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View Full Version : The long-term effect of POD self-publishing service providers



jamiehall
12-07-2006, 07:14 AM
After reading this article (http://www.niggerati.com/2006/10/lesson-3-how-self-publishing-is.html), I'm wondering what the long-term effects of all this will be.

Is a whole generation of writers going to have many people with careers derailed, delayed or blighted by the too-easy availability of self-publishing options? Is promotional burnout going to cause many promising writers to give up early in their careers or spend so much time trying to promote that they don't live up to their potential as writers?

Will the entire publishing industry label the newest generation of writers with particular stereotypes and anticipated behaviors because of the influence of POD self-publishing? Will there be a "POD generation" with recognizable traits?

Also, what about other long-term trends and effects, both positive and negative? Obviously, POD self-publishing is so common that we may eventually face a world in which most commercially successful writers have a POD self-published book somewhere in their pasts. How will this affect the writing world? In the case of authors who reach celebrity level, will these be extremely rare collector's items?

Please add any other long-term effects you can think of too.

blackbird
12-07-2006, 09:33 AM
First, I have to make myself get past the fact that, with an admittedly horrible novel, he had the thing bound at Kinko's, sent to a New York agent (who did not wish to offer representation, but only to give advice) and yet he gets invited to New York to have lunch with this agent??? Most agents don't even do this for the clients they offer to represent, let alone for a writer who couldn't sustain an entire novel nor even be bothered with a professional presentation. Boy, that "connection" he had must've been a good one!

All that aside, he makes some valid points. What with the increasing ease of POD publishing, more and more authors will waste time and money publishing and promoting their "crappy" novels instead of dedicating themselves to learning the craft and skill to write a really good, publishable novel worthy of a major (or even small) publisher. To his credit, it sounds like he had the ability to learn from his mistakes. POD publishing, unfortunately, is a quick fix alternative that doesn't offer any opportunity for such learning or improvement. I'm not knocking those who have turned to POD publishing, but it does seem too often that writers are tempted to turn to it in a desperate attempt to sell an unpublishable book, rather than spending their time (more productively, perhaps) writing a new book.

GhostAuthor
12-07-2006, 05:32 PM
I have to say one thing - POD is NOT always self- publishing. Self publishing is when the author is the publisher.

Many smaller presses are using POD. Print on demand is a technology for printing books in small quantites.

Sorry, I get frustrated seeing that people lump POD with self- publishing.
So - which are you asking about the long term effects of then - POD or self publishing?

blackbird
12-07-2006, 06:31 PM
I have to say one thing - POD is NOT always self- publishing. Self publishing is when the author is the publisher.

Many smaller presses are using POD. Print on demand is a technology for printing books in small quantites.

Sorry, I get frustrated seeing that people lump POD with self- publishing.
So - which are you asking about the long term effects of then - POD or self publishing?

I think the confusion comes about simply because so many POD publishers today ARE self-publishers, and these are the ones people generally tend to identify with the technology. I did fail to make that distinction in my previous post, for which I apologize.

jamiehall
12-07-2006, 07:56 PM
Sorry, I get frustrated seeing that people lump POD with self- publishing.
So - which are you asking about the long term effects of then - POD or self publishing?

I'm mainly asking about the long-term effects of POD self-publishing service providers, but I have no objection to discussing the long-term effects of POD technology itself, in both the realms of traditional publishers and conventional self-employed self-publishers. Just make sure you use the distinction yourself so we know exactly what you're attributing expected your predicted long-term effects to.

veinglory
12-07-2006, 08:06 PM
I imagine that, just like the advent of the printing press, photocopier and internet, it will give people more options and allow more people to have their work reproduced and read in some form.

The number of people who opt to submit to major publishers will always be hundred of time larger than the slots available so that side of the business just isn't going to change much. I don't think having a small press to hobby teir will destroy publishing--or even effect it much.

