The Dead Robots' Society

Writers on Writing


  1. The Humor of Islam…you’ll die laughing.

    The title is a twist on sharia law, which forbids laughing too much. Publishers wouldn’t touch the book, even though it’s the first book ever written on the humor of islam.

    so far, no one has died.

  2. I agree with this, the big name publishing houses need to realize that the booming world of social media will help to break down the walls they spent years building up around them.

    However, I don’t like encouraging too many authors to self-publish. 1) It puts some really terrible books out there with no hope of turning a profit, (i.e. EVERYONE thinks they could write a good book) and 2) there are FAR too many self-publishing firms who are extremely sheisty and will only go after an author’s hard-earned money. I worked for one in Austin and having to witness what they did to our clients was heartbreaking. They would push bigger more expensive packages because bill collectors were knocking at our door, not because they believed in the book. The quality of the company was further noticeable because the employee turnover rate was astromical. No one could stomach these people.

    I urge anyone considering self-publishing to do their research, and not just go with the flashy website and over-the-top sales pitches.

  3. POD and self-publishing can be a good way to get your book out there, but only if you don’t take shortcuts with the storytelling, the writing and the character arcs. I can’t tell you how many self-published books I’ve picked up and thought ‘Who in her right mind would read this?’ Unfortunately, those poorly written novels seem to be the rule, not the exception. Hopefully that will change but in the meantime, just because someone can publish somethnig doesn’t mean she should.

  4. Absolutely. I’d never suggest otherwise. I just want those authors who CAN write well to know that there is a way to get their work out there if the bean counters at the big houses decide to pass on it.

  5. My first manuscript was was rejected by 40 different publishing houses. Because of POD, I’ve sold over 15,000 copies of my titles so far. Those traditional publishers LOST that game. I still grin when I deposit royalty checks.

    But beware, as has been mentioned. If you go the POD route you may be caught up in the employee turnover debacle at those companies and become lost in the shuffle. That happened to me during the process of getting my most recent title published. What a nightmare. I finally got the issue corrected, but not after losing 4 months of time getting my story out the door and into peoples’ hands.

  6. Mark, that’s a cool story. Why not write up something longer letting us know all that was involved with your experience so we can share it on the show?

  7. Mark, it wouldn’t surprise me if you were a casualty of the firm I used to work for. That was a very regular occurence for us, which then increased the workload of the already overwhelmed employees and produced even worse results for the clients.

    Congrats on the 15k sold copies, that’s outstanding.

    Truly, if it’s a good book, and the author is willing to spend many a waking moment promoting their book to the best of their ability, the media and the readers will catch on. The industry rewards hard work and expertly written content, not shortcutters.

  8. No it’s not. The success rate with POD is far worse than with traditional publishing. Why do you think they make the news when one sells more than a handful of books. Most self-pubbed novels sell less than 100 copies. To be a success, as far as mainstream goes, you have to sell more than 5000.

    There’s zero quality control with POD, and unless you have your own contacts, you won’t see your book on store shelves, ever.

    Unless you have a niche market ready to buy. POD is the haven of the unpublishable whose core audience is their own family.

  9. I’m afraid I have to agree with some of the more negative comments here. With POD, there is no quality control and tons of drek gets put out. There is no barometer of quality one can see for the swarm of books. As much as we gripe about publishing houses, that is one function they fill: taking the absolute worst stories out of play. And the fact that the vast majority of POD books sell less than 100 books is another huge factor. I say save POD for the absolute last option.

  10. The point isn’t that drek gets through. Nor are huge sales numbers the point. The point is that there are options. If you write a good book, and you get turned away from the traditional avenues, then you have the option of going it alone, and perhaps being successful at it. There are no guaranties either way, and ultimately it all comes down to how good a book you wrote and how hard you worked to promote it. I’m glad that there are people out there who had the courage and conviction to stand behind their work and refused to be told their fate. For me, THAT is the point.

