Thursday, April 19, 2007
Error #2: Print on Demand
There are few greater highs that publication. It's GREAT! When I get opublished, I tend to carry my book around obsessively for at least a week and when people show the slightest bit of interest in it, in such obvious ways as looking at me, or walking past me, I thrust it in their faces screaming "I WROTE SOMETHING IN THIS AND IT'S INCREDIBLE BUY A COPY NOW!" Only I'm such a spaz that it comes out as "IROTSOMTNGNTHISNDNCREDIBLBUYCOPNOW!".
And I want to make sure that I get that awesome feeling of publication as much as possible. 'Cause it's awesome.
Cthulhu Express which you can see on the left, is an actual physical book, and holding it in my hands gives me exactly the same pleasure as those of any other books with bindings that I've got work in. It is, however, Print on Demand, from Lulu.com. Which means that nobody read it.
The problem with Lulu dot com is that there are a lot of people who use it to get that GREAT feeling of their own physical book in their hands. The current system of agents, slush piles, and rejection letters exists because not everybody writes well enough to get paid for it. The lure of lulu is that I don't have to go through all that. I get my stuff together, and in a few weeks, I can have my own novel, anthology of short stories, or whatever in my hands. And while it's a great feeling, I have to consider how much effort went into it, and how many people are going to read it.
Nobody read Cthulhu Express. It was on Lulu dot com for four months before RageMachine shut itself down, and in that time, it sold eleven non-contributor copies in that time. Eleven. And I know who bought three of them. Again, I could have written the world's best story, but without people to buy it and read it and discuss it and convince other people to read it, it's not going to sell enough copies for my royalties to be anything but pennies. I put effort and time into these stories. I want my time to be worth more than pennies.
POD has its uses. Every now and then I consider putting out a Whateley Family Bible and sending it to people for Christmas. Lulu would allow me to have an economical print run of forty books. So POD isn't some sort of evil presence in publishing, but it is not the same as selling a story to a venue like Clarkesworld or Weird Tales which will pay me in advance, by the word. And which people will subsequently hear about and read.
1,000 words on William Peter Blatty
300 words of reviews and essays for the EOD
Finished Razored Saddles (awesome book!)
Finished Which Way to Mecca, Jack