First of all, I have to tell you . . . I did not like Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love. Oh, there’s no question that the author is talented. It’s well written—about a married women who doesn’t want to be married. She’s got to do a re-direct on her life to find herself, so she’s taking a year off and schmoozing, speaking Italian and eating in Italy, praying in India, and loving in Indonesia.
Did I mention she does love her husband, David—the one she doesn’t want to be married to? What scares the hooey out of her is having a baby—something that, in the early days of their relationship, they agreed they would do when the big 30 hit. Fast forward to now; it’s approaching and our author is a blabbering mess.
Here’s what I didn’t like about the book and the author: she did not communicate to hubby that babies weren’t her forte and that it wasn’t going to work for her. Then the two could have come to closure instead of her dumping him for a new language, some pasta, and eventually meeting a guy who wasn’t interested in increasing the population.
What’s this got to do with authoring and publishing besides the book itself? Everything. Let’s start with clear, effective communicating, which is what many of the iUniverses, AuthorHouses and those who package publishing projects don’t do. My favorite thing about AuthorHouse is the coining of the word “authorcentric”—it’s a very cool word and one that I embrace. I wish AuthorHouse did. Then there’s iUniverse, which claims to be the champion of “supported self-publishing.” What’s supported self-publishing? Per iUniverse (via its website):
Self-publishing your book with the support of iUniverse is a professional, affordable, and fast way to get your book into print. Compared to publishing on your own, it costs you control of some aspects of the publishing process, but only in exchange for less hassle and expense. iUniverse professionals with book-publishing expertise will educate and guide you through the entire process for an affordable price. Supported self-publishing also enables you to test your marketing abilities and learn about the publicity process without emptying your bank account or making it your full-time career. And, because you control the rights to your book, you can get started with supported self-publishing but move to a traditional publisher—or choose to self-publish on your own—after you have experience and a track record.
Let’s look at the folks at AuthorHouse via its website:
AuthorHouse has grown into the largest self-publishing company in the world – responsible for helping more than 40,000 authors publish more than 60,000 books. AuthorHouse allows you to maintain creative and financial control of your book while receiving all the personalized attention and support you need – from publishing to promotion and everything between. AND AuthorHouse has print-on-demand service that combines high-quality production with speed to market. Plus, formatting options and distribution capabilities can help set your book up for selling success.
Each boasts about its marketing services (very expensive), low cost entry into publishing for the author, generous payments (really?), distribution capability, etc., etc. AuthorHouse and iUniverse are just two of the many, many who proclaim themselves as “self-publishers” but who are, in reality, Vanity Presses. Period—nothing more, nothing less. They are huge and have a literal boiler-room approach, just like a hounding credit collection agency would—dial and re-dial … “If you don’t respond by today at two, our special offer will no longer be available … blah, blah, blah.” They eat, prey (on writers), and probably just love themselves. Communicate clearly? … nope. It’s grey everywhere.
They all use a POD model—which I’m the first to admit has a spot where it’s the right method for a quick print or end of life. But for the serious author/publisher, the one who intends on making money with a pBook format, this is a pass.
Self-publishers who are truly serious about their books and being successful need to step, no run, away from the term self-publishing. It no longer fits. The correct term is small press or independent publisher. Use it. Embrace it. Wear it with pride.