Marchbooks' Blog

August 29, 2009

March Books – Confronting Social Issues, One Novel At A Time

March Books is a green publisher. We believe that a good book is a treasure. We think, however, that there are some aspects of traditional publication that are outdated and environmentally unsound. Large print runs and huge stacks of returned books are a luxury that our planet can no longer afford. We strive to bring good literature to eager readers, but not at the expense of our environment. 

 

Print on demand may require a slightly higher cost, but it will benefit all of us in the long run. Good stories, printed affordably on a demand basis – that is what March Books is all about. 

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Please visit  www.Marchbooks.com for our list of current and upcoming titles.

August 28, 2009

The Old Publishing Model – Is It Fair To Authors? by Janus Kane

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 4:58 pm
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I just read a wonderful article on the need to change the royalty structure for authors as it exists in today’s publishing industry. I won’t bother to regurgitate it. You can read it yourself. Publishers Must Change The Way Authors Get Paid

When you weigh the benefits of publication (for the majority of published authors out there) against the cost; in blood, sweat, tears and yes, money, one has to wonder why the allure is so strong. As a new author on the scene, I can tell you that it is not an easy road. The search for a publisher is a grueling one. First you tool and polish your manuscript to its finest. You craft a compelling query letter. You grab the latest version of The Writers Market and carefully select a number of compatible publishers.

Your first mailing goes out. WHAT? No positive responses. Undaunted, you retool your query letter and send it out to another batch of likely suspects. INCREDIBLE! Still no one has seen the promise of your book project. So you blow the dust off of your wallet (after all you have been busy writing for the past two years, not chasing the almighty dollar) and pony up a sizeable chunk of cash to attend a conference or two, where you are sure that you will be able to make the connections you need to get your books onto the bookshelves. Sadly, one brief weekend connection does not get you into the inner circle.

Although you have found some editors who like your project, (we’re getting closer) those editors were not able to convince their board of decision-makers about the marketability of your book. EGADS! How could this be happening? So, you write and you continue to pursue publication until one day, the miracle letter comes. You have been chosen out of the masses. It is a Herculean feat, but you’ve done it and it is all down hill from now on.

HA! In reality, you now have to watch your baby as it is wrenched out of your hands, mauled and manhandled until it is barely recognizable. For what? In many cases an unknown author will receive a token advance it they receive one at all. Okay, so you can’t pay of your mortgage just yet, but at least you can get back to what you were meant to do – writing, as you sit back and wait for your 5% royalty to roll in. 

Of course, you could do that – if you don’t mind seeing your firstborn die a slow and ugly death in the book return bin. So, you try to get some love from your publisher. Sorry, no go. They’ve got a long list and a small budget. There is no money to market your book. If you want it done, you will have to do it yourself.

You square your shoulders and dive in. Six months later, you are buried under a mountain of bills; website, web design services, review copies, mailing expenses, a shelf of how-to books on how to market your book, travelling expenses, advertising materials, more mailing expenses and perhaps your own publicist…The list goes on. It all comes out of your pocket – out of that generous 5% royalty that you so eagerly agreed to when desperation was biting at your heels. But, what is infinity worse is that these marketing efforts have completely sucked the life out of you, preventing you from being able to write another creative word.

Does it sound grim? It should. Unfortunately, it is reality for all too many hopeful authors. The road to publication is not short or easy. It is fraught with perils. Significant time and money could reap very little benefit. But, there are options; POD, ebook publication, blogging, online writing communities…There are many new ways to have your voice heard these days.

Authors should consider all of the options carefully, then they should consider them again. Be very clear about what you want out of publication. Do you want fame, fortune, notoriety? Do you want to establish yourself as an expert in your field or will you be happy just to have your book printed and distributed to family and friends? Or do you just want to tell your stories in a way that others can share and enjoy them?

If you decide that you will be satisfied with nothing less than the brass ring, by all means, go for it. But, go for it with your eyes open and love what you are doing because if you love what you are doing, you will never have to work a day in your life.

Write on.
www.marchbooks.com

The Little Insanity

August 24, 2009

The Downside to POD

I always enjoy being devil’s advocate, even when the devil is me. Therefore, this entry is devoted to a counter argument to a previous post –  ‘POD – The Greener Side of Publishing’.

