Does Self Publishing a Book Mean I Will Never Get a Major Publishing Deal?
Would-be authors sometimes express fear about self publishing a book. “Doesn't that mean I will never get a publishing deal?”
Whether or not you will ever get a major publishing deal is not for me to say. My crystal ball has a mind of its own, and she tends to show me things happening on other planets.
Here is an example of how self publishing a book paid off big-time for one author. Stick with me afterwards for some helpful hints for YOU.
In the course of chronicling the modern-day history of television, the author Alan Sepinwall has made a bit of history himself, becoming the rare self-published author to be picked up by a major press. On Wednesday, it was announced that the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster had acquired his well-regarded book “The Revolution Was Televised,” which Mr. Sepinwall put out late last year.
In this book (which is subtitled “The Cops, Crooks, Slingers and Slayers Who Changed TV Drama Forever”) Mr. Sepinwall, a television critic for the Web site hitfix.com, looks at the impact that shows like “The Sopranos” and “Mad Men” and show runners like David Chase and Matthew Weiner have had in reinvigorating the hour-long dramatic format.
Reviewing “The Revolution Was Televised” for The New York Times in December, Michiko Kakutani wrote that Mr. Sepinwall combined “smart, fair-minded assessments meant to provoke discussion” and interviews with creative talent, producers and executives to provide “a terrific book”; she also named it one of her 10 favorite books of 2012.
As with many of the TV success stories he writes about, Mr. Sepinwall encountered several “no”s before he finally heard “yes.”
Mr. Sepinwall said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that Touchstone had been one of the publishers he met with when he was shopping his proposal for “The Revolution Was Televised” about a year ago, though the project was turned down then.
“The proposal wound up being a little bit different from the book I wrote, and so I don’t necessarily blame them for passing at the time,” said Mr. Sepinwall, who planned to draw mostly from reporting he had already done on his site.
“When I got mostly rejections and one sort-of offer that I wasn’t crazy about it, I decided I’m going to go this route,” he said, referring to his strategy to self-publish the book. “The next thing I knew, I was doing fresh interviews with everybody – I’m not exactly sure how I had time to do that.”
After his book was reviewed in The Times and elsewhere, Mr. Sepinwall said he was contacted again by Touchstone, which was now interested in acquiring it.
“I like the idea that the book could exist in brick-and-mortar stores, could be on college syllabi,” he said. “I was pleased with the idea of being able to go back to the very beginning of the project.” He declined to provide exact sales figures for the book’s self-published release but said they were “well beyond my wildest expectations.”
Lauren Spiegel, an editor at Touchstone who acquired “The Revolution Was Televised” for the imprint, said of Mr. Sepinwall, “I was already in the bag for him, and have been such a fan for a long time.”
Touchstone is planning its release of “The Revolution Was Televised” “as soon as we can,” she said, with a paperback edition planned for the early spring and an e-book edition possibly coming earlier.
A version of this article appeared in print on 01/04/2013, on page C2 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Self-Published Book Gets a Major Deal.
Tips for independent (self) publishing authors from Ronda
1. SERVE your audience.
2. Write a good book worth reading
3. Use the world's biggest publishers rather than some obscure guy who wants to take your firstborn child in exchange for publishing.
4. Put your book in its proper place. You need other offerings, such as courses, services or workshops, besides your book.
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Follow your bliss!
Ronda Del Boccio, the Story Lady
#1 bestselling nonfiction and fantasy author, mentor and speaker