Internet Authors dont need needs

By: Mike Scantlebury

Okay, so you're an aspiring author or a wannabe writer and you're staring at the blank white page, wondering what to put on it. What would be the best thing to write about? What are publishers looking for? Hmm, tough question. I know, check out a few websites. Look at the home sites of well-known Traditional Publishers and see what they're putting out at the moment. That's easy. Here's a few romantic novels, some spy stories, and a quirky new translation from the Spanish. Your head's whirling, but you sleep on it and soon come up with an idea. You commit to paper, print out your creation and pop it in the post. Astonishingly, several months later, it comes back. Unwanted. Worse, there's a little note stuffed inside the envelope. It reads, 'This is not what we need at present'.

You've made an elementary mistake. You've fallen for the trap of believing that whatever publishers are publishing right now is what they want. No, it's not what they want - now. It's what they wanted last year, when they were putting their schedules together. The thing is that Traditional Publishers have such a long lead time that the things they are talking about today are not going to hit the bookshops until some time late next year. So, if you come up with a sparkling story about Christmas, don't leave it until next summer before you submit it. That doesn't give them enough time. Better to send it in at the start of December. That gives your publisher a year to come to a decision, put your book on their list and get it designed and printed. Besides, it's winter. They'll be in the Christmas mood. You see, publishing is not like any other industry. In the world of pop music right now - early December - they're talking about issuing the 'Christmas single'. It hasn't even be!
en recorded yet! But they can. They have the ability to get the artist into the studio, sing the song, press the CDs and pack them into cardboard boxes for the shops. In a matter of days they'll be hammering down the roads in the backs of trucks, hurrying to the buyers in time for putting in their Xmas stocking. No problem. Books? No, we haven't moved on much from the days when monks used to sit on long wooden benches, painfully copying out manuscripts by the light of a fluttering candle.

Sorry, 'they' haven't moved on much. 'We' have. We, the Internet Authors. We can get our books uploaded to an on-line publisher like Lulu in a matter of hours, design the cover and have it available within days. Our customers - whether friends, relatives, admirers or unknowns - will be able to tap in their credit card details and have the book arrive in the post by the end of the week. If you're planning a Christmas story - now, early December - there's still time! Amazing, isn't it?

But will anyone buy it? That question, the one that haunts Traditional Publishers at all their tedious meetings, coffee clashes and focus groups, is irrelevant to the Internet Author. People don't like it? They won't buy it. That's not a problem. There's no inventory cluttering the shelves and filling the warehouses. Every book that comes from Lulu is printed 'on demand'. No demand? No printing. It's as simple as that. You don't have to worry your pretty little heads about what you think people might like, or what your sampling and opinion polls are telling you could be the 'next big thing'. Ignore that. Write the book you were born to write, put it out there and see what happens. If people don't buy it, then you can accept their verdict. Maybe they didn't like it. (Of course, there could be a simpler explanation - maybe they just never heard of it. If so, try a bit more publicity and promotion before you give up completely.)

So what do publishers 'need'? They tell you that they want to publish books that people will want to read - and so want to buy. The problem is that those people, the readers, often don't know what they want until it's offered to them. I mean, who knew that stories about a teenage wizard boy would be entertaining? And those rings? Chasing all across New Zealand after elves and morlocks? Who needs it? The truth is that the art of publishing is to try and guess the future, but the science of it is to try and not lose money. That means gambling with your budget, going for sure-fire wins when you think you have them, and taking a risk when there's enough in the bank to cover any subsequent loss. It's not exact and it's not guaranteed, which means that most of what Traditional Publishers actually say to would-be authors is nonsense. They try and pretend that they know what they're doing, but if it has any validity it will be based on what happened previously, and that's not bound !
to happen again, no matter how convinced they seem.

For Internet Authors, there's a simpler way. Get your book out there, loaded up onto a website and visible, then tell as many people about it as you're capable of and see what happens. Who knows, you might have a best seller on your hands, and then, don't be surprised if the world of Traditional Publishing beats a path to your door - to share in the glory and the potential profits. Oh, happy day. But that's not the end of it. After all, what do authors need? They need to get their books seen and read, and commented on, so that they can grow and develop, and polish their craft. That can't happen in the obvious publishing world any more. The only arena in which it's happening is in the brave new world of Internet Publishing. If you're a new writer, that's where you need to be.



Top Searches on
Writing
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Writing
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles