By Marshall Frank
After dozens of those horrid rejection letters, and two manuscripts later, I finally thought I struck gold, landing a high-powered agent in the big apple who thought my work was ready for the major market. When he read my first manuscript, he asked if I was “comfortable in the spotlight.” Sure that editors would be scrambling, he sent out ten simultaneous submissions to major houses thinking it would go to the highest bidder. Think again. Many nice comments, but no buyers. Back to square one.
When all else failed, I turned to the newest concept in the industry called Print-on-Demand publishing, available from a few select companies. Simply, the author pays a small processing fee (in my case, $99.00 with iUniverse.com) and submits the book on a diskette which the company then digitizes into a full manuscript for the author to review before it goes to print. Naturally, the publisher reviews the book to make sure it meets certain standards which, admittedly, are not as high as a traditional publisher. However, there are no agent fees and the royalties start at no less than twenty percent.
In four months, I had my book, BEYOND THE CALL, a steamy police novel, ready to go, and very pleased with the cover. It became instantly available at all the major on-line bookstores. I also arranged signing tours which spanned four states, mostly at Barnes & Noble shops.
It certainly is a great opportunity for writers who simply cannot break through the publishing barriers. But there are some downsides.
Print-on-demand (P.O.D.) means there is no inventory. All books are stored on diskette only. Therefore, bookstores will not stock any P.O.D. items because they are not returnable to the publisher. The only exception is when an author appears for a signing event.
Many privately owned bookstores will not engage a P.O.D. author, not only because of the non-return policy, they simply view them as a step above a vanity press.
Newspapers and magazines shun any book published by other than standard publishers, leaving the P.O. D. author up the creek for critical reviews.
P.O.D. publishers do not edit. Ergo, the worst manuscript flaws can end up in print. Some P.O.D. houses offer editing services at a nominal fee. The best route for a beginning author is to pay the price and have the manuscript professionally edited. First impressions can be very long lasting.
Fortunately, I managed at least fifty book signings which not only provided royalty income, it introduced me to hundreds of marketers in the book business, one of whom pointed me in the direction of a small standard press who was interested in police/suspense stories. Harlan Publishing agreed to read my next novel, DIRE STRAITS and a month later, I was presented with a contract and an advance.
Without iUniverse.com, despite it’s shortcomings, my ultimate break into the regular marketplace would never have occurred. So, when all else fails…
About Marshall Frank:
His first novel, “Beyond The Call”, published by iUniverse.com, is loosely based on true events and addresses the perennial issue of police abuse of power.
His second book, “Dire Straits: A Miami Novel”, (Harlan Publishers) was released in hard cover in May, 2001. This high-tension story is about a mass murder in a posh Miami subdivision and a stressed out homicide detective who finds himself with a double dose of troubles he hadn’t counted on.
His third novel, “On My Fathers Grave”, a Mafia story, was released in November 2003.
In addition, Frank is the author of a non-fiction book of short stories and essays, “Frankly Speaking.”
Frank is also a regular editorial columnist for The Smoky Mountain News and The Asheville Citizen-Times.
He now co-lives in Maggie Valley, N.C. and Rockledge, Florida, with his wife, Suzanne, who is a sculptor artist. He has five grown children by a previous marriage.
Frank holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
His Personal Web Site: www.booktalk.com/mfrank/default.htm
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