Dealing with retailers and the "vanity press" prejudice

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  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    There was no evidence for a lot of things, until better technology was used to look for them and often find them. This is just one example >> http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2011/05/satellite-imagery-uncovers-17-lost-egyptian-pyramids

    It's remarkable what's under our feet unknown, or under our boats in some instances > https://www.newstatesman.com/world/africa/2016/06/ancient-egypt-s-perfectly-preserved-underwater-cities-and-how-they-were

    Glaciers scraped a lot of the Earth clean as well, not to mention coastlines changing when the last Ice Age ended. Civilisations often cling to coasts and rivers. But I did say " 'Advanced' to a certain degree, though." I am not claiming they had aircraft, although some ancient Indian texts do claim such things. Early SF?

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Sure, satellites found some lost Egyptian pyramids...but they didn't discover a previously unknown Egyptian civilization. There is a big difference. 

    (By the way, the sunken Egyptian cities referred to in the second article your referenced were hardly lost due to melting glaciers or changing sea levels. The cities were "built on unstable Nile clays," the article says. "The load of people caused the sediment to collapse, pushing the water out and causing people to abandon the city. This, in 800 AD, was the first of two dramatic collapses, but the land itself didn’t fully sink until 1000 years later due to rising sea levels.” That is, ca. 1800.)

    In any case, you may need to define "a certain degree." A tribe that used stone arrowheads as opposed to one that used only the fire-sharpened points of the shafts might be said to be "advanced to a certain degree."
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Sure, satellites found some lost Egyptian pyramids...but they didn't discover a previously unknown Egyptian civilization. There is a big difference. 

    It was documented for TV a few times (it's possible how they help finance such things) and on the news, and eventually they discovered many unknown cities. Huge ones. Not knowing they are there is the definition of unknown I would suggest. If the sand can hide pyramids there's no telling how many things are buried under the sand. There's a limit to how far the tech can penetrate.

    (By the way, the sunken Egyptian cities referred to in the second article your referenced were hardly lost due to melting glaciers or changing sea levels.

    * No one said they were. It was simply an example of what's under the sea that was not previously known about. I am sure that's what I said.

     The cities were "built on unstable Nile clays," the article says. "The load of people caused the sediment to collapse, pushing the water out and causing people to abandon the city. This, in 800 AD, was the first of two dramatic collapses, but the land itself didn’t fully sink until 1000 years later due to rising sea levels.” That is, ca. 1800.)

    Quite so (read above *.) However after the Ice Age the oceans rose by around 100 feet. So what was covered up around that time? The old sunken coast covers many many 1000s of miles and has not all been looked at as yet. Granted not great civilistions, but even just off the coast of the UK stone age settlements have been found on the sea beds.

    In any case, you may need to define "a certain degree." A tribe that used stone arrowheads as opposed to one that used only the fire-sharpened points of the shafts might be said to be "advanced to a certain degree."

    Indeed. I was simply stating, and I did say so,  that no doubt they were not driving around in electric cars.

    But you have to remember that the Earth is  4.54 billion years old. A lot can come and go in that time. It's hardly likely that any evidence of much of anything would survive. It's remarkable how far down one has to dig just to find Roman ruins in the UK. Even dinosaur bones are not as common as people assume, and billions of them must have existed and died during their long reign. It's even very rare to find evidence of the existence of our early ancestors.

    Our tech is getting better, and the world is getting 'smaller' when it comes to exploring it.

    Look at it from another angle. It was once thought the sun orbited the Earth. Now we are able to find planets orbiting other suns.

  • Not gonna chase them rabbits. Nope. Not gonna do it.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Skoob_ym said:
    Not gonna chase them rabbits. Nope. Not gonna do it.

    Yeah. I'd better drop this thread right now.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    Thankfully, archaeologists don't have the same attitude or they would not bother digging holes, etc ...
  • davidRoddisdavidRoddis Toronto, Canada Writer

    More often than not they are books, often very thin ones, about local things. Local history or guides, stuff like that. It's always better when written by a local who lives in and knows the area. But it would be interesting if there are any statistics to do with how many people in the area some famous novelist lives actually bought their book. I would bet the demographic percentage would possibly be the same as sales in any other place.

    Well, first of all, as a complete unknown, I have only one direction in which to travel. That's almost comforting!

    And I agree that people in Toronto don't run out and buy Margaret Atwood's works because she lives here; she's a renowned author. On the other hand, when she walked into a local cafe handing out copies of one of her books a few months ago, I didn't turn her down...

