For any of you thinking of getting a book published, or know someone who is, consider this: Success can be failure. Let me explain.
I sat in the audience of a panel discussion in Galax on Saturday. Editors from JF Blair, McFarland, and Norton and one highly-successful NYC agent (a Galax native!) discussed the world of publishing. I took the opportunity to ask a question, whose answer I anticipated would hold interest for other authors in the room.
“Given a self-published book that has met with modest success (1100 sold its first year) what would you recommend to move such a book up into wider distribution? Would it be thinkable that a publisher (like Blair) would accept submission of such a book, the self-published copy being the “manuscript”, and work to distribute it to a wider market?”
The answer: NO
They all said “be happy for your successes to date. If we’d picked it up, that’s about what we would have projected for sales.”
And of course, the publisher would have taken no small percentage of the costs over printing. Keeping full control has allowed me to keep more of the returns. And going with a “real publisher”, for all the angst and delay that would have required, might not have gained me that much after all.
So if you’re thinking of going the way of traditional publishing, shop your manuscript early, before it becomes a trial-balloon short run book. If it succeeds in this latter form, it may fail to get past the front desk with the editor. They want the same low-hanging fruit you want, and if you pick it first, they won’t give you a look. Now I know.