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Shelagh
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Shelagh

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PostSubject: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 9:40 am

As always, I will begin with a quote:
Quote :
One of the most successful publishing franchises in history, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series had rather humble beginnings. First issued in a very limited printing of a mere 300 copies in hardcover, almost all of which went to schools and libraries,
This was taken from the Heritage auctions site:

http://www.ha.com/common/info/press/default.php?ReleaseID=1417

There are two important facts:

1. A limited printing of 300 copies.
2. Almost all the copies went to schools and libraries.

How did a series of books with such humble beginnings become the most successful children's books ever written and make the author the richest person in
Britain? It seems impossible. Not even Harry Potter's wizardry seems powerful enough to bring about such a phenomenal rise to wealth and fortune.

But it was fortuitous. Could a POD book with a run of 300 books produced by a digital printer become as successful? No. The basis of the success of the first book began, like the success of the Arctic Monkeys, by giving the story away for free -- in libraries.


Libraries only buy hardback copies.

How much of a difference does this make? If you sell 300 copies of your POD book to family and friends, half of them will probably not even read the book and only a handful will share the book with new readers.

If those 300 copies are placed in libraries across the country, only library members interested in your type of book will take it out to read. Already the author has sifted through thousands of library readers and found a group of people who are interested in the book the author has written. This didn't cost anything. No marketing. No promoting. No sales pitch.

J.K. Rowling's success was peculiar to the author herself and does not happen to every author whose books are placed in libraries. Her success came about because those 300 books were read by thousands of children. If each book was taken out only ten times, those books were read by 3,000 children.

When Rowling’s second book came out she had thousands of children eagerly waiting to read her books and they didn't want to join a library list so they bought the book. From then on the sales were exponential.

For POD books to compete, they would need to reach the same wide readership. This is impossible.


So what's the answer? Some say giving away books free is one way to become better known:

http://www.longtail.com/the_long_tail/2008/01/why-give-away-y.html

_________________
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donaldjamesparker

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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 10:20 am

Also one way to make you poorer. If they won't read the books anyway, giving them a copy is a double waste. It is a tough situation.
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kristie

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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 10:23 am

But it was fortuitous. Could a POD book with a run of 300 books produced by a digital printer become as successful? No. The basis of the success of the first book began, like the success of the Arctic Monkeys, by giving the story away for free -- in libraries.

Libraries only buy hardback copies.

This is not necessarily so. Libraries also buy perfect bound paperback books. Even if libraries did only purchase hardcover copies, this does not eliminate them from buying POD books. You can publish a POD book in hardback as well as perfect bound paperback. You can order as many or as few as you want to give away. It doesn't have to be a specific number of printed books ordered. You could order 300 or you could 200 or you could order 100 or you could order 50....and on and on.

Kristie Leigh Maguire
Founder and Publishing Consultant for Star Publish LLC
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Malcolm
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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 10:29 am

Barbara Fister's interesting Library Journal article "What if You Ran Your Book Store Like a Library" speaks of the book culture of sharing that surrounds good libraries: http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6547061.html

While some writers gripe about libraries lending out one copy of a book to dozens of people who potentially could buy it, Fister suggests that this kind of sharing isn't the problem, it's the solution. For one thing, all of the people who see the free book, whether they get it free from the author of borrow it free from the library, potentially can become walking advertisements for the book.

The challenge from the unknown author's point of view is, I guess, knowing how many books he'll have to give away to get any mileage out of having done it--and how much will that cost?

People often devalue things that are free, so this may not be an easy challenge to sort out.

Rowling's book has been called a Black Swan, a phenomenon that is extraordinary that couldn't have been predicted and can't necessarily be replicated. Part of the puzzle is missing here, though. How did all those children find those 300 copies? In the States, I would bet that without publicity, nobody would ever find, much less read, any of those copies. People don't go to libraries to check out books from authors they've never heard of. How could they? How would they know they were there, and without word of mouth buzz, what would lead them to take the books off the shelves if they chanced upon them. I think Rowling used a spell.