FergieC
12-07-2006, 08:30 PM
I have no objection to discussing the long-term effects of POD technology itself

I'm very positive about the effects it might have longer term. At the moment, it's not cost effective for publishers to take on new writers unless they can print huge runs, and discount them. They can't really take a punt on a many new writers by doing a lot of small runs to see how they sell. So they prefer the "sure fire" bestseller, the celebrity book etc mixed in with the ocassional new writer who they can promote like mad.

A new printing method that makes it cost effective to start out with a small print run has to be good news. The problem will still be in the marketing, getting shops to stock them and the buying public to notice them if you don't have the lazy 3 for 2 massive discount method. But anything that can shake that lazy attitude a bit and bring more new writing out has to be good - for readers as well as aspiring writers.

If they can try out a larger number of books and see what flies - brilliant. Like the music industry, I think it'll take a few independents having some success to start changing the way the industry works, but I think it will longer term, and for the better, hopefully.

James D. Macdonald
12-07-2006, 08:31 PM
Digital printing is a technology.

Print on Demand is a business model.

GhostAuthor
12-07-2006, 10:03 PM
I'm very positive about the effects it might have longer term. At the moment, it's not cost effective for publishers to take on new writers unless they can print huge runs, and discount them. They can't really take a punt on a many new writers by doing a lot of small runs to see how they sell. So they prefer the "sure fire" bestseller, the celebrity book etc mixed in with the ocassional new writer who they can promote like mad.

A new printing method that makes it cost effective to start out with a small print run has to be good news. The problem will still be in the marketing, getting shops to stock them and the buying public to notice them if you don't have the lazy 3 for 2 massive discount method. But anything that can shake that lazy attitude a bit and bring more new writing out has to be good - for readers as well as aspiring writers.

If they can try out a larger number of books and see what flies - brilliant. Like the music industry, I think it'll take a few independents having some success to start changing the way the industry works, but I think it will longer term, and for the better, hopefully.

I agree with you fully. I know the mass market books have a very limited shelf life and then what ever doesn't sell - their covers are torn off and sent back - Imagine all that wasted paper and money?
I think in the future we are going to see smaller runs from larger houses and more movement toward POD. There are quite a few small to midsized publishers using POD and seeing some success.

And I think the publishing industry has a lot to learn from the music industry.

Lauri B
12-07-2006, 10:09 PM
But what kind of print runs are you talking about? Offset runs are cost-effective after even a couple of thousand copies, which is a small print run by any regular standard. I don't think you necessarily understand how the publishing industry works, Fergie. Publishers don't run off massive print runs of their books and then discount them; they sell their books to bookstores at a wholesale price, and the bookstore can do with them whatever they want. POD is not the least bit cost effective if you are printing more than a couple of hundred books; and no publisher is going to make money with that kind of business model.

jamiehall
12-08-2006, 04:31 AM
But what kind of print runs are you talking about? Offset runs are cost-effective after even a couple of thousand copies, which is a small print run by any regular standard. I don't think you necessarily understand how the publishing industry works, Fergie. Publishers don't run off massive print runs of their books and then discount them; they sell their books to bookstores at a wholesale price, and the bookstore can do with them whatever they want. POD is not the least bit cost effective if you are printing more than a couple of hundred books; and no publisher is going to make money with that kind of business model.

I was under the impression (but I may be wrong) that Fergie was talking about some point in the future when POD becomes less expensive (all technologies become less expensive with the passage of enough time) and the price gap between an offset print run and a POD print run would be much less.

It's quite obvious to me that, at the present costs, very few people other than the vanity outfits can make much money by printing all their books POD. Thus, the widespread conception that POD = vanity, which is based more on truth than falsehood, even though it is technically untrue.

However, if digital printing could be done at a cheap enough price, it may encourage small presses to take more risks on authors who were almost good enough to be accepted.

But this isn't really occurring yet, and it's seemingly a long way off. So we're talking about LONG term effects.

