Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Reviews, POD, and Simon and Garfunkel

Great Review for Yours Truly
Received my first major review on Sunday - The Historical Novel Society online reviews took a look at Headwind: The Intrepid Adventures of OSS Agent Katrin Nissen and found it worthy of note. Wowsers. Yipperooni. Ahem. Here's the link: http://historicalnovelsociety.org/hnr-online.htm

I've been waiting semi-patiently for a couple of months for this. Afraid they'd hate it. Hoping they'd like it. Not sure what I'd do or say if they hated it. Not sure what I'd do with it if they liked it. Now it turns out to be a pleasant dilemma.

The First Problem

POD. Print on Demand is a technology, and it's a green technology, when you consider how it works. Headwind is published by a small press - Chalet Publishers LLC, so it should be considered different from the vanity presses who crank out whatever comes their way or self-published books that haven't been vetted.

The major chains don't stock POD books, so if you're looking for Headwind or any of her sister novels -or brother ones either, for that matter - you've got to go online to Amazon, B&N online, or visit your favorite Indie bookstore and hope the author has left off a copy or cajoled (great word) them into stocking.

Marketing yourself is a royal pain in the patootie if you're not the type who loves promoting yourself. I'd rather be researching and writing, but I've been trying valiantly to do all the right things. Next week I'll share the grand list of what I've done in this regard. Still, it's a slow, slow process and not always successful in the end.

The Second Problem

Price. Pricing is difficult for authors to understand. I'm not sure I understand it even after having it explained to me. Small publishers have to price their books so they can make some kind of profit. Often this means the price of one of these undiscovered gems is nearly double what you'd pay for a trade paperback at the grocery store rack or the airport or the major booksellers. Who's going to take a chance on a new author and pay $16.95 when you can grab an AUTHOR off the rack for $8.99? I know, it's not exactly double, but it's close.

Times are tough. Sales are even tougher when you're faced with the PROBLEMS of POD.
So, fellow and fellowette authors, what's your take on this? Any small press publishers out there want to share a point of view?


  1. Congratulations on the review!
    I'm with a smaller publisher as well, and they focus on library and online sales over bookstore sales. (Although they did get my book into B&N.) I think it doesn't matter that much, especially with eBooks taking over.

  2. Hi Karen,
    I echo Alex-congrats on the review!

    First, for anyone else who might be reading this--I too am with Chalet Publishers (Noah's Wife, 2009). I agree, it is frustrating not being able to be in the "big" bookstores, and it is a whole lot of work marketing your book, but I believe in today's world, you pretty much have to do that, unless you are really big time. Publishers don't have a lot of marketing dollars to spread around any more, and they focus on the authors in their stable who have a track record.

    But despite the challenges, small presses give authors an opportunity they might not have had. I don't regret having gone this route. For one thing, I don't have the pressure of having to make sales in one year that meet a big press' expectations. With a big press, if your book doesn't sell, it is dead. With POD, there is no big financial outlay up front; the price is the same no matter how many or few books are printed, so publishers can stay with you and let you find your feet. This could not have happened in earlier days before POD.

  3. Karen, a useful post about POD, which is just part of the confusing new world of publishing!

  4. Big congrats on the review, and glad I've found this series! I taught a workshop recently, and the answer I gave to question #2 about how to market when you hate marketing almost sounds like I wrote it in conjunction with you! WWI, not II, and nothing you don't already know, but still...

    Here's a link if you'd like to look at it http://writerunboxed.com/2011/02/20/i-wrote-a-book-then-what/