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al d squitieri,sr

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Pod: From Shunned Leper to Black Sheep
By al d squitieri,sr
Last edited: Thursday, March 06, 2008
Posted: Monday, February 25, 2008

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al d squitieri,sr

• Cured in Spite of Modern Medicine
• When 'Pay TV' was commercial-free
• Church Members Should Keep Leadership in Proper Perspective
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• For Everything There Is A Season
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Some of the world’s greatest writers started out self-published, such as Twain, Whitman and Poe. In reality, they were talented and gifted writers, but it took self-publishing to get their work between the noses of publishers and their bottom line.


Copyrighted: Al D Squitieri,Sr





From Shunned Leper to Black Sheep


 So you want to be published? You have a strong need to write, and share your thoughts, information, and life’s experiences. You want to reach people with something you feel they should know. That takes word on paper in the form of a book, magazine article, or e-book. But with this desire, must come perseverance, determination to withstand never-ending rejection, and living a solitary life. 


I have been putting words to paper for thirty years in many forms:  newspaper, digest sized magazines, technical writing, How-To booklets, newsletters, church organs (pardon the bun) three pieces to an online publication, two to a Contractor's Magazine trying a new humor in the trades column, a 70 word filler to a favorite magazine, three to health and Homeopathic magazines, and of late, the “adventure” of self-publishing two books. I have earned in that time what the average full-time writer earns yearly, $10,000, which, in my case is $400 per year, a single days labor as a Licensed Master Plumber ~ feeding ten children, thereby the advice to keep my day job was prudent. But I enjoy the platitudes of a conservative estimated two million readers, over thirty years in dozens of publications. Still, in reality, it’s plumbing that pays the bills. Therefore, you will find doctors and lawyers with bestsellers, still at their professions.


The misconception of holding out your masterpiece for mainstream publishers irks me. Asking people who are driven to write, having an important message, to sit wringing their hands, waiting for that prestigious agent or publisher to come drooling over that guarded manuscript. Talk of reality! Who’s the dreamer here? Is it the “starving artist” or the wanna-be author getting his or her work out by any means? Will a paid agent make your work of greater quality? Should it not be your best with or without an agent? Or will the paid agent make poor writing appear better? You are paying for his or her foot in the door, since transits aren’t used any longer.

 I’m not a Rhoads Scholar or writer of great literature, nor claim to be a top-level craftsman, but I’m being read and paid. Since my prose wasn’t placed by a “legitimate agent or “legitimate publisher”, should I return the $10,000, and start giving away my books and articles? I would have to confess to my readers that they were cheated by the writer giving them enjoyment, encouragement and information because I was a mere bastard, as in an illegitimate scribe?


Some writers choose to languish outside major league ballparks waiting to be discovered, but I’d rather be playing minor league ball – today, and let the talent scouts find me. My work may help a do-it-yourselfer get a seemingly impossible plumbing job done. My funny columns and self-published anthology keeps readers laughing. Helping terminally ill get through just one more day. Perhaps my writing can inspirer someone to not give-up, or find a cure for a hopeless illness. Can I wait to have it discovered?



I write for editors of those magazines, newspapers, and buyers of my books who enjoy and need my work, and their checks are encouraging. My readers, not all friends and relatives, have thanked me with hundreds of letters, e-mails and phone calls from eight countries. Will Rogers was making One Hundred Thousand Dollars per week before there was an income tax. Was he a polished writer and scholar? No, but readers bought newspapers, books, movie and theater tickets. He gave the public what they wanted and needed: entertainment. Is hard-boiled Mickey Spillane and his Mike Hammer books~ later movies, considered literature? Perhaps not, but as a colorful wordsmith and storyteller, he is still making money for his publishers and moviemakers. It is perhaps politically incorrect to say that publicly, but after all, isn’t it about the bottom line? 


As with most writers, I have tried for years to find an agent for my two books: an anthology of my self-published humorous columns, which had already sold-out 250 copies. Thinking it should be put out on a greater scale through the Internet, I tried Pod (print on demand) copies produced as needed, an advance in self-publishing. This idea eliminates stockpiling of unsold books in a warehouse or your garage. It assures your book will never go out of print. In it’s first two years, my Funny Side Up sold another 150 copies over the WWW.

In the beginning, Pod books were being treated as lepers, shunned by publishers and agents, are now considered black sheep cousins. In fact, Writer’s Digest runs a Self-Published Book Contest, with at least six past winners coming from a stable of writers at my publisher   iUniverse

The war over Pods verses traditional publishing being fought on writer’s boards, and chat rooms (which I avoid) may be one of sincere intentions, meant to help the writers not yet part of the “legitimately published” elite.  I recent being considered pseudo or quasi because I don’t have conventional agents and publishers courting me, but I do have my pride, readers and couple dozen checks. I’m not a member of a writer’s guild, simply because I’m a lowly self-published author. Ask me if I care ~ while I’m signing the back of checks, and enjoying the approval of happy readers, and those “send us more “ requests from editors. Ask the tech and copywriters if they care?