  11. If that works for you, then good luck. It smacks too much of a starving artist selling their work for pennies and still getting no recognition to me. Perhaps a bit of desperation, too. I can see using POD as part of a campaign to build audience, but as a medium the odds of making any headway in name recognition are too poor. Like Alice said, your friends and family will be your main customers. Now, if you think differently, prove me wrong.

  12. The thing is, pennies is better than nothing, right? I think we can all agree that self-publishing shouldn’t be the first route a writer should take, right? Is that something we can agree on? Before a writer goes that route, they should send their work out to agents and publishers. They should send it out to LOTS of agents and publishers. If, after all that, they still can’t find someone willing to help them bring their work to an audience, is it then acceptable to try the self-publishing route?

    As for proving you wrong, that’s already been done. Look at PG. He self-published, he worked hard, and now he’s going to the next step with a small press. Same with Mur, and with Matt Selznick. Look at Scalzi, who published his work for free on his blog. And then look to the person that CNN article was written about. Now, these might be the acceptions to the rule, but at least they prove there can be acceptions.

    I’m not saying that self-publishing should be a person’s first step, nor am I saying that it has a good chance of leading to fame and fortune. The odds are stacked against it, to be sure. But I think that when an artist is faced with no mainstream alternatives, it is something they should look at. They just need to know it’ll take a massive amount of effort to make it work.

    Anyway, I think it’s encouraging news, and our podcast is friends to many people who found success through self-publishing, and I think they should be applauded, and not belittled. And remember, podcasting your work is a form of self-publishing too. You’re not gonna get paid for it, but you’re still getting your work out there, building an audience, and getting feedback. All of these social media programs are allowing people to connect in ways they never could, to make themselves heard and known. Heck, doing this podcast is part of that. But if you take your work and you bring it to people, either through paper or sound, you’re self-publishing.

  13. There’s still plenty of crap out there that’s published by traditional publishing houses. Their function is not to sort out the crap from the gold, but to identify what is going to sell. Their concern is not ‘is this good writing?’ but ‘what has potential to pick up an audience?’ Sometimes they’re almost certainly mutually exclusive. I’m sure most people who love writing could name several authors who sell well, but couldn’t seriously be considered good examples of writing or storytelling. (I know I can).
    I think people who are anti-POD are snobs who think that books should be immune to changes in the traditional modes of delivery, who hold that you’re only a valid writer if a literary agent, or some such arbiter of taste, thinks you’re marketable. I believe we need to stop thinking that books are any different to music or movies or paintings or sculpture or any other form of art. Plenty of well respected musicians start their own record labels to get control over their music rather than go through Warner, EMI or whatever, and there are lots of example of bands rebuffed by major labels only to put their stuff on Myspace and pick up a massive following (Artic Monkey’s anyone?) Artists have always had to pay for the production and marketing of their own work (until they get famous and get commissions). Independent film makers raise their own funding to tell their stories and do post-production in bedroom studios; sometimes this leads to ‘proper movie making jobs’, sometimes it doesn’t. Why should writing be any different? Sure, some of it’s crap – but that doesn’t mean people should be denied from getting it out there anyway. Afterall, it may just end up finding an audience beyond family and friends.

  14. Not to be disagreeable, but P.G. didn’t get published because he self-published. And by self-published I mean the paper kind. That is what the words mean to me, not posting your book on the internet or podcasting it. Self publishing has specific meaning to me and, I suspect, most other people, so we have to be sure we don’t mean different things. P.G. got the deal because he built a loyal audience via podcasting his novel that attracted the interest of the publisher. Ditto all the others Justin mentioned. They built audience by putting it on the web either in audio or text, not by self-publishing a paper book that would be seen by fewer than 100 people in almost any case. Self-publishing is the avenue of last resort in getting your word out. Better to post it to the web. You won’t get the pennies you might get, but you will get audience.

  15. Ever the optimist, I see. So be it. Good luck, and rememeber, playing in traffic is also taking control of your destiny.


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