Malcolm
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donaldjamesparker

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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 10:43 am

Funny you should mention Rowlings powerful Spell checker. I will be publishing an Anti Potter novel in a couple of months. It has one of the characters asking the question how novels of childish vintage could take the adult world by storm. Name one author in history who has sold more copies per book that Rowling. Nobody!

On another front: before I forget: for you authors in the US, there is a great printer that I use to get my own copies. If you order 100, they give you 25 free. For example my new book which I just ordered the proof for is 228 pages. I can get 125 books for $667 dollars plus shipping. And they ship within 48 hours!! Another printer I was going to order from was 6 weeks.
Check them out at 48hrbooks.com They have a pricing tool on the home page to calculate the costs. The quality of their books exceeded those that I ordered from my POD publisher - and they were all wrapped in groups of 1, 2, or 3 copies. And they let me ship to two different locations with the same order.
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writerJack

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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 11:36 am

POD books less likely to succeed! I like to know the true quote on who started this saying. In history-Its truly not true.If you feel you have written well. If you feel that your novel is well presented to the market and public views as a must read. Then you are away from that wicked inexplicably of P.O.D death that comes from mainly book delivered too slowly to the buyer.The novel you have wrote cared about cashed carried as they say,is truly apart of you the real you that you identity, had not know you had that magic of literature knowledge in you as a child.The P.O.D is a word non other than what we use to describe in are manuscripts.It can be deleted.

Jack
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jck200
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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 12:19 pm

Shelagh,

I agree with you regarding getting books to the very people you need to read them. I did advise Peter to use his local school and offer a prize of a book which went down very well.

This is certainly something I would do if my finances improve and would want a hardback...as said possibly a 100 copies would help.

Thing is once you have readers they spread the word and often those they tell will not go to a library but simply order it online or from a bookstore so you can get real sales this way.

One thing is for sure unless you work hard every day promoting your book and thinking up new ideas and reasons for people to want the book nothing will happen.

Sorry I cannot post more but the first two paintings are taking such a long time to complete.

john
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Marta Stephens

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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 1:26 pm

Speaking only for myself, I'm with a UK POD publisher who works to promote their authors. However, I too have agressively promoted my debut novel, Silenced Cry, when it was released a year ago as a paperback. My publisher made it available on numerous online as well as traditional bookstores. It's also available in several libraries and I've given only a handful away, but neither of those things have hurt sales. On the contrary, I look at it as exposure.

For me, sales, has more to do with what the author does to promote the book and him- or herself, than how it's printed. The second book in the series will be out this fall 2008, and I've started on the third. These and more will be with the same POD publisher and looking forward to it.
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Pam
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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 2:33 pm

I think that we might be underestimating the value of a library book here. No matter where I have lived - from places the size of a speck of dust to those with 2 million in the metro area, libraries are busy infiltrating kids' book bags. Kids read books for homework, book reports, and extra marks. They have contests, re-write the books to create their own endings, get hooked on an author and then put all their other books on their birthday or Christmas list. Even in small areas where the library seems to fade away, I see the "bookmobile" come along once a week.
People who take long commutes and ride the bus often read either the paper or a book...and everyone on that bus sees the book.
Libraries are a great way to share your books, and if you ever offer to do a book reading at your library, donate a copy or donate some bookmarks, they usually jump at the chance...in my experience anyway. And if you are really charming, you can even put a poster up or do some clever marketing.
If you want your book to be read - POD or commercially published, you've got to market aggresseively and often. The libraries make good sense. Those book readers talk to each other - a lot - kind of like us writers.

study
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 3:00 pm

Having spent a lot of time in the music business and knowing that it is not always the person with the most talent that becomes the biggest superstar, I can say almost for a certainty that it was a combination of sticking to it, knowing somebody, finding the libraries that would let the book be placed there, and a gigantic helping of luck.

