If you get very far at all in this article, then you're most likely a writer. Let me warn you up-front, this will seem like a bleak outlook, but stick with me I assure you this story has a happy ending.
In The Heart of The Christian Writer Workshop by Di Ann Mills, she says "Some Christian writers believe that because they have the security of a heavenly home, and God has given them the gift of writing, that God will put their work at the top of the best sellers list."
This is probably a very true statement. However, I suppose this scenario applies to most writers who have spent months—even years laboring over their first book—believer and nonbeliever.
"Well this is different," you say, "It's the best book ever! All my friends say so. My mother said it's the best book she's ever read. My critique partner just loves it. I know an agent will pick me up in a flash. Besides, I spent $2,500 to have my book edited—it's perfect."
Confidence is a good thing, don’t lose that…you're going to need it. You're also going to need some truthful information to go along with all that confidence. The publishing industry is a HUGE ship with many decks, and right now, you're below the water line in the cargo hold. Very few of us take the express elevator to the top deck; most have to climb the stairs—one at a time.
If you've finished your book, more than likely, you saved your pennies and bought the suggested self-help material along the way, either new or used. You have them piled high around you at your desk, Stein, Maass, Brown, King, McClannahan, Tedder, etc., etc. All excellent books, and recommended reading for all of us. You've also bought a book on query letters, composed forty-two and mailed out at least seventy-five to agents. Of course, you've been very careful not to send any to agents who ask for fees up front. Currently, you have rejection letters covering your office wall. Many times over someone assures you that each of those rejections brings you a step closer to an acceptance. WELL WHERE IS IT?
Let's have a little look at Publishing. Bowker is the world's leading provider of bibliographic information. In May 2006, they released statistics stating that U.S. book publishing decreased by more than 18,000 new titles and editions in 2005. This is the first decline in U.S. title output since 1999, and only the 10th downturn recorded in the last fifty years. It follows the record increase of more than 19,000 new books in 2004.
Uh oh, that doesn't sound like good news.
This article also tells us that the cost of books is up because the cost of paper has already increased twice this year (2006). I guess that would mean the publishers would have to be even more careful this year about choosing which books they will publish.
With so many of us looking forward to getting our work out there for the first time, and the market getting smaller every day, what are we to do? Possibly that degree in English Lit was a mistake. Maybe you're thinking you should rethink your career choices. Perhaps a job as an envelope licker or a chicken plucker would be a lot less stressful and a whole lot easier.
Hey. I warned you this was going to sound bleak. Look at the title of this piece. The Trim-Tab on the Mighty Ship of Publishing. A trim-tab is the small rudder that turns a much larger rudder on a ship, steering it in a new direction.
Big publishing is like an onion; it has many layers and it's very complex. Way too complicated a road for me to travel. However, I do know they can't take as many risks on new unpublished authors as they used to—they simply can't afford it with revenues down and costs up. E-publishing, however, is simple, straightforward and easy to understand. No question, it's a venue designed for new unpublished authors—a worldwide venue.
E-publishing, my friend is the trim-tab that is turning the mighty ship of publishing in a different direction. What I've quoted from the article above is only a small portion of a much larger article I found on www.bowker.com/press. There is a lot of good information there. I read it several times, but not a word about electronic publishing anywhere. However, statistics clearly show e-publishing revenues are up by large percentages over last year and the future looks bright. But everyone from my little five-year old granddaughter to a blind puppy dog knows the Internet is growing so powerful even Congress feels compelled to use our tax dollars to spend time making laws to govern it.
You've heard of E-books. You've heard of self-publishing, and you've heard of publishing on demand (POD). Just look at all the new directions that little trim-tab is taking us in. Personally, I'm not a big fan of self-publishing—I don't have the money. For the purpose of this article, we'll discuss E-books and POD.
Frankly, I was frustrated, and tired of the rejection letters. I had two other works in process, and wondered if I was wasting my time. Then I decided to go ahead and look into e-publishing my first manuscript if only to put it behind and get on with my life. But I felt a stigma attached to e-publishing. Only writers with no talent stooped that low. However, I ignored it—I could sit still no longer. Does any of this sound familiar?
I don't own an E-book reader, so I bought four trade paperback books from two publishers. Most E-book publishers distribute their books in both formats. (Wow-choices) I found all four books well bound, with beautiful cover art, printed on high quality white paper. Three of the four I was surprised to find extremely well written, character driven and the plots well developed. The forth, a romance, I felt was a little weak. However, to be fair, I don't usually read romance. There went my theory on bad writers; it looked like stiff competition out there after all.
POD is something the big publishing houses are leaning toward more and more. With revenues down, printing books on demand means no more storing hundreds even thousands of books on warehouse and bookstore shelves and having to destroy them when they don't sell. I'm not certain, but I think this is something they've learned from the internet. E-books are another thing the big publishing houses are noticing, see www.bookwire.com, many publishers are offering their titles in e-book format. I know they got that from the internet. Ahh, there's that little trim-tab taking folks off in new directions again. Well, we can all be thankful for one thing. All this is going to save many trees—and it's pointing the market straight to our books. Wahoo!
Without going into all of my many days of surfing around, I'll take you directly to one of the best directories I've found for e-publishers, www.ebookinfosource.com, you'll find a long list of publishers, however, there many sites where you can find lists of e-publishers. Shop around. Go to the submission guidelines to see what they are looking for. Some of them have a sample contract. Most of their contracts are simple and very fair. Be careful, I've seen some that ask for everything you own including your-first born. (Some want your copyright for seven years) No need to get desperate, but it's up to you. To submit, just follow their guidelines.
I had three acceptances and chose Wings E-press because of the reputation they have for editing. Wings will market my book through the internet to several distribution sites. I must market my work in other venues such as a website, book signings, blogs, speaking engagements, etc. But here's a news flash—it's a rare author who doesn't have to work hard to gain name recognition…no one can do that for you…you have to do it for yourself. Yes, there are a few, and maybe you're one of them—but chances are—you're not.
Just how many rejection letters will fit on your wall? How long can you sit around and wait for someone to send you good news in the mail? Don't you think it's time for you to try something different? I can't tell you how exciting it was to sign that first contract, or to get the first cover art. My first book, BLOOD SECRETS, is due for publication by Wings e-Press in January 2007, and I can't wait to hold it in my hand. My second, THE JAVA PUMP, follows in May 2007. The second contract was just as exciting as the first.
If you've been sitting below water in the hold for a long time, get up and take the first step. Maybe each rejection is a step closer to acceptance, but are you just going to sit around and wait? Start your journey to the top deck. Get published. The E-publishing world is a great place where you meet interesting people and become a part of the community of authors who are standing by to help you through the rough patches. A place where you finally graduate from Writer to Author.
If you have any questions, go to my website, www.jackimcguyer.com and send me an email from there. I'll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. If I don't know the answers, I'll try point you in the right direction. Let the TRIM-TAB on the MIGHTY SHIP of PUBLISHING take you in a new and different direction.