I am part of a LinkedIn discussion group and found myself involved in a thread that has got quite emotional. Good. It shows we care. I want to share with you one of my responses – I didn’t mean to pour so much on to the page, but I think it is quite revealing.
Thanks for the compliment. The thread has already mentioned the essential advantages of PoD, and I largely agree with them. I want to mention some areas not covered, and again, this is my personal opinion.
1. A writer needs to write. S/he needs to develop his/her craft. S/he needs to tell the other stories that s/he has to write. Once you have finished your novel, had it edited, and sent it out to 50-60 agents, you need to think there comes a point when you must move on.
You can then put that manuscript on a shelf to gather dust, or you can put it out there. On the shelf seems pointless to me – it gives you nothing and has you stagnating. I think it is preferable to PoD the book and gain experience in the inevitable promotion and marketing world.
If I had not Pod’ed Oilspill dotcom, I would not have begun to build my author’s platform. In the 6 months since the novel came out: I built a website that I am proud of (alonshalev.com), maintain a modest blog, have spoken at 8 forums, been interviewed/mentioned in 5 newspapers/magazines, entered 5 competitions … all while holding a full time job and being an involved father to young children.
I believe I am more confident, more professional, and building a reputation (in Northern California, at least) because of these actions – and I have learned a lot. A few weeks ago, I met with two people in the hope of addressing their group. One said that they couldn’t agree as they haven’t read the book. His colleague responded that he had read it and gave me a great verbal review. He had heard about my book from a friend who had been moved by my Veterans Day blog entry.
2. I am not convinced that placing my novel in every bookstore is going to result in sales, so there’s little point complaining about it. There are thousands of books in any store (100,000 in the average Barnes & Noble). I believe people often buy the author as much as his/her book (assuming they’ve never read anything from the author). If you are charismatic, funny, profound, whatever, you will sell. People want to take a piece of you home with them (please don’t tell my wife). If you have not published a book (no matter which way) you have nothing to sell them.
3. A final comment. PoD, ebooks, consignments, advances – the industry is in flux and will take a time to work itself out. I do not believe books are going away, but neither do I think we yet know where the industry is going. An author/writer needs to write, needs to develop. S/he cannot stand still and wait for the rest of the world. Furthermore, I believe (hope) that in the future, the fact that you have put yourself out there and have a fan base, will be a plus when a big publisher considers picking you up. Your website, blog, appearances etc. are testament that you can go the distance with the right backing.
4. A final, final point: You have to love what you do. If you are not proud of your website, blog, pitch at parties and spontaneous meetings and, above all, if you are not proud of your books, then maybe you shouldn’t be here. It’s okay to complain a bit (who doesn’t?), but if it is paralyzing your progress, you have a serious problem.
Sorry this is so long. Thank you for reading.