Many authors burn with the desire to see their words in print. Surprisingly though, not enough of those authors are willing to polish those words to a perfect sheen before sending them out into the world.

Editing is a lot of work. It is tedious, boring and worst of all, it keeps you from doing what you were born to do — write. You have already written the story. Now it’s time to move on to your next literary masterpiece, n’est pas? Proofreading is even worse. If an author does make an effort, beyond the cursory running of spell-check in their word processor, they will soon find their brain atrophying from the proofreading process. Their eyes will eventually begin to glaze over, sabotaging the author’s efforts by skimming over their undeniably perfect prose.

News flash – editing and proofreading are not optional if you desire to put your writing out there for public consumption. Unfortunately, authors do it every day. The evidence is everywhere. Go to any community writing site. Writing.com and WritersCafe are my favorites. These communities are wonderful and an absolute must for any author who is trying to guage how the public will receive their writing, but throughout these sites, you will find an abundance of poorly written prose.

Admittedly, posting a short piece online is quite different from arduously preparing a book for print, especially when one purpose of that post is to garner constructive criticism of the piece. And, it is not my intent to be cruel, but let’s call a spade a spade. It is no secret when a writer is merely posting their words as quickly as they fall off of their pen. This is hugely inconsiderate to the potential reader. Sadly, this phenomenon, all too often, carries over into a writer’s self-publishing efforts. And, how unfair is that to the unwitting buyer of the product of this slovenly effort? Excuse me for saying so, but if I have laid out my hard-earned money to buy a book, which I do often and with enthusiasm, the very least I can expect is that I not have to stumble through a minefield of typographical and grammatical errors. I have no right to expect that this author be the next Hemingway, but I can expect that they have made every reasonable effort to produce a text free of obvious spelling and grammatical errors.

There seems to be an all too pervasive misconception, among new authors, that publishing is easy. Second news flash – not if you do it right. There is a reason why publishing houses are uber selective about which submissions they will accept. Publishing and promoting a book is a long, arduous and expensive undertaking (if it wasn’t there would be no reason not to publish everything that came across their desk). Publishing a book the right way is more than simply uploading a raw text file and encasing it in a generic cover. And, when that book does finally roll off of the presses, the lion’s share of the work is just beginning.

And there, my friends, is what I consider to be the downside of POD. This new technology has made it all too easy for anyone, with only a small initial investment and minimal effort, to publish their writing – thereby flooding the market with numerous substandard books. The result is a stigma that a diligent self-publisher must now overcome.

As with most new technology, with the good comes the bad. This is the downside of a wonderful, new, groundbreaking technology. It is surmountable, it just makes the job of the serious small publisher that much more difficult.

August 14, 2009

The Beauty of The Written Word

Filed under: On Writing and Publishing — marchbooks @ 12:10 pm
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Ahhhh, words. Ever since the first Egyptian put the first letter on the first piece of papyrus, the beauty and utility of the written word could not be denied. The advent of words on paper, as a way to disseminate information, has arguably been more important to the evolution of mankind than any other invention. It is, in many ways, the mother of knowledge and creativity. Certainly, mankind is infinitely creative. But, where would we be if that creativity had to survive in a vacuum? How many of Edison’s inventions would have gone unrecognized if he had been unable to write them down, unable to convey them to more than his housekeeper and the local shop owners? How many great ideas would have died with their originator, if they had been unable to write them down?

Certainly, seeing one’s words in print is a swan song that calls out to many – as evidenced by the ever-increasing number of books being published every year. Being able to share one’s thoughts, feelings and ideas with others has incredible appeal for some. Others are just as ravenously waiting to read those thoughts and insights. It is a marriage made in heaven – a special kind of bonding that brings us all closer together.

The physical beauty of a book cannot be overlooked. A book’s inviting cover, the intoxicating smell of ink on the page and the satisfying crack of the spine as you initiate your first journey through its pages is something that every book lover has come to cherish. As much as the new internet and wireless technologies have to offer information sharing, nothing can compete with the feel of a real book in your hand as you settle down (bedecked in your flannel jammies) in front of a roaring fire with a nice glass of wine or mug of hot chocolate. The reading experience is a vibrant one, on many levels.

