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Between the Pages, Past
A Mystery Column
By Dennis Collins

How do I get Published?

      Today’s publishing world bears little resemblance to the industry of a few short years ago. The choices are much broader but so are the perils.

   A generation ago, an author might send his work to an agent or possibly slip it over the transom of some editor’s door and then sit back and wait. Once in a while the manuscript would be accepted and the journey would begin but more often, a rejection letter would find it’s way into the aspiring writer’s mailbox and sometimes there would be no answer at all. After countless rejections, the writer would face the choice of going to an expensive subsidy press or abandoning the business altogether.

     In today’s environment there are many choices. Mainstream books are still the domain of the big traditional publishing houses and a few small presses. They still use the literary agent buffer but the transom has been closed and locked.

     But now we have electronic books and scores of e-publishers to produce them. It’s a relatively new field and limited to readers who don’t mind digesting their latest novel over a computer screen. As the public becomes more computer oriented, this segment of the industry will likely grow. Will it ever challenge the hard copy market? I doubt it, but there is definitely a place for electronic publishing and only time will tell us how much it will impact the business.

    Another bright option is Print on Demand (POD) publishing. Anybody with a hundred bucks can see their book in print and available to anybody through numerous outlets. It’s an “author beware” side of the industry though. POD publishers almost never do any editing and that allows some serious errors and flaws to slip through to the final product. The author should do a little homework to make sure that they don’t carry the stigma of a sub-standard imprint under their name on the cover. Another drawback to POD is that the books are usually non-returnable, resulting in the reluctance of brick and mortar stores to include these books in the store shelf inventory.

    If you’re considering POD, I would suggest researching the publisher thoroughly. Read their standard contract and compare it with others. Check their return policies and pricing trends.

   Some of the more established POD’s are beginning to modify the way they do business and are moving closer to mainstream thinking and philosophies. Because of the competitive nature of the business, it is my feeling that many of the newcomers in the publishing world will keep an eye open to market trends and try to evolve as profitably as possible.

     From the author’s point of view, these upstart enterprises can provide a great springboard to bigger and better things. It will always be a gamble to try to break into the business this way but the risks can be minimized by paying diligent attention to the moves that the publishers are making and forming sound business choices.

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