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Become your own publishers
As Amy Fisher completed her memoirs about the execution of her lover's woman, she said to her spy that she would not be sending the script to the New York publishing house. Instead, Fisher, who made news as 17-year-old "Long Island Lolita" in 1992, turned to iUniverse in Lincoln, Neb. iUniverse is one of more than 100 "author service companies" in a fast-growing sector, primarily targeted at creators who cannot attract the interest of conventional publisher.
Early this months, Amazon.com announced the acquisition of BookSurge, a Charleston, S.C. printshop with a self-publishing department. BookSurge uses print-on-demand technologies that allow it to ensure a two-day turn-around for a single copy of a printed product, even if only one client orders one.
This is the first year in which print-on-demand businesses have successfully positioned themselves as a respectful alternative to majorstream publishing and have erased the slogan of the old-fashioned vainglory compactor. In fact, some claim that they give writers an edge - from complete mastery of designs, editorial and advertising to a greater proportion of the prizes.
You were optimistic that the product would go down well; in fact, it was on the New York Times bestseller lists on 24 October, if only for a whole weekend. "Thought we could make more profit from it," says Woliver, who said the emoluments were "significantly higher" than those of conventional publishing houses, although he would not disclose the percentages.
But he also finds that Fisher was "determined not to be sensational" by the press she says, a biased image of her as a promiscuitous teen ( "perhaps along the lines of the prosecutor in the shootout who claimed she was a call girl").
"that wouldn't be happening with a conventional publishers. "Self-publishers like iUniverse have grown fast in recent years, replacing old pride press and competitive with the number of magazines traditionally made. On the other side, the huge expansion opportunity for Amazon's print-on-demand operations, with nearly 47 million customers there.
There is a major technological gap between conventional conceit machines and state-of-the-art print-on-demand publishing. Rather than the costly off-set process used by major publishing houses, print-on-demand uses a glamorous low-cost inkjet press. and Xlibris, founded in Philadelphia -- all use the tech and unveiled a total of 11,906 new books last year, according to R.R. Bowkers books in the prints data base.
On the other hand, one of the few surviving old-style Vantage Press, the 56-year-old Vantage Press in New York, publishes between 300 and 600 magazines per year. "The publishing industry is an Arcane expertise under the supervision of a community of individuals who are one of a kind and different from anyone else," says John Feldcamp, Xlibris founding and managing director.
What is going on is that "all publishing technology is becoming cheaper and more accessible" as almost every facet of manufacturing, as well as designing and publishing, has become paper. Most of the self-published works are sold in a few hundred at most. The decision to act as an occasional publishing house and offer better monetary rewards, as iUniverse recently did for Fisher, "is not very difficult for print-on-demand publishers," says Feldcamp, "because they work in a much more effective economic environment than classical publishing houses.
" iUniverse, for example, relies on print-on-demand after an early 30,000 copy impression to fulfill orders for Fisher's work as soon as they arrive. Nowadays, in a modern day business where more and more titles are purchased on-line, the cyber space equivalence is to get your publication into the main bibliographical data base known as BooksInPrint.com.
It is the main resource for large distribution companies such as the Ingram Book Group, whose products are in turn incorporated into the computer-based products of Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders. In all this democracy, the self-published writers have become basically the blogger of the publishing community, with roughly the same broad spectrum of anarchy that can be found on the web.
In fact, organizations like AuthorHouse and iUniverse say they will agree to just about anything for release. "That' is the big issue with self-publishing and the associated stigma," acknowledges Mr.iscoll. The most bookshops hesitate to keep self-published products in store -- as their writers are disillusioned to detect -- because they wear the Vanity PR stain, they are not interchangeable and they are not as much discounted in comparison to conventional book.
Moreover, large papers, such as the New York Times, will not check conceit newsbooks. With iUniverse' Star programme, which selects two to three titles per months that have successfully completed an in-house editing test and sell more than 500 units per issue, Driscoll tries to break through these barriers. "Star " textbooks are being returned and aggressively reduced, Driscoll says, and she is planning to ship them to journals and papers in the hope of getting publicity.
It also presents these ledgers to Barnes & Noble, a minor shareholder in iUniverse, for exhibition and storage in its shops. Barnes & Noble CEO Steve Riggio warns: "If an author wants to bring a textbook to the bookstore, iUniverse is not the way to go.
" He estimated that only about half a half doze of iUniverse textbooks will be stored in his shops. Simultaneously, he says, "we want the publishing houses to keep an eye on iUniverse", as a "farm team" for highly prospective new writers. Atlanta lone parent Natasha Munson recently got an upfront of $250,000 and a two-book deal from Hyperion after publishing her first $99-$-i Universe work.
In May and June Hyperion will publish both of them, inspiring guidebooks for Black and White woman. He says business is "skeptical" about self-publications and it is hard to get them to offer "Life Lessons for My Black Girls" (now named "Life Lessons for My Sisters") in 1999.
She instead made money by selling advertising cards to sister companies and emailing bookshops. After all, Munson was selling more than 20,000 books. This struck a New York woman, David Dunton, who approached her after having read a newspaper column about her lastpring. He says that he usually regards self-publishing as the "land of the last resort".
