Today Bowker, the exclusive U.S. ISBN and SAN Agency, sent out a press release with the following headline:
Bowker Reports U.S. Book Production Declines 3% in 2008, but "On Demand" Publishing More than Doubles
This announcement should not really come as any great surprise, especially with the direction book publishing has been going over the last few years. These numbers seem to be validated by my own experience because no matter where I go, I frequently meet someone who has either self-published or gone the route of print-on-demand. Often it is because the author could not get an agent for one reason or another, but lately many of these writers have told me that they hadn't even attempted to secure an agent because they heard it was almost impossible. They'd be right, but you may be surprised to learn that I think they should have at least given traditional publishing a chance.
Yes, I am an advocate for the new publishing paradigm, but there are still some drawbacks-namely, distribution, or the lack thereof. And, as long as there are brick and mortar bookstores, that matters. But more importantly, a traditionally published book will have been edited and will also benefit from some sort of publicity and marketing, which is why I suggest that the author at least attempt for a few months to try to get a book deal, but if nothing comes of it, then take advantage of the many alternatives available. The good news is that many print-on-demand publishers now have full services available that include editing and marketing. Unfortunately, though, many authors bypass these services.
Recently, I was at a gathering where I'd met an author who had self-published her book. She used a publisher that offered editing and marketing services, but she was quick to tell me that she didn't want to spend the money. As she handed me her business card, she then said, "I edited my book myself." I held my tongue, even when she stressed that fact two more times. Maybe, I thought, she was one of the few who truly didn't need an editor's eye and I was being too quick to judge. She also informed me that she created her own Web site and did her own marketing. Subsequently, when I got home, I checked out her Web site. Immediately, what jumped out at me was the misspelling of the word "receive." I kid you not, and as far as I was concerned, this glaring error did not bode well for her book.
Therefore, in light of the exciting, new publishing paradigms, I implore writers to handle their manuscript with care and nurturing and seek out a professional to make sure that it's the best that it can be before readers have access to it because writers owe it to them and themselves.
Please note: I will be speaking about the new paradigms in publishing at BookExp at the Jacob Javits Center on Saturday, May 30th, 3 PM. More details to come.