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priceless1

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Huh? I have an ebook, though not with Mundania. Did I suddenly lose all knowledge of the publishing industry just because I decided to take a book down the ebook route?

That doesn't make any sense at all. Priceless, you are smarter than that statement.
As Christine said, my statements were aimed Mark, who stated that trade publishing is unsustainable, yet gave no concrete proof to back that up. He's an author...not a publisher, so his comments aren't based on any kind of experience with mainstream publishing, but opinion. Opinion doesn't sell books.
 

herdon

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Mark, that you're a Mundania author puts you in a category of someone who is unable to determine what types of publishing is sustainable.

Perhaps you were just talking to Mundania authors, but that statement isn't aimed solely at Mark.

As I said, you are smarter than that Priceless. Don't aim at all Mundania authors or all ebook authors just because some don't know how publishing works. I'm sure some Random House authors don't understand it either.

Perhaps what you meant was that experience being a Mundania author doesn't give him expertise in publishing, but that's not what you said.
 

Mark Wakely

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You misconstrue what I mean by sustainable. Do some publishers make money? Of course. So many of them are financially sustainable? Yes. But I was using sustainable in an environmental context. There are far better business practices possible that if not carbon neutral, at least leave a much smaller carbon footprint than current industry practices. ARCs delivered electronically instead of hundreds printed out and mailed would be just one example. That's a small thing to be sure, but if all publishers did that, the result would be a significant reduction in pollution and greenhouse gases.

Not once in your most recent diatribe against PODs did you even mention the environment, when the entire purpose of my post was to raise the issue. Apparently, you either didn't notice or chose to read something else into my "shopworn" mantra.

As for PODs, I don't know if they're the wave of the future or just a current blip on the book industry's radar screen, but printing a book on demand is still more environmentally sensitive than book returns in any amount. Standing in just one remainder store among thousands and thousands of returned and unwanted books told me that current book business practices are indeed broken, despite your claim to the contrary. As you said in an earlier post, returns suck, but not just from an economic standpoint, which is what you meant. They're enormously wasteful from an environmental standpoint too.

These wasteful practices you seem so eager to defend are indeed "the way it's always been done," but that doesn't mean we can't challenge them and seek a much more responsible way of doing business. Will it be easy or happen overnight? No. But by raising the issue, awareness is raised, and awareness has a way of leading to solutions.

I fully intend to keep raising the issue.

Sorry if we don't see eye to eye on this, but environmental sustainability is more important than you seem willing to acknowledge.
 

priceless1

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Perhaps you were just talking to Mundania authors, but that statement isn't aimed solely at Mark.

As I said, you are smarter than that Priceless. Don't aim at all Mundania authors or all ebook authors just because some don't know how publishing works. I'm sure some Random House authors don't understand it either.

Perhaps what you meant was that experience being a Mundania author doesn't give him expertise in publishing, but that's not what you said.
Actually, I've found that many POD authors are undereducated about the publishing industry. I see this all the time at writer's conferences, and have talked with many a sad or angry author because they didn't know any better before signing with a POD. They felt cheated and fooled. Sorry, but a POD author is not in the position to make judgments about whether trade publishing isn't viable because he simply has no idea of how it works. POD isn't standard publishing, so he has a skewed perspective.

E-book authors don't fall into the mainstream marketplace either. Sorry, but those are the facts. So it's highly doubtful that the perspective of an e-book or POD author carries much weight because they aren't a part of that world.

Random House authors have a much better idea of how the industry works because they deal with the inhouse publicists, talk with the sales teams, and their editors. It's true that I've met a few very well pubbed authors who didn't have all the innerworkings, but they know far more about the industry than e-book and POD authors. I'm not pulling this out of my Victoria Secrets. It comes from being out there among all kinds of writers and experience.

But we're veering off course here. Let's keep this about Mundania.
 
