Bob Baker's Book Promotion Blog

Book Publishing Dirty Little Secrets

Wow. I've had a lot of great feedback on my recent Attack of the Self-Publishing Naysayers post. Check out the comments section (where John Kremer even left a short note) and you'll find a gem from author Hamish MacDonald. Here's a portion of it:

An important consideration is why you want to self-publish, too. The people who dismiss indie publishing quickly tend to have bought into the same mass-culture obsessions that make people think The Da Vinci Code must be a good book because it's sold a majillion copies. If you can't sell a majillion yourself, the thinking goes, why publish?

Um, because it's art. Because you've been moved by something inside you to create an original work from the stuff of your imagination. If you focus on outcome ("I want to be rich and famous") when writing, people will smell it and stay away -- and they should stay away.

What's been beautifully liberating this past year, what's buoyed my spirits, is connecting my work with actual readers, putting my focus on them instead of publishers. No more bitterness, no more frustration, just lots and lots of things to learn and do.

Too much of our focus is on reaching countless strangers and yearning after status that's supposed to be some sort of salvation. Reaching real readers, people you can see and meet -- I think that's a far better beginning for an author than playing a numbers game and trying to reverse-engineer existing work, seeking success instead of substance.

Richard Hoy of BookLocker added his two cents to the comments and a longer response on his own blog. I particularly appreciated a couple of things he pointed out:

  1. There's a traditional belief that isn't true, Richard writes. "Namely, that a book has to be 'stocked' in a bookstore to be a commercial success. That is just not true. Most traditionally published books aren't stocked in bookstores."

  2. "Here is the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about -- the traditional publishing process sucks. Many manuscripts go unpublished every year, not because they are bad, but because traditional publishers don't know how to find the book's market in a cost-effective manner. That is where POD publishers like BookLocker can provide a real service, as long as the return on investment is good. And the return on investment is good if, and only if, the upfront costs to get into the market are kept low."

Bottom line
: Don't accept the first piece of advice you hear about "book publishing realities." Of course, that also goes for any advice I dish out :-)


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