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Thread: POD?

  1. #1
    stevenlabri ô¿ô


    I post here only because the opinions I would like to see frequent this area. Perhaps this should go to Smoko, however I think the new and old of this board will be able to offer things to the new and the old of this board providing valuable insight.

    I know many of you are seemly opposed to POD publishing of fiction. That said I am sure this post will stir some controversy as well as some intelligent conversation. I am not providing my opinion as much as bringing some things to light, so feel free to discuss among the common masses. My only contribution is the thought process here within, and my belief, albeit naïve as it may be, the publishing industry is changing rapidly.

    Over the past few weeks, I have been investigating POD sites—more specifically, Createspace and LuLu. I find it fascinating most anyone with words on paper can publish with such little effort, at virtually zero cost.

    Piquing my curiosity was Kay’s success. I am happy . . . no . . . thrilled for her, so don’t mistake my reference. Personally, I think she is on the right track. Yes, I know her work is non-fiction so there is a different audience. But, here she is with an obviously popular book, and yet she said,

    “I queried 5 agents. 2 immediate rejections 3 fulls, 1 of those rejected after a lot of emails back and forth. 2 are still out.”

    And one would think an agent or publisher would be knocking down her door.

    Kay’s success not withstanding, what is intriguing, understanding what motivates many readers in making an online purchase, is YOUR “novel” is listed on Amazon as if your the writer went through the whole agent/edit/agent/publisher/contract/lawyer thing.

    Seriously. If I design a kick ass cover attracting attention, write up a kick ass first chapter or few lines, and stick it out there, how many people would fork over $15.99?

    The truth is, many of us here can write well enough for people to read our work. We create our masterpiece and cheerfully proceed through the torture of queries, edits, queries, rejection, rejection, rejection, queries, edits, queries, rejection, rejection, rejection. What is the point?

    But let’s say, for the sake of argument, you write a good novel. It doesn’t have to be a blockbuster, an epiphany, a story for all time—just a good story, interesting and with a point. My guess is you will go through the agenting process with the thought, “Damned if I’m gonna self publish!” And sit there until you are old and gray wondering WTF.

    On the other hand, all things considered, you say, “What the heck!” All it takes is a few minutes of my time; upload my novel, and viola! My novel is listed on Amazon for purchase. You may not receive one sale (Okay. Your mom will buy a copy and maybe Aunt Edith), but maybe, just maybe, your novel will take off beyond your expectation.

    On the other hand; if everyone—anyone—can do this, imagine the crap that will proliferate on Amazon in the future.

  2. #2

    Re: POD?

    What is the point?

    Distribution, distribution, distribution.

    You may not receive one sale....

    I couldn't have said it better.

    ...imagine the crap that will proliferate on Amazon...

    It's already there.

  3. #3

    Re: POD?

    "...but maybe, just maybe, your novel will take off beyond your expectation."

    You'll never know until you give it a try. And what, after all, do you have to lose? Go for it.

  4. #4
    Diane Rogers

    Re: POD?


    I agree with everything you state; however, there are those of us who HAVE been under contract for publication after "following the rules," when something happens and that contract disappears, i.e. death and closure of the (small) publishing house. But, being a survivor and believer in my work, I self-published and now, after (almost) 800 copies sold of my three books, and with excellent reviews from ebook reviewers, avid readers, historians, other authors, and educators, I KNOW it would sell in a larger market, IF I had the marketing power-- which I don't have. I am now subsidy-published by a local press that carries several well-known authors of non-fiction. I am her first fiction writer--because she, too, believes in my books. I am ebook published (Awe-Struck) and will soon be included in Barnes & Noble's Small Distribution System, which is, basically, titles over the internet, but I had to submit to their Small Distribution Center in order to be "approved" for inclusion in that system. As I write, my info is being forwarded to that department so it can be uploaded into their system. The key is YOUR WORK MUST BE GOOD and you HAVE GOT to keep on keeping on (IF that work is good). I've been "confirmed" by too many people, as noted above, to give up. Every step I take now moves me forward.

    However, I've been witness to the crap you speak of. I did a signing with a woman whose book was the biggest bunch of drivel I couldn't finish reading, which soils the rest of us who are self-pubbed for whatever reasons who actually CAN write. It's a hard, long, road, but self-publishing CAN give you the opening (and education) to eventually be published traditionally, which is STILL my ultimate goal, but you have to work your AS* off to get there. And the work HAS to be good and speak for itself--not the author or a cover on Amazon.