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mscelina

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As an FYI, not all e-pubbed authors are undereducated about the publishing industry. I would speculate that you can find several extremely knowledgable ebook authors on this forum who have studied all aspects of the industry, even to the point of understanding current marketing trends and perhaps even the processes required in the 'real' market. Generalized sweeping statements like this tar a whole lot of AW writers with the same brush. Not only is that unjustified, but it is inaccurate as well.
 

priceless1

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As an FYI, not all e-pubbed authors are undereducated about the publishing industry. I would speculate that you can find several extremely knowledgable ebook authors on this forum who have studied all aspects of the industry, even to the point of understanding current marketing trends and perhaps even the processes required in the 'real' market. Generalized sweeping statements like this tar a whole lot of AW writers with the same brush. Not only is that unjustified, but it is inaccurate as well.
Sigh...yes, I'm aware there are exceptions everywhere and authors go with PODs for any number of reasons. I have no problem with that provided they are aware of what PODs can and can't do for them. I'm aware that there are many savvy e-pubbed and POD authors as well. I am talking in generalities - not the average AW'er.

I speak at many conferences where they haven't heard of AW, and I'm always the first one out there blasting AW's name because I want to make sure that authors have the best education as possible. From my perspective, I see far more POD authors who know next to nothing about the industry. And Mark is just plain wrong. He isn't educated about the industry, and he has little chance of seeing it in action because PODs operate on a different business model.

The trade publishing industry is viable and far stronger than any POD could dream of simply because trade presses have more working capital and their business plans allow them to get their books out to market.

I have not declared a fatwah on e-publishing or PODs. Nor have I called authors ignorant. I'm merely saying...ah the hell with it. You know what I'm saying 'cos I've already said it. Numerous times.
 

mscelina

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Then as a gentle reminder, I would point out that the purpose of this forum is to educate and inform writers who may not share the same level of knowledge as you or me or any of the other regular posters. Therefore, comments like this:

So it's highly doubtful that the perspective of an e-book or POD author carries much weight because they aren't a part of that world.

accomplish neither of those goals and can be construed as insulting instead of instructive.
 

herdon

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Actually, I've found that many POD authors are...

There's a huge difference between "many" and "all." Furthermore, dismissing what someone has to say because they went PoD or with ePublishing is downright stupid.

But I'll own up to my own mistake. I guess you weren't as smart as I had you figured.
 

Sheryl Nantus

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Sorry if we don't see eye to eye on this, but environmental sustainability is more important than you seem willing to acknowledge.

wouldn't that mean that ANYTHING being printed is bad?

so everything should be an ebook - less waste, right?

:D
 

JohnB1988

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so, how about:


Having few choices justifies a poor choice? I'm not seeing the logic here, John. Not all manuscripts should be published, and that's my main problem with vanity and POD; they create an air of entitlement, that everyone deserves to see their work in print. Well, no they don't, and it's called the marketplace. It's called quality.
 

Mark Wakely

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wouldn't that mean that ANYTHING being printed is bad?

so everything should be an ebook - less waste, right?

:D


Ebooks = less waste, yes. A lot less waste. But the ebooks readers are still fairly expensive and not everyone likes to read books on their computer, so while the market for ebooks is growing, it still has a long way to go.

What's wasteful are unrealistic print runs, a battered economy and all the subsequent returns, of which there are still thousands upon thousands.

But of course, as long as a publisher is turning a profit, apparently none of that really matters.
 

priceless1

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Then as a gentle reminder, I would point out that the purpose of this forum is to educate and inform writers who may not share the same level of knowledge as you or me or any of the other regular posters. Therefore, comments like this...accomplish neither of those goals and can be construed as insulting instead of instructive.
No one is more aware of the purpose of this forum than I. My original remark was aimed at Mark who said:
The standard model of publishing- with its guesswork overprinting, inefficient delivery methods and massive returns- is not sustainable.


I replied that since he's not part of the mainstream publishing world that he's not in a position to determine what is or is not sustainable, and that his excuses are the standard excuses I hear from POD publishers all the time. I meant no put-down to e-pubbed authors or POD authors, and I am sincerely sorry this has gotten so out of hand. Crikey, anyone who knows me or has been knocking around these boards for any time knows I care deeply about authors, and I'm sorry my words have been misinterpreted. This means I've failed to communicate effectively, and I'll try harder to be clearer in the future. This board is about education, and that is precisely why I answered Mark's diatribe.

