Argh. It happened again. I received an interesting query that I could be interested in.
The author pubbed it through a vanity press just last year and now feels “confident” enough to start marketing it to mainstream publishers.
This is where I go all head-bangy like because the time to market this to mainstream publishers is when it’s UNPUBLISHED. It’s possible he did query it out and received some rejections.
This is the common formula: I’ll query it out and see if there’s any interest. If there isn’t, then I’ll shell out my hard-earned money and pay to have it pubbed.
So they get it out on the market and promote ’til the cows come home. Yay, they say…I sold 450 units last year! Now I’m a baller…a player…a force to be reckoned with!
Ok, I’ll backtrack a little. Any sales via the vanity route is cause for celebration because the author is the sole sales and marketing force. But selling 450 units in a year is hardly newsworthy to a mainstream publisher. If he had sold 5,000 units, then I’d believe this is a book to be reckoned with.
Folks, I don’t care why anyone makes any particular publishing choice because everyone has different intentions for their careers. But what makes my teeth itch is when author believe vanity publishing will give then any kind of leg up on securing a mainstream contract.
First off, the first print rights are gone. That means that you’ve already populated the databases with your book. That means there will be two books appearing on those databases, and there is a lot of room for confusion which drives us insane.
Secondly, all the initial places we would have gone to kick-start the promo/marketing process have already been compromised. We can’t go back to that well. So we need to look for a new initial local market. That’s not easy to do. Yes, we have the advantage in that we are taking care of the national distribution, but one has to start somewhere to create that domino effect, which is your local community.
If your book just came out last year, then it’s wearisome to screech, “Hey, cowabunga! I got me this here book” The reply is going to be, “Dude, didn’t you just do this last year? It’s still sitting only my nightstand waiting to be read. Now you want me to buy the newer version? I don’t think so.”
And this is where the Argh Moment crosses the lines from publisher to author. One of the most popular things I hear – other than, “is the beagle really a drunk?” – is “I had no idea.”
There is nothing that can sink one’s career faster than decisions made in ignorance.
If you want to go the vanity route, that’s fine. But you need to understand exactly what you’re in for and how that will impact your future. First and foremost; you MUST have a clear vision of your expectations. If you have your eye on a mainstream publisher, then query the snot out of your manuscript. If you collect a slew of rejections, maybe that’s the industry’s way of telling you this work isn’t marketable.
Put that under the bed and begin anew. Remember that most first manuscripts aren’t published. Those debut authors have several making merry under the bed.