    Have a good weekend all, signing off for the weekend.


  5. #5
    Joe Zeff

    Re: POD?

    Funny you should ask about this when you did. I'm a member of a small APA, with John Dechancie. In his contribution this week, he talked about having to read and critique a pile of self-published novels. He was astonished to find that almost every, single one claimed to be a memoir, a retelling of well-known history or a fictionalization of a true story. It was almost as though they had taken the instruction to "write what you know" too literally and didn't realize that a novelist's job is to make things up. Some were fairly good, most were poor, a few were terrible, just as you'd expect, and most of them weren't good enough to get published by a traditional publisher, assuming the author had tried to go that route. He didn't say, but I get the impression that the writer's unwillingness to invent was a large part of the lack of quality, because problems with spelling, punctuation, grammar and syntax can be fixed with a little editing, but no editor can add imagination.

    I don't know if that's what you were looking for, but the timing was right and I thought I'd through it into the discussion.

  6. #6

    Re: POD?


    For those who haven't seen her post on Smoko, Kay Bratt landed an agent.

    (After selling 1,800 (!) copies on her on. That's a formidable achievement.)

  7. #7
    stevenlabri ô¿ô

    Re: POD?

    There ya go!

  8. #8
    stevenlabri ô¿ô

    Re: POD?

    After thinking about POD, considering the minimal cost, here are some thoughts for better or worse. The most important point is, it’s not about the money. You are probably not going to get rich with POD, or even when (if) you are published traditionally.

    I think one needs to write the best story possible. Edit, review, re-write, and query some beta readers for honest opinion. Perhaps a local writers group, and there area few places you can upload all or part of your work for honest opinion. Additionally, before considering the POD route, I think your writing credits should include, published locally or perhaps nationally, with some short stories, etc. AND that you’ve been paid for your work—it shows at least, someone appreciates your work and you have some talent.

    That said, complete your novel as stated, POD the darn thing and see if the market accepts your work. As Diane said, you are going to have to work you’re a$$ off to promote your book, (as my friend below did) but with determination, you can do it if you have the talent to write a solid story.

    If, by chance, you sell more than 100 books, you are probably doing something right. If you hit the 500 mark, you are moving in the right direction. If you sell 1,000? Well I would rather approach an agent with a new novel stating, “My last novel sold over 1,000 copies through Amazon,” or whatever the channel rather than the usual query everyone else is sending.

    On the other side of the equation, if you can’t manage to sell a few hundred copies of your genius POD work, perhaps you should think of another career.

    I have mentioned this before, however once again, I have a friend that created a story; not an epic novel and not complex plot, but a simple story. It was straightforward, pictures, and less than 500 words. Yeah. 500 words. She sold nearly 200,000 copies on her own, yeah POD. It is now a NYT BS.

    Of course, she is the exception, and of course, an exceptional person.

  9. #9

    Re: POD?

    "Of course, she is the exception, and of course, an exceptional person."

    I don't know about her being such an exception, Steven? I think you'd find that self-publishing, with the right publicity machine behind it, can be extremely lucrative. And you're working for yourself, and keep total control, which is always nice. Plus, you don't have to make changes to suit anybody else. Like, the story has potential but you have to make it 20,000 words longer. :-) Oh right, wait til I whip out my pen. Doesn't matter about wrecking the entire story, as long as it's the required word count. Incredible. This is a bit like saying well the roast is done to a turn, just right, but the instructions called for an hour longer, so shove it back in the oven!


  10. #10
    Ann Crispin

    Re: POD?

    I blogged about this subject on Writer Beware's blog at one point, and thought I'd post the text of that blog here. It sounds like most of the folks involved in this thread have convinced themselves that POD is the way to fame and fortune. My experience indicates otherwise.

    So I'll play devil's advocate.

    -Ann C. Crispin
    Chair, Writer Beware

    Wednesday, December 21, 2005
    A.C. Crispin - 26 --- Writing Myths..."If I can just get it out there..."

