This past week has been very interesting in terms of Thomas Nelson’s ‘self-publishing announcement. I have heard responses that ran the gamut from this being as great as hot dogs, apple pie and baseball to – what?
In my time in this industry, the very real mindset that is continually bantered about has been that of self-publishing being the literary pariah that would keep every author's name attached to it, in the ranks of sub-standard.
I understood the mindset given the quality of what was and continues to be ‘published’ utilizing the services of a majority of ‘self-publishing companies, PODs and Vanity Presses'. I also understood why it became the norm rather than the exception – because those contracting with these companies have no idea what the business of writing is.
Returning to the topic of this blog – the bottom line of business practices that I would like to impress upon you in our short time together is one that every person in business should be aware of -- beware of doors that had previously been locked with no less than industry angels and flaming swords preventing entry suddenly opening. When those doors swing open with a sudden interest in your services or product it is most often predicated upon a need for financial gain from YOUR hard work.
The outcry over what some have viewed as a less than budget or client friendly option, to Thomas Nelson and others jumping on the bandwagon is just plain business; a way to shore up the bottom line.
Thomas Nelson and other Houses feeling the economic pinch understand the necessity to have mechanisms in place to offset lost revenue. Businesses survive on the bottom line. Currently the instrument used to shore up the money holes seeping through the levees of some publishing houses has been the extension of self-publishing services. It may be viewed as hypocrital and even greedy by some, but remaining solvent is their business, their job so to speak.
Your job as a potential self-published author is to educate yourself regarding the business side of the industry. Let me reiterate, in order to keep your levee from hemorrhaging money you can ill-afford to lose, know YOUR business.
Knowing your business requires YOU not lose focus of YOUR goal by getting caught in the hype of media spin and others who stand to gain from your desire to get your words in print. It is YOUR business to take responsibility to:
*Not be intimidated by or willingly signing on for something you do not understand
*Examine thoroughly and question everything offered in the self-publishing package in order to clearly understand YOUR financial responsibility
*Question costly ala carte services required in order to be considered for ‘broader’ industry exposure, etc. – especially if at their discretion there is no guarantee of the broader exposure
*Know exactly who you are doing business with, i.e., are you being farmed out to a POD/Vanity press with the contractual obligation to operate under their guidelines?
*Will the imprint be that of the Name house or the subsidiary you may be diverted to?
*Know who owns the rights to your book and for how long
*Who determines when the book is ready for print?
*What is your right in terms of reprinting of a deficient product?
*What is the termination parameters should you chose to sever ties with company?
*Do have the right to take your book with you?
*Will you have to pay to take that book with you?
*What is your right in terms of other forms of publication of your book?
*Is your book returnable?
*THE BIGGY – How much will it cost you to purchase YOUR books for inventory?
This list could go on and on, but that is not the goal of this post. The goal is for you to understand that writing is a business and that when you leave to others, often times your goal becomes their bottom line.
One area I have yet to hear debated is why Thomas Nelson and others with similar industry reputations, would risk their names with such a risky move? My theory is that they will do so relying upon the art of disassociation as their insulation from too much public backlash from customers.
Beyond the large amounts of money they stand to gain, studies have shown that readers more often than not compartmentalize what is in their hand. They will take another chance or two or three on a publisher who produces a substandard product. They tend to be less forgiving of the author whose name appears on the book. It is a winning situation for most publishers as the line of hopefuls looking to be ‘picked up’ by their company seems to have no end in sight.
These words are not to discourage. These words are meant to plant seeds that prayerfully will bear foundational fruit that will support and protect the bottom line of your business – the writing business entrusted to you.