YES, IT’S TRUE. Self-publishing, once the redheaded stepchild of the book world, has turned quite the corner. In 2008, more than 285,000 new print-on-demand (POD) titles and approximately 275,000 traditionally published titles were offered up to reader eyeballs, according to Bowker, which tracks publishing-industry statistics. That POD figure — which refers to books that are printed only after an order is placed, as most self-published books are — is even more impressive when compared to 2007 numbers, when 123,276 titles went on sale. That’s a 113 percent jump.
Along with Morrison’s beloved e-books, two of the biggest game changers for authors who choose to go their own way have been Author Solutions, a parent of six self-pub imprints which, together, brought 21,000 new titles to market in 2008, and the print-on-demand service Lulu.com, which adds 8,000 new titles each month.
“If you’ve never published before, most people are surprised at the amount of effort that they have to do to market [their book],” acknowledges Keith Ogorek, vice president of marketing for Author Solutions.
“If you’re not J.K. Rowling, good luck these days [going the traditional publishing route],” says Gail Jordan, former director of public relations for Lulu.com. “You’re not going to get the marketing behind you. We really empower authors to promote and market themselves.” But, Jordan adds, it’s important for authors to keep their own goals in mind. “Success is defined by numbers, but everybody’s bar is at a different place,” she says.
Christine Marks, a professor of equine science in Owen County, Indiana, who publishes fantasy novels such as Elfhunter through one of Author Solutions’ brands called AuthorHouse, says she started with a modest goal. “Initially, all I wanted to do was bring them to life,” she says.
But over time, she has built an audience by interacting with readers at gaming conventions and book signings and by making the most of what she calls her “secret weapon” — her cover art. Along with wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the images, Marks has turned her cars into roving billboards by wrapping them with custom-made decals splashed with her books’ art. The cost? Just under $1,000 each. “I hand out cards at drive-up windows because everybody goes, ‘Oh my gosh, what is that?’ ” she says. The cards include her book titles and, for easy ordering online, the ISBN numbers.