However, the things that are happening right now with POD will have long term effects of their own. I'm curious to know what people think those effects might be.

veinglory
12-08-2006, 04:42 AM
People are making money off POD now, or at least I assume the small presses using it right now aren't all going into debt or back by secret millionaire donors.

army_grunt13
12-08-2006, 05:18 AM
Also, what about other long-term trends and effects, both positive and negative? Obviously, POD self-publishing is so common that we may eventually face a world in which most commercially successful writers have a POD self-published book somewhere in their pasts. How will this affect the writing world? In the case of authors who reach celebrity level, will these be extremely rare collector's items?

Please add any other long-term effects you can think of too. I hope you're right, given that I did supported self-publishing! I will say that I hate being made to feel like it's a stigma, or that your book was "unpublishable." Read my book and judge it on content, not on how I got it in print. And just to show that I'm not just trying to market my own books, I'll gladly send a pdf version of my book to anyone who's interested.

Sorry, but I just couldn't get an agent to bite, so I did what I had to do. Maybe I'm totally off-base, but logically I would think that POD / digital printing (yes, I know they are two separate things) would be the way to go down the road, albiet when the technology becomes cheaper. It just seems like it would save on warehousing or having to recycle unsold books. It almost seems like everytime there's a big publishing run of a certain book, even from big names, it's almost a crap shoot, ie print off enough copies for everyone who wants one, but not too many that will remain unsold. But of course maybe I just need to take a few less hits off the bong. . .

Personally, I'm not one of those who went with the infamous PA with dreams of stardom. I'm actually very pragmatic about my chances. I went through iUniverse, who by the way I think did a stellar job producing the actual book, but I have no allusions. I know that my chances of writer stardom are remote, though I do think that I may be on to something, given that historical novels about the Roman Legions is a surprisingly untapped market. This is odd to me, given the huge success of the movie Gladiator. One would think that there would be more Gladiator clones out there, but there are not. Anyway, I'm getting off topic. . .

I admit that marketing on a national scale may be insurmountable if you do POD self-publishing. I disagree somewhat with the concept that if you have to do your own marketing you're automatically shooting yourself in the foot when it comes to writing subsequent novels. Granted, my approach may be different, given that I do not make my livelihood by writing (more's the pity!). It's more of a hobby for me.

One thing I do like about iUniverse is that your contracts are nonexclusive. Hence I can still pursue other options, while at the same time I've still got a book in print that people can buy (and oddly enough some people actually are). Heck, I'd be stoked if my first edition (POD) of my books became collectors items! Hey, one can always dream, just remind me not to quit my day job in the meantime (I kind of like being able to make my mortgage payments). :D

jamiehall
12-08-2006, 06:36 AM
People are making money off POD now, or at least I assume the small presses using it right now aren't all going into debt or back by secret millionaire donors.

Only a few of the small presses that use POD exclusively are making much money at it (companies that use the author mill (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Author_mill) business model are most likely to benefit from using POD exclusively). Most books of even modest success are more profitable if you start out with offset printing, and only switch to POD after demand drops to a low rate. Or, you do it the other way around: test the water with a POD, and switch to offset printing if there is even a modest demand.

Or, if you do print only with POD for the lifetime of the book, you limit yourself to (almost always nonfiction) books with a true micro-niche and market them only to your selected audience, selling directly rather than going through bookstores.

veinglory
12-08-2006, 06:41 AM
I believe Samhain prints fully POD, as one example, and found 8 of their titles within two shelves at my small town Borders. I'm not saying these books will do as well as offset with double the cover price but I think there are more than a few profitable small presses currently using a fully POD printing process.

jamiehall
12-08-2006, 06:51 AM
I believe Samhain prints fully POD, as one example, and found 8 of their titles within two shelves at my small town Borders. I'm not saying these books will do as well as offset with double the cover price but I think there are more than a few profitable small presses currently using a fully POD printing process.