To me, however, the real beauty of the written word lies in the magic. When an author has managed to create a world, dragging me into it (sometimes kicking and screaming)… ahhhh, words. What an amazing thing it is when you can stand beside a character as they charge across the desert on a new adventure. Or, when you can puzzle out a murder mystery with one of New York’s finest. The author can take you on a journey with an anguished mother whose son has been abducted by a predator or on a blossoming love affair between two lonely people. They can take you inside the head of a psychopath, a 13-year-old autistic girl or a destitute mother trying to survive with her three young children in their 1983 Chevy. Wherever or whenever the author takes me, the true magic happens when that author’s writing touches my emotions: when I am holding my breath in suspense, crying at the loss of a beloved character or laughing out loud at the irony of life. That is the beauty of the written word – let it live on forever.

August 7, 2009

Cause For Concern by Janus Kane

Filed under: In the News — marchbooks @ 3:20 pm
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First, the Disclaimer. I have been an Obama fan since he appeared on the scene. At first, it was just a matter of, ‘anyone but George Bush’. Then, I became entranced by his charisma, his enthusiasm and what I perceived to be his guileless manner. He certainly appeared, to me anyway, to be an ‘all cards on the table’ kind of guy. His presidency seems very transparent and open to public scrutiny. I found it refreshing.

With full acknowledgement that it was Bush who began the Bailout debacle, one has to wonder why Obama continues to chase his tail on this. I think it has become more than clear that the bailout methodology is a failure. How deep into debt must we dig ourselves before we realize that we are not curing the problem? I say ‘we’, but there is very little ‘we’ involved here. Our government continues to write checks, expecting us to cover them.

Then there is the health insurance reform. I am told that this is an 11 pound document. It is inconceivable that a group of lawmakers will be able to argue and agree on each article. I would question whether many of them have even been able to read through it. The potential for abuse here is mind-boggling. Every day, bills are passed that carry unrelated and unwelcome addendums. Can anyone out there venture a guess at the number of potential landmines that might be disguised in the pages of an 11 pound document?

People who do not support Obama are starting to panic and the propaganda is beginning to spread. I have heard it suggested that this bill is being used to broaden the scope of the abortion law. The proposed change, I am told, will allow aborting a child up to two years after birth if they are physically or mentally impaired.  It is an insane concept which should make one laugh, but do we really know? With so much out of our control, can any one of us say with conviction that this is an impossibility? It has also been alleged that the bill includes provisions for senior patients to visit with their doctors, on a regular basis, to discuss continued life choices. WHAT! Has the law prohibiting euthanasia been revised when I wasn’t looking? If it hasn’t, what is there to discuss?

Then there are the other disturbing rumors. The ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program seems to be a  big success. So much so that it had to be refunded. I’m all for it – in theory. But, there are two major flaws. The first is that there has been no pressure put on the auto makers to provide cars that are more fuel efficient. The best we can do is 28 miles per gallon, and there are only a handful of those models available. So, we are flooding the roads with vehicles that are only marginally better than their predecessors. Which leads to the  second problem; where are all of these clunkers going? One would assume, since this is environmental reform, that these vehicles are being recycled. But, there is no evidence of that. It seems inconceivable that we will just be cramming our landfills with these vehicles, but I see no evidence that this is not the case. So what is this really? On the face of it, maybe we are looking at just another way to bolster up the floundering automobile industry. As my grandmother used to say – ‘if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…’ If this is the case, shame on Obama. I, for one, expected better.

Other rumors abound: bailout money being used to bolster the pornography industry, Michelle Obama using taxpayer money for their trip to Paris and that Obama is simply unpatriotic. It has even been suggested that he is manipulating himself into a dictatorial position. As far fetched as some of this sounds, the proponents are adamant and I cannot completely refute it because there is just not enough information. I have not read the health care bill and until I see it in black and white, I refuse to believe that our president is advocating the murder of our elderly and infirm, BUT…Help us out here Mr. President. Please give us something besides hope and logic to base our arguments on and don’t expect sanity to come out of 11 pounds of legalese. Let’s have some laws and language that are forward looking yet intelligible to the common man. A good plan does not mean a convoluted plan. Obama can truly make this one of the most open and progressive presidencies we have seen in recent years, but is going to take more than legal jargon and subterfuge.

www.marchbooks.com

To Be Released in August 2009

To Be Released in August 2009

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