If we knew what made Rowlings a star, if we had a formula, then we could all turn out the next mega successful series. If I'd had a formula for the music business our publishing company would have had a stable filled with Garth Brooks, Tim McGraws, and Shinia Twains. But we don't know what the invisible factor is that reaches down and touches one artist or one writer and takes them beyond the ordinary, while leaving many behind who actually are better entertainers or authors. I have a lot of respect for Garth, Tim, and Shinia, but there are many better singers in Nashville than any of these three. They'll tell you the same thing, and I suspect Ms. Rowlings would admit that she might not be the most talented author in the country.

Something touches a few people and they become the stars. We don't know what that something is, we aren't going to figure it out, and there is absolutely no telling where the next one will come from. All we do know is that it's not based solely on talent, hard work, or even who you know. It's something else, and I'll be the first to tell you that I wish I could figure it out.
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writerJack

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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 3:32 pm

Rowling was 26 years old she moved to Portugal to be an English teacher. Ms. Rowling has been quoted many times as saying she loved teaching English, often teaching in the afternoons and evenings so that she could be free to work on her writing during the mornings. It was during this period that she began working on a story about a ‘wizard”.

Ms. Rowling met and married a journalist in Portugal (he was Portuguese), and her daughter Jessica was born in 1993. Shortly after the birth of her daughter, the marriage ended in divorce and Ms. Rowling, along with her infant daughter, moved to Edinburgh, Scotland so that J K could be near her younger sister, Di. It was during this time that Ms. Rowling became determined to not only finish her Harry Potter ‘wizard’ novel, but to get it published. Often she would write in restaurants, where she and her daughter could stay warm while she wrote. Ms. Rowling requested a grant from the Scottish Arts Council, which she eventually received, in order to complete her book. When it was completed and after several rejections, Ms. Rowling sold the novel, Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone, to Bloomsbury in the UK for the equivalent of about $4,000.

To support her daughter and herself, Ms. Rowling began working as a French teacher. After several months Arthur A Levine Books/Scholastic Press bought the American rights to the first “Harry Potter”, and Ms. Rowling received enough money to give up teaching and write full time. Ms. Rowling has described this moment as the happiest of her life.

After Bloomsbury Children's Books published the book in June 1997, it wasn’t long before Ms. Rowling was recognized as a major discovery. The awards and accolades grew quickly for both Harry Potter and Ms. Rowling. In 1997 the book won The British Book Awards Children's Book of the Year, and the Smarties Prize.

When published in the US, in September of 1998, the book was renamed and released by Arthur A Levine Books / Scholastic Press; the new title was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Ms. Rowling quickly wrote a sequel, Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, which was published July of 1998 in the UK, and in June 1999 in the USA. Immediately after this successful sequel a third book, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, was published in July and September of 1999, in the UK and the USA, respectively.

To her amazement, and joy, Ms. Rowling became a household name when the first three installments of the Harry Potter series took over the top 3 slots in the New York Times bestsellers list. (It’s interesting to note that the books also did as well, achieving similar results, in the UK)

So it can happen.

Jack
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 3:56 pm

Yes Jack, it can happen. I started the discussion to offer an explanation as to why it happened. It wasn't the only children's book published in 1995 and the initial print run was only 300 books -- mainly placed in libraries and schools (school libraries).

The point I was trying to make was that getting your books into libraries is no guarantee of success but succeeding without books appearing in libraries is nigh on impossible.

Analogy:

Jam (jelly) contains pectin (the setting agent). Pectin is acidic and acids break down fats, so jam sandwiches are healthier than bread and butter (even with the added sugar in the jam).

When I explained this to a friend, she said, "Are you saying that jam sandwiches are good for you?"

"No," I replied, "I'm saying that if you're going to eat bread and butter..."

"Put some jam on it," she finished the sentence for me.

I'm not saying that if a book appears in libraries, the author of the book will become successful. I'm saying that without books appearing in libraries, it is almost impossible for an author to become successful.