Havlen:
There's a huge difference between "many" and "all." Furthermore, dismissing what someone has to say because they went PoD or with ePublishing is downright stupid.

But I'll own up to my own mistake. I guess you weren't as smart as I had you figured.
As I keep repeating, my initial comments were aimed at Mark for their lack of foundation. I, again, apologize to one and all for feeling I was attacking all e-pubbed and POD authors. That is the last thing I would ever do. I was trying to make a point, albeit poorly as it turns out, that Mark has less opportunity to see how mainstream publishing works because that isn't how Mundania works.

As for whether you find my intelligence worth respecting, that's your call, Havlen. I think my participation on these boards bears out my benevolence for all authors - regardless of who pubbed them.
 

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So much to read that I'm confused. However, since Mundania just rejected me, it's academic. I still would like to be accepted. Hey, Mundania! Here's an author that thinks POD is just hunky-dory. Call me. Let's do lunch.
 

priceless1

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I was using sustainable in an environmental context. There are far better business practices possible that if not carbon neutral, at least leave a much smaller carbon footprint than current industry practices.
Do you have a recommendation about what publishers should do when a PO comes in for 5,000 units? Should we tell B&N sorry, no can do because we want to save the environment? How does that get books into readers' hands?
ARCs delivered electronically instead of hundreds printed out and mailed would be just one example. That's a small thing to be sure, but if all publishers did that, the result would be a significant reduction in pollution and greenhouse gases.
I agree with you 1,000 percent on this. I would love nothing more than to send out ARCs electronically. The problem is most reviewers don't accept them. Since I'm in the business to make money, this isn't a viable option.

Not once in your most recent diatribe against PODs did you even mention the environment, when the entire purpose of my post was to raise the issue. Apparently, you either didn't notice or chose to read something else into my "shopworn" mantra.
It's because for many years the PODs have been using the overtired "we're saving trees" mantra in order to explain why they don't do print runs. in reality, it has little to do with saving trees, but that they can't afford to do print runs. It's an excuse, not a justification.

As for PODs, I don't know if they're the wave of the future or just a current blip on the book industry's radar screen, but printing a book on demand is still more environmentally sensitive than book returns in any amount.
I see the other side of the coin where authors have no idea about the fact that no print runs equals few sales. I've heard stories about authors who scheduled events only to have to cancel because the store couldn't get the books in because they hadn't been printed in time. So while the POD is being environmentally healthy, the author is suffering in sales. They've promoted with no product. Seems counterproductive to the business, don't you think?

These wasteful practices you seem so eager to defend are indeed "the way it's always been done," but that doesn't mean we can't challenge them and seek a much more responsible way of doing business.
I'm all for challenging anything, but my first obligation is to my authors and to my company. I'm in the business to sell books, so it strikes me as odd not to print enough to meet demand. Come up with a viable option that puts books on store shelves and saves trees, and I'll be happy to listen. There are green printing techniques right now, but they're a lot more expensive and drives up the retail costs. It's easy to make demands when you're not the one writing the checks. Find us a better way that is cost effective, and we'll listen.
 

Christine N.

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The one advantage (not that I wouldn't take an offset print run any day of the week, and the marketing behind it) is that my books are still selling years after release. Yeah, the first two are POD, printed by Booksurge, but when majors are giving a book 90 days to sink or swim (and I'd relish having the chance!) I kind of like still getting royalties five years later.

Now if I could have those royalties on the scale of, say, a Random House author, I'd be tickled pink. Being POD isn't all bad - my books haven't yet gone out of print, and as long as they continue to sell, I think they'll remain that way.

I know it's not the same, belive me, I want that print run of 100,000 books, because the demand for 100,000 books would be there. I'm working my way toward it, and in the meantime, what I've got isn't half bad. My books were accepted from slush (and big piles they are, I've waded them once or twice) but not quite good enough for big boys. I've learned to deal with it while I work hard on the next project.
 

