Path to Publishing
New Book Passage Programs to Help Authors Find Alternative Ways to Publication
The business of publishing is changing rapidly. We’ve always viewed independent bookstores as a critical point in the entire publishing process—the place where writers meet readers and where new ideas are born. This role is quickly expanding.
One new idea gaining ground is alternative publishing – authors taking control of their own work in situations where traditional publishers are not able to meet the need. We think this is a positive trend that should be encouraged. There are many opportunities in alternative publishing, and while we don’t believe it will ever replace traditional publishing, we feel it can become a strong part of the overall publishing business.
Like any new business, however, there are those who induce new customers by promising them far more than they can deliver. This is true of alternative publishing as well. Unfortunately, there may be more blind alleys being offered right now than there are roads to success. Part of our job will be to point out the strengths and weaknesses of the alternative publishing plans being offered. You can expect us to be especially critical of online-only publishing plans, because most are deceptive in their pricing and do not lead to the author’s book becoming available in the mainstream book world.
Evaluating publishing alternatives is really nothing new for us. We have been offering classes, conferences, and workshops on writing and publishing for more than 20 years. Discussions about the publishing process have been a big part of those programs. We will continue to do that, and in fact we are planning to hold a new conference in March 2014 devoted primarily to alternative publishing. But we are also doing something more. We are now offering some new programs crafted for new authors.
One of these is our Mentoring Program, which is designed for aspiring authors who can benefit from a one-on-one relationship with an established author. We anticipate that many who sign up for this program will be new writers, but we expect to welcome some experienced writers as well. Many may have some issues to resolve before they commit their books to print. The scope of what the mentor and writer will cover will largely be determined by the two participants themselves.
For those who are ready to be published we will be offering our Direct to Press program that will assist authors in making the best decisions for designing, printing, distributing and promoting their books. In some cases, we will be able to recommend an agent who might be interested in the author’s work with the idea of approaching a traditional publisher. In other cases we will be able to suggest a small publisher who may work with the author on a cost-sharing basis. And in many cases, we can put the author directly in touch with a freelance editor or book designer who can carry the project forward with an eye towards self-publishing. As part of the self-publishing scenario we will also offer ideas to help authors find the appropriate distribution channel for their books as well as ideas for promotion.
Of course, there will be overlaps between these programs. We are still in the pilot-program stage. But authors will know one thing: they will always have friendly, knowledgeable people at Book Passage – not a computer – that they can talk to about their work. And we are just as eager to see their books on our shelves as they are to put them there.