Saturday, October 11, 2008

Choosing A Publishing Company

It all depends upon the motives behind your decision to publish with a Print-on-Demand (POD) company. If you are planning a memoir that is directed at family and friends, a selective circulation, your criteria would be different than someone who plans to sell thousands of his/her books and make a profit, and/or getting noticed.

What do I mean by getting noticed? If you don’t have a way “in” (a friend in the book business) to the conventional route, then you can make a splash by intensively marketing your book and hopefully be noticed by a publisher or agency, who see market-tested results.

Christopher Paolini (aged 16 or 17 then) and his parents took six months out to travel the country and market his self-published Eragon, the first of a tremendously successful trilogy. I understand that The Kite Runner only received an interest a year after it was launched when the book was picked up by a number of book clubs. There are numerous other examples. Either your sales make a splash (one expert judged this at 5,000 copies sold in the first year), or you show through your marketing efforts that you have media value (i.e. – marketing potential).

If your goal is to get noticed, then I believe the list price of the book is critical. Xlibris published my first novel, A Gardener’s Tale, and they did a great job in producing a physically attractive book – no complaints. My downfall, I believe, was that the list price for the paperback novel on amazon.com is $24. Would you pay that price for an unknown author (however good)? While I eagerly await each new John Grisham book, I would not pay that amount for his latest paperback.

My research, based on this criteria, narrowed it down to two companies: iUniverse and Booksurge.

I was particularly impressed with the former: their promotions, a book about how to go through the entire process including book promotion, and a number of awards and benefits that you can strive for. This includes the important incentive of having your book on the shelves of your local Barnes & Nobles.

Booksurge also has a number of benefits. They allow the author to set the price of the book (the lower list price, the smaller the royalty per book) and they have a solid marketing support including an ongoing webinar series with marketing experts which are all complimentary to their authors. Booksurge’s lowest list price for Oilspill dotcom is $13-$14 – Oilspill dotcom is just under 60,000 words – and this, as I mentioned, is very important to me.

But if I am honest, what swayed me was the decision by Amazon.com to only list POD books published with their own subsidiaries. I had almost signed with iUniverse, when I had dinner with the author, D. Patrick Miller (My Journey Through the Plant World) and heard of this controversial decision.

Amazon.com owns Booksurge, and I cannot see any chance for success of a POD book without the ability to sell on the biggest virtual bookstore. Whenever I hear about a book that might interest me, I go to Amazon.com and check out the reviews and the price.

So, I made my choice, and I will share with you in the coming months, the ups and downs of working with Booksurge. But for now, the next stage was finding a professional editor to help lock down the manuscript…and that will be the subject of my next blog entry.

Until then – Good Writing,

Alon

2 comments:

AL said...

Interesting article, Alon. I will look forward to reading subsequent stories in your journey toward publication. AL Levenson

Simcha Daniel Burstyn said...

Fetching photo, Alon. Good luck. I don't hold with POD for prose, btw. I think that the depth of editing at the commercial presses is incomparable, and you don't get it with POD. But if that's the way to get your book out, and you have the wherewithal, go for it.

And, of course, there is the old carbon footprint...