Tuesday, April 17, 2012

To Write or To Publish?

In my decision process for writing Bushels and Barrels, I asked myself if I had anything worthwhile to share in a creative and thought provoking way.  I believed I did and was encouraged by others to write larger than my weekly entries onto my Facebook notes page.  I made the decision to write.  I have seen some books and professional articles with many grammatical errors and blatant disregard for anything learned in the English classrooms dating back to elementary school.  I vowed to write, pay attention to the details, and share my musings with the world...or at least those willing to read my works.  It was a decision made with much soul searching as it would have a piece of me in every page.  What if my book was subpar?  I know I am never going to be a best selling author on the circuit and able to give up a day job, but I wanted to ensure my message was clear and my work was quality.  Why else would I do this?  I didn't want to be the guy who wrote a good intentioned book filled with as many spelling and tense errors as there were pages.  My message is for everyone and relates to everyday life, that's it.  It's really as simple as that.  Quality work from the heart and available to the masses.  Scary, to say the least!

The second part of the equation is the more difficult one.  How do you take a large Word document with lots of pages, hours of scripting, and days of editing and make it available to the public?  Publishing is not a world I knew anything about, and I don't profess now to know much more.  However, I chose to work through a Print-on-Demand company and self-publish my work.  What, how, and why?

Self-publishing allows me to work with a company that specializes in creating books, bringing them to market, and assisting the author with marketing.  However, the effort remains with the author to bring the work, the energy, and the vision to the book.  Big-time publishers can bring a credibility to a book, but the book must still speak for itself.  Having a large publisher accept your work brings with it a certain amount of additional risk to the author as well.  In order for the work to be accepted for print, the work must first be marketable, then what the author wants to say.  The publisher wants to make money, the author wants to get a story or message out.  Matching the two can sometimes be tricky and, it seems, the author must compromise somewhat to get published.

Sure, the marketing campaign may seem more robust with a larger company, but again, there are no guarantees the book will sell more than a few hundred copies...then what?  Keep in mind, a publisher is looking for manuscripts which fit a certain mold only because those are the ones their analysts say will sell.  It must be done their way, not the author's, in order to get their nod of approval.  A major publisher accepts thousands of works and provides concierge treatment as long as you are selling.  Once the interest ends, so does the red carpet.  After researching the large publishers and realizing there was an infinitely small chance they would accept my works and I would lose my rights should they offer a contract for publishing, it seemed a huge price with relatively minimal reward.

I am choosing to work with a self-publisher once I am completed with the writing portion.  I have complete control over how the inside is formatted, the the exterior of the book, the way the message is worded, the order of the material, and how it will be marketed.  I retain all control and rights to my intellectual property, not the publisher!  Is a self-published book still a real book?  Absolutely!  My book will have an ISBN number, bar coded for sale, registered through the Library of Congress, available through the mainstream mediums of Amazon and Barnes/Noble.  It will also be available via soft mediums as well:  iPad, Nook, Kindle, and eBook.  The more informal "indie" world will have unfethered access to marketing the book if they choose without limitations.  I will be a real, full-fledged author with all the rights and rewards of being such.  Yet, I will not have the higher risk of losing my rights and compromising my message.

So, with any large project or undertaking, I have done my homework.  I choose to write my own book with my own message, maintain control over the avenues of distribution, and take the risks of low sales upon myself.  I know the book will not travel the globe in large volumes, but those who will read it will know it is genuine and not made-for-tv writing.  I choose to write, not publish.  Even though my work will be published, it will be done my way.  I choose to write, not publish!

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