Before getting started on the incredible number of problems I had with my publisher, I would like to thank everyone who has purchased a paperback, hardcover, or eBook version of my book. I greatly appreciate your support and the next time we see each other; lunch or dinner is on me.
After completing my book back in May of 2022, the next step was getting it ready for publication. There are various ways you can go about this process.
1) You can send your manuscript off to some of the biggest publishers and hope the book is good enough to grab some attention. As an individual who has no connections in the industry, this proved to be a mistake. As a writer with no previous titles to my name, the work has to stand out and attract a massive audience. A travel book that analyzes the landmarks along a historical road is not going to give off any “Harry Potter” vibes.
2) Self-publishing was the next choice. There are lots of online classes and YouTube videos that explain the entire process. My biggest issue was not having the resources on my computer mixed in with the surprisingly long amount of time it was going to take to learn the process. In addition, accounting for my 40 hour a week job, my parenting and husband responsibilities, and my diverse number of interests, I just could not find the time to sit down and learn this skill. Intellectual exhaustion also had an impact.
3) So, the final choice was passing the responsibility off to a third-party independent publisher. After doing research and getting recommended a publisher from a podcaster who contacted me, I went with the publisher Xlibris. I bought their classic package for colored books. The total amount for publication was just under 2500 dollars. Certain aspects of marketing were given to me for free as the editor who reviewed my manuscript was impressed by it and gave me a thousand dollars of credit which I used on an editor and press releases.
If only the experience could have ended here, we could have had a fairy tale Cinderella story. But this is when the nightmare began.
After signing the contract, the phone calls began. Xlibris hassled me daily for a little over a month with constant phone calls and emails. Here is what impressed me about this harassment.
The salesperson never gave up. Giving him a NO answer led to contacting me back with a cheaper offer. When this didn’t work, they resorted to psychology.
“Don’t you want to be a bestselling author?”
“We think your book has the potential for greatness.”
“Spending money is the only way to make money.”
While that last statement does have truth to it, I am also only an occasional idiot. But not a complete one. There were three main problems with their marketing offers that I saw right through.
1) The marketing to their “clients” had nothing to do with the clientele I was interested in acquiring. My manuscript is a historical travel book about a very specific region of the country. The people interested in this type of book probably number in the tens of thousands. So having my book appear at book shows in Europe and Asia seemed like a colossal waste of money and effort. As I mentioned to them in multiple phone calls, if you want to sell my book, put it in National Park bookstores, museums in the West, travel and road magazines, travel websites, etc. The money involved in marketing is not worth the price of trying to appeal to liberal intellectuals. So, for this process, I created my own business. After my first round of royalties, I am going to use whatever profits accumulated and reinvest it into the proper advertising demographic online and via print.
2) The advertising that was appealing to me like a personalized review in the NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW were brutally expensive. To do this sponsored review, I needed to drop close to 5000 dollars of my own money. For me to break even on this book, I would then need to sell close to 1000 copies of my book. The other problem was if you purchased all the marketing services in a package (At a reduced price per the salesmen on the phone), the cost runs up to 15,000 dollars. At this point, the whole thing becomes a giant scam. Here is the reality of the book publishing industry. Most books don’t even sell 100 copies. Per this article,
“In 2004, 950,000 titles out of the 1.2 million tracked by Nielsen Bookscan sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies. Only 25,000 sold more than 5,000 copies. The average book in America sells about 500 copies. Those blockbusters are a minute anomaly: only 10 books sold more than a million copies last year, and fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000.”
And these numbers are even worse now as the publishing industry has declined by around 20% since the early 2000s. If I happen to sell more than 100 copies (Which according to my sales figures, could very well happen before the end of the year), I have already surpassed most authors. Since my book is evergreen and will still be historically accurate in ten years, this was my long-term goal with the novel. Anyone can buy this book and read it during my lifetime. I did not write this book to become rich. I wrote it because this experience of driving this road was something I was interested in sharing with the public.
3) Finally, the worst part of this whole process is the psychology that is used to try to convince you to part with your money. As a person who studies and is fascinated by propaganda, it enraged me that the tactics that governments and media outlets throughout the world use on their populace were being used to convince me to purchase a services product. Despite how I may be perceived, I am a pretty humble person and am realistic about my talent. I understand that this book is being written by a no-name author that only about 1000 people on this planet know personally. I am not going to become arrogant and believe that my novel is the greatest thing ever written, Because if you think this way, that is how they financially trap you. If you want to know what the experience was like, read these reviews online. There are people that are out over 20,000 dollars or have had their project completely ignored while also being bombarded with endless marketing calls. The only reason this was not an issue personally is that my editing was solid, and I understand the process. So, I would not let them get away with slacking on my novel. Despite all this, it still took 16 months for them to publish it.
So, what is the lesson here? I don’t know. But it feels like every creative industry I have been involved with in my lifetime is a gigantic con. This includes the film and music industries also. The publishing industry is just another one of the immense frauds that bombard our lives daily (Insurance, Registration Fees, Property Taxes, Ticketmaster Fees, etc.) We live in a capitalist society where none of the capitalists have any sense of morality or ethics in their quest to make a precious dollar. Maybe this is one of the main reasons why this country is hanging on by a thread.
Next week, the final part!
EXPERT OF SOME