    But when one is looking for a marketing hook, anything to spark people's interest, the fact that I live in my artsy little enclave of Toronto and might, for example, snag a reading at a local bookstore, IS a kind of hook. "Come and hear a local author."  Some people just eat up that kind of connection, that they live around the corner from a writer; Canadians, being diffident as we are, also adore any writing that takes their locale as a setting.  It's like - being noticed!

    The thing about marketing, an industry I worked in for a decade or two, is that marketers are always checking the stats to find out what has worked before, only to find that it doesn't work a second time.  Or that it didn't and now it does.  No one has the secret sauce, it's all in one's approach and authenticity; everyone's story is different.

    But I'm sure some people would respond:  "Whatever." Or, as Miss Jean Brodie famously said, "For people who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like."

    David Roddis
    "From the moment I picked up your book until I put it down I was convulsed with laughter.  Next time I intend reading it."       —Groucho Marx
     
  • davidRoddisdavidRoddis Toronto, Canada Writer
    edited July 2018
    I actually spoke to the owner of the local Cornerstone Christian bookstore. He said he'd be glad to setup a table for me if I wanted to bring in books to sale. He did ask for 10 percent of any sale. A nice offer but after shipping etc I don't think there would be much profit. I do much better selling online and not having to buy stock or ship myself.
    Thing is, you need to think what other publicity advantages you'd get from this event. (I'm assuming that you'd be present for it, at least some of the time, much like an artist is there at the gallery when s/he shows work.)  If you publicized it as a "meet the author" thing, which could be done for virtually nil, you'd raise your profile. People LOVE to meet the author and put a face to the work - then they go out and tell other people, "I spoke to the author, his ideas are so cool", whatever. Those people sell your work for you, they are your ambassadors.  And if you sell work online, then think how much more you might sell face to face. It would almost be hard for people to say no. You needn't have all that much stock, you could direct people to your site.

    It's not all about profit from that one event.  It could also be an investment in your visibility.

    Good luck with your book.
    David Roddis
    "From the moment I picked up your book until I put it down I was convulsed with laughter.  Next time I intend reading it."       —Groucho Marx
     
  • Skoob_ym said:
    Not gonna chase them rabbits. Nope. Not gonna do it.

    Yeah. I'd better drop this thread right now.
    I'd started a reply, and then decided to pare it back to what you see there. Temptations.
  • edited July 2018
    Hello, Ron, we won't get contentious and fighty over this, but, think about it. You say (for argument's sake of course) you are a published author, straight away it has that extra ring about it. That's it. For one to be a member here to publish another's books makes that person a publisher, forget about esteem and any other aspect of publishing zen or code, that person is a publisher - full stop. If someone avails themselves of that service, they are published. And don't think this has not been done before, it has, in Georgian times right through to now. As Cagney once said, 'If you say you are singer, you are a singer'. I appreciate you almost saying the same thing, but you're overlooking the fact that anyone going this admittedly strange route, can say to others, 'Yeah, I am with Fred's Books' and mean it. Whether all of us on Lulu like it or not, the stigma remains to some degree.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    A lot of stuff was originally self-published, that is true, but often short print runs on not very good machines. Most were not exactly books, more along the lines of pamphlets, but then no doubt people saw a monetary advantage in setting up to print and publish for other people, and that eventually lead to what we see to day, massive conglomerations, many with dozens of other publishing names to publish and market via, and it was not easy to get published by them, and still is not. So we had Vanity Publishing. People often with more money than sense paying to be published, but often with no ISBNs or Distribution, just a box full of books, so they ended up rarely seen by other than the writer, so impossible to judge as to if they were good or bad, the Vanity press will not tell them, they just take the cash. Then we got the ability of free POD, with free ISBNs and free Distribution. These we can see (usually via a Preview) and make an opinion, and one has to hope that the paid for vanity press books, often costing up to £10,000, were not as bad as some of the free to POD books.
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Hello, Ron, we won't get contentious and fighty over this, but, think about it. You say (for argument's sake of course) you are a published author, straight away it has that extra ring about it. That's it. For one to be a member here to publish another's books makes that person a publisher, forget about esteem and any other aspect of publishing zen or code, that person is a publisher - full stop. If someone avails themselves of that service, they are published. And don't think this has not been done before, it has, in Georgian times right through to now. As Cagney once said, 'If you say you are singer, you are a singer'. I appreciate you almost saying the same thing, but you're overlooking the fact that anyone going this admittedly strange route, can say to others, 'Yeah, I am with Fred's Books' and mean it. Whether all of us on Lulu like it or not, the stigma remains to some degree.

    Much of what you say is true enough...but it also underscores some of the fundamental problems with self-publishing and the reasons for its bad reputation (deserved or not).