There's a difference between barely profitable and highly profitable. I'm under the impression that (aside from conventional self-publishers) there are only about four legitimate small presses who exclusively use POD. Can anyone cite some hard numbers to confirm or deny this impression?

veinglory
12-08-2006, 07:00 AM
If a publisher has that many title in one small town after being open less than a year a would bet they are more than 'barely' profitable. I think you may be setting up a straw man. POD presses tend to be smaller because it is often an process of evolution from e, to POD, to offset. So you can say outfits like Ellora's Cave aren't POD... any more. But without POD they might not even exist let alone be as extremely profitable as they are.

Linda Adams
12-08-2006, 03:44 PM
I was saying the same thing the article says when POD first became popular. I heard writers say things like, "Well, it's my only chance to get published" and "How dare you dash my hopes?" The problem is that most people can't sit down and write a publishable book the first time out--and most are blind as to how good or bad it is. Sometimes it takes writing many, many unpublishable books before the writer is able to figure out what he needs to do to be publishable. Going a self-publishing route simply to be "published" creates a false sense of success, and they don't stop to take the time to learn the skills they need. Publishing was NEVER meant to be easy or to be owed; it's meant to be earned.

triceretops
12-08-2006, 05:06 PM
I'll be damn happy when they design a digital printing machine that can put out MM paperback dimensions, so the cost can come down to seven or eight bucks a copy, and be competitive with that market niche. I don't see that happening in the near future. I think POD books are still too expensive for the reader.

POD is carrying a terrible stigma with it--No advance, distribution, questionable returns, and high, to very high prices. Some small presses have taken advantage of the technology and are functioning like major houses and have seen some success, but it is such a tough road.

Tri

James D. Macdonald
12-09-2006, 07:51 PM
Please don't confuse POD (a business model) with digital printing (a technology).

ResearchGuy
12-10-2006, 12:41 AM
I'll be damn happy when they design a digital printing machine that can put out MM paperback dimensions, so the cost can come down to seven or eight bucks a copy, and be competitive with that market niche. I don't see that happening in the near future....
Lulu can print that size, but the price is the same as for other page sizes.

Mass market paperbacks are (relatively) cheap on account of that "mass" part. That and cheaper paper and (presumably) other printing economies that a regular printing option can attain, as well as efficient distribution.

Lulu's sizes:



Available Sizes

6" x 9" - Novel
8.5" x 11" - U.S. Letter
7.5" x 7.5" - Square
6.625" x 10.25" - Comic Book
9" x 7" - Landscape
6.14" x 9.21" - Royal
7.44" x 9.68" - Crown Quarto
8.27" x 11.69" - A4
4.25" x 6.875" - Pocket size

--Ken

ResearchGuy
12-10-2006, 01:10 AM
...The problem is that most people can't sit down and write a publishable book...
Maybe so, but "readable" and "[commercially] publishable" are not entirely the same thing. For that matter, "worthwhile" and "publishable" are not entirely the same thing.

A Confederacy of Dunces, one of the greatest comic novels ever written, was repeatedly rejected. The author committed suicide. Eventually, his mother got Walker Percy to read the manuscript, and he had the influence to get it published. Then it won a Pulitzer Prize. Rather late for John Kennedy Toole, alas. It was and is a great book -- but just slightly ahead of its time, and not in the commercial mold of the time.

Not every good book is suited to commercial publishing, and not every commercially published book is good.

My attitude is soured by dealings with an agent who deemed a memoir with which I am very familiar to be "not saleable," notwithstanding rave comments by readers in manuscript (men and women from 20s to 50s) and high praise from influential published authors/scholars. The agent would have had the manuscript rewritten into a commercial form (or what the agent felt was commercially suitable), thus turning it into exactly what the author did not intend to write.