" However, he added that today's editors are looking for attractive people like Munson to advertise their own work. "Unfortunately, even prospective authors who want to believe that a particular editor has selected them may be misled. In the past year, more than 130 authors have asked the Prosecutor General of Maryland and other federal authorities to examine PublishAmerica, a print-on-demand enterprise in Frederick, Md. that calls itself a "traditional publisher" on its website.
Publish America does not levy a commission; it gives most first-time writers a "symbolic, figurative $1 advance," said Larry A. Clopper, CEO of the game. Angry writers claim that the way the business makes a profit is to ask for a 100 friend and relatives of the writer to send order blanks to them, and to convince the writers to buy it.
Clopper replies that most of the writers on the mailing lists are in agreement and that the company's biggest sources of income come from incumbent bookstores. Regarding the company's selectiveness, he acknowledged that PublishAmerica accepted "far more" scripts than conventional publishing houses, Clopper said: "We always refuse them because of bad workmanship.
" A further complain of the writers was the PublishAmerica agreement, which grants the corporation the right to release a work for seven years (unlike, for example, iUniverse, whose agreement allows an writer to move his work to another publishing house at any time). Now Clopper says that PublishAmerica offers a change to the default agreement that allows writers to post elsewhere - although they must do so.
Apart from such debates, self-publishing has aroused the interest of some large publishing houses and bookstores. "What is interesting is the possibility of having small niche markets that are so small that publishing houses would not be interested in publishing them in the conventional way," says Richard Sarnoff, Random House Ventures Co. chairman, who holds a majority interest in Xlibris.
"Taparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding", a bestseller on iUniverse.com, could be a good example, not to speak of "Be Brief. Be-Gone: Career Essentials for Pharmaceutical Representatives", which sells more than 10,000 pieces - all on-line, says David Currier, one of his co-authors. Self-publishing sometimes provides a second opportunity.
A former Arizona Republic journalist, Laurie Notaro was turned down by more than 70 publishing houses when she published her first volume, a compilation of humour-essay stories about youth. So, she turned to iUniverse. Notaro was taken over by the agency and sells her library to Villard, who had turned down the work in the first few laps.
"The New York homes are missing many works that have worked," says notary Jenny Bent of Trident Media Group, which also acts for Sweet Potato Queens. "I' ve had a great deal of luck in the sale of self-published titles. "For some in the New York publishing community, even self-released titles still bear the old press slogan of vain.
However, other publishers say that self-publication can be a plus if an authors has been selling a sound number of copies like this. Puffin journalist Angelle Pilkington was amazed that one of her writers, Charisse Richardson, was selling 10,000 of her first children's books, The Reality Slam Dunk, on her own.
Puffin's sibling Dial has released the story of two Black and White kids who will be advised by a big screenwriter in February and will be publishing a second children's story by Richardson in the autumn. According to Mark Gompertz, editor of both companies, Fireside and Touchstone, former paperbacks departments of Simon & Schuster, have successfully reprinted half a dozen of their own publications.
Fireside recently released Matthew Kelly's inspiring novel "The Rhythm of Life": With Passion and Purpose", which was self-published with a circulation of 100,000 pieces. With the Fireside print it became the New York Times bestseller. Gompertz says it is difficult to find new writers without a proven success in a global market that is becoming more and more nationalized.
"I' I often say to these people:'You should first try to publish yourself, make yourself known on websites and build up an audiences and sells; if you have it, come back, because then we can bring up the case that we can make you big. A number of incumbent writers have turned to self-publishing because they are not in a position to interest their publishing houses in a new one.
Known for his fictional and sci-fi films, Piers Anthony has released more than 15 Xlibris-book releases to either publish serious historic literature or provide out-of-print work. The writers Joyce Maynard, William F. Buckley Jr. and Marlin Fitzwater, the former White House spokesman, are among those who have turned to self-publishing to get their works back into production.
A New York native, Harvey Klinger, recently told a bestselling writer to release her latest novel with iUniverse after it was turned down by several New York theatres. Klinger said the editors were complaining that Kathryn Harvey's "Private Entrance" - which he calls "sexy suspense" - did not belong in the chic liter class or to the older woman's public (sometimes referred to as "hen lit").
"For many of these writers, who cannot easily categorise their work, the path of self-publication has become an alternative," says Klinger. As publishing companies consolidate, the number of institutions in which writers can obtain offers is also declining. "In my opinion, the expansion of iUniverse and small print publishing is a straightforward one.
" A number of market watchers believe that incumbent writers and newcomers seeking business excellence will continue to be a small part of the self-publishing sector. A take-house self-publishing kit has been offered as an experimental at six of its Philadelphia-area stores, borders for $19. 99. Between $299 and $598, clients can convert a Xlibris script into a volume, list it on Amazon.com, and get shelving in Borders.
Borders Group CEO Michael Spinozzi says the overall self-publishing industry could have a less commercially viable one. "They want to take 20 prints of something very important and personal: a cookery book with all the prescriptions they have gathered throughout their life; a sporty campaign or a big event," he says.
In fact, one day you might be able to go to your grocer' shop and turn your Christmas photographs into an immediate picture volume that' s in your own immortal fiction, says Xlibris' field camp. Nearly everyone will be able to say: "I released my novel last weekend. "THE BOK BUSINESS Sarah Glazer last reviewed ebooks for the December review.