Ask Plenty of Questions
Last Wednesday at breakfast I spotted several writers who I met originally a year ago during the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. One of the authors, a pastor’s wife of a Baptist Church had decided to publish her first book with Cross Books. I listened to this author tell me about her challenges producing the book, getting in touch with the publishing house and how with each connection she was speaking with a different person at the publisher.
Finally this author pulled her new book out of her bag and showed it to me. I immediately noticed the barcode on the book did not include the retail price of $16.99 nor was the price printed on the back of the cover. As I looked closely at the book, I noticed the publisher address on the copyright page: Bloomington, Indiana. Then the pieces fell into place. This author had published with Author Solutions. I located this article from Publishers Weekly. It points out Cross Books is an imprint of Author Solutions, the largest self-publishing company in the country—yet this author was unaware of Author Solutions and had never heard of them. Author Solutions is the parent company for several imprints including West Bow Press with Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian publisher. The PW article mentions that West Bow has published 50 titles with another 200 in the process.
Almost two years ago, I interviewed Susan Driscoll, who was then the president of iUniverse. Susan moved to a different publisher when Author Solutions purchased iUniverse. At that time, iUniverse was publishing over 400 books a month. According to this article in American Way magazine, Author Solutions brought over 21,000 titles into print in 2008 (or an average of 1,750 books each month). Self-publishing has only grown in popularity in the last two years, I can’t imagine the number of books they are publishing at this time. While I'm sure some authors have great experiences with Author Solutions and their various imprints, it only seems fair to be aware of their large number of books. This newly-published Cross Books author that I met at the writers' conference had no idea she was a small part of a huge publishing entity.
The experience reminded me again of the necessity of authors to ask lots of questions before they sign up with any publisher. You want to make sure it is a right fit for you and your publishing goals. The author at Cross Books left our conversation encouraged with some plans and action steps to take with her book.
I found the experience renewed my own commitment to my authors to be a good communicator and to be in touch with them about their questions in a timely fashion. Only through good communication can people feel informed and able to do good work in the creation, distribution and marketing of books. Once again, I learned and grew as a member of the publishing community. What active steps are you taking to grow in your knowledge of the publishing world?