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August 11, 2006


Peter L. Winkler

Dear Jeff:

You wrote, “Self-publishing companies print, they design (sort of), and they open distribution channels.”

The problem is exactly that they don't open distribution channels. Bookstores and reviewers abhor self-published books, especially POD books, because for the most part they aren't returnable.

In PODDY MOUTH's interview with iUniverse CEO Susan Driscoll, Driscoll said, “One has to assume that the big publishers get their books stocked in stores, which means there are only 2,000 spots left for the other 150,000 titles published. If an author isn’t traditionally published then his/her title is not likely to get stocked nationally on bookstore shelves. Anyone who tells an author otherwise isn’t telling the truth.”

Peter L. Winkler

I think that publishers have a function similar to the major record labels. They have long established reputations and therefore retail outlets will stock and shelve their products.

For their frontlist titles, publishers spend money advertising and promoting the books.
Most don't get that treatment, so I suppose for most authors, only advantage a reputable, trade publisher has over self-publishing is quaranteeing access to the bookstores. Since 90% of books are sold there, that access is eseential.


I agree w/ Driscoll in that getting books in the store is as much a problem as it is a solution. As soon as you put a significant amount of books into stores the returns clock is ticking. In approximately six weeks, if you haven't sold through a significant chunk of books on shelves, they start coming back. Once they come back you can pretty much stick a fork in the book.

For unestablished authors or niche books the POD model of responding to demand is a much better option. I could write for days about why this is not something publishers are ready to engage in, but suffice it to say, they are not.

If you are an unestablished author and you can just open up online distro channels (which all of those self-publishing houses offer, no?), then you have all the tools you need to get your book moving. If you find yourself in a position where demand exceeds your distribution, trust me, someone will want to help increase your distribution. That is a good problem to have.

If you are not an established author and you sell books to .5 percent of the 10% of book buyers that shop online, you will be a very successful author.

And, as for the comparison to record labels--having had some experience on that front as well--I can tell you that (pardon the French) the record industry is REALLY fucked. The publishing industry is just slow to adapt. Record labels are awful.

jan morgan

i am totally confused now, after reading all the bad stuff about self publishing i dont know to do now.. i have been ripped off already by author house by the way, for £180, they were very rude and kept my money when i told them i didnt like their attitude, they had my cash for a week. your info is very helpful, i am now considering lulu.


Have you been turned down by other lenders?


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Hi, I congratulate you on Merry Christmas!


Hi, I congratulate you on Merry Christmas!


Happy New Year! Happiness and success in 2011.


Hi Merry Christmas and Happy New Year


With the new 2011. Year! Congratulations.


Hi Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, a cool site I like

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It's rare for publishers to lose on libel case. Maybe the freedom of speech is too strong.

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