I Care…

Yes, I am a bit concerned with traditional publishing, literary agents, and self-publishing. However, I care about my fellow authors the most. That’s why I put in the time to write these blogs. If I can help a few authors a week improve or become motivated, then it was all worth it.

We cannot control what the publishing industry will do. For eighty years, traditional publishing ruled the land. Literary agents were the powerhouse gatekeepers. The perception has become that everyone abandon the authors. Maybe it’s true?

So yes, I care.

It may be shocking to hear, but I self-published several books at one time. Not only that, but I did very well with sales. The self-publisher did a great job for me and I built up an audience. But like anything, it was time to move on.

However, there were 200 other authors at the same self-publisher who would be lucky to sell 6 books in a year. They paid $2,000 for their book to be published, another $1,500 on their web site, and $500 on paper marketing. It was always the author paying and never seeing a return. They would have to sell a couple thousand books to break even. Nevertheless, they would not come close to selling 100.

It broke my heart that authors went through this. Not only was their money drained, but so was their hope.

So yes, I care.

At the South by Southwest Writing Conference, an author asked a panel of traditional publishers this question. “If I can pay someone else to create my book, put it on Amazon, and I market it myself, what do I need you for?”

After a full minute of embarrassing silence, the panel did not have an answer to that question. (Actually, it was minute and thirty-two seconds of silence. I timed it.)

If traditional publishers have no idea why they are better than self-publishers, then yes, I care. 

It was a simple question, “Why do I need you?” It terrifies me that they did not fire back with twenty reasons on why traditional publishing still can benefit authors. Heck, they had six panelists and over a minute to answer the question, and the audience only heard crickets.

I care that self-publishers will not read an authors book. They only care if the author pays. I care that authors cannot improve if no one holds them accountable for their work and teaches the author basic mechanics of writing. I care that authors are trying everything, but nothing seems to be going their way. I care that e-books is supposed to save the publishing industry, but authors may get left out once again.

When I scope the bookstore shelves, or take a walk around Target to the book section, I notice lots of politicians, athletes, musicians, chefs, weight loss guru’s, financial experts, inspirational leaders, movie stars, and ex-wives of senators who gone through tragic circumstances. I respect all of their talents and what they have become, but where are all the authors?

Obviously, publishers and stores feel that authors do not sell these days, escpecially fiction authors. Why would that be? Simple. The author does not have the same following as a Fox News analyst. It’s a business decision. Honestly, the publishers have to go where the money is, especially these days.

Authors need to get back on the shelves. You cannot tell me out of the millions of authors, there are only twenty who deserve some sort of shelf space behind all the other non-authors I mentioned above. I know in my heart that a talented author’s book can sell and will make money for publishers and stores, if given the proper chance.

My solution to this problem is simple. It will purify books and give readers, authors, literary agents, publishers, and stores an opportunity to know if a book has merit with just a simple glance. This will also save the publishing industry millions of dollars and separate talented authors from the unmotivated.

(By the way, I never say an author is “untalented.” That’s because if someone can write a book, they have must have a gift. It’s the  unmotivated author who is not willing to take the time to learn their craft that bothers me.)

Here is the way for everyone to be happy:

1. A universal company is started that has one job: Validate books and authors. For this exercise, let’s call the company ABV, Inc. (Author, Book, Validation, Incorporated.)

2. ABV is a company that has 500 professionals in the publishing industry, which are paid to find authors with merit. Since ABV is not a publisher or literary agency, they can be completely bias.

3. Authors send to ABV: query letter, synopsis, bio, 120 day marketing plan, and chapter samples via email. If you are a self-published author, then you can send just your finished book and bio.

4. The author is then validated with an ABV certificate and sent a JPEG with ABV seal. (Or the author is refused and sent information on things they need to work on.)

5. Authors that want to be traditionally published, can submit to agents or publishers with the ABV certificate. Self-published authors can use the ABV seal to validate their book to others.

6. Traditional publishers who belong to this program, can stop taking submissions. Only authors that have been approved by ABV will be considered. The publisher of course must pay a yearly fee to ABV, because they will save thousands, if not millions, depending on how many submissions they normally receive daily.

7. ABV will refer all validated authors to agents and publishers who belong to the program.

8. Authors who are already traditionally published, must submit their work to ABV for validation, just like everyone else.

9. Readers or stores that purchase a printed book or e-book, can look for the ABV labels to know if a book/author has been validated.

10. Authors who should be published, will have a 90% chance of being signed by an agent or traditional publisher, if accepted by the ABV. Authors who have a wonderful self-published book that are ABV approved, will have a 90% better chance at sales. 

I care about everyone. Readers, literary agents, publishers, and book/mass market stores. This will not solve world problems, but at least it will be something to use as hope, rather than assuming e-books will save the publishing industry.

Without a doubt, I will be back again with another blog. Why? Because I care about authors. 

Ron Knight

Author of “2-10”

Preview Six Chapters: www.upauthors.com/authors/ronknight

My Manager is Melissa Link: melissa@scbranding.com

Ron Knight

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  1. Annette says:

    This was a great article, Ron. The “What do I need you for?” question made me laugh aloud. Your articles are always uplifting and motivating, and for a soon-to-be-self-published author, I thank you for taking the time to care!

  2. Ron, I loved this article. I think a web site should be added so that the public can let the publishing world know what they are looking for in a book. My son and I went last week to Borders and I agree with you, there are not many authors. I like to look in the new author section but the shelves are almost bare. Let the public decided what genre they would like to read and stop these authors anonymous from putting celebrities names on their books. Maybe ABV could have one website so that authors would know where to summit for the public vote

  3. this is a great article i have been writing for a few years now have one book self published, and have had more than a few rejection letters, and i agree there are so many people out the like our presidents wife who are not writers taking our place hopefully this can be changed thank you for caring