To say publishing has changed would be an understatement. Publishing has gone from being a warm and creative place to sort of akin to venturing into Baghdad on a bad night. It’s not for the faint of heart. But if you’re in it, you’re in it and it’s tough to get out. Not that any of us would want to really. Sure we complain, we lament slow sales and our “sure thing” which had the unfortunate luck of being released in the same week Bill Clinton was touting his memoirs. I can remember the morning Paris Hilton’s dog came out with a book: I was physcially ill. Don’t get me wrong, I love animals, just not when they decide to write a book. Let’s leave that to those of us who walk on two legs and have posable thumbs to put pen to paper. And the fact is that this dog was (in my opinion) stealing the attention from authors much more worthy of it. But here’s the kicker: publishers want sure things, they’re not the risk-takers of yore publishing the stuff that “resonated” with them – now it’s got to resonate with the bean counters and let’s face it, when your last name is Hilton there’s not a bean counter in the world who’s going to argue that point. So, where does that leave the rest of us? Well, in truth it leaves us perilously stuck between keeping our books from ever seeing the light of day, or venturing into Baghdad. Most of us chose the latter.
I gotta tell you, I see books everyday – some of them are great and some of them are not so great but the point that everyone is missing is this: if you’ve got something to say – say it! I’ve been an advocate for POD long before most of us even knew what it was. Why? Because my friends it’s called freedom of speech a la the 21st century. Just like the old saying “life will find a way” so will publishing. If an author really, really wants to see their work in print, they’ll find a way. For some it’s running to Kinko’s and getting their manuscript bound, for others it’s POD. Has it helped the industry? I think it has. Sure we see many books that are nothing more than bound science projects, but there is also some great work out there. I know because I read these new books all the time many of them I’m even lucky enough to promote. Some months ago I met this author who couldn’t sell her book because she was told the heroines were too old – at 49! Excuse me, too old? Please! Being the persistent author she is, she refused to take no for an answer and published it through POD. When I read this book for the first time I remembered thinking “who on earth would turn this author down?” POD had given voice to something that otherwise would have been silenced. Is that a benefit? You bet it is. This book may not change your life but for this author it’s been a ride like nothing she’s ever experienced and the best part? She refused to let someone else dictate her fate. That, my friend, is empowerment.
If you believe in yourself and your work enough, then publish, publish, publish. POD in my opinion is the wild west of publishing. But keep this in mind: if you want to survive your night in Baghdad you’ve got to publish a quality book otherwise you’re just killing trees. If we’re going to keep raising the bar on POD we’ve all got to work together. And when I say all I mean ALL, authors, publishers, everyone. We need to get our work edited and not entrust it to mom for the “once over” (face it, mom loves everything we do, even our science projects). We need to do our market research, we need to do our due diligence, and we need to want it bad enough to be willing to put in the mind numbing hours it takes to make it happen. Is it easy? No way. But it’s worth everything bit of effort you’ll put into it. There’s nothing like a published book and thanks to POD we can all make it happen. So when people ask me why I like POD that’s what I tell them: it’s leveled the playing field, it’s evened out the odds and it’s given the average author the chance to see their work in print regardless of whether their last name is Hilton, Clinton, or Brown. So to the people who lament the influx of books and say we have “too many books” I say this: we can never have too many books. This is one of the most exciting times publishing has ever known, together we are reinventing the industry, we’re creating new options and new choices but most of all, we’re not waiting for someone to tell us we can publish our work, we’re taking control of our writing future and getting published today. And yes, it can be a long, painful, even scary process but we love it with all its unexpected successes and even more unexpected failures. And when given the choice we’ll gladly venture into Baghdad for the ride of our life.