Monday, February 15, 2010

Publishing, POD, self-publishing and the Big Boys

One learns slowly or thinks one learns.
Let me go out on a limb here and state some ideas, things I think I have learned since first using Lulu to publish three books.
The first book I published with Lulu was a vampire book called "The Dancing Valkyrie." The second book was an outdoor guide book to trails called "Adirondack Hikes in Hamilton County." The third book was a continuation of the first vampire book and is called "The Vampire Valkyrie."
During this time, in addition to being the one and only reporter for a local weekly, "The Hamilton County Express, I have done book reviews for Allbooks Review and have hosted an almost weekly BlogTalkRadio show I call "The Adirondack Book House."
As a result of doing book reviews and talking with close to 100 authors on my cyber radio show, I feel safe in saying there are many good books out there by people who have used POD publishers and small presses. From my own publishing experience and from what I have learned from other, I think it is also safe to say the chances of making a living are very small when using POD and small press publishers and the reason is simple: marketing.
Marketing costs money and when you go the POD or small press route, the marketing time and expense is mostly if not totally the responsibility of the author. This creates two problems. One, marketing takes time away from working on the next book. Two, the cost of marketing often exceeds the profit made from the books that might be sold from the marketing effort.
Surprise, surprise - there seems to be almost as many people trying to make money by offering marketing services to POD and small press authors as there are POD and small press authors. I exaggerate but you get my point.
For all the above reasons and in spite of the fact that some POD and small press authors do find economic success, the traditional big house publishers and their authors will continue to dominate. It's all about money and CONTACTS.
For all the above reasons and the simple fact I do have a long standing personal friend who is a literary agent and is the owner of a well respected agency in New York, I have decided, based upon her encouragement, to copy and paste my first two vampire books into one document and copy and paste what I have written to date on my third vampire book into one document (which I have done) and am now in the process of editing all I have written to date, then working to the conclusion of the three books into one book.
This is a daunting task because what I now have is over 220,000 words and 996 double space pages to edit and add to. Agents and traditional publishers still want double space print on one side submissions for review.
Now to look at the money.
Let's say for the sake of argument, I manage to edit and finish the three books into one book with 1,000 double spaced pages. Let's say my agent friend finds a traditional publisher who accepts the book and agrees to publish with a $5,000 advance on royalties. This same agent would then try to sell publishing rights in other countries and would also try to sell movie rights. You never know but they do try. Agents do try because they make their money by taking a percentage of what they earn for you. Let's say for argument sake she takes 10%, meaning I get $4,500 and she gets $500.
But let's say she isn't successful and I then look to Lulu. The 1,000 double space becomes 500 pages. Using Lulu formula, if I take a $2 royalty for every book sold by Amazon or whoever, my book would list at $28. For me to make $4,500 using Lulu, I would need to sell 2,250 books through Amazon or whoever. I would be happy, as I am sure you would be too, but I think the odds are against it. And remember, this dreamed of $4,500 profit is gross before deducting whatever I might decide to spend on marketing! And remember, I haven't given a money value to time spent marketing!
So as things now stand, I am going forward with the attempt to have my agent friend find a publisher who will publish and pay an advance. Of course, I do hope/dream she will not only find a publisher but negotiate a larger advance. If that doesn't happen, there still is Lulu but I do not see Lulu as the road to quiting my reporter job and turning all my time and effort to my next novel.

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