    Victoria and I were talking the other day, and decided we'd blog a bit from time to time about some myths we've noticed floating around in the world of the aspiring writer. Most of you posters are probably too sophisticated to ascribe to these, but more people read than post, so here goes:

    Aspiring Writer Myth No. 1: "If I can just get it out there..."

    This is the litany Vic and I have heard so many, many times from people who have signed on with vanity POD publishers, or, as these companies like to style themselves these days, "self-publishing" companies.

    These writers fall into two general categories:

    1. They've submitted their work to commercial publishers, or tried to get a decent literary agent with a track record of sales, and failed. Usually, the reason for their work not finding a publisher or agent representation is that the book just isn't good enough to be published, for whatever reason. Poor writing quality is the most common reason that books are rejected, but the reasons for rejection are as varied as the plots of books. Books can be, and are, rejected for all sorts of reasons unrelated to the quality of the writing.

    Some of the most common reasons for rejection are:

    a. first and foremost, poor quality of the writing

    b. other writing problems, such as poor characterization, overdone plot, etc.

    c. plot similarities with one of the publisher's/agents established writers (this happens more often than you'd think -- remember that old saw about Great Minds think alike)

    d. the publisher's publication list is full/the agent's client list is full

    2. The second category of writers has never submitted their work anywhere. They frequently believe it's hopeless, so they don't bother. Or they are lazy. Or they want a "shortcut" and see POD as a way to begin a career. Some think commercial publishers will steal their ideas/copyright, so they want to maintain "control" over their work. Some actually believe that people who self-publish make more money because they get a higher percentage of the book's proceeds -- a vile canard fostered by many of the vanity POD companies and author mills.

    For whatever reason, these writers take their manuscripts to vanity PODs and author mills with this logic: IF I CAN JUST GET IT OUT THERE, PEOPLE WILL BE ABLE TO BUY IT, AND SINCE IT'S REALLY GOOD, THEY'LL READ IT, WORD OF MOUTH WILL SPREAD, AND IT WILL TAKE OFF AND I'LL BE SELLING LIKE HOTCAKES.


    This logic is fallacious for a couple of reasons:

    1. POD companies usually have no means to distribute the books, so they aren't really published "out there." The books don't appear on bookshelves in bookstores, where browsing readers can spot them, leaf through them, and perhaps decide to purchase. The main place a reader has to go to purchase a POD book is to the internet, and we all know that the internet follows the old 80-20 rule. (80% of everything is crap, IOW)

    2. Even having a book on the shelf in bookstores (something that's beyond most POD companies and certainly beyond the capability of author mills like PublishAmerica) doesn't guarantee bestsellerdom. Even having a good book out...even a well-written, exciting tale, spun by an expert storyteller won't bring a writer automatic Stephen King-dom. Why do I know this? Well, Vic and I have both been publishing for years. Our books are regularly featured on bookstore shelves around the country. They are "out there." Yet neither of us has become a household word. (What can I say, there are some shortsighted readers out there...)

    Are there exceptions?

    Sure. They happen about as often as people winning the Super Mega Lotto, but they happen. Books like The Christmas Box, The Celestine Prophecy, Chicken Soup for the Soul, etc., were originally self-published and went on to sell big. You'll note that they are all non-fiction. If you can self publish your non-fiction book and demonstrate that it will sell several thousand copies rather quickly, say, within 6 to 9 months, then you may well be able to interest a commercial house.

    But most POD books sell fewer than 100 copies, and most of those copies are purchased by the author, and his/her friends and family.

    There have been far fewer examples of novels that have begun as self-published books and gone on to commercial fame and fortune. Eragon is the shining example. But if you look closely at that book, and its history, you'll see that Christopher Paolini was NOT publishing with a vanity POD company. He had advantages that most writers can't hope to have -- like parents who owned a small press and were experienced editors/publishers.

    There are also a lot of writers who are also excellent public speakers -- teachers, trainers, experts in some field, etc., who do well with self-publishing. These folks have a built-in venue for their book sales. They give a talk, and at the end of the talk, they sell their books to the audience. They often do very well.

    So...the next time you hear a writer friend saying, "If I can just get it out there..." you might want to give them the link to this blog. They need a little dose of reality. Nobody should go into self publishing or POD publishing expecting fame, fortune, and a big commercial publishing contract -- yet writers do it every day.

    I suspect desperation plays a part, as Vic has noted.

    -Ann C. Crispin

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