Saturday, April 26, 2008

Make Self-Publishing Work For You

Now that the New York Times has exposed the sad truth about the plethora of authors and lack of publishing venues, even more people with a story to tell will be out there telling it.

More books than ever are being created, and that's good news for the likes of iUniverse. For a fee, they'll print up whatever drivel is submitted, so that the author's friends can order their very own copies. As a result, anything put out by a vanity press is presumed to be worthless drivel, and not the sort of thing you'd include in an author's bio.

Those of us who have been at the agent-attracting game are well aware of the dead end that is self-publishing. You'll never break into the big leagues if you can't land an agent who can then land a publishing deal. But if your dream is to have your story heard, where do you turn?

Why look to Lulu or iUniverse? If you can't get a literary agent to take an interest in what you have to say, and you're determined to preach to an actual audience, you must get creative.

Take a page from a Chicago-area entrepreneur. All you need is money. Someone else's money, of course, because you don't have that kind of cash in pocket. With Jason Hyatt as an example, you can reach that distant star of legitimate publication.

Jason Hyatt, of St. Charles, Illinois, must have had a hankering to be a restaurateur. Like publishing, it's an expensive proposition. Where does a man with a dream go to get financing for his dream?

While employed by BCI, an aircraft leasing firm, he sought out investors. Not for his restaurant. No one would willingly sink money into such a risky venture, not unlike the high risk game that is publishing. No, Mr. Hyatt rounded up investors who thought that they were buying into the airplane leasing business. The SEC figures that he amassed $82 million dollars.

Of that, Mr. Hyatt used $1.6 million on his own personal needs, which included a Maserati, a Hummer, and some art for the walls. Then he sank $2 million into his dream Latin-themed restaurant in a trendy Chicago neighborhood. He had a culinary story to tell, and De La Costa was the result.

What does this have to do with your dream of literary stardom? Rather than turn to a vanity press with a poor reputation, line up some venture capital. Pretend that you're looking for investment in some legitimate, money-making operation, like airline leasing. Look to Mr. Hyatt's error and avoid attention. Don't slip and give in to greedy excess. Just take a chunk of your net gain and start up your own publishing house.

Launch an independent press, one that only accepts agented submissions because there's a lot of worthless babble out there and you don't want to be bothered with a slush pile. Take on a publicist. Put together a sales force, a marketing department, an art department, and all the rest. You've got your embezzled funds at hand, and you might as well make the most of it.

If you want to publish your own novel, and have it sell beyond your small circle of friends and family, you couldn't do better than to become a publisher yourself. Otherwise, it's back to the endless misery of querying, getting rejected, and writing something else that gets queried and rejected, ad infinitum.

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