    "If you say you are singer, you are a singer" is true to the degree that you are a doctor if you say you are a doctor. Youtube is filled with sadly funny videos of America's Got Talent and X Factor contestants who think they are not only singers but great ones.

    It is perfectly true, in the broadest possible sense, that you are a publisher if you see a book through the process from MS to print. But, as you say, there is a definite prestige attached to being legitimately published. And that prestige is illustrated by the difference between saying that your buddy Fred uploaded your book to Lulu or Kindle and saying that your book has been published by Simon & Schuster. And it is not entirely the cachet of the name but the fact that a potential reader knows that the book has gone through a rigorous professional editorial gauntlet. And there is also, I think, a sense of personal pride and achievement in knowing that someone had enough faith in your book to be willing to invest time and money in bringing it into print.

    This is probably going to get me into trouble, but I think that someone who has self-published a book boasting about being a published author is kind of like someone awarding themselves first place in a beauty pageant.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    A lot of stuff was originally self-published, that is true, but often short print runs on not very good machines. Most were not exactly books, more along the lines of pamphlets, but then no doubt people saw a monetary advantage in setting up to print and publish for other people, and that eventually lead to what we see to day, massive conglomerations, many with dozens of other publishing names to publish and market via, and it was not easy to get published by them, and still is not.

    Indeed! Many publishing companies---even some of those that still exist today---had their roots as printers. In fact, printing and publishing were once upon a time virtually synonymous businesses.

     So we had Vanity Publishing. People often with more money than sense paying to be published, but often with no ISBNs or Distribution, just a box full of books, so they ended up rarely seen by other than the writer, so impossible to judge as to if they were good or bad, the Vanity press will not tell them, they just take the cash.

    That is true at least to a degree. There were, in fact, a large number of perfectly legitimate "subsidy publishers" who would see a book through to bookstore shelves...but the author, of course, had to pay for every step of the way. These companies still exist. 

    Then we got the ability of free POD, with free ISBNs and free Distribution.

    Again, true enough...but POD books rarely if ever appear in bookstores and are extremely limited in many ways in what can be done (for instance, book size, paper choice, etc. etc.) and, of course, they can be much more expensive than a traditionally published book if any color is involved. 

    ISBNs are only free if the author/publisher wants to have another party listed as the publisher of record. And "distribution" really just means having a book available for download or POD.

    An author who is really serious about getting their book seen, reviewed and purchased---let alone into bookstores---needs to be willing to pay to get these things done, just as they would need to be willing to pay for professional editing and design. Exactly as anyone would in the past who went to a vanity press. Some authors have deep enough pockets to do this...most, I expect, don't.

    Let me give you just one example. A traditional publisher will allow for a certain number of books to be distributed free to reviewers and for promotion (such as for signings, prizes or gifts). This costs the author nothing. If a self-published author wants to do the same thing they have to pay for every copy out of their own pocket.

    These we can see (usually via a Preview) and make an opinion, and one has to hope that the paid for vanity press books, often costing up to £10,000, were not as bad as some of the free to POD books.

    Hope springs eternal!

    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • It's a hurdle, Ron, one hurdle. If you get over it by whatever means are at your disposal, then it's on to the next hurdle. Back to the stigma aspect; being published rather than self published immediately generates gravity, whether deserved or not. It increases the chances of the book being given serious consideration. After that, it is of course, as you have also said in a way, down to the quality of the book, but using a perhaps mildly devious method as I suggested, simply levels the playing field. Many lousy books are on shelves courtesy of publishers then printers, all my method would do, is get it on the same shelves, then, the fight is on, and quality will win out. If the book's garbage, well, it's garbage full stop. The reason I have posted strongly on this is it is being done at this very moment; I won't say the lad's name nor his company, but he started out for himself, then took others on board, he now has a small but successful publishing company based on the Yorkshire coast; his clients are taken seriously at large, although his first clients were his mates. But I think I'm done on this, no longer prolonging things as I've covered all relevant points from this end.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Again, true enough...but POD books rarely if ever appear in bookstores

    That is true, but often due to the actual high cost of a POD book before the retailers add any profit. With on line POD books there's of course no stock.

     and are extremely limited in many ways in what can be done (for instance, book size, paper choice, etc. etc.)

    That also, although what can be produced is more or less the norm even for many massproduced books. A5 for example.

     and, of course, they can be much more expensive than a traditionally published book if any color is involved.

    Even if just black on white is used. Or/and a hardback, and with a dustjacket.

    ISBNs are only free if the author/publisher wants to have another party listed as the publisher of record.

