Friday, August 25, 2006

A Valuable Resource--Free

Recently on my way back home from the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference, I picked up a Sunday copy of the New York Times and poured through it while waiting in the airport. It’s always a personal treat to read this newspaper because it generally leads me to some idea or something valuable for my writing and editing life. The back of the book review section contained a full-page ad for a how-to book, Get Published! by Susan Driscoll and Diane Gedymin. Driscoll is the president and CEO of iUniverse and over the last 20 years has held a variety of positions at HarperCollins and Holzbrinck including publisher, editorial director and marketing director. Gedymin is the editorial director at iUniverse but has more than 30 years of experience as a literary agent and publisher of HarperSanFrancisco and senior editor at the Putnam Berkley Group. This ad clearly promoted the fact Barnes & Noble owns iUniverse. The fact that two seasoned publishing professionals had a new book was what caught my attention. I’m familiar with iUniverse as a company to self-publish a book or produce a print on demand (POD) book. Some of my colleagues at the American Society of Journalists and Authors have used iUniverse to get some of their out of print books back into the marketplace. The ASJA has a contractual relationship with iUniverse as a service to our members.

Get Published! coverFrom this ad in the Times, I decided to ask for a review copy of this book and read it. From the beginning, I understood it would likely have an agenda or pushing authors toward self-publishing. Looking around the iUniverse website, I figured out their company formula for email addresses and wrote a brief letter of introduction to Diane Gedymin, the editorial director, requesting a review copy. My email worked and shortly I received an email from Gedymin saying they were sending the book.

I’ve been reading this book and discovered it contains a great deal of publishing insight for any author. Whether you are a novelist or a nonfiction writer or whether you are unpublished or much published, this book contains a realistic look at the marketplace backed with statistics. Also the authors include great thoughtful questions for any author as they think through how to get their idea into the publishing community.

Admittedly the book includes their agenda or the promotion of iUniverse and even includes the iUniverse editorial guide. My printed copy of Get Published! was produced using print-on-demand technology. Here’s a couple of the statistics tucked (and documented) in this book:

* Fourteen million adult Americans engaged in some form of creative writing last year.

* Finished manuscripts for an estimated 8 million novels and 17 million how-to books are lying in desk drawers all over the country, waiting to be published. (page 64)

Or here’s another one that leaped out at me:

“Most authors don't have a realistic basis of just how serious the competition for publicity is,” remarked the publicity director of a major literary imprint, who asked to remain anonymous. “Most reviewers at major media get, on average, 300 books a week. The amount of books produced has increased while the amount of book coverage (not to mention sales) has decreased. Most authors desperately want their books to sell and would like to make livings by writing and publishing, but the sad reality is that probably 5% of authors in print are able to do that.”” (I’d encourage you to read this full article—the link was in Get Published!)

Beyond the dose of realism, Driscoll and Gedymin teach would-be writer about the traditional publishing market and the self-publishing market plus they walk any author through the necessary steps to set realistic writing goals and also do good research about the competition for their idea in the bookstore. The insides of this book are attractive with some cartoons and interesting graphics. It’s an excellent how-to book and I’m glad to have a copy.

In addition, the authors include a number of well-crafted worksheets along with a link to find them online. It’s through these worksheets that I discovered how each of you can get this book without cost in an electronic format or the printed version. Go to this link and fill out the request for either the electronic PDF book (you get it immediately) or you can receive the printed version through the mail (a better option from my view). Admittedly you have to provide some information to receive this book—your name, email address, physical mailing address and phone number.

When you ask for this book, understand that iUniverse is using this book as a tool to generate additional business. You will probably receive some follow-up via email or on the telephone or through the mail (since you furnish all of these options with the form). Even with this caveat, I believe it’s an excellent resource for anyone and the price is right—free.

10 Comment:

At 8:20 AM, Blogger Patricia PacJac Carroll Left a note...

Thanks for the information. My book, an Historical Christian Romance, is almost finished. So I will put to it to good use.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Donna J. Shepherd Left a note...

