Sunday, January 7, 2007

My First Mistake as a Writer

It is interesting experience to be writing this blog and not have a single response. The net is indeed a narrow-casting medium, and obviously I am here reaching absolutely no one. So I will continue by writing solely for myself.
I think tomorrow I will move onto to other subjects, perhaps listing my personal selections for the best and worst in history, but today I will say one last thing about my writing career, indeed the thing I suspect has gotten me blacklisted among the editors and reviewers, namely that I used a vanity press before I was accepted at a major house. (I say "vanity" press, when in fact the company calls itself a "print on demand" or "POD" company, which means the company prints only those books that have been ordered by a customer. But since the books the company prints are never reviewed and are never placed in brick and mortor bookstores, the company was in function little different than a traditional vanity press, such as the ones advertizing in the back sections of otherwise respectable magazines.)
For eighteen months I traveled several thousand miles across my portion of America, visiting bookstores and libraries and asking that they take my book. I would always offer them a free copy of my novel, provided they put it on their shelves. I likewise visited radio stations and small newspapers and offered them a book if they would write a review of it. The librarians, journalists and broadcasters all told me they would not touch a book that had not been reviewed in certain periodicals (i.e. "Kirkus Reviews," "Library Journal," "Publishers' Weekly," ect.). The bookstore managers told me they had only bad experiences with POD books, especially with POD books coming from the notorious house I had used. The only people who would give me any attention were a dozen or so websites I sent the novel to, and though they all gave me good reviews, (punch in Tom Wedderburn's Life on Goggle, and you will still find some of these positive reviews from 2002) but I still did not sell many books, as the 20% of American adults who read books do not spend their free time cruising the net.
The only thing my efforts accomplished was that I got myself branded as a POD author and one associated with a border-line criminal publishing house. When my second novel was published in 2004 I was still told by most of the people I contacted that they did not want to deal with a POD writer. Had I been smarter, I never would have been tempted by the offer of seeing my name in print and would have held out for a real publishing house. But then, if I were smarter I would not be writing a blog no one reads.


Wylie Merrick Literary said...

Hi Ted,

Well now you can say that you have at least one comment.

I somewhat agree with your comments on POD but not everything. I think it depends on the type of book POD published.

Fiction definitely does not do well and possibly the reason is that there are literally thousand (probably very conservative) of very, very poorly written fiction books circulating out there and because readers are tired of being disappoint in them. The bad ones far outnumber the good and, unfortunately, now everyone who self-publishes a fiction is painted with the same brush. It was inevidible that a system with no checks and balances would never going to work. There is a reason that books are rejected and it's not just to hurt feelings, as many immature writers believe.

You also put the blame exactly where it should go--on those who put profit before good books.

However, certain types of nonfiction has done very well in this market, especially specialty books whose audience is too small for traditional publishers to bother with.

Nice blog--great subject well covered

R. C. A. O'Neal said...

Thank you. I will not let that be my first mistake.

Anonymous Contractor said...

You're blog is much better than most I've read, and I wouldn't know it's out there except I looked down at my book shelf at Fitzpatrick's war and wondered why I haven't seen any more of your books at the bookstores. The ones at Amazon also were hard to get to. In any case I think you should start this blog up again, and try and get some links out there, there are too many bad blogs out there hiding the good ones.

The Cappening Channel said...

Your blog is interesting, and I must say I much enjoyed your novels. I hope to see Tri Ogalala being published as well.

David said...

Just about done re-reading Fitzpatrick's War for the third time. It's a great book I wish had taken off because I desperately want to read Tri Ogalala!