Did I cringe when I read that statement? I hope so—otherwise I, like many other publishers would be living in denial. Every serious publisher is well aware that it’s not the brass ring of a best seller but something else far more significant that motivates us to dedicate ourselves to delivering quality books.
We “secular priests” are also deeply committed to the backlist: preservation of the written word. If only one person finds value in a book that is out of print, it is worth the effort to re-issue that work and make it available.
Epstein’s backlist mission began with the creation of paperback books, which cost less and were also easier on the publishers’ budget. However, paperbacks still required print runs that often led to out of print books and investments in inventory and warehousing.
Print on Demand – Backlist Bonanza
The major breakthrough occurred when digital technologies burst into the marketplace and print on demand became a reality.
As a writer who signed a contract with one of the major publishers for a book that was censored shortly after it appeared, and as a publisher who opened one of the first “traditional” online publishing companies in 2000, I knew we were on the brink of a book industry revolution. I realized that digital on demand production and delivery technologies were a way to save the backlist… and also distribute censored books to a public hungry for the truth. The Internet was a refreshingly free and open venue where it seemed possible to avoid censorship and book banning—at least for awhile.
“Books written last year, ten years or a hundred years ago will always be available, thanks to print on demand,” I wrote in newsletters and press releases that described the Dandelion vision.
I recalled looking forward to a time when we would be able to provide one-off book buying and seamless order and fulfillment from a shopping cart website.
Colleagues thought I was crazy. “It’ll never happen,” they retorted.
“And then,” I added, ignoring their rebuttals, “one day someone will come up with a portable print on demand machine that will print books a minute at a time. Like a jukebox, the buyer will punch in the letter and number code, press the ‘Start’ button and out of the chute will slide a perfectly produced paperback book. We can then place these glorified printers in bookstores, coffee houses, libraries… wherever people want to read, discuss and buy books.”
“It’ll never happen,” my colleagues repeated.
Today, thanks to Jason Epstein’s Espresso Book Making Machine® and his mission to save the backlist, it has happened… and all the nay-sayers are now jumping on the bandwagon.
Do your research
Once your manuscript is finished and ready to go into production, do your homework before deciding how you want to publish it.
In the checklist below I’ve separated book and article publishing, since you may wish to do both. I certainly encourage publishing articles as well as full-length manuscripts, especially if they’ll give you good name exposure that could help promote your book as well as your company.
- Study the book industry. Learn everything there is to know about publishing.
- Research industries related to book publishing (audio books, ebooks, films, etc.).
- Visit many publishing websites.
- Become familiar with book industry associations (Literary Marketplace, Publishers Marketing Association, etc.).
- Join writing and publishing forums.
- Learn how to write a book proposal.
- Learn how to develop a media kit.
- Interview authors to learn how they publish.
- Interview literary agents.
- Interview publishers and editors.
- Be sure to check out my websites at DandelionBooks.com and ghostwritercaroladler.com.
- Feel free to contact me with your questions and concerns.