The Publishing Truth Shall Set You Free…

It’s interesting once you really start learning about a topic how many things seem to jump up off the page (literal or web related) to show you examples of the truths you have been investigating.  Such as my interest in self-publishing and why it appears to make a lot of sense which  has been gleaned (but not limited to) J.A.  Konrath’s blog, “A Newbies Guide to Publishing”.

Numerous posts are written about publishing houses keeping the truth of  book sales and money being made that are hidden from the author with strange sales tallies and  accounting practises by many different authors.

As a rank outsider of the publishing industry with only a few rejection letters to my name so far, the niggling thought in the back of my mind as I read these blogs has always been… “really? It’s really this bad for writers?”  The allure of having a Big 6 company saying my work is good enough for them to publish is a great enticement to a new writer.

For a long time I’ve wanted to read Ken Follett’s book “The Pillars of the Earth”.  I’ve read so many reviews, heard by word of mouth that it’s a great story and personally the historical blend of the story is right up my alley, but finances just haven’t allowed me to splash out of such a treat.

 

 

The Salvation Army has a special place in my heart for  many reasons, but one area of service from the church that I really appreciate at this point of my life is the Thrift Shop / Sally Ann stores selling all number of second hand goods at very reasonable prices. Especially wonderful are the sale days. Because as a ‘bookaholic’ without the budget to maintain her addiction even at the second hand shop prices, being able to buy books cheaply is bliss, and being able to pick up a copy of Pillars for 99 cents was damn near orgasmic!

 

 

 

I’m sure  you can imagine my surprise to read within the Preface these words penned by Ken Follett himself:

 

 One day I was checking my royalty statement from New American Library, my U.S. paperback publisher.  These statements are carefully designed  to prevent the author from knowing what is really happening to his book,  but after decades of persistence I have learned to read them.  Page 8

 

I’m willing to bet that the publishers were less than amused at having that written in the paperback edition of a best-selling book – but it is yet another confirmation of the truth behind the groundswell of authors, what they are complaining about and why so many are making the move to self-publishing. And suggests that my long term love affair with the idea of a publishing house publishing my books requires some serious reconsidering.

But as my debating teacher once taught me, for every opinion, there is a flip side that makes just as much sense. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, here is a good argument from Nathan Bransford for sticking with the tradition publishing route.

I’m still not sure which way is the right way but I do know I need to keep writing.

Never Judge a Book by it’s Cover

 

Australian Publishers Association's Book Design Awards -childrens winner designed by W.H. Chong and Susan Miller

As a wannabe writer I’m aware of the long odds of getting my story into printed book form. Apparently it’s harder to get an agent (so many wannabe’s throwing themselves at their feet weeping ‘pick me, pick me oh please, pick me’?) than it is to get your book in front of the Publisher with a capital P. Although how this works I’m not entirely sure, because it seems that every publishing house and its dog won’t see your book unless  its presented on a silver platter by an agent cloaked appropriately with terms like extensive social media platform, copious followers etc.

Recently I have found myself trawling through the sea of information that is the Internet and slowly learning more about the field of self-publishing. Reading the success stories  of the self-published; the people who took the risk with their novels and sold over a million books. Wondering if the stigma has lessened or if the 2nd rate work that has been self-published with minor editorial issues (spelling, punctuation, plot and character development anyone?) has given it a reputation that won’t ever be shaken.

But as a writer of picture books, the idea of a DIY picture book is somewhat daunting. Can I do this? Self-publish my book, sell several bazillion copies and be wonderfully successful? YES! I repeat to myself in a mantra that would make Shakti Gawain  proud. I visualise fame, fortune and the pleasure of reading emails from my fan base (well my fans parents) telling me how much they love my stories. And let me tell you, I can work this fantasy a loooong time until I hit the stumbling block. My children’s stories are going to involve incredible artwork to tell half the story and the cost of professional artists is astronomical. I comfort myself with the old adage that you shouldn’t judge a book (or illustrations) by its cover. DIY publication, DIY illustrations, right?  But book buyers are very visual creatures.

Wait…wait… wait… did you even know there is an awards night for book covers? Awards for stories sure.  Illustrations? Of course. But the actual covers?

<The Australian Publishers Associations 60th annual Book Design Awards>

It’s been running for sixty years and over 400 books – including children’s books, were entered this year? Well all I can say is they have done a **brilliant** marketing job. Because everyone judges a book by its cover; inevitably we are drawn to read the blurb because of the ‘cover artwork.’

Art work is a vital part of the book buying process. And just try reading a picture book to a class of children who aren’t attracted to the illustrations! So for the timely reminder in my meanderings of self-publishing education, I understand that if I do go the self-publishing route for my children’s picture books, one way or another, I am going to have to get an artist to do the illustrations. Because I know for a fact it’s not just children who judge a book by its cover.