It is now on its way to publication by a small commercial publisher, no thanks to the agent, who reluctantly and ungraciously allowed cancellation of the representation agreement. The author wrote a very fine manuscript, but did not write effective query letters, which probably accounted for previous rejection by an assortment of commercial publishers.

Sure, lots of folks write lousy books and self-publish or subsidy-publish them. I have seen my share, one so bad as to curdle milk and others sufficient to ignite painful laughter. But that is not the whole story.

--Ken

James D. Macdonald
12-10-2006, 05:55 AM
In the case of the memoir, sounds like the wrong agent for that author.

I'm always made uncomfortable by the Confederacy of Dunces example. John Kennedy Toole made a lot of poor life-decisions while he was alive (committing suicide being only one of them). Is there any reason to think that his submission strategy was reasonable?

ResearchGuy
12-10-2006, 06:44 AM
In the case of the memoir, sounds like the wrong agent for that author.
To say the least.


I'm always made uncomfortable by the Confederacy of Dunces example. John Kennedy Toole made a lot of poor life-decisions while he was alive (committing suicide being only one of them). Is there any reason to think that his submission strategy was reasonable?
With all due respect, that is a rhetorical trick called "blaming the victim."

That aside, the argument proves my point. The manuscript was fine -- more than fine, brilliant, of Pulitzer Prize quality -- but the "submission strategy" was wrong.

I am hopeful that I have helped save Dandelion Through the Crack from that fate. At least I saved it from the odious PublishAmerica through a timely conversation with the author. The author wrote memoir described as "magnificent" and "exquisite" by a foremost scholar, a man (and a much-published writer himself) well attuned to the significance of Dandelion -- but the author was handicapped by ineffective query letters. Nice letters. Not effective query letters, and certainly not the full-featured and carefully crafted book proposal that was needed.

BTW, I am currently working with another manuscript -- a fine, valuable memoir, but not suited to large commercial publication (too long and too far off the radar screen for current interests; i.e., it is not set in Iraq). It might yet find a suitable small publisher (I might have made a lucky connection), and when it does, it will have a receptive audience, albeit largely niche and largely concentrated in a few regions. If time and energy ever permit, a sharply revised version might find a home in a large commerial publisher. I am loathe to advise the author to make the best the enemy of the good, and perhaps to spend the rest of his life in a futile effort to revise in hopes of catching the eye of Procrustes Publishing, Inc. A smaller scale effort with the current version (with appropriate copy editing, which is in progress) will meet his goals and serve an appreciative audience.

--Ken

jamiehall
12-10-2006, 08:52 AM
I'm always made uncomfortable by the Confederacy of Dunces example. John Kennedy Toole made a lot of poor life-decisions while he was alive (committing suicide being only one of them). Is there any reason to think that his submission strategy was reasonable?

If I'm not mistaken, I've read that he only submitted handwritten manuscripts -a sure recipe for getting it thrown out every single time without a glance.

James D. Macdonald
12-10-2006, 08:58 AM
With all due respect, that is a rhetorical trick called "blaming the victim."

Victims are not always blameless.

jamiehall
12-10-2006, 09:01 AM
Please don't confuse POD (a business model) with digital printing (a technology).

I think most people here realize that the terms technically refer to different things, but the reality of the situation is that nobody is going to do 1-copy print runs for offset books, nor are they going to use digital printing for a print run of 5,000 copies.

The real problem is when POD is assumed to be synonymous with self-publishing.

Which I why I directed my initial questions toward the issue of self-publishing POD service providers (which is what the article I was referencing discussed). However, I also stated that I'm not going to be the thread police and try to limit people to speculation about just the long-term effects of that, if they also want to talk about the anticipated long-term effects of related subjects, such as POD and digital printing in general.

James D. Macdonald
12-10-2006, 09:03 AM
A smaller scale effort with the current version (with appropriate copy editing, which is in progress) will meet his goals and serve an appreciative audience.

Small, niche, and regional publishers all have their places.

