Monday, April 4, 2011

Self publishing or book publisher?

There is the continuing, eh, “situation” that I experience with self-published books. It evokes a few thoughts.

This morning I noticed in one book that I’m reading, Desmond Tutu’s, and his daughter Mpho’s Made for Goodness their pages at the back of the book, “Acknowledgements.” Without permission can I display some of it near the beginning?…”We thank God for the skill and sensitivity of Doug A… who is not only our editor but also a writing coach in disguise… We owe him a debt of gratitude for his many readings of this manuscript; for the gentle wisdom that has helped us to create a better “best” than we started out with.”

Recently I’ve read a couple of books by local authors who have self-published their books. Reading them it is obvious to me that they have not had the expertise of an editor or professional proof reader.

Dennis Michno, author of A Priest’s Handbook told me some years ago that he and the publisher went through an exhausting 40 revisions of his book before it was published. A Priest’s Handbook has remained in print for many years, now in it’s Third Edition, certainly due to its value to clergy, but also no doubt to the many revisions that made it excellent and “right.”

I wonder in this age of “me,” when we not only “get to” but expect to do it, whatever it may be, our own way, if some of us write the book that is in us and that we think the world needs to see without going through the tedium of many rejections by publishers or revisions that an editor and professional proof reader may require before it is ready to be published.

Those book publishers that have editorial staffs and proof readers reject many books. The famous author whose books we love to read and offer to others, Madeleine L’Engle, has described the thirty or so rejections from publishers that she received before a publisher accepted her first novel.

Some of us write our books, then pay a publisher to make, on average less than 100 copies. That is certainly different from the book publishers.

Book publishers also have distribution pathways that bookstores rely on for knowing about and for ease of ordering books. Why should we as bookstores spend the extra effort to find and purchase ten different titles from ten small, unheard of self-publishers, and receive a smaller profit on them when we can easily purchase twenty-five titles from known publishers from one book distributor, receive better terms of sale, and receive those books quickly through a method that we know and use frequently?

From a bookstore’s perspective there is more to writing and publishing and selling a book than many recent authors may consider.

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