Sheryl Nantus

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So much to read that I'm confused. However, since Mundania just rejected me, it's academic. I still would like to be accepted. Hey, Mundania! Here's an author that thinks POD is just hunky-dory. Call me. Let's do lunch.

wait until you've been there.

not so hunky-dory.

:(
 

Mark Wakely

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Come up with a viable option that puts books on store shelves and saves trees, and I'll be happy to listen. There are green printing techniques right now, but they're a lot more expensive and drives up the retail costs. It's easy to make demands when you're not the one writing the checks. Find us a better way that is cost effective, and we'll listen.

This is the most intelligent thing you've posted all day.

Nice of you to finally admit that the publishing industry has environmental issues that need to be addressed.
 

everythinginblak

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^ If I were you-I would watch posts that belittle a person's intelligence. That was uncalled for.

I don't think priceless meant to say that you are ignorant. If he/she has been in the business for awhile, that means that they would know a bit more about the publishing industry then you. No offense. Just stating a fact.
 

JulieB

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The thing about having a print run is that the book is available in stores. Even for a D-list author like me, that's a big deal. 80% of books are still purchased in stores. How much of that is planned vs. impulse? I may go to the bookstore to get a new release I know about, but I may pick up several other books while I browse. Chances are pretty good I wouldn't have picked them up if they hadn't been there on the shelf for me to see and thumb through.

I'm one of those folks who believe that changes are afoot in the publishing industry. I think we'll go to more e-books and POD books, but the change will be gradual. We all (publishers, authors, and sellers) have to be able to profit from the deal, and it's not going to happen overnight.

I agree that POD may be ultimately better for the environment. However, change will happen faster when it's cost-effective and appropriate. Look at CFL bulbs. Now that they've come down in price and "fire up" faster, more people are buying them. LED lights are coming into the consumer market, and fill a niche where CFL bulbs don't work so well. (Think of any "instant on" application such as traffic lights, brake lights, and the light in your closet or pantry.) Other green technologies have been slow to adopt for similar reasons. It'll happen, but expect to walk into Borders or B&N tomorrow and find a POD machine on the premisies. When that day comes, the revolution may well be upon us. Until then, offset print runs will rule.
 

maestrowork

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This is the most intelligent thing you've posted all day.

Nice of you to finally admit that the publishing industry has environmental issues that need to be addressed.

Cripes. Insulting much?

Look, if you're so into environmental issues, I think publishing is a wrong industry for you. Are you in the business of writing and publishing, or are you in the business of saving trees?

Nothing against green technology, and I for one am an early adopter of e-books and e-readers, but to me this whole argument about wastefulness and environment has little to do with the business of publishing or POD, but more of an excuse to assert that "traditional publishing" is not sustainable. Even if paper books are extinct, the POD business model (not the technology or medium) is one that is not sustainable in mass market. Traditional publishers do print-on-demand and e-books, too, but it's their business practices and processes that are tried and true: editing, design, marketing, distribution, etc. So even if the whole industry goes green, a successful publisher still has to deal with all that effectively.
 
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michael_b

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Interesting article on the subject of book publishing and the carbon footprint of print books versus ebooks.

http://www.ebookweek.com/ebook_environment.html

As a note, if the print publishing industry is going to survive, it does have to make changes because publishers aren't making money. If they were then so many staffers at the larger publishers wouldn't be getting the ax, book lines would not be getting canceled, and production wouldn't be getting cut. Big chain bookstores--and bookstores in general--are in trouble and so is one of the biggest erotic romance e/print presses. They are suing Borders over their ordering practices among other things.