James D. Macdonald
12-10-2006, 09:13 AM
The real problem is when POD is assumed to be synonymous with self-publishing.


Digital printing makes very-short-run printing sorta economically feasible.


But POD is the business model wherein a copy is only made after an order is received. You could (if the order was for, say, 5,000 copies) fire up an offset press to do that. You could do POD with linoleum block prints. There's nothing that says "digitial printing" in POD.

Self-publishing is a business model in which the publisher and the writer are the same person. They can be, but don't need to be, POD. They can, but don't need to, use digital printing. Both printing on demand and self-publication predate digitial printing by centuries.

Take an example -- that guy with the linoleum blocks. Say he prints up a hundred Christmas cards with his linoleum block and takes them down to a craft fair where he has a table. He sells 'em. He's self-published. Go, him.

Suppose that same guy takes a bunch of card stock, his ink and roller, and his linoleum block to that same craft fair. Every time someone comes up and buys one, he prints a card right there. He's self-published. He's also printing on demand (POD).

ResearchGuy
12-11-2006, 03:22 AM
If I'm not mistaken, I've read that he only submitted handwritten manuscripts -a sure recipe for getting it thrown out every single time without a glance.
Unlikely, and http://www.enotalone.com/article/6121.html clearly indicates to the contrary.

This is extracted from the pertinent Wikipedia entry (the same content is found elsewhere on the Web, too):


Toole sent the manuscript of his novel to Simon and Schuster. Although there was initial excitement about the book, the publisher eventually rejected it, commenting that the book "isn't really about anything."

Obviously they read it. In any event, the point is not Toole's personal life or psychological problems, or even any perceived imperfection in his manuscript submission. Rather, the point is that this is the clearest conceivable example of a certifiably brilliant novel being rejected by commercial publishing, in a process that in this case drove the author to despair (among other factors in a troubled life). That leads to the question of how many merely good novels and nonfiction manuscripts regularly receive rejection, perhaps eventually being discarded with the author's effects after death, if not discarded earlier as a lost cause. It is preposterous to suggest it does not happen.

BTW, according to at least one source (a brief piece attributed to novelist and professor Duff Brenna), the manuscript was rejected repeatedly for years as Toole's mother submitted it to publishers before finally getting it into the hands of Walker Percy. HE had the clout and connections to get it into print, and the rest is history.

But there is no persuading those who take as an article of faith that all good manuscripts find a home in commercial publishing and that commercial publishers (the handful of behemoths, especially) publish nothing but good books and are the only publishers of good books. That is like believing that McDonald's, Taco Bell, Burger King, Round Table, and KFC have a monopoly on good food and that all good food is found at (and only at) those esteemed establishments. Right.

--Ken

ResearchGuy
12-11-2006, 03:36 AM
Victims are not always blameless.
Ah. The rhetorical trick by which is rationalized blaming of the victim.

I see.

--Ken

jamiehall
12-11-2006, 03:57 AM
But there is no persuading those who take as an article of faith that all good manuscripts find a home in commercial publishing and that commercial publishers (the handful of behemoths, especially) publish nothing but good books and are the only publishers of good books. That is like believing that McDonald's, Taco Bell, Burger King, Round Table, and KFC have a monopoly on good food and that all good food is found at (and only at) those esteemed establishments. Right.

I think that most people who seem to be promoting that view do not actually think like that. The thought is not "all good manuscripts find a home in commercial publishing" but rather that "all good books have a better chance of finding a home in commercial publishing than finding even a tiny measure of success elsewhere, and that most good manuscripts, if submitted with the right query letters and according to the right formulas for a long enough period of time, will eventually beat the odds and find a home in commercial publishing."

And instead of "commercial publishers publish nothing but good books and are the only publishers of good books" the thought is "commercial publishers publish a wide variety of books, of which a great number have enough appeal to attract a reasonably-sized pool of readers, regardless of whether they are very good or not, but self-publishing and vanity publishing have consistently produced a great number of books that have a very low reader appeal, along with a small percentage of quality books that were usually forgotten and ignored, but of which some eventually achieved greatness."

