There's a recent post on the Fidra blog that made me crack up.
But although Vanessa uses a lot of humor (she has Ms. Bookshop Owner say, "...after I’d noticed that you’d managed to work elements of The Three Little Pigs, Harry Potter and Hollywood Wives into the plot.” ::snerk::), what she has to say about how not to get your self published book into a bookstore is serious, good reading.
She does have a follow up here, but I'll digress on that for now, until I read it.
I'm No Expert...
...but I am damned opinionated at times. (Did you like my sorrowful, woebegone rant of the other day? As heartfelt as that was, those types of rants are few and far between.)
Vanessa talks about the old model of vanity presses, where you had to buy a thousand or so hardbacks and store them in a garage or a closet or in a dungeon. I personally know my sister-in-law's one friend, Amy, who went that route (although she opted for paperbacks), and heaven knows where she stored 'em all (I mean, living in New York City, in her "opium den," as she called it, I didn't see a heck of a lot of space to store oodles and oodles of books.
Heading For the Chains
The "oops" moment is calling up one of the local bookstores. Now, to be fair, I've heard that at some of them, a manager has a few local interest books; books about the area's history, its flora/fauna, spooky/weird stuff, that sort of thing. But, for the most part - it ain't happenin'. You can kiss most of that goodbye.
You might be lucky. You might get a manager who's sympathetic to your plight, and might - might - take a look at the first few pages of your tome (although maybe not at this point in time, with the economy, yadda, yadda, yadda).
But if grammar and spelling aren't big on your Hit Parade, you've got trouble coming your way. (Today seems to be Cliche Day for me, lol.) Seriously.
Go ahead. I dare you to purchase a self-published book. Some of them are pretty good. The grammar isn't too bad, the typos are kept to an absolute minimum, and the plot is fun/interesting/worthwhile. I purchased one such book last year, and although I haven't gotten back to reading it, it was obvious to me the author took the time to make sure the basics were taken care of, plus she had a fairly interesting plot.
But, Then Again...
I also just recently purchased another self-published book. Yuck. Mistake. First of all, the title was misleading. Instead of talking about what I thought the dude was going to talk about (this was non fiction, BTW), he talked about something related but different. Only in the very last chapter did he talk about what I thought he would; talk about barely scratching the surface.
What irritated me just as much was this guy's insistence on using "your" for "you are." Come on. Throughout the entire book, this guy used it this way. Plus there were plenty of run-on sentences.
Note that I don't have anything against run-on sentences in certain instances (especially if it's a character who talks that way), but to use such "techniques" throughout a non-fiction book? Give me a break.
Amateurish all around. And I'll get an Amazon review up on there at some point, too.
The Nuts and Bolts of the Publishing Business
It's about money. The stores aren't going to stay in business if no one buys books. Period. So the owner is going to look for certain things to make sure she has a fighting chance of hanging around for a while.
This, no doubt, goes doubly for the independent bookstores; the chain stores have some deeper pockets to grab for (although even that's drying up). But if an independent is going to hang around, don't you think the owner is going to want a professionally-produced book, one that has everything in place as noted above?
But there must be more to it than that, right?
Step up to Self Publishing - Part 2. Coming soon to a Writerly Stuff blog near you!
Love and kisses,
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