|Island