Anyone can point to a handful of great success stories with self-publishing, just as anyone can find horror stories about authors who were terribly abused by commercial publishers. Both types of stories are meaningless unless they can be placed in the context of the publishing industry as a whole and in the context of an untried newcomer's chances in each arena.

In addition, it is easy to find stories about masterpieces of literature that were rejected many times. These stories do not always mean what they seem to mean at first glance: that the commercial publishing industry is full of dolt-headed idiots who can't recognize talent. Obviously, they can recognize talent often enough to make a great deal of money. Nor can they afford to ignore for long any type of product that readers demand. If they couldn't recognize talent very well and did ignore reader tastes, then the commercial publishing industry would soon be toppled by self-publishing.

In addition, it should be remembered that many of these great masterpieces went through a substantial number of rewrites. It may be that a masterpiece that was rejected 20 times was almost unpublishable the first 15 times it was sent out, and only developed greatness near the end.

jamiehall
12-11-2006, 08:11 PM
Take an example -- that guy with the linoleum blocks. Say he prints up a hundred Christmas cards with his linoleum block and takes them down to a craft fair where he has a table. He sells 'em. He's self-published. Go, him.

Suppose that same guy takes a bunch of card stock, his ink and roller, and his linoleum block to that same craft fair. Every time someone comes up and buys one, he prints a card right there. He's self-published. He's also printing on demand (POD).

True, but in the world of books, nobody uses offset printing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offset_printing) for POD.

If you want to go outside the world of books, POD is far more plentiful and operates according to different principles. POD screen printing one t-shirt at a time is something I've seen quite a bit, but it has no bearing on POD as it operates in the book industry.

Lauri B
12-11-2006, 09:52 PM
To say the least.


With all due respect, that is a rhetorical trick called "blaming the victim."

That aside, the argument proves my point. The manuscript was fine -- more than fine, brilliant, of Pulitzer Prize quality -- but the "submission strategy" was wrong.

I am hopeful that I have helped save Dandelion Through the Crack from that fate. At least I saved it from the odious PublishAmerica through a timely conversation with the author. The author wrote memoir described as "magnificent" and "exquisite" by a foremost scholar, a man (and a much-published writer himself) well attuned to the significance of Dandelion -- but the author was handicapped by ineffective query letters. Nice letters. Not effective query letters, and certainly not the full-featured and carefully crafted book proposal that was needed.

BTW, I am currently working with another manuscript -- a fine, valuable memoir, but not suited to large commercial publication (too long and too far off the radar screen for current interests; i.e., it is not set in Iraq). It might yet find a suitable small publisher (I might have made a lucky connection), and when it does, it will have a receptive audience, albeit largely niche and largely concentrated in a few regions. If time and energy ever permit, a sharply revised version might find a home in a large commerial publisher. I am loathe to advise the author to make the best the enemy of the good, and perhaps to spend the rest of his life in a futile effort to revise in hopes of catching the eye of Procrustes Publishing, Inc. A smaller scale effort with the current version (with appropriate copy editing, which is in progress) will meet his goals and serve an appreciative audience.

--Ken
Ken, I usually enjoy your posts but you've lost me here. What's your point? And why is this at all relevant to the conversation we were having about POD? I am a small publisher; I do not use digital printing. I don't need to, because every book I take on I know I can sell more than the minimum number needed to do offset. I'm not sure what your jabs at Jim about John Kennedy O'Toole's very publicized tragic decisions or your client who has a great memoir have to do with this discussion at all.

ResearchGuy
12-12-2006, 12:11 AM
Ken, I usually enjoy your posts but you've lost me here. What's your point? And why is this at all relevant to the conversation we were having about POD? ...
Not all conversations are linear.