    That's true, but how much does that matter? I would assume it only matters to those who wish to be viewed as a 'real' publisher.

     And "distribution" really just means having a book available for download or POD.

    Quite so, but it's still distribution to lists and to sites, which would possibly not be easy to achieve by most self-publishers on their own. Without that distribution our books would just sit on Lulu's Storefronts.

    An author who is really serious about getting their book seen, reviewed and purchased---let alone into bookstores---needs to be willing to pay to get these things done,

    That could be true, I suppose. Unfortunately. Amazon once did their best to remove glowing reviews that only glowed because they'd been paid for. One can offer one's book for free to known prolific reviewers on book fan sites, and usually be ignored. I have not attempted to offer one any money.

    What is recommended, though, is to get an agent, because they have contacts and is in their own best interests to get interest in your book/s because they get a commission.

    just as they would need to be willing to pay for professional editing and design.

    That is true in many cases, but not in all. And there's that old saying, you cannot polish a ****, but some will charge for attempting to do so.

     Exactly as anyone would in the past who went to a vanity press. Some authors have deep enough pockets to do this...most, I expect, don't.

    If they did, they would not be here. Most of the very successful self-publishers I have read about were not exactly self-publishers. They paid many types of expert. The only thing that made them self-publishers were that they oversaw it all, and also owned the ISBNs. 'Self' does not really enter in to it.


    Let me give you just one example. A traditional publisher will allow for a certain number of books to be distributed free to reviewers and for promotion (such as for signings, prizes or gifts). This costs the author nothing. If a self-published author wants to do the same thing they have to pay for every copy out of their own pocket.

    Quite so. But I have no doubt those sample copies cost nothing like POD books do. It would indeed be an advantage to be able to afford to have a few 1,000 books printed as a batch, and to then give them away.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    The stigma may possibly last for ever, until some famous writer who's gone independent, and a few have, actually marks their book as Self-Published (which they are not. See my previous post.) What people used to say, and still do, when they hear a person used a Vanity Publisher, is, "can't get a real publisher to take it on then? It must be ****, then." And that still sticks. And it's not actually all that true, because publishers have a limit to what they will publish each year, and they never hang on to rejected material for later, because they have no need to. It's said one has to undertake a mail bombing campaign, and one year your submission may fall on a desk at a time they are looking for something.

    However, that does not always mean it will be 'you' because it may still be rejected as rubbish, as I am sure a lot is. 

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor


    An author who is really serious about getting their book seen, reviewed and purchased---let alone into bookstores---needs to be willing to pay to get these things done,

    That could be true, I suppose. Unfortunately. Amazon once did their best to remove glowing reviews that only glowed because they'd been paid for. One can offer one's book for free to known prolific reviewers on book fan sites, and usually be ignored. I have not attempted to offer one any money.

    What is recommended, though, is to get an agent, because they have contacts and is in their own best interests to get interest in your book/s because they get a commission.


    Unfortunately, one does not "get" an agent. You have to submit your book to one just as you would to a publisher...and the process can be even more excruciating since agents have to be much, much more selective than publishers.

    Let me give you just one example. A traditional publisher will allow for a certain number of books to be distributed free to reviewers and for promotion (such as for signings, prizes or gifts). This costs the author nothing. If a self-published author wants to do the same thing they have to pay for every copy out of their own pocket.

    Quite so. But I have no doubt those sample copies cost nothing like POD books do. It would indeed be an advantage to be able to afford to have a few 1,000 books printed as a batch, and to then give them away.

    This is, of course, because the unit cost of a traditionally printed book is much less than that of a POD book. When a traditional publisher orders several thousand copies of a book, the unit cost may be only a few dollars each---even for a hardbound, full-color book. This makes it relatively easy to earmark a few hundred for promotion. This is, sadly, not the case for POD books, where unit cost does not go down appreciably with the number of books printed...and where the costs in any case are borne entirely by the publisher/author.



    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Unfortunately, one does not "get" an agent. You have to submit your book to one just as you would to a publisher...and the process can be even more excruciating since agents have to be much, much more selective than publishers.

    Is that not getting one then?  to get can cover many methods :)

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited July 2018

    Unfortunately, one does not "get" an agent. You have to submit your book to one just as you would to a publisher...and the process can be even more excruciating since agents have to be much, much more selective than publishers.

    Is that not getting one then?  to get can cover many methods :)

    True, and I know you know that...but I have heard so many times in these forums from people who believe that an agent is someone they can simply go out and hire that I wanted to make sure that readers understood that's not how it works.
    __________________________________________
    Black Cat Studios http://www.black-cat-studios.com/
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