years ago I knew practically nothing about the publishing industry.
Never had I Googled Terry Burns or Terry Whalin. I couldn’t have told
you the difference between Mt. Hermon and Pee Wee Herman, or Debbie
Macomber and a cucumber. I was familiar with about a half-dozen
Christian fiction authors, some who are still alive. At that point God
intervened, changing the main focus of my life from writing computer
software to composing culture-clash fiction.
After writing All the
Voices of the Wind, a novel concerning the evolution debate,
I ventured forth to convert the manuscript into a paperback and
discovered the brave new world of publishing and subsequently
marketing. Luckily, free or inexpensive advice and tutorials were not
difficult to find. It didn’t take long for me to come up to speed and
discover that publishing is a sadistic version of a lottery, one that
requires skill as well as luck. Now I almost wish I had never entered
either domain, but a pilgrim needs to do what the Lord calls him to.
I did the math. An agent could
take a couple months to reply to a query letter. If the query promotes
enough interest for further investigation, the agent could take a few
more months before he/she decides to take a new client under wing.
After that, to sell the manuscript, the agent has to knock on
publishers’ doors, ushering in a new waiting period. Once a book is
contracted, it gets put into a queue for future publication. I realized
that if all went smoothly (which it rarely does), I might be waiting
two years before my message was available to the public.
I wouldn’t wait that long and
researched other options. Little did I know at the time, but I joined a
revolution when I opted for a POD (print on demand) publisher.
Afterward I learned firsthand about the word pariah.
Most self-pubbed authors come to realize that Rodney Dangerfield had it
good in the respect department.
The problem self-publishing
presents to the world is that literally anything can now be published,
despite lacking redeeming literary or moral quality, as long as the
author can shell out a hundred dollars. Books of unbelievably poor
quality will appear on Amazon, one reason for the stigma attached to
self-published books and authors.
Works produced by a major
are professionally edited and proofread. Self-published authors usually
shanghai family members or friends to eradicate nasty typos,
punctuation faux pas, and more serious issues. Thus self-published
books will usually be inferior to a certain degree. I hope this stigma
will fade away as more quality books are self-published and they are
evaluated on their content, not by who wrote or published them.
advantages exist to “doing it yourself.” Profit margins are typically
higher. Self-publishers don’t have to please anyone but the readers.
Topics that established publishers wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot Pole
or an eleven-foot Norwegian can be addressed, perhaps creating a niche
for the self-published author. More important, God’s pristine Word can
go forth without being watered down in the name of political
correctness or return on investment.
Another advantage I enjoy is
at liberty to distribute the electronic versions of my books for free.
Try negotiating that into a publisher’s contract. Call me crazy, but I
don’t think anyone should be deprived of God’s Word because they can’t
afford to purchase it. Can fiction disseminate God’s Word? Jesus did
use parables to teach.
bookstores will go the way of the dodo bird, taking away one of the big
advantages of the big publishers. With the tools of the Internet at
hand for producing, marketing, and selling books, fewer people will be
willing to spend countless years pursuing their dream of catching on
with a traditional publisher.
of us don’t write because
we have a
dream of having our name on a book cover and a royalty check, but
because we desire to build God’s kingdom. We have a message to deliver
to the world that may never be received unless we get published. With
the inexpensive publishing techniques, why should writers beat their
heads against a wall for years? I truly believe that every writer
should ponder how long they will wait before joining the
One prominent CEO recently
blogged that if his company could figure out which books would be best
sellers, those would be the only ones they’d publish. I believe that
sums up the industry in a thimble. There is little motivation to
present God’s truth or even to give the world quality literature. The
goal is to generate mammon. That ticks me off in the secular world. In
the world of Christianity, that mindset hammers my hot button labeled
I’m not totally naïve. I do
understand that a business has
to make money to stay alive, but would it make sense for a publisher to
allocate 10 percent of the revenues for publishing specialty books that
God directs them to present to the world? I risk aggravating my
acrophobia by standing on my soapbox and proclaiming that as Christians
we need to pursue God’s Word, no matter who publishes it. Please, don’t
judge a book by its cover or its publisher. God sent his son to earth
as a lowly carpenter, born in a stable. He delivered His Word through
insignificant people like David, Moses, and John the Baptist. Does it
not make sense that His Word in the twenty-first century might come
forth from authors who are ignored by an industry more concerned about
profits than prophets?
Here are a couple of relevant
links that provide additional information on this topic:
I give instructions on starting
your own publishing company at: