I came very close to producing my first novel as a POD book, but I’m really glad I didn’t.
When the POD boom came along, I had just completed work on a suspense-thriller novel titled The Osmosis Project. I’d submitted The Osmosis Project to an agent with high hopes that I was on my way to being a published author. Unfortunately, the agent was not as excited about my novel as I was. Now I had another novel sitting on the shelf and no one to publish it.
So, I reasoned, why not do the same thing that I did with Friendly Revenge?
I didn’t want my novel to be sitting around doing nobody any good. And with POD, I could actually produce a paperback version of my book. Instead of having to relegate myself to disc signings, I could have a “real” book to sell. Better yet, I could be my own publisher and not worry ever again about having to do what I call “the publishing courtship dance” (i.e. queries, proposals, and so on).
And, because the big three POD publishers were eager to attract business, they were offering some really great deals. In fact, when Xlibris came out with a free publishing option, I almost jumped on the bandwagon.
However, before I could get started with the process, something happened that changed my mind.
It’s a long story, but on a whim I sent a query to several computer book companies for a book idea on how to write Web pages, written “by a non-techie for nontechies.” I didn’t really expect anything to come of it, but to my surprise Osborne/McGraw-Hill was very interested in the idea. In fact they were so interested that they gave me a contract to write “How to Do Everything with HTML.”
With a book contract in hand, I found it very easy to get a literary agent to take me on.
And that was when I decided to keep The Osmosis Project on the shelf a little while longer. I reasoned that my new agent might eventually be interested in looking at my novel.
Which brings me to why I’m glad I didn’t decide to produce The Osmosis Project as a POD book.
As word about POD publishing spread among writers, the market was flooded with manuscripts. At that time there were only a handful of publishers offering POD, and they were quickly overwhelmed with writers wanting to self-publish with the new technology.
As with the first e-publishing logjam, quality took a nosedive.
The POD publishers were swamped and in an effort to keep up, often produced poorly-edited, poorly-designed, and poorly-proofed books. Plus, the turn-around time from submission to release went downhill, often taking months longer than promised.
E-publishing history was repeating itself.
Logjam 2.0 had arrived.
However, unlike the e-book logjam (see my Sept. 14 post), this one cleared up as more POD publishers came online. And with those publishers came the first major turning point in the e-publishing revolution.
For all practical purposes, it appeared as if the electronic book had died, replaced by physical books produced through Print on Demand.
But in only a few years the world of e-publishing would again be turned upside down when a company named Amazon decided not only to enter the e-publishing market, but to produce their own dedicated e-reader.
Oh, and that novel of mine? The other reason I’m glad I didn’t release it myself is because my agent did decide to represent it and in 2003 Tyndale released it as “Blind Sight.”
Sometimes, it’s better to wait.
[Check back on November16, for part 7 of “A Brief History of E-Publishing.”]