Don't lose sight of the fact that almost all of the first print run for J. K. Rowling's first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, were bought by libraries, not by the buying public.

_________________
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writerJack

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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 4:50 pm

True! You are so right! I donated my book to my Town libraries, and a few schools too after school had read my first book at a read-a-thons. The near by Cities also have them buy suggestions to buy from some one out of my reach but they do not get check out. The donated book in my Town got press and pictures of the open book in many news papers and online papers now the fame hear in the high text world we become .The book is also the Towns most check out one too. But have not seen a sales increase from book given to public. My publisher is still only showing books I’ve bought only so far. Its been hard since we first meet long ago the love of writing now the grim of sales reports and the marketing difficulties we all may face daily.
Jack
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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 8:08 pm

It is a tough haul Jack, but it sounds like you are doing the work and I think that is the other thing that makes our book successful. We have to write it - but we also have to take responsibility for getting it out there. That's why I enjoy this forum so much at times - somewhere we can offer and receive a little support, a bit of a nudge to keep the faith and continue to beat our own drum. It takes a lot of beating, but if the heart is willing and the books are good, I think it'll pay off in the end. Then I can have peanut butter with my jam...whenever I like!

bounce
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 8:55 pm

What I am saying is that a lot of people will write books, some of them perhaps better than the Potter books, and those same people will do a lot of hard work in promotion and in placing their books in libraries and other places, the the odds are greatly against them ever becoming as successful as Ms. Rowling.

I maintain that there is a cosmic somthing that touches some people, that nobody knows what it is, and it is that something that takes them out of the ordinary and into the superstar universe.

It takes more than talent, more than hard work, more than dedicated promotion, even more that a major publishing company publishing your works. It takes that little touch of magic, and it only happens now and then, and to whomever it chooses.
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySat Apr 19, 2008 8:57 pm

By the way, while millions of dollars of sales is a good indication of success, or at least monetary success, it doesn't necessarily mean that the product is the best one available.

McDonalds has sold billions of hamburgers, but that doesn't mean it's the best place in town to have dinner.
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySun Apr 20, 2008 2:02 am

E. Don Harpe wrote:
What I am saying is that a lot of people will write books, some of them perhaps better than the Potter books, and those same people will do a lot of hard work in promotion and in placing their books in libraries and other places, the the odds are greatly against them ever becoming as successful as Ms. Rowling.
I'm trying to explain the difference between starting out with a POD book that sells 300 copies to mainly family and friends with a print run of 300 hard copies sold to libraries:
Shelagh wrote:
If those 300 copies are placed in libraries across the country, only library members interested in your type of book will take it out to read. Already the author has sifted through thousands of library readers and found a group of people who are interested in the book the author has written. This didn't cost anything. No marketing. No promoting. No sales pitch.
Selling 300 copies to libraries is very different to donating a copy to your local library. There is also a big difference between the US and the UK. We are a small island and it really is a small world. Everyone knows someone from the opposite end of the country. 300 copies placed in American libraries would be hundreds of miles apart whereas, in the UK, they would only be tens of miles apart. J.K. Rowling might not have made it in the States on such a small initial print run. It's the concept of how the books succeeded that I'm trying to explain. Maybe 3,000 copies would need to be sold to US libraries to have the same effect.

I think the McDonalds' analogy is a good one. Children love McDonalds in much the same way they love the Potter books. They know what they like and so do the marketers! Don, you are right about marketing, it is strongly linked to monetary success. Once the Americans, with all their aggressive marketing techniques, took over, the Hogwart's train left the station!

_________________
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madhatter
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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySun Apr 20, 2008 4:34 am

I agree with you, Don.

