The Boston Globe reports that Brunonia Barry has sold her self-published novel THE LACE READER , and another to-be-written book, to Morrow for $2 million. This news will become the rallying cry for vanity presses everywhere…and the example gullible aspiring authors will use to justify throwing away their money.
What the hordes of desperate aspiring authors will ignore, and what the vanity presses certainly won’t tell them, is that Barry and her husband are experienced, successful businesspeople and former professional screenwriters who didn’t go to a POD vanity press…they spent more than $50,000 to self-publish their book entirely on their own. The Globe writes:
Most writers resort to self-publishing because they can’t find a
publisher. They often turn to print-on-demand presses such as iUniverse
or Xlibris. The author puts up the money – usually less than $1,000 –
and the publisher edits the text, designs jacket art, and makes the
book available through online outlets. But there’s no inventory – books
are printed when ordered – and the books rarely are reviewed. Few
bookstores place orders."We occasionally hear from self-published authors who say, ‘How can
I get my book into bookstores?’ " said Steve Fischer, executive
director of the New England Independent Booksellers Association, "but
the system is so difficult to plug into. You’re responsible for
everything – you have to be author, agent, accountant, postal clerk,
sales rep, publicity agent, go around to your local bookstore and find
out if there is any interest."
Barry and [her husband] were willing to do all that, and spend freely in the
process – more than $50,000 before they were finished
[…]With years of experience in screenwriting, Barry thought the story
might interest Hollywood. So she and [her husband] sent a book to agent Brian
Lipson, a book-to-movie specialist at Endeavor Talent Agency in Los
Angeles. Lipson liked it but doubted it would sell to the movies
without a commercial publisher. So he sent it to Rebecca Oliver in
Endeavor’s New York literary branch."I read it overnight and loved it," Oliver said. "I called Sandy and
said, ‘I have to work with you. This book is amazing.’ It has strong
characters and an amazing twist at the end. I sent it to a few
publishers. The phone started ringing."Laurie Chittenden, executive editor of publisher William Morrow, was
one of those who called. "It reminded me of why I love books – a good
story, wonderful atmosphere, good characters, a real sophistication,"
Barry is among the very, very tiny number of self-published authors who get picked up by a major publishing house for big money….but it took major-league, movie industry connections that they already had and an investment of tens of thousands of dollars from their own pockets to score that jackpot.
It’s not going to happen for the vast majority of people…most of whom don’t have Hollywood connections or $50,000 to spend. Even Barry realizes it. She told the Boston Globe that had they known at outset how much time and money was involved in true self-publishing, they might not have tried it.