Writers, Publishers and DIY Publishing

It is a well known fact that there are far more writers — good, bad and indifferent — than traditional publishers can even contemplate selecting from by glancing at their submissions. So most publishers work through agents and rely on them to produce the writers suitable for their particular list of titles. So agents filter through the thousands of submissions they get inundated with, that is IF they are accepting submissions from unknown authors. If they are, then it is likely only one or two new writers will be taken on in a year. Thousands of manuscripts but which one or two will be chosen? It stands to reason that many excellent authors are turned down year on year. A few writers make it through the self-publishing route. It takes money, hard work, dedication, good promotional and marketing skills and maybe friends in the right places to get anywhere. If books are sold in the right numbers a known publisher may well take over the title. It seems to me that the chances of ‘making it’ are getting more and more remote.
Frankly, most bookshops don’t ‘want to know.’ If the book has a lot of appeal and is already being ‘asked for’ then the book might do well, at least locally. (As did my ‘When Phones Were Immobile and Lived in Red Boxes’ — out of a 750 run, 600 were sold locally.) But national booksellers go through the national office. Our local W.H.Smith’s manager was interested in stocking two of my books but the head office did not even reply to the letter I was asked to send in!
Okay, our book will appear on Amazon and a dozen other bookstores may also advertise it on their website — yes, along with thousands of others! They don’t have to stock or buy the book to advertise it.
I know of authors who travel all over the country trying to flog books one way or another, some with a modicum of success. Is it worth it? Well, you have to believe in your book, and yourself, to pay in time and money for what is involved. With cheap books for sale everywhere, it is hard to compete. How many unknown author books do YOU buy, and how much would YOU pay for them?
When we take the self-publishing route it is as well to have all this in mind. If services are being paid for, you may not get a penny back and that could run into thousands. If you are doing your own publishing (complete with ISBN and bar code) you can get books printed in smallish numbers and, if your book does not sell, all you will end up with is a box of books to give to friends or offer to libraries. At least your ‘baby’ has been born and smiling for all to see!
If I recall correctly, Michael Allen of Grumpy Old Bookman fame, once wrote that the average sales for a self published POD book were 80 copies. He also has a great deal of advice to give about the whole subject and of DIY publishing through LULU in particular.
Before starting on your publishing project it might help if you first visited:
http://grumpyoldbookman.blogspot.com/2007/01/lucius-and-lulu-part-2.html

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