7.03.2006

Suck it up like a suasage buffet

Dear Miss Snark,

I've read through the Snarkive entries on PODs--four pages worth. So glad you've devoted a lot of thoughts to this topic; it's so easy as an aspiring author to get sucked into that world.

Like every author, my work is a labor of love and now that it's finished I'm sickeningly anxious to hold it in print. Friends and family are also asking to read the final product. But it is my desire to go the traditional route, shopping the work to agents, editors, publishers, etc.

I read in your entries that a Lulu ISBN is "the kiss of death" to a big-time publisher. My question is this: What if I print the work and conduct sales to family and friends through Lulu (with no ISBN) until an agent/publisher picks it up? (Yes, I'm being excessively optimistic, but hey, I'm a first-time author. I'm required to be.) Is such action a negative in any way when trying to break into the "real" world of publishing?

An extension of this question... would an agent/editor care about sales in this fashion? If it sells like wildfire on Lulu (again, excessively optimistic), is such a record worth mentioning while shopping the work?

Thanks for all of your humor and wisdom.

(reaches down and scratches behind KY's ears)
(KY, dreaming of a sausage buffet, acts like a carnivore; chaos ensues)



What would you do if Lulu wasn't available?
Or any form of POD?
You'd suck it up and redouble your efforts to have your work considered by an agent.

You can certainly print that book up at Lulu and no one will be the wiser. Without an ISBN or any kind of non-family sales/availability no one will even care. And that's an ok option for a lot of folks, and more power to them.

However, you reveal yourself in the wildfire comment. You DO want to sell enough to make a publisher take notice. First, if you're writing a novel, chances are worse than remote that will happen. Second, if it's selling to people who aren't family or friends you've just cherry picked the very market you'll need if the book gets a deal.

Impatience doesn't serve you well here. Suck it up and fill your canteen for the long march.

7 comments:

Sherry Decker said...

Printing it for friends and family is a total waste of time. Spend that time marketing your work to someone who can help you get published. Once you find an agent, she'll take over and you can start writing your next project.

Ken Boy said...

Sales to family and friends?

Sell it to strangers if you can, but friends and family shouldn't have to pay you for the privilege of feeding your ego. Sheesh.

MTV said...

It depends on your long term goals for the work. For sure I would focus on getting representation for at least a year. In fact, you might have a goal to query 40 or 50 agents you feel are top quality. Even that is only 1 letter a week, assuming you are spending time on other projects. Also, that one letter allows you to do some research on each agent so that you target to useful channels. This is assuming you want a major publishing house.

If you keep getting rejected make sure your query is tight and is the best you know how to do.

If after a year or so there does not appear to be interest what you have may not be sufficiently mainstream in the trade in terms of genre etc. Remembering that it all boils down to risk, potential market and ultimately dollars.

Then you may consider dealing directly with the editors in smaller more specialized houses.

Finally, at this point you also have the choice of POD etc. If you believe in the work strongly enough you may just want to go forward on your own. This by far is the most difficult and time consuming. There are many, many people who have been successful doing that, however, be prepared to put way more time and effort into it than you did in the year you focused on getting an agent even. Also, prepare to have a PR budget to advertise and circulate your work. At this point you have entered the world as a small business entity and taken on everything that comes with being a profitable small business.

As you take this journey - you can see why publsihers are so careful about what they buy and why the bigger houses only accept agented material. Even that has risks for them.

A final comment preparing for the 4th of July celebration: What makes America so great is that anything you chose to do is possible, provided that is what you want to do in your heart of hearts.

Pat Brown said...

Suck it up AND write a second book, and a third and... it always amazes me how many people finish book one and think it actually qualifies to be published. Odds are it belongs under the bed. I wrote 6 SF novels before switching to mystery and selling my first mystery novel. I would rather not be published than pay for it myself.

Anonymous said...

This is where you do the part called 'paying your dues'....writing the manuscript isn't paying your dues, the revisions, the polishing, the submissions, the rejections, writing the next one and going through the whole process again and again as long as it takes are paying your dues.

You can't just walk into a hospital and say "Let me pay you for a white coat and stethoscope because I want to be a doctor." And you can't just pay someone to print up your manuscript and expect to call yourself a published author. You're a writer, yes, but the author part comes after a (usually) long and tedious journey. It's a career, not a hobby.

Ray Rhamey said...

So what about Luluing non-fiction? My agent has had a proposal out for months on "lessons from Flogging the Quill," but the field is crowded.

However, I do have a small platform with the blog and the workshops I'm doing this summer, and it might be worth my while to self-publish.

As I said, how does Luluing affeft non-fiction in an agent's eyes?

Best,

Ray

Anonymous said...

I think some people are under the assumption that POD printers are vanity presses (where the author pays at least a part of the printing costs). POD means Print On Demand; books are printed in batches as needed by the publisher. That's the only difference. It isn't an insult or a 'lesser' quality book. However, it's the smaller presses that do POD books.