Jon Franklin has won two Pulitzer Prizes. His writing is used as a teaching tool, and he has produced several books through traditional publishing houses.
But, for his next book, he might self-publish.
Franklin, of Sunderland, takes issue with what the world of traditional publishing has become.
For instance, when a book is sold by an established publisher, a small percentage of the money from the sale makes it to the writer, he said. (No publishing companies contacted by e-mail and telephone returned messages by press time.)
Franklin hasn’t made up his mind to drift away from his publishing house, Harry Holt and Co., but if he does self-publish, he certainly won’t be alone.
With self-publishing becoming easier through companies that offer print on demand, thousands of authors now eschew the traditional and publish their own work. A spokesman from print-on-demand company CreateSpace.com, a division of Amazon.com, declined to say how many clients the company has or how many books are published on average.
When Connie Reeves self-published her first novel, “Hawthorne’s Cottage,” she bought 750 copies at a cost of about $6,000. Then, she had to handle her own inventory, and suddenly there were 30 boxes of books in her basement.
Now, Reeves uses CreateSpace.com, which makes the printed books available to be purchased by anyone on Amazon.com. There are many other print on demand sources, including booklocker.com, xlibris.com and hundreds of others.
S. Eric Briggs of Huntingtown said he would have loved to have a traditional publishing house for his book, “Signal 13.” He had written a novel that was loosely based on his 26-year career with the Prince Frederick Barrack of the Maryland State Police. By the time he decided to self-publish it in 2008, he had been rejected 62 times by publishers.
“If you ever had an ego, all you’ve got to do is write a book and try to get it published,” Briggs said.
Richard Due of Huntingtown has a similar story. Due sent letters to 140 agents and 10 editors in hopes of getting his book published. “The Moon Coin” is the first in a series, “The Moon Realm,” of 18 planned books, and Due spent years getting it ready to publish. Eventually, he published it himself as an e-reader, so although it is not a physical book, it can be read on Nooks, Kindles, iPads and smartphones, or any other kind of e-reader out.
Writing a book might take anywhere from a few months to a few years, but once the book is written, it’s time to think about selling. A writer needs to find a way to get noticed by readers, and that is where the real work often begins.
“Once you have a product, you think you’re done, but you really have a whole new career” in marketing, Due said.
Kevin Grote of La Plata has released the first two books of his series “The Letters of Fire and Sword.” The first was “Skye” and then “Tyburn,” and soon “Tally-Ho!” will be released. Grote has used social media to promote his books, as well as sending news releases to local media outlets.
“I didn’t have a Facebook account until I started getting the books out,” he said. “Anything to get the word out.”
Due’s e-book was published in early September. Since then, he has been pushing the book to online reviewers, who have become key to getting in front of readers. Six reviewers had picked it up in mid-November, and he has an additional 64 lined up.
“For someone who doesn’t have $20,000 to market a book, you’ve got to take advantage of the grass-roots book review bloggers,” he said.
Editing is another component to publishing a book. Grote is lucky: His wife is a teacher and “really good at English and grammar.” Also, he has a number of friends who are willing to read his books and provide feedback.
“You don’t see your own mistakes,” Grote said. “It takes another person’s hand to find that.”
Franklin said no writer should publish an unedited work, even though listening to criticism can be difficult.
“A young writer does not want to be told when things don’t work,” Franklin said. “And nobody’s going to say, ‘Your baby’s ugly.’ But the most experienced writers, too, they need editors. . . . After you write something, you have to face a lot of awful truths about it.”
Due said he looks to his group of editors for help with content, continuity and pacing, as well as finding typos.
“You’ve got to eliminate typos, spelling and grammar errors. It’s got to be perfect,” he said.