Friday, May 20, 2005

And one more . . .

Special thanks to Kitty for tipping me off to Lee Goldberg's site, where he discusses "iUniverse by the Numbers." Worth a look!

Something old, something new

This is just a brief update . . .

We'll have Agent Three's answers to my Q&A next week, followed by Editor Two shortly thereafter. Also, on Monday we'll display more of our usual buried treasure (as I do each Monday, in case you haven't noticed.)

In the meantime, here are a few things for you to check out:

These people have all the technical garbage you could ever want to know about POD. And I'm guessing you do not want to know.

And there is this one which, if you have already gone POD, you have likely seen before.

And on the skeptical side . . .

And this is interesting to see how this guy's book sold a few years ago. A POD case-in-point. Note the total sales. I would guess they are a good representation.

And now we have reached rock bottom: turning your blog into a POD book. Holy Mackaroli.

And here is a funny little rant about firing a POD vendor.

And finally . . . a little diddy about Amazon and Booksurge. Note that Simon & Schuster is starting to print backlist with POD directly from their website. The change is already underway.

Tune in next week for the goodies!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Agent & Editor Q&A: Editor One

The great North American division of the POD-dy Mouth Alliance for Print-On-Demand Exposure is proud and excited to present our first editor interview regarding the state of the POD Union. And away we go . . .

Editor Profile: This editor has been a prominent figure in the publishing industry for nearly 15 years and is currently an acquiring editor with an imprint within the massive Random House Empire, which is part of the massive Bertelsmann Empire. Editor One acquires and edits approximately 12 titles per year with an emphasis on fiction with a side-order of some narrative non-fiction. Editor One lives and works in New York.

Girl: What is your impression if an author first publishes his or her work with a POD company? Is there a difference in quality between POD and traditionally self-published?

Editor One: You mean reputation-wise? I don't care. No one I know cares. In fact, one editor I had lunch with a few days ago mentioned he wished more writers would publish POD first, if for no other reason but to get a glimpse into the publishing world and to see, first, how hard it is to get attention for a title, and secondly, to see what a traditional publisher can offer instead. Obviously, my friend is sick of his stable of complaining authors, but I think he might be on to something.

As far as the difference between POD and "old-school" traditional self-publishing, I say there is no difference. Self-publication means self-editing and self-promotion, too, and that usually is a bad thing. If one person could do it all herself there would be no need for the hundreds of people in my building.

Girl: If you like a book, do you care if it was once published POD?

Editor One: Doesn't matter to me. Frankly, if someone is querying me regarding his novel, unless it has sold thousands of copies, I would rather not even know it was printed POD. I have edited two books [one I acquired and one I did not] that were previously POD titles and both books had sold no more copies than to friends and family members, so what difference does it make? If it has sold thousands of copies, you better tell me that. That's a stat that might help get the book past marketing.

Girl: What if someone pitched a POD book to you and told you it had sold 1000 units in 6 months? Or 3000 units in a year?

Editor One: See above, but I would like to see more like 5,000 units sold, especially for non-fiction. Fiction would require less, but not much less.

Girl: Do you think POD will eventually revolutionize the publishing industry?

Editor One: The only thing that will ever "revolutionize" the publishing industry is something that will a. shorten time to print (one year is too long), b. create a cheaper product for the consumer. POD is a big winner on the first item but a tremendous failure on the second. I like POD for things like small galley runs and bringing out-of-print titles back into the market.

Girl: Do you think POD publishers are taking advantage of hopeful authors by giving them a glimpse of being in a bookstore?

Editor One: Well, I do not know what a POD press charges but I would imagine it must be getting close to free now, isn't it? Even if it costs an author a couple hundred bucks, I am guessing they could earn that back by selling 100 copies or so if the royalties are in-line. If it costs in the thousands then that sounds like pure scam. I am more interested in the technology itself. Any company that takes thousands from an author better have some mind-blowing service to back it up.

Girl: Do you think POD publishers will have an impact on books already out of print?

Editor One: They should have had more of an impact by now, in my opinion. Instead of marketing to authors they should be marketing to publishers. Maybe not Random, because we can handle it ourselves, but the unending list of small presses and university presses who cannot do the work on small budgets.

Girl: If someone POD'd a book but still wants to pitch editors/agents, should he or she simply send the paperback?

Editor One: Get real.

Girl: Bonus question: True or false-"If you have a brilliant manuscript, your book will find a home/get published."

Editor One: Tremendously false, and though many of my peers feel it is a rather recent phenomenon, I believe it was never true. I would estimate that there are thousands of excellent books that have been lost in the ether for a whole host of reasons. What scares me more is the opposite is true: that if you have a bad book, it does not mean you will not get published. This industry is very arbitrary. My own imprint is guilty of this.

Girl: Anything you want to add?

Editor One: My advice is [if you have a good book] get an agent. If you still [have a good book] and cannot get an agent you might want to try printing the book POD at the cheapest level and make a go of it. Distribution is non-existent for POD presses so you will have to do it all yourself. Self-publishing is an ugly road, but you have a better chance of getting noticed on a miracle level than if you put the book in a filing cabinet. And my advice for the backlist folks: start using POD to save your titles now before the list is too big to bring back all at once.

Thanks Editor One! Your time is greatly appreciated. By the way, Marketing called and that breathtaking novel you've been pushing got the axe. So sorry.

Oh, and since you rejected my manuscript before Penguin Putnam so quickly snapped it up, let me say this: bite me. Of course, it is not the commercial success I'd hoped it to be, but more the midlist title you predicted it would be. So bite me again.

Upcoming: Agent Three. Holy cow, does it ever end?

Monday, May 16, 2005

MISS MEDIA by Lynn Harris (iUniverse)

That's Lynn Harris. Not E. Lynn Harris.

The interesting thing about this book is that I saw it (cover out) in a local used bookstore (in a small section put aside for new titles) and picked it up based solely on title and cover. Being a hardback, I glossed over the description on the flap, read the first few pages, then dropped it in my basket for checkout. I ended up finishing the book two days later. That was about a year ago.

I didn't realize it was POD until three days ago.

I was reorganizing my bookshelf and a bunch of books dropped off one end. On top was MISS MEDIA by Lynn Harris. What caught my eye was not the cover this time, but the tiny red iUniverse log on the back.

So, you see, POD books are difficult to differentiate from traditionally published books after all.

Especially in this case. MISS MEDIA is absolutely a well-written book. It is chick-lit only in a sense that it is about a chick and it's literary. But it is way edgier than the standard fare and a heck of a lot more compelling.

And much funnier.

MISS MEDIA tells the story of Lola Somerville, an advice columnist who ends up getting a primo job at a "TV for women" network by the name of Ovum--during the peak years of the blitz and at a time when names like iVillage, Oprah, Lifetime and the like were the hottest brands in the industry. She has to grapple with the ins and outs of a company gone wrong and attempts to surface triumphantly. And it is true to the time: obsession with web addresses, email excerpts and "the talk" of the industry.

Ms. Harris delivers this roman-a-clef so deftly that you will likely want to do an immediate re-read. Her writing is sharp, clever and memorable:

"Lola could pass for Nicole Kidman if she were two feet taller and had a different face--so her hair, she felt, made up for the fact that otherwise, one might describe her as 'the hot girl's approachable friend.'"

Highly entertaining and highly enjoyable.

And wouldn't you know . . . for all my $1.35 copies of POD books, I paid full price for this one.