The case for AuthorÔÇÖs Own Limited Editions
by Chris Day
One of the big frustrations that many authors have is the time that publishers take to respond to approaches. Even when working through a Literary Agent, it can be many months before a book proposal goes through all the necessary editorial stages before a decision is taken to either take on the title, or not as the case may be.┬á Throughout all this time, authors feel left in limbo and unable to influence the process, speed things up, or more importantly, earn any income from that manuscript. No wonder authors get upset!
Other than the quality of the manuscript itself, one of the things that influence the decision of any publishing house to take on a new title is how much of a profile an author has, in the press and on social media.┬á If they have developed a following online, this can be a deciding factor, as few publishers can now afford to maintain the big PR and marketing division that had in the good old days. What they are looking for are books that there is a demand for as soon as they are published.
With the current turmoil in the world of publishing, commissioning editors are increasingly risk adverse. Taking on a new unpublished author, with no track record and no following, is seen as a risk.┬á For them the ‘low hanging fruit’ is when the author is well known, has profile, is very active on social media and has a book for which there will be immediate demand and sales.
From an authorsÔÇÖ perspective, this is a bit of a Catch 22 situation. To get profile, they need to get their book out there, in order to get it reviewed, get talked about and interviewed in the media. No book, no coverage. The other thing, is that authors donÔÇÖt want to do anything that might compromise tier book from being accepted. So they do nothing.
But there is another way which can help generate some income early on, help raise that all important profile, and make the author more saleable to the mainstream publishers as a result.
The new strategy is based around the author taking the initiative to demonstrate that there is indeed demand for their book, by creating and test marketing their own Author’s Edition. ┬áBy strategically getting their book out there, ┬ágenerating reviews, media coverage, social media activity and sales, they are then in a position to provide this evidence to a commissioning editor as part of their book proposal, and demonstrate that the book is indeed viable, and a risk worth taking.
This ┬ástrategy is based on the fact that a book that doesnÔÇÖt have an ISBN it is in effect, invisible to the book trade. This means that an author could indeed publish an ÔÇÿAuthorÔÇÖs Own Limited EditionÔÇÖ and sell it through their own routes to market without adversely affecting the possibility of the book being taken on by a publishing house in the future.
Many authors, with their heart set on landing a publishing deal, would rather wait for years for this to happen than be seen to ‘lower themselves’ into self publishing,┬á but that is not what this strategy is about. ┬áCreating a limited edition themselves and leveraging all their contacts and followers to buy and support it, can be the one thing that could tip the balance in landing the illusive publishing deal.
Contrary to popular belief, although advances are smaller now than they were in the past, they still do exist but to demonstrate that your book is worth that investment from a publisher, you have to find a way show them evidence that you are worth the risk.
One of the other advantages of getting an author’s edition out there is that you will unlock an income stream from sales. Yes, you will have to invest in making that possible, but if you don’t have total belief that your own book is going to a profitable, how can you expect a publisher to?
The books that you sell through your own routes to market are going to be vastly more profitable than any you will sell through the book trade or Amazon. ┬áThe difference between taking home 70% of sales income versus 10% is surely a ‘no-brainer’.
The marketplace today has changed. The old 19th Century business model for publishing has evolved. People are buying more books now than every before – but in different ways, from difference places, and in different formats.┬á It has never been a better time to be an author – proving you take responsibility for your success.┬á There has never been a free lunch – but the kitchen is always open for those who want to cook a meal!