you’re not one of them.
    • Work with an editor you trust, and by all means don’t be your own editor.
    • Invest time and money in marketing.If you think the book can sell itself, you’re wrong.If you don’t have a lot of money, spend a lot of time marketing your book.If you don’t have a lot of time, spend a lot of money on marketing your book.If you don’t have either, don’t plan on selling a lot of books.
    • Read books.If you’re not a reader, don’t kid yourself, you’re not a writer.
    • Give it time.Don’t measure in months here.Measure in years.

      If you follow these simple rules, you can succeed in publishing even if this new publishing revolution is too late in coming. The reading public is hungry for books of high quality. Give it to them. It’s your duty as an author. You’re part of the revolution. Act like it. Write like it.

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      Competitions for Self-Published & Independently Published Books

      Here is a list of competitions for self-published and independently published books. None of them are the National Circle Book Critics Award or the Pulitzer, but if you’re an author or small publisher they are nice little marketing boosters if you win or place. Enter, win, sell books!

      IPPY Awards – Call for Entries – 2009 Independent Publisher Book Awards now open! Announcing the 13th annual Independent Publisher Book Awards, honoring the year’s best independently published titles. We’ll accept entries until March 21st, 2009 for books with 2008 copyrights or that were released in 2009.

      http://www.independentpublisher.com/ipland/IPAwards.php

      17th Annual Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards –

      ENTRY DEADLINE: May 01, 2009

      Win $3,000 in cash! Gain international exposure for your book! Catch the attention of prospective editors and publishers!

      All books published or revised and reprinted between 2004 and 2009 are eligible. ( Writer’s Digest may demand proof of eligibility of semifinalists.)

      Writer’s Digest is searching for the best self-published books of the past few years. Whether you’re a professional writer, part-time freelancer, or a self-starting student, here’s your chance to enter the only competition exclusively for self-published books!

      http://www.writersdigest.com/selfpublished

      The 2009 New York Book Festival has issued a call for entries to its annual program celebrating books that deserve greater recognition from the world’s publishing capital.

      The 2009 New York Book Festival will consider published, self-published and independent publisher works. Click below for full details on entering the 2009 competition! Deadline: May 25, 2009

      http://www.newyorkbookfestival.com/

      2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards®

      • Open to independent authors and publishers worldwide
      • Enter books released in 2008 or 2009 or with a 2008 or 2009 copyright date
      • 70 categories to choose from
      • Cash prizes and fabulous awards
      • Exposure of top 70 books to leading New York literary agent
      • Earn recognition and receive other benefits from having
        an award-winning book

      Enter the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards® by March 15, 2009 to take advantage of this exciting opportunity to have your book considered for cash prizes, awards, exposure, possible representation by a leading literary agent, and recognition as one of the top independently published books of the year!

      http://www.indiebookawards.com/index.php

      Hollywood Book Festival – celebrating books that deserve greater recognition from the film, television and multimedia industries. July awards program and day festival. Deadline: June 25, 2009 More information at hollywoodbookfestival.com

      San Francisco Book Festival – the summer of loving reading starts with Spring’s top book selections. Deadline: April 25, 2009. More information at sanfranciscobookfestival.com

      Green Book Festival – The 2009 Green Book Festival honors books that contribute to greater understanding, respect and positive action on the changing worldwide environment on Earth Day. Awards and festival Deadline: April 10, 2009. More information at greenbookfestival.com

      Beach Book Festival – The hottest reads of the summer season submitted for your approval. Celebrate your victory with a special promotional campaign to beach readers. Deadline: May 5, 2009. More information at beachbookfestival.com

      A Rant on Publishing & Writing

      To say the world of publishing is in a constant state of change is a lot like saying the sun is hot. The ever-advancing realm of technology has not only transformed the method of production and delivery of books, it has also changed the buying habits of the reading public. Because of print-on-demand and the growth of online commerce, the barriers to getting a book to market are virtually gone. Anyone with a computer can write a book, upload it to a POD provider and make it available for sale with an online retailer. Inventory is no longer necessary. The cost of publishing is frighteningly reasonable, certainly more so than it ever has been before. The publishing world is no longer for the elite. It is an industry for the everyman. In short, we are in the midst of a publishing revolution. The question begs, however, is it too late?

      Trends suggest we are reading less, yet more books were published last year than ever before. In fact a greater percentage of Americans would rather write a book than read one. I doubt this phenomenon exist with any other product on the market today.

      So what is our love affair with writing, and ultimately publishing? Why is there a seemingly compulsive need to be an author in America when there’s arguably a relatively small market for books? It is a desire based on a lie or at the very least a misconception. Popular culture would have you believe that an author lives a life of leisure and luxury. They attend parties and rub elbows with celebrities from every walk of life. People want to publish for the same reason they want to be on reality shows. It seems less work and more like being the center of attention.

      If you want to write to be famous, put away that story idea. There are easier ways to be famous. Becoming a doctor and separating conjoined twins in a 27 hour surgery may be easier. It is certainly less time consuming. Training everyday for the Boston Marathon may be easier than achieving fame through publishing. You’ll certainly be in better shape than 99.9% of writers. Winning the nomination for presidency from one of the major parties may be easier than becoming famous through the written word. You will at least get to do less work and attend those parties with celebrities that you wanted to attend.

      Writing is hard work. Publishing is hard work. Selling books is hard work. The rewards are not usually commensurate with the amount of work you will expend. Write because you love it not because you think there is a pot of gold at the end of the publishing rainbow. If you’ve ever said, “I need to publish this book because I have to pay some bills.” Back away from the computer keyboard and start flipping through the classifieds.

      Publishing should come from a place of passion. If you want it to be your main source of income, then plan to do the following:

      1. Practice your craft. There are enough crappy writers on the market. Don’t be one of them.
      2. Hire a professional designer for the interior and cover. Don’t be all things to your book. You’re the writer. Leave the rest to more qualified artists. There are rare cases where one person can write and design the book, but chances are you’re not one of them.
      3. Work with an editor you trust, and by all means don’t be your own editor.
      4. Invest time and money in marketing. If you think the book can sell itself, you’re wrong. If you don’t have a lot of money, spend a lot of time marketing your book. If you don’t have a lot of time, spend a lot of money on marketing your book. If you don’t have either, don’t plan on selling a lot of books.
      5. Read books. If you’re not a reader, don’t kid yourself, you’re not a writer.
      6. Give it time. Don’t measure in months here. Measure in years.

      If you follow these six simple rules, you can succeed in publishing even if this new publishing revolution is too late in coming. The reading public is hungry for books of high quality. Give it to them. It’s your duty as an author. You’re part of the revolution. Act like it. Write like it.