My second book: Broken Glass And All  was written to help the hopeless. I was cured of what a dozen doctors took $52,000 to tell me was a hopeless incurable autoimmune disease, Polymyositis. When a writer finds information he’s driven to share, he mistakenly believes every agent and publisher has that same passion. What they want to know instead is, how many people have that disease? Who will buy the book? How much will their bottom line be? It’s a fierce completive market, and as conglomerates consume smaller publishers, the less chance there is for a no name writer to see his work in print. The Pod industry is growing due to conventional publishers skimming the cream from the top, for bottom line profits. The rest of us, rightfully or mistakenly, are thought of as whey. The new breed of monopolized publishers, opened the door to vanity press, subsidy partnerships, and now Pod publishing. It seems substance between covers is no longer important. I have seen poor writing and editing in both mainstream and self-published books. One was hyped by the famous TV  Queen of book marketing. Saving money on copy editors?  It looked like one of my pieces straight out of my head and splattered on paper ~ which takes six rewrites to get near right.


Net profit dictates what readers will read, but they don’t always fall for the hype that sells poor books from workhorse authors, bad movies and boring television specials, or those referrals with no substance. Therefore, Pods will continue to sell. It gives readers a choice over those mainstream force-feedings. Remember, once you’ve bought the book or movie ticket, you are stuck with the purchase made according to luring and misleading hype. It is up to the vanity publishers, who in some cases are nothing more then printers, to be honest with desperate writers wanting publication at any cost. They should be upfront, not blinded by the almighty dollar, telling these questionable writers to save their money. In doing so, Pod books will eventually have quality between its covers. But we will never see a Madam steering her girls to a better life. It’s that bottom line again.

There is little difference between conventional mainstream and self-published when it comes to marketing. As author, you work equally hard at both. The difference is a small advance and 7% royalty afterward, or 20% to 25% for the author of self-publishing. E-books can earn 50% for the author, but don’t sell as well. You lay out the money upfront, but make more at point of sale. Either way, you are doing most of the work. The publishing business, not socialistic, has changed drastically. No longer can an author expect the publisher to edit and market the book.


 Each year over 50,000 new books take the conventional route to publication, sitting on bookstore shelves, next to the new generation of Pod’s. How many book buyers read the imprint, know the difference, or really care? Did they by-pass the impressive imprint and purchase a Pod? Is it the writer’s name, the imprint, or the words that count? I’ve heard of half dozen writers selling a thousand Pods off those same shelves, while brand imprints went back for non-saleable refunds. It’s the words on paper, in such order and color to make it flash at it's reader – “come read me”. Readers are drawn by an attraction, like a bee to a flower, a moth to a flame, a shark to chum – this also found between covers of many books. As the bee comes away with substance, so be it the reader. It is content, not wrappings that count. While great book covers will draw attention, today’s readers know they can’t judge a book by its cover. I admit, the cover on my humorous book should have been designed by a pro rather then a plumber, but none of the 400 book buyers neither complained or complemented me on the covers, but said the material is hilarious.


 Perhaps there are some people who should not be writing, lacking the personality, talent or the basic mechanics of the craft. Take note, if agents and or publishers have taken the time to use handwritten notes, advising you to keep your day job, take warning.

Everyone wants to write. Some write well. But not all are saleable writers. How will they know? I’ve told my children “It is better to try and fail, then to fail to try!” But be careful, there are wolves out there ready to fleece a desperate-for-print person who sees themselves as writers, when no one else has. If you’ve had good success with small publications, newspapers and magazines (hopefully all of the above) try sending your ms around. If deemed good, but not a moneymaker by major imprints (if allowed an audience) and after exhausting small press, try Pod. Scan writer’s forums, read Writer’s Digest and other writer’s magazines. Read carefully publishers’ contracts and claims, not one in the same, and never give away your rights. Go the route that gives you the most for the least. I have had my share of hell with Pod’s, both in Canada, and US. But I have learned valuable lessons. It has cost me just $335 to get two books into print, and I’ve gotten that back 10 times over in gross returns of two titles. After cost of printing, shipping, handling, marketing and over 50 freebies, I’m still ahead with a $1,000 profit.


I don’t count on the online sales, since they sold 150 to my 600. I’m not happy with the royalties paid for all my work, but I have found a way around that by buying in quantity. Get the book out at your cost at first, since the sale of 400 copies is nothing to conventional publishers, who give away that many in promotional copies, a luxury POD  authors cannot afford. But 400 sales is impressive for self-published books, which normally average  200. Hope for recognition that will get a mainstream publisher or a small press interested, which is the hope of most self-published writers. Thankfully there have been a few making the Bestseller lists.

Remember, some of the world’s greatest writers started out self-published, such as Twain, Whitman and Poe. In reality, they were talented and gifted writers, but it took self-publishing to get their work between the noses of publishers and their bottom line. And know, even they needed copy editors, whose job was to clean away the mud, and expose the gems.

So, write on, write well, and write to sell that diamond in the rough.














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