I am the best-selling author of 12 books, all of them issued by major publishers. Collectively, they have sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
I like to start this way, not to boast, but to give you some confidence in my observations. They have been accumulated over 20 plus years of writing, so I've seen various markets for authors.
Right now, there are some major problems with conventional book publishing, of which you should be aware, if your goal is to get this community to acquire and then to issue your work:
(1) Distribution through bookstores has never been tougher. Most publishers sell to stores on consignment. If books don't fly off shelves into the hands of buyers, they're returned to publishers, very quickly. Your title doesn't get very long exposure or time to establish itself.
(2) Books used to be kept "in print" and available for longer periods of time, in many cases, for years. Now, they're put to death quickly, if initial sales are anything other than brisk.
(3) We live in an era of the celebrity book. If Oprah wants to write a diet book, it will be a monster hit; you know that. But the most exciting, up and coming, highly credentialed nutritionist may not have a chance of breaking into print.
(4) Publishers expect authors to make them profitable through personal promotional efforts. "What are you going to do to sell this book?" is the major question they ask, and agents will tell you, without a personal commitment to sell your own copies, stated in your book proposal, you won't get a publisher to bite.
(5) Publishers are clueless, themselves, about what to put out there. Reluctant to lead, and reluctant to follow the success of others, they are like the proverbial deer in the headlights.
It used to be the case that if you wanted information on a subject you either went to your library or to your local bookstore. Not anymore.
By going to the Internet, you can assemble the equivalent of a book, fast and more or less, for free. Publishers haven't figured out how to sell content at a premium, in an environment in which so much of it is available, instantly, for nothing.
There are alternatives to conventional book publishing, including self-publishing and using media alternatives such as audios and videos. I'll explore them in future articles.
But for now, give that dream of seeing your book on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, a second thought.
It may not be worth the effort.
Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of Customersatisfaction.com, is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone® and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide. A Ph.D. from USC's Annenberg School, Gary offers programs through UCLA Extension and numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad.