Archive for the 'Book Design' Category

POD Lets Authors Resolve The Catch-22 of Publishing

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Many thanks to Joe Shaw, Executive Editor, for allowing me to excerpt the following article from The East Hampton Press and The Southampton Press. The article was written by Tom Clavin and published on December 8, 2009.

The Cure For Jet Lag by Lynne W. Scanlon and Charles F. Ehret, Ph.D., was published more than a quarter-century ago. Yet it could well represent the future of book publishing.

A Springs trio teamed up this year to issue an updated version of the book using the print on demand—or POD—process. Indeed, with a growing number of writers making use of the POD method, Publishers Row may be moving from Manhattan to the East End, which for many years has already seen its share of writers, editors, and agents.

“This area is a hothouse of creative types, from writers to artists who can benefit from print on demand books,” stated Lynne Scanlon, the co-author of The Cure For Jet Lag.

“These folks will gravitate to POD not only because it is the most expedient way to produce a book, but because literary agents and editors could care less about un-established writers these days.”

But don’t the authors of books published in non-traditional ways risk acquiring a sort of stigma as not really being professional writers, thus giving agents a reason to steer clear? “Good luck finding an agent if you don’t already have one,” Ms. Scanlon said. “That’s the Catch-22 of publishing.”

Her career in publishing has included being a marketing executive with Barnes & Noble and a book publishing consultant in addition to an author. In 1983, she collaborated with Charles F. Ehret, Ph. D.,  who had been conducting research underwritten by the U.S. government to reduce the problems associated with long-distance air travel. The original goal was to make the U.S. Army’s rapid deployment forces more effective.

Dr. Ehret himself served in the Army’s 87th Infantry Division and won a Bronze Star and Purple Heart in the Battle of the Bulge. With Ms. Scanlon doing the writing for lay readers of the results of Dr. Ehret’s research, Overcoming Jet Lag (the original title) was published.

It was a success when issued by the Berkley Publishing Group, selling more than 200,000 copies worldwide and remaining in print for more than 20 years. Sales eventually faded, but problems with jet lag did not. Last year, Ms. Scanlon wanted to release an updated edition of the book, but did not want to wait the 18 months or more it would take a traditional publisher to have new books on shelves. There was also a financial incentive: After publishers and agents and book wholesalers get their slices of the pie from a $20 book, the author’s slice may be as thin as $3.00.

Ms. Scanlon worked out an arrangement with with Dr. Ehret’s estate and founded Back2Press Books, which specializes in republishing titles that have sold in excess of 100,000 copies. Naturally, The Cure for Jet Lag would be the company’s first effort. There would be no long editing and production process nor any danger of printing thousands of copies that might not sell. The new edition would be printed on demand and be readily available on the internet (www.thecureforjetlag.com) as well as at the major chain bookstores and selected shops.

What is POD, other than the dreaded form of the infestation in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers?” The plain language answer is that it is a digital printing technology that allows a complete book to be printed and bound in minutes. This makes it easy and cost-effective to produce books in small lots rather than in large print runs. What has long bedeviled traditional book publishers is the practice of “guestimating” how much a title will sell: if the prediction is wrong, a publisher has to warehouse or even destroy tens of thousands of already-printed books.

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It’s All About the Book Jacket, Stupido! From No-Seller to Best-Seller

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

How important is the book jacket for your book? Critical, I’d say. If you are an unknown writer, your book must practically leap off the page and jump into the Amazon shopping cart all on its own. Of course, if you are a writer with a following and have cajoled all your colleagues into writing glowing testimonials about your book for the cost of a glass of Chardonnay, the jacket-as-sales-tool isn’t quite so critical since readers take endorsements seriously — at least until they’ve read the book.

Book Jackets That Look Pretty and Do Nothing.

I particularly enjoy clicking over to lulu.com, one of the printers for self-publishers and independent publishers, to check out the top 100 books listed (most of which are nonfiction, by the way). Here is an example of a perfectly beautiful book jacket for Understanding Business Statistics by Ned Freed that is lovely to look at, but next to worthless as a sales tool. The Wicked Witch of Publishing has suffered mightily through advanced probability and statistics (and received an A, thank you) and for all the world cannot detect any correlation between this beautiful cover and the book’s 604 pages of content.

Book Jackets that Demand — at the Very Least — a Peek or Sneak Peek!

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