All Books Are Not the Same
I’m always interested to look at the books when I speak or attend a writer’s conference. Each conference is distinct about how they handle this aspect. Some conferences have huge tables of books and allow anyone at the conference to bring and sell their products. Books and Company, a local Dayton, Ohio bookstore, ran this aspect at The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. The only books sold at the conference were from the speakers and I was thrilled to be included and have Book Proposals That Sell available to the participants. This conference occurs every other year and sold out in a matter of weeks.
As a reader of books and someone involved in writing books and creating books, I’ve learned that all books are not the same. I’m an unusual consumer in that I look at the content but also the packaging of the book. Who is the publisher? How does the book appear in typography and is that type easy to read? How attractive is the cover design and does it draw me to purchase the book or make me hesitant to purchase the book?
Several speakers at this workshop were promoting self-publishing. Their workshops encouraged participants to walk down this possibility for publishing their manuscripts. I understand there are a variety of opinions in this area. Writers are frustrated with the estimated six million manuscripts and proposals in circulation at traditional publishers. Publishers (and even literary agents) often take a long time to provide answers about these manuscripts. Some writers grow impatient with this process and turn to self-publishers for their book. This decision gains them another set of opportunities (or problems) to reach their intended audience. In general, bookstores don’t carry self-published books and it’s difficult to sell books if they aren’t in a traditional selling environment.
As I carefully looked over some of these books, it reminded me why I’ve written for traditional publishers. If you put the product side by side, you can see an instant difference. The cover design of these self-produced products looked more amateurish and almost instantly I spotted problems in the typography. Sometimes even the name of the publishing house (author created in a self-publishing situation) struck me as purely corny. I don’t want to come across as an elitist or book snob but when I’ve written a book, I want to be confident of every detail of the book. I’m eager for my books to be available in every possible bookstore outlet.
At the same time, I understand how the publishing process is a purification of ideas. Traditional publishing involves finding a champion for an editor or an agent—who carries that process throughout the house and into the bookstore. Not every proposal or every idea will find that place. Yes, it takes persistence from the author to write an excellent proposal and sample then locate a publisher. Just looking at some of the books during the conference reminded me not to rush this process.