Some of us here are very well educated in how the publishing industry works. I think Mark understands it better than a lot of people are giving him credit for. The way the system works is bad. It's bad for publishers, authors and the environment. As it is it will not survive. Technology makes changes in how things are done. You don't see anyone going up the interstate in a horse and buggy do you? (The Amish not withstanding.) Like the people who cling to vinyl records and turntables, people will continue to cling to print books, but eventually those too will be a thing of the past. Has anyone noticed newspapers are also on their last gasp? We have cable tv, the internet, and cell phones with news feeds and internet connectivity. How many people read the newspaper anymore? In Japan books are delivered, chapter by chapter, to people's cell phones. Stanza (an iPhone app) is being implemented by many publishers--including big NYC publishers--to distribute books. Most NYC publishers are issuing e-books, and some do POD. And despite what a lot of people think, good POD processes turn out a nice, attractive book or the big NYC houses wouldn't be using it. Even they recognize shipping thousands of books across the country and then having them not be sold is a financial drain.

Also, Barnes and Nobles just purchased Fictionwise for $17.5 million dollars. Does anyone think they did that because ebooks are not a viable publishing/distribution method?

Speaking of distribution, it's the distributor who gets the lion's share of a book's cover price, not the bookstore or the publisher. This is another dinosaur idea that needs to change with the times. Middlemen help no one make money but the middleman. This is true of any business.

I don't usually get involved in these little heated discussions, but AW is a place people come to learn and find out about the publishing industry in all it's aspects, both the pros and cons.
 
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michael_b

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It'll happen, but expect to walk into Borders or B&N tomorrow and find a POD machine on the premisies. When that day comes, the revolution may well be upon us. Until then, offset print runs will rule.

There are a few bookstores in the UK--according to an article I read online a couple of years ago--where this is exactly what happens. You order a book and have a cup of tea while you wait. When the book is ready you pay for the book that was printed from an electronic file stored in the POD printer. The thing prints, binds and trims the finished book all in one process. The machines are made, as I recall, by Xerox and cost a a half million dollars or so.
 

Sheryl Nantus

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Even if paper books are extinct, the POD business model (not the technology or medium) is one that is not sustainable in mass market. Traditional publishers do print-on-demand and e-books, too, but it's their business practices and processes that are tried and true: editing, design, marketing, distribution, etc. So even if the whole industry goes green, a successful publisher still has to deal with all that effectively.

quoted for truth.

Mundania does not have a distributor so if you do see one on a shelf in your local bookstore it's because the author or a friend has asked for it to be put there - and that severely limits the number of sales right off the top, as it does with any small publisher who doesn't have the sales force and distribution needed to get your book out there to the public.

as discussed in other threads small presses don't HAVE to have a distributor to survive but it places a lot of pressure on the author to promote and sell because you're not going to get those impulse sales of someone walking into the bookstore and grabbing a copy off the shelf. Instead you have to rely on word-of-mouth, online sales and hustling alongside every other self-pub/POD/small press author who's trying to sell his/her book as well.
 

Christine N.

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I haven't yet gotten a print book royalty statement from Samhain, but I know the sales will be more than the sales from my other, smaller, publisher, even though Samhain uses digitial printing, or POD technology.

Why? Because they have a) catalogs, b) distribution, c) marketing. They DO use the POD machine to print and not offset, they don't have the demand of a Scholastic or Scribner, but they get orders and print books in advance. If they get orders for 1,000 books, they print 1,000 books and some extra. The books are reasonably priced and fully returnable. If stores want more, they can get them in days.

Besides distribution, they send brochures to independent bookstores - authors have to provide the brochures, it's an optional program. BUT, the publisher provided instruction on how to create the brochures and where to get them inexpensively (I use Vistaprint and only ever paid shipping on mine. Extremely cheap).

Their model seems to be the best of both worlds, especially for a publisher that's not quite ready for that 25,000 copy or larger print run, but wants a place on the shelf. I'd advise other small presses that want to grow to look at Samhain and watch what they do.

Of course, they seem to get much of their capital from their ebook sales, which is a benefit of publishing Romance, where ebooks have taken off, but it allows them to do all these other things. They have their own bookstore, but also sell books in Kindle format on Amazon and Sony. They blanket the market. And I'll say that I've sold a few Kindle, Mobi and Sony format ebooks, which I get a higher royalty on anyway.

It's an interesting business model, and it works, both for authors AND the publisher.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away