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Books and the publishing industry

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Sun February 1st, 2009, 5:27 pm

I can't speak for all self-published authors, but I'm happy to provide free e-copies to interested parties in exchange for feedback. I can't afford to do the same with the printed copies, I don't keep them on hand.
How does a self-published author get average joe readers like to me read his/her book? I've been burned once and I'll not try again without seeing real reviews by real reviewers (I can tell the difference now) and I'll not drop $18 + on a complete unknown...
And therein lies the problem. If I knew the answer to your question, I'd be selling more than just my Jane Austen Paraliterature. If you've been burned by bad writing, formatting, editing (or total lack thereof), how can I convince you to try my book?

Lulu has book previews on their site, which authors can customize, but what if I don't know which part of my book is most likely to appeal to people? How do I decide which are the best scenes? What if using one of the best scenes provides too much of the spoiler effect? Or what if the preview is the only good part of the book, and the reader is disappointed with the overall story?

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Sun February 1st, 2009, 5:32 pm

I agree it is a problem. If self published books were cheaper I might be more willing to buy them. Some topics sound very interesting.
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boswellbaxter
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Post by boswellbaxter » Sun February 1st, 2009, 5:38 pm

[quote=""LoveHistory""]I can't speak for all self-published authors, but I'm happy to provide free e-copies to interested parties in exchange for feedback. I can't afford to do the same with the printed copies, I don't keep them on hand.




Lulu has book previews on their site, which authors can customize, but what if I don't know which part of my book is most likely to appeal to people? How do I decide which are the best scenes? What if using one of the best scenes provides too much of the spoiler effect? Or what if the preview is the only good part of the book, and the reader is disappointed with the overall story?[/quote]

For my website, I just picked a couple of excerpts that gave a taste of the novel. I don't think it has to be one of the best scenes or one that gives away the plot, but just one that shows that you can write well and engage the reader.
Susan Higginbotham
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Ariadne
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Post by Ariadne » Sun February 1st, 2009, 6:05 pm

I really appreciate having excerpts of self-published novels on author websites, or publisher websites. My colleague who edits the online version of the Historical Novels Review often makes decisions on whether to accept a novel for consideration based on these excerpts.

That said, a paperback priced at over $20 is going to be a hard sell no matter what. I've seen some paperbacks that were over $25 (ack). I'm also wary of self-published novels that are extremely long (which is usually accompanied by a high price); to me it means the author hasn't done sufficiently rigorous self-editing and/or hasn't had any other editors go through it first.

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Sun February 1st, 2009, 6:09 pm

[quote=""Divia""]I agree it is a problem. If self published books were cheaper I might be more willing to buy them. Some topics sound very interesting.[/quote]

That's the biggest problem is the price -- and it's never discounted like other books are. BB's suggestion of the look inside feature at Amazon is an excellent one, and you can put up much more than just the first chapter. As for previews on Lulu, unless there was a big bold something to point me to a link for a preview it would never occur to me to go looking for an excerpt elsewhere.

Still, any idea how to get copies of your self-published books to the libraries? Right now with the economy the way it is I am not buying much of anything, if the library doesn't have it I'm going for an ILL first. Right now there's a HR on Amazon that kind of interests me but I'm torn because the 1) library doesn't have it and 2) with three reviews and two of those by known "gushers" of everything and the third being most likely connected with the author I'm just going to sit back and wait to see what others think first.

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boswellbaxter
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Post by boswellbaxter » Sun February 1st, 2009, 6:31 pm

[quote=""Misfit""]That's the biggest problem is the price -- and it's never discounted like other books are. BB's suggestion of the look inside feature at Amazon is an excellent one, and you can put up much more than just the first chapter. As for previews on Lulu, unless there was a big bold something to point me to a link for a preview it would never occur to me to go looking for an excerpt elsewhere.

Still, any idea how to get copies of your self-published books to the libraries? Right now with the economy the way it is I am not buying much of anything, if the library doesn't have it I'm going for an ILL first. Right now there's a HR on Amazon that kind of interests me but I'm torn because the 1) library doesn't have it and 2) with three reviews and two of those by known "gushers" of everything and the third being most likely connected with the author I'm just going to sit back and wait to see what others think first.[/quote]

I donated a couple of copies of The Traitor's Wife (old brown cover) to my local library, and it's still circulating, but probably the only reason the donation was accepted was because I was a local author. (A few libraries actually purchased copies, though.) Shelf space is at a premium in many libraries, so a number are unwilling to accept self-published books, even when they're donated by the author. But a self-published author should certainly try to get his or her own book in the local library, and in other libraries where it might be of regional interest.
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Ariadne
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Post by Ariadne » Sun February 1st, 2009, 6:35 pm

Libraries aren't huge risk-takers, generally speaking, but especially these days with book budgets being cut everywhere. I often buy and recommend books without having seen reviews, based on the publisher or author's reputation, but with self-published novels I wouldn't do so unless it was on a topic which I knew would be popular with many patrons. With luck the author will have donated or sold copies to their local libraries (this is a good marketing tool many authors don't take advantage of) so it'll be available via ILL elsewhere. But even free, donated copies really aren't free due to the processing costs involved, and limited shelf space... so there's no guarantee libraries will accept them.

Just saw your post, Boswell, but will go ahead and post my comments anyway - GMTA!

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Sun February 1st, 2009, 8:04 pm

so it'll be available via ILL elsewhere
Therein again lies the rub. I know how far afield my ILL requests have come from and when they can't get it that's pretty much saying there is no library in the country with it. So then we're back to how to get the word out and how to get people to buy.

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Ariadne
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Post by Ariadne » Sun February 1st, 2009, 8:23 pm

If you want, you can check yourself on www.worldcat.org to see which libraries or library systems own copies, to see in advance whether it'd be worth placing a request. (There are some vendors like Alibris and Baker & Taylor in there too.) If you've been getting ILLs from libraries outside of your own system or state, chances are your library uses OCLC for making their ILL requests - which is the system upon which WorldCat is based.

If the publisher doesn't have excerpts and the author doesn't do any marketing to get the word out themselves, I'm unclear too about how people are supposed to be encouraged to buy a copy.

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Libby
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Post by Libby » Sun February 1st, 2009, 10:25 pm

I think one problem with self-published work and work that is simply posted on the web is that there is so much of it!

Some is good; a lot is bad and it's only by reading it that you can judge, whereas printed work from a publisher is at least up to a reasonable standard.

With any book, published, self-published or posted on a fanfic site the main problem is attracting readers to make it successful. Writing is easy compared with marketing and with so much being written and posted for consideration you have to be able to shout very loud to be heard.

So does the future for publishing mean that it is the best publicists rather than the best writers who will have the higher readership?
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