Friday, January 11, 2008

Q&A a la Ann Landers: This Is a Multiple Part Question on the Great American Publishing Dream

Note: This letter from Cindy Cadelo is printed in segments with dashes between them so that you can read my comments to in context:

Question: Dear Carolyn, Literally in the dark at the time, I signed on with a print-on-demand publisher for my debut novel and have lived to regret it ever since. I suppose the worst part was having a paperback priced at $29.99.
------
Answer: Yes, the price of your book was out of whack. I'm guessing that no one bothered to give you advice on the size of the book. It sounds as if -- putting Michener aside (and he isn't writing in today's publishing world) -- that you should have figured a way to shorten your work. Many subsidy publishers just don't know so can't advise their clients. Others do know but don't rock the boat for fear they will lose their clients to another subsidy publisher who will publish just as the author wants -- regardless of the outcome.
-----
Question: A "no returns" book store policy on POD books meant I had to buy my own books for promotions and sales which I couldn't afford because of the price, neither would the publisher pay royalties on author-purchased books.
------
Answer: Subsidy publishers that arrange to take books back do exist. Generally the author must pay for the returns, of course. Having said that, in the Frugal Book Promoter, I talk about how bookstores aren't the best place to sell books anyway. So, there's hope. It's not too late for you. You could change publishers or arrange to guarantee sales on your own or concentrate on a different way of selling books.
-------
Question: How, I wondered, did books find their way to reviews by the NY Times? How did it work that new authors were recognized with awards and mentions in literary circles? How did one's book get into the libraries all over the country? Book clubs?
-----
Answer: Your experience resonates. Those are the things I hear from authors all the time. Those are the things I learned with my first novel, This Is the Place. In fact that's why I wrote the Frugal Book Promoter and now the Frugal Editor. To share what I learned. To answer these questions and others and to help authors get these very things done to get their book read! Both books were a labor of love. I like writing them, but I'd rather be writing my second novel or book of short stories or book of poetry. (-:
-----
Question: My lovely book was invisible; unnecessarily sacrificed. On the verge of completing a second manuscript, will the stigma of the first book reflect on the next one as for my chances of finding a reputable agent?
---
Answer: It might. It depends on lots of things but also on the way you handle it. Don't try to hide that first book. Own up. Basically you say something like, "I didn't know the ropes so missed out on these things. I think my experience will make me a better promoter of my own work and partner for a publisher." Something like that. You can't hide it. Not in this electronic age.
-----------
Question: Is it ever possible to resurrect an invisible first novel, and what are the chances it could work as made-for-TV movie or a screenplay? I still get wonderful letters from those who bought the book used, or found copies at yard or library sales where I donated the copies. I'm sure I'm not the only writer who has such grisly first-time novel woes, so we writers can all learn from such experiences as well as from your valued professional opinion on how a writer proceeds from this point forward.
------
Answer: Yes, absolutely. All is not lost. But it will take lots of work and maybe discarding the idea that you will make lots of money on it. The idea will be to get your work into the hands of people who might make a difference for you. You could republish it POD. On your own. (See the Frugal Editor before you do this, PLEASE!) Or you could serialize it. Perhaps on a blog or on your website. There are other possibilities, of course. But again, this TV/Movie Miracle Dream doesn't just happen. We think they do because others look like overnight successes but usually they worked years at their craft and at networking. And, yes, a very, very few just get lucky. (-:
-----
From Cindy: Thanks for your advice and patience!
-----
Comment: Your story breaks my heart. It is so common. I encourage you not to give up. Take classes (that's networking, too!) Enlist a great editor. Republish. Keep writing. Do keep promoting.

Sincerely,
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Temporary website: http://www.Authorsden.com/carolynhowardjohnson
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author THIS IS THE PLACE; HARKENING: A COLLECTION OF STORIES REMEMBERED; TRACINGS, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON'T; and THE FRUGAL EDITOR: PUT YOUR BEST BOOK FORWARD TO AVOID HUMILIATION AND ENSURE SUCCESS.
Her other blogs include TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com and AuthorsCoalition.blogspot.com, a blog that helps writers and publishers turn a ho-hum book fair booth into a sizzler.

Search This Blog