Friday, December 19, 2008

Managing Your Property - Part II

Rejection from the traditional agency/publisher community needn't spell the end of your book project, from either a commercial or a production perspective. In the past, your only alternative to the agency/publisher scene was to self-publish, often via the "vanity" press community. Unfortunately, the vanity press route has a terrible reputation, in large part because they would print anything regardless of quality, so long as the author was able and willing to write a check. In the vast majority of cases, a self-publisher using a vanity press for their book project got nothing for their trouble besides a garage or an attic full of unsold books and a big hole in their checking acccount.

The emergence, and growth, of the print-on-demand (POD) community has changed the face of self-publishing. A self-publisher using POD can get their work out to the public with no upfront cash investment. The reputation problems with the quality of work coming out of POD shops will always remain. If anything, the lower barriers to entry that POD provide a self-publisher ensures that even more garbage that should never see the light of day will make it into book form.

Obviously, the general attitude towards POD in the mainstream agency/publisher community is one of scorn and ridicule. And it is not an avenue you should pursue unless and until you have thoroughly exhausted every entry on your list of reputable agenst who might consider representing your kind of literary work. But don't leave your book for dead if you can't bring it to the public with a mainstream publisher.

For an unknown writer with a limited portfolio of output, POD provides you an opportunity to get your work into people's hands. If you're a "one and done" kind of author with no intentions of pursuing another book project, signing on with a POD publisher may seem like the end of your dream to get published. However, you should retain all rights to your work. (Avoid any POD publisher where the rights to your work can be compromised in any way.) Show an agent a POD work with tens of thousands of units sold and you might find they'll have a change of heart about representing your work. In the case of a non-fiction work in an industry or field where new events could justify an update to your work, consider bringing a second edition back to the agency community with POD sales data on your first edition.

If you do intend to pursue other writing projects, let your POD work serve as an introduction. An author with a past work on a platform, even a POD platform, is better than an author with no platform at all.

So don't completely write off the possibility of using POD. Accept that it's a far inferior means of getting a book published and generating income, but don't dismiss it completely as a means of furthering your writing career.

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