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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      James Patterson signs a 17-book deal!

      Patterson commits to writing more books in three years than most people read in three years!

      Patterson commits to writing more books in three years than most people read in three years!

      In an era where most authors struggle to get a one book deal (me being one of them), James Patterson has inked a 17 book deal with Hachette Book Group.  The last book is to be delivered by 2012.  That’s 5.7 books a year or assuming each book has an average word count of 80,000 words that’s a total of 1,360,000 words in three years or 453,333 words a years.  Let’s assume he can write for a solid eight hours a day without interruption.  That means he has 2,920 hours a year of writing time.  I’m not allowing for any time off in this scenario.  That’s a little over 155 words an hour.  In other words, carpal tunnel meet James Patterson.  Notice that I didn’t included any time for rewrites.

      Congratulations, James.  You really needed the break.  Where is that damn sarcasm key?  In a related story, scientists prove that life truly is unfair.

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      I Got a Publishing Deal!

      "The Singing Rodeo Clown!"

      "The Singing Rodeo Clown!"

      Well, it finally happened. I got an offer to publish my memoir. I had given up hope on ever getting it published because it is a 900,032 word document about my time spent as a rodeo clown/folk singer from March 1986 to later in March 1986. Because of the extremely controversial nature of the book, the publishing company wishes to remain partially anonymous. They said I can give the second and third letter of the second word of their publishing house name. So, let me just say that I am very happy to part of “ub’s” family. They have an almost stellar reputation, and have been known to have several books on the New York Times’ Bestseller list. To be clear, they actually own copies of books that were on the bestseller list. They didn’t publish them. They have already assigned my manuscript to the same editor that wanted to edit Paris Hilton’s memoir, and the marketing team has already started “Twittering” up the book. Here’s the latest “Tweet.”

      PartiallyAnonymousPublishingCompany: Just signed some clown to publish his dense and unreadable memoir. Buying gun and bullets tonight to end my misery.

      You can’t buy publicity like that. Dense and unreadable? They totally get me. They’ve asked me to cut the steamy scenes or as they call them, “the disgusting sex scenes that caused them to projectile vomit.” That means the book will now come in at an even 900,000 words.

      Yea for me, and APRIL FOOLS!

      How Books Were Made Before Magic Digital Fairies Existed!

      Making a book today is not easy.  It takes a lot of time, people, fancy-schmancy machines, one or two magic digital fairies, ink, and glue to make a book.  There will be a day when all we will need is the magic digital fairies, but that day is at least a week away, maybe two. 

      But back in the day when magic digital fairies were just plain old magic analog fairies, it used to take even more time, people, and fancy-schmancy machines to make a book.  The use of ink and glue probably was much less because it was so friggin’ hard to make a book, they made fewer of them.  The video below was created in 1947.  It illustrates just how ridiculously complicated it used to be to make a book.  You think it’s hard to get a publishing deal today?  Imagine how impossible it was back then.  So on that day when you finally do get that publishing deal you’ve been longing for, thank the magic digital fairies for tearing down the technical barriers that may have prevented you from getting a deal in the past. Magic digital fairies rule!

              

      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.

      Dennis Cass is My New Hero!

      You really want to see what an author has to go through to sell a book today? I give you Dennis Cass and his Book Launch 2.0.

      You loved the video. I’m guessing you’ll love the book: Head Case: How I Almost Lost My Mind Trying to Understand My Brain

      Now, I’ve got to go because I have to bring my Myspace page up to date, join Facebook, figure out how to use Twitter, and see if my mother’s book club will have me back.

      (Hereo? WTF)

      Tila Tequila Signs Book Deal With Scribner? Are You Kidding Me?

      TilaAt first I thought Scribner had signed a deal with Tila Tequila to have her actually read a book, but no, they have signed a deal to publish a book she wrote or allegedly wrote titled Hooking Up with Tila Tequila. In case you don’t know who Tila Tequila is, here’s a short video of her from youtube. In it, you’ll actually hear her say, “I have to get my nails did.”

      If you haven’t gouged out your own eyes by now, you can read the article about this deal here: Publishers Weekly – Scribner Signs Internet Celeb Tila Tequila

      My favorite quote from the article:“Hooking Up with Tila Tequila is the book her fans have been waiting for” Really? Her fans have been waiting for a book? Really?

      And yes! I am bitter!

      Note: All will be forgiven if Scribner offers me a contract. I can be bought.