Serious Writers Find a New Publishing Option

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"The trick with this new technology is to do what publishers once did," says author Christopher Meeks.

Author and journalist Bryan Appleyard writes in London's Sunday Times that the book business has changed in big ways over the last decade and is about to change again with newer generations of print-on-demand (POD) technology. Bookstores---or will it be Starbucks?---will pop out books faster than a one-hour photo.

In the last ten years, the power in the book business has gone from the publisher to the bookstore, which now charges for window and other displays. That has made the bookstore a place to find mainly sure-fire hits. Publishers, more adverse to taking risks, are abandoning "the very thing most of them went into publishing for in the first place --- new, interesting and original books," says Appleyard.

Online book vendors such as Amazon, started by Jeff Bezos in 1994, are able to do what bookstores no longer can do: display nearly every book in print with reviews and shopping information, and ship many of them out within 24 hours. A lot of that is thanks to POD technology. Amazon doesn't actually have all its books sitting on shelves. Rather, in partnership with Lightning Source, many books are printed instantly as needed. This is allowing many serious writers a new and better way to be seen.

Christopher Meeks, author of the award-winning "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea" from White Whisker Books, says rather than go with a traditional publisher, he became one himself using POD as well as knowledge he learned from once working for a publisher. "The trick with this new technology is to do what publishers once did---spend a lot of time on your product. Write and rewrite, then use a great copy editor and hire a talented book designer," he says. "I wanted my collection to be as great as it could be, which included getting consumer feedback before publishing it, too. Donald Trump is right---market research is a valuable tool."

Meeks isn't off the mark as his collection was selected as one of the few great POD books of 2006 at PODdy Mouth, a blog selected by Entertainment Weekly in October as a Best Site. He's received great reviews from around the world, including one from Dogmatika in Ireland that says, "In these thirteen [stories], you'll find the charm of Tobias Wolff, the frailty of Paul Auster, the beauty of Raymond Carver, and at times even the transcendence of a Hal Hartley film. Seek him down, then look forward to his next work."

While many amateur writers are using print-on-demand to publish their unedited works, enough serious writers are finding the technology. PODdy Mouth calculated of the 613 winners and finalists in the Foreword Book of the Year awards last year, six percent came from POD books. That's not a segment to discount.

Also, according to Publishers Weekly recently, Lightning Source, the largest source of print-on-demand, has begun installing fifteen new Oce presses in the U.S. and Britain in a move that will increase printing capacity as well as enhance its graphic and halftone capabilities. Lightning Source head Kirby Best said his company produces approximately a million books per month, and the new equipment will give the company the ability to print as many as three million books monthly.

Andrew Gordon, editorial director of Simon & Schuster says, "Potentially, this is the biggest revolution in publishing since the invention of movable type."

Meeks has been extremely happy with the route he's taken and the attention he's received from "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea." His next book, "Who Lives?", is out in December via POD and is about the drama surrounding the perfection of the kidney dialysis machine in the early sixties and the selection of those people who first got to try it. "I feel like I'm at the beginning of a big wave," he says.

Media Contact: Carol Fass Publicity and Public Relations: 212-691-9707 or Christopher Meeks, 310-493-4576.


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