Tuesday, May 18, 2010

But I Love New York-- Part One

pages written since last post: 11 and 1/2
Books uploaded to Amazon Kindle:  For Keeps-- This was my first book featuring a dog as a major character.  It had to be completely rewritten to reflect modern dog-training techniques. Only $1.99 on Kindle!


So I ran into my friend the other day-- I'll call him Dave to avoid embarrassment (mine, not his)-- and congratulated him on his recently self-published memoir.  I couldn't help knowing about his recently self-published memoir because everytime I opened an e-mail, visited a shop downtown, or glanced at a newspaper, I saw an announcement.  He was very pleased with the way it was going and reported he had already sold 600 copies.  "That's great!" I told him sincerely because it was great-- for a self-published memoir that had been out less than three months.  Feeling smug, I didn't bother to  mention that, had I failed to sell less than six thousand copies in the first quarter of my book's release, my fancy New York publisher would have dumped me like toxic waste.

Still, that was a respectable number, and money in Dave's pocket that he hadn't expected.  The book sold for $25, and I happen to know he hand-sold at least 80% of the copies, so his profit was about $12 per book.  Allowing for the other 20% that he sold to bookstores and on which he only collected $5, that was roughly-- very roughly-- $6000.   Free and clear.  In his pocket.

Furthermore, Dave had finished his book at about the same time I had finished mine.  His book was already in print and he had $6000 in his pocket.  I was still waiting for my publisher to send me the money that was due to me on signing of the contract six months earlier.  Bottom line: he had money, I didn't.  Who's looking smug now? 

This caused me to start thinking-- obsessing, really-- about what, exactly, are the advantages of being published by a traditional New York publisher, and why those of us who have made that choice (or, some might say, have been lucky enough to have that opportunity) have allowed ourselves to be convinced that we're getting the better deal.  Sure,belonging to  one of the Big Six publishers is an elite distinction, and one that's becoming  harder earn every minute, but beyond the cachet is there any real value to being published in New York? 

Believe me, I'm not the only one who's giving this question some serious thought.  My conclusions, as they develop, are forthcoming.

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