I'm thinking of wearing some kind of jacket with a magic target on the back. Think that might work? Question
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySun Apr 20, 2008 7:26 am

This is an interesting article about giving away free copies of books:
Follow-Up on a Free Book Experiment

_________________
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySun Apr 20, 2008 7:39 am

"I'm trying to explain the difference between starting out with a POD book that sells 300 copies to mainly family and friends with a print run of 300 hard copies sold to libraries:"

Shelagh, I understand this. What I'm saying is that for some, selling 300 copies to mainly family and friends will be the kickstart that their career needs. For others, a print run of 300 hard copies sold to libraries will do the same thing. For many nothing will work, for a very few, superstardom is waiting regardless of which route they choose.

There is no formula to becoming a major, worldwide attraction. There's never been one with music, with the possible exception of the current Hannah Montana push, and there is no way to assure success in the writing field.

The vast majority of books written by newcomers will never get published by a major publisher. Of those that do, very few will become commercial successes, and of those, only a handful will become best sellers, and of those, only occasionally will something come along that takes off like Harry Potter.

A book has a much better chance of being a commercial success if it is published by a large publisher rather than starting life as a self published or POD book, simply because there is a much larger machine behind it. But there is just no way at all that assures one of having a book that sells a large number, makes the author's name a household word, and takes over the world like Harry Potter has done. Success stories will come from every aspect of publishing, just as they do in music, and while we can help ourselves in a lot of ways, we can't make it happen if it's not going to.

I would love to sell a large number of my books, but, as in the McDonalds analogy, selling a large number does not mean that the product is the best out there, only that it has found a market where people are willing to pay for whatever they like the best.
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lin
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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySun Apr 20, 2008 7:45 am

Part of this is just about the meaning of the word "succeed".
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E. Don Harpe
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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySun Apr 20, 2008 7:52 am

Ok, let's take it from there.

Are you a success as an author if one of your books sells 100 copies and actually touches someone's life and makes a difference, or only if you sell a million copies and make a lot of money?

Do we define success as only those books that make their authors rich, or is there more to it than that?

And don't bring up the tired old argument about me not wanting to sell books and make money. Of course I do. My point is simply whether or not success has to be judged by sales.
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donaldjamesparker

donaldjamesparker

Number of posts : 11
Registration date : 2008-03-29
Age : 69
Location : Puyallup, Washington USA

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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySun Apr 20, 2008 8:07 am

That is a wonderful point, Don! If you want to make money, there are a lot of easier ways to do it than writing books. If you want to change people's lives, there are few ways better. The pen (or keyboard in the 21st century) in more powerful than the sword.
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E. Don Harpe
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E. Don Harpe

Number of posts : 1979
Registration date : 2008-01-17
Age : 78
Location : Florida

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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySun Apr 20, 2008 8:13 am

Thanks, Donald James, but there are a lot of people who judge everything by how many dollars it generates. I am not against making a lot of money with my writing, but at the same time, I truly feel there has to be more to success than money.
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Alberta Sequeira



Number of posts : 3
Registration date : 2008-03-04
Age : 77
Location : Massachusetts

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PostSubject: Re: The reasons POD books less likely to succeed   The reasons POD books less likely to succeed EmptySun Apr 20, 2008 8:20 am

We all search on how we and our book (s) can get known. Like many of you, I've spent over $1,000 to promote my book, A Healing Heart, ISBN# 1-4241-4458-2. I'm from MA and happy my book is at B&N in Orlando, FL. Is it selling? Not many. I've advertised in newspapers, magazines and still sit for the sales to go up.

I would like to know the golden answer on how to get out there. I've reached the point of not spending anymore on ads. My money comes in with book signings, teaching workshops, etc., and it's all gone on the promoting side.

I was told that the difference with rich and poor authors is: A poor one depends mainly on book signing and getting their books on the shelves of bookstores. A rich one finds other talents that they have and offers them. So, I started the Beginning Writer's Workshops. I get 20-30 students and my books still sell slowly. I guess slowly is better than not moving.

Other writers tell me that they don't spend their profits on advertising. What else is left to get out there? I received the Reviewers Choice Award 2008 Semi-Finalist and that still doesn't help.

HELP! Any advise on my site www.ahealingheart.net. Maybe it needs help.
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