Thanks for the resource, Terry!

At 7:17 PM, Blogger Bonnie S. Calhoun Left a note...

Thanks for the heads-up Terry. I clicked over and signed up to be mailed a copy.

A good resource is a good resource no matter who wrote it!

At 8:10 PM, Blogger M. C. Pearson Left a note...

I'll be clicking over there next. Thanks for a great resource.

Oh, I posted some pictures from the Greater Philadelphia Writers Conference...you are in one of them! Just go to my Mimi's Pixie Corner Blog. It is the second post from the top.

God Bless!

At 5:45 AM, Blogger Cindy Thomson Left a note...

That was an interesting article. Why don't publishers educate new authors better? I like the suggestions quoted in the article from the editor at the Ohio University Press. Someone new to publishing cannot be expected to understand how publicity works. As for me, I asked lots of questions and the folks at Kregel were extremely helpful and patient with me.

Why don't publishers print a FAQ page for new authors? They know what the questions and misconceptions are likely to be. I think your blog and your Web site go a long way to educate new authors. Thanks.

Since this is a communication business, shouldn't publishers communicate better with their authors?

At 8:00 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


I hear your pain with the communication issue and I've heard it about almost every publisher. The bulk of the publicity energy flows toward the top authors for a particular publishing house and new authors are often left to fend for themselves. While publishers care about every book, they also have a pull to keep their major money earners happy. And the irony to me is the longer I'm around, the more I realize that almost every author (no matter where they are on the food chain) has concerns and questions about their publisher's efforts in the PR area.

Also publicity that leads to book sales is not and exact science. If it were, we would all follow the rules each time and sell loads of books. It's much more fluid and individualized and mysterious than anyone lets on--at least in my view.

The challenges are present in every aspect of the work--on the front end of producing a great manuscript and on the back end--selling the printed book into the hands of readers.

Book Proposals That Sell

At 9:32 AM, Blogger Cindy Thomson Left a note...

Hi Terry,

First, a disclaimer. I am NOT complaining about either of my publishers. Just want to be clear! They answer all my questions, though I have had to ask.

For me it's not really pain. Just something I can't figure out. I do understand that the money makers will get the most publicity. I understand that new authors are small fish. But a little explanation early on would do a lot of good. And again, I think you provide this with your blog and Web site.

This is the part I was commenting on: "So, what can publishers do to educate their authors? Gillian Berchowitz, assistant director and senior editor at Ohio University Press, says that it would be useful for authors to meet with a publisher’s marketing department, so that they have a realistic assessment of the publisher’s expectations for their book, and to understand clearly what their role should and shouldn’t be when it comes to participating in the marketing process."

And later: "Deb Shapiro says that editors should talk frankly to their authors about the print runs of their books in order to manage author expectations in advance. All of which should help to make authors more knowledgeable."

My suggestion is that if the publishing staff doesn't have time for such meetings, why not just come up with a FAQ and distribute it to new authors? Of course such a FAQ couldn't answer everything, and every book is unique--like you said it's not an exact science. But it seems to me this would help.

Just my 2 cents!

At 11:14 AM, Blogger Jerome Left a note...

Terry, communication is critical but I think publishers welcome questions as long as the questioning doesn't become an annoyance. A simple e-mail is the best, I think. The publisher's employees (editor, publicist, marketing, etc.) can respond when they have the time. A phone call may be too intrusive -- but an occasional call would be fine. And first time authors should go into the relationship with the assumption that the publisher can't (or won't) spend any marketing dollars on their project. Then if the publisher does throw some money the author's way, it's a bonus. The author's own marketing will be critical to the success of his/her work.


At 2:21 PM, Blogger Linda Fulkerson Left a note...

Thanks, Terry, for informing us of this resource. I just downloaded the PDF and browsed through the Table of Contents. I know I'll find some valuable information in this book.

At 5:03 PM, Blogger Pam Perry, PR Coach Left a note...

Terry, you are the 'guru' thanks for sharing information. God bless you! Pam Perry, www.MinistryMarketingSolutions.com


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