The Book Business

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A friend recently asked, “When are you going to write another book?” He then added, “You probably have the content for several in the blogs you’ve written”. I told him that I wouldn’t consider publishing another book until after I sell the remaining books for the two I’ve written.

 

I am grateful that I’ve been through the process of having completed two books. For years I verbalized the desire and intent to one day write a book. My primary motivation was to chronicle some of my stories for my grandchildren. Consequently, I am pleased that I’ve gotten that part done. Had it not been for the challenge of a friend wanting to be helpful, the book would probably still be in my head. He asked if it would help if he gave me a deadline? I said it probably would since I generally wait until the last minute. He provided a deadline. I went home and started writing and couldn’t stop until the book was complete.

 

Reportedly, in recent years the days of book contracts and enticements to write a book are few and far between. Unless an author is already a New York Best Seller author or a celebrity with a waiting audience wanting to read what’s been written, most folks publishing books incur much of the cost themselves.

 

Early on, I contacted an agent of a book publisher in the North East. He basically shared with me what I’ve just shared with you. The market has changed. Without instant name recognition and an audience with a high interest in what you’ve written, there aren’t many open doors. I told the agent that both of my parents are deceased. Consequently, that pretty well eliminated the people who would have a high interest in reading anything I wrote. Actually, I really didn’t tell him that primarily because I didn’t think of it at the time.  After all, isn’t it true that you’ve got to maintain a sense of humor?

 

The book agent also had a sense of humor. He told me I could anticipate spending around $10,000 to have a book published. He said: “From what you’ve told me, you’d be better served to give me $5,000. You could also keep $5,000. At the end of the day, we’d both have $5,000. The results will still be the same. Without name recognition and a large audience wanting to read what you’ve written, it is mostly an unproductive effort and a needless expense.

 

Of course there are exceptions to that. In 2013, a physical fitness guru wrote a book that became an overnight best seller. The book identified the formula and potential for losing twenty pounds in six weeks, increasing one’s muscle size, improving brain functioning and orchestrating an incredible sex life. Reportedly, he received a cash advance of over seven figures.

 

I obviously don’t always get it right. I thought I’d garner an audience by attempting to promote laughter. Obviously the physical fitness guru had a higher level of awareness of the typical guy on the street’s primary interest. That being said, I still think laughter is good medicine.

 

I have a cousin who is a source of encouragement related to my writing. After I finished my books she said, “I’m really proud of you. You will become both famous and wealthy.” For years I’ve owned the fact that I don’t always get it right. I say this tongue-in-cheek, perhaps my cousin predicting fame and fortune for my efforts shares that same “I don’t always get it right” gene.

 

The General will be on my case if she reads this. She is pretty much a strict constructionist when it comes to the business aspect of the book business. I have in my possession a couple of un-cashed quarterly royalty checks from the publisher. One check is dated January 2016. It is for royalty payment for the 4th quarter of 2015. The check was written in the amount of $.74. Actually, when I saw the check, I started laughing. The contract I have with the publishing company indicates that royalty checks under $25 will not be distributed until the royalty income reaches that amount.  I had the thought that I should send a  copy of the check to  my cousin who predicted fortune and fame.

 

Obviously, I need to orchestrate some kind of marketing plan to promote my books. I could dramatically increase my volume of sales by 200% if I established an effective plan to sell a couple of books a month. By the time I’m 109 years-of-age, I should have made an appreciable dent in liquidating most of my book inventory. On the bright side, I’ve done better this past quarter. Arriving in the mail this week was a royalty check for $1.58. You can truthfully say, “I’m in the money.”

 

Speaking of money, I did have a strange conversation with the General earlier this week. She made a suggestion that probably has merit. She said, “I’ve been thinking. It might be good for you to go ahead and sign all of the books you have in inventory. You’re books could be worth more after your dead.”  When I told my son about the conversation with his mother, he thought it was hilarious. Actually, I thought it was pretty funny as well. However, I’ve not started signing any unsolicited books.

 

The marketing dilemma is primarily a lack of time. It takes time and commitment to market one’s books. It has been a very long time since I’ve opted to host a book signing. Each time I have enjoyed the process and have met some nice people, but it is time consuming and my time is already consumed. It won’t always be that way, but for now I’m good with maintaining the status quo.

 

Many authors looking for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or looking for a publishing company to pay them in advance for their efforts have the experience of facing rejection after rejection. During high school, my son became hooked on reading books written by Louis L’Amour. I think Craig has probably memorized every thing L’Amour wrote.

 

L’Amour was an author that refused to avoid discouragement. He received over two hundred rejection letters before his first book was finally published by Bantam. He literally went from the bottom of the heap to become a top selling author for Bantam with 330 million sales.

Reportedly Agatha Christie faced five years of rejection letters before she ever had a book published. Obviously delayed gratification is a sign of maturity and potential gain.  Her book sales are now over $2 billion dollars.

Fortunately fame and fortune were not my motivation for writing. The thing most important to me has been accomplished. The books are written. When I’m gone, whether my remaining inventory of books are signed or blank, part of the story has been chronicled. I’m more interested that folks reading the books discover encouragement, hope and laughter during the process.

 

All My Best!

Don

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