Sunday, June 6, 2010

Electronic Publishing

By Jean Henry Mead

I’ve waited up to 18 months for a book to be published, but that was before publishing on demand technology greatly enhanced publication time. POD is still considered second class by some in the publishing industry, and I don't understand why. It's much more efficient than traditional publishing and isn’t it great that the wait between submission and publication is only a few months? Your books aren’t languishing in some warehouse, perhaps never to be delivered to the bookstores. That's happened more often than publishers care to admit. It’s also the reason bestselling authors have delivered pizza and donuts to warehouse workers. It insures that their newly published books leave the loading dock.

Young writers have time to wait for a major publisher to produce their books. But as you grow older and wonder if you’re going to live long enough to see them in print, you think POD is the greatest invention since the computer.

I came to that conclusion when the first novel of my Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series was orphaned. Who would want to publish a series that had already been published? I received an almost immediate response from Avalon to my query letter, but I waited and waited for a go-ahead to my submission. Seven months later and tired of waiting, I decided to go with a small POD publisher that is very accommodating.

My first three books were published within three months of submission and released not only in print but Kindle and Fictionwise multi-format. Not on the bestseller list, by any means, but they remained #1 in sales for a couple of months at Fictionwise-epress. That made it worthwhile. The ebook edition of my first novel, Escape, a Wyoming Historical Novel, is currently number one in sales as well as the most highly rated although it was published in July 2008. Is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or lost in a sea of small fish? I'll take the big fish any day.

Next week my Mysterious Writers book will appear first in Kindle, Sony and B&N ebooks, featuring some of the interviews I featured on my blog site, Mysterious People. Sadly, not all of the interviews made the cut by Poisoned Pen Press. Although PPP is not considered a POD publisher, they accepted the manuscript via email. So there was no searching for a mailer or standing in line at the post office to see it on its way.

You can teach an old dog new tricks and I'm happy to embrace electronic technology. When are the large publishing houses going to catch up with the innovative smaller ones?


Sun Singer said...

While POD has been a boon for self publishing as well as small presses, the problem is the retail price of the book. It's more expensive than books produced by offset, especially those with mega-high print runs.

This makes it hard to compete with old-media publishing.


Jean Henry Mead said...

That's true, but if the technology is applied on a large scale, the cost of doing business comes down drastically. I once owned a small publishing company and could produce other people's trade paperback books for $1.75-$2.00 and hardcovers from $2.75-$3.00 apiece, without a large company's paper discounts. The cardboard for hardcovers only costs a dollar per book more than soft covers when buying in small lots. The costs can be cut by at least half when suppies are purchased in volume.

Morgan Mandel said...

The traditional houses are running scared right now. No one knows how things will end up in the publishing industry.

Morgan Mandel