Copyright © 2007, Steven E. Houchin
( Originally written 6 December 2007 )
Last month I heard new local author speak at Third Place Books. In addition to telling us about his novel, he spoke bitterly about the process of getting published. His experience was so frustrating that he stated he has no desire to write another book.
After dozens and dozens of rejections, he put the book away for a few years. It was ultimately published due to a chance meeting with a book critic who spoke at the UW bookstore. The critic read his manuscript and put him in touch with someone he knew in the publishing business. Eventually, the author signed with a small, on-demand publisher who put out his book in paperback. “On-demand” means that the publisher can print his book in units of ones and twos if needed, rather than traditional publishers who must print thousands at a time. Getting published had taken five long years, which he was told is about average.
With book in hand, he visited a local Barnes & Noble, ready with his best speech to convince them to stock his book. The B&N person turned to the inside back page and examined the bar code, then promptly told him they couldn’t accept it. The code contains an identifier that shows it was print-on-demand, and they have a corporate policy to not handle them. Same story with Borders. Why? Because they can’t return the unsold extras to on-demand publishers, who don’t carry inventory. So, to market his book, he can only count on independent bookstores and online sellers.
I suppose this is something else we need to add to our list of Bewares for the industry.