Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

If It Looks Like a Book

I received an email the other day that proclaimed:

We are very happy to inform you that your book is now officially published and will be uploaded to our web site by Friday afternoon. As a published author, you now have something in common with Dickens, Woolf, Kipling, Cummings, and Lawrence.

This means your book has been added to our web database and will be available for sale on our website within the next 24-48 hours. From this point forward, we are able to take orders from anyone who contacts us to order a book.

It was signed by the "In-House Representative" for the company I used. Yeah, I should be thrilled to be in the "company" of such a diverse bunch of authors as Dickens, Woolf, Kipling, Cummings, and Lawrence. But I’m not in their "company." I’m not in their league. They’re major league and I’m sandlot.

My book (More Peevish Advice) is vanity published. That means it won’t be on the shelf of your neighborhood Barnes & Noble, Borders, or Books-A-Million. It irritates me a bit to know that the “in-house representative” wants me to think I really accomplished something great.

My “accomplishment” was putting together five years of my “Peevish Advice” columns, formatting the manuscript to the specifications of a print-on-demand company, and sending a set-up fee to the company. In the game of publishing, I paid to play.

My book won’t have a print run. The company won’t print a copy until it is ordered and paid for. It won't be widely available—unless you count Amazon and a few other online sellers. Even then, it'll take a couple of months for Amazon to list it.

Print-on-demand publishing is not the best way for most authors to get books in print. However, it works for small niche markets (mine is) that wouldn’t interest a commercial publisher (mine won’t). Any author contemplating POD should already have a readership in place (I do—my column is popular in my tiny part of Virginia) and somewhere to sell the book (no bookstore in my county, but several gift shops will carry my book). A POD author shouldn’t have dreams of the book leading to great things (I don’t). If you want to win at the POD game, you have to think small and local; you have to know the limits.

What do I actually have in common with Dickens, Woolf, Kipling, Cummings, & Lawrence? They didn't write redneck humor; I do. They're dead; last I checked, I wasn't. Their work sold into the hundreds of thousands or millions; mine will maybe sell 500 copies if I'm lucky and really promote in my area. They didn't use computers to write; I do. Their books weren't print-on-demand; mine is. Their books are shelved in major bookstores; mine won't be. They played a different game with different rules in a different arena.

But I’ll have fun promoting More Peevish Advice for a few weeks, and I’ll soon make back my investment. (If I didn’t, I wouldn’t play.) Then the season will be over, and—when a Cup of Comfort for Writers comes out—I’ll move up to the next league.

Where I don’t have to pay to play.



Blogger House on the Glade Hill said...

Make it 500 and 1. I will be first in line to buy a copy on July 11th. I am proud to know you and a big fan!

8:22 PM  

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