FWIW, the "other manuscript" I mentioned might find a home with a small publisher who uses POD -- somewhat specialized selection of books (focus on foreign viewpoints in English), limited (but national if not international) audience, so apparently POD works there. As for Dandelion -- for a time, I had an eye on the necessity of using a POD subsidy publisher. Happily, that appears to be unnecessary. I had not laid out those connections to POD in that post.

BTW, it is John Kennedy Toole, not "O'Toole."

My apologies if I am wandering too far afield.

--Ken

veinglory
12-12-2006, 12:13 AM
But it helps.

Lauri B
12-12-2006, 01:20 AM
sorry I misquoted Toole's name. Not all discussions are linear, but I think I need GPS for this one. Is the Dandelions your manuscript or someone else's? Why are you agented manuscripts to POD publishers? What's in it for you?

ResearchGuy
12-12-2006, 01:36 AM
... if submitted with the right query letters and according to the right formulas for a long enough period of time...
One would like to think so, I suppose. But after a long enough period of time, one is dead.

[Note: I deleted the other 324 words that I had written for this post. You are welcome.]

--Ken

ResearchGuy
12-12-2006, 01:51 AM
sorry I misquoted Toole's name. Not all discussions are linear, but I think I need GPS for this one. Is the Dandelions your manuscript or someone else's? Why are you agented manuscripts to POD publishers? What's in it for you?
Read more about Dandelion HERE (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=28410) (including an abbreviated description of the unfortunate encounter with an agent).

As for what is in it for me: financially, nothing. In fact I have spent some of my own money having copies of the manuscript printed and bound to share with early readers, for purposes of gathering comments, which I have been using to leverage further interest and to validate my own sense of the value of the manuscript. (Somehow I never got around to giving the author a list of expenses. Never will.) My original thought had been that I would sell the author some editing and formatting to help her approach agents or publishers. Once I got into the manuscript, that was off the table. My ONLY interest was to help get the manuscript, in some way, into print (that is in some way other than the odious PublishAmerica, which would have ruined and buried it). Hundreds of hours. No charge.

Dandelion Through the Crack is a literary, historical, and cultural jewel. I am just lucky to be able to help get it to print. If nothing other than POD had been feasible, it would have sufficed (the core audience would not have cared). But we made a fortunate connection with a small regional publisher. That opens the possibility for reviews, normal trade distribution, and so on. Lots of work ahead.

--Ken

james1611
12-19-2006, 01:37 AM
gone

Ralyks
12-20-2006, 01:05 AM
One nice thing about a POD book is that it does not go out of print.

My POD book went out of print. Of course, only because I let it. It was being picked up by a small press and re-published in a 2nd edition. But POD books can go out of print for all sorts of other reasons as well--the publisher that was printing it ceases to function as a business, for instance.

james1611
12-20-2006, 01:53 AM
gone

Ralyks
12-20-2006, 04:46 AM
Yes, I went from self-publishing (more accurately vanity or subsidy publishing, I suppose) to small press, although in both cases, POD (or whatever you want to call it) was used--that is, books are printed as ordered.

Anthony Ravenscroft
12-25-2006, 01:01 AM
With all due respect, that is a rhetorical trick called "blaming the victim."
Nonsense -- & misidentifying the rhetorical gambit is in itself a trick known as attacking a straw man, & employing the "strawman" trick is here employed as an ad hominem attack by saying "you are clearly insensitive, nay perhaps even Eeeevile, & therefore your opinion pales to insignificance!"

(FWIW, "with all [due] respect" is generally used by people who're about to be illogical & purposely insulting -- an interesting rhetorical gambit.)

Now, if you've got some sites that have any sort of detailed accounting of the dozens of agents & hundreds of publishers who passed up Toole's manuscript, then you'll prevail, & honestly. Elsewise you're merely ng hearsay to damn someone else's conjecture, not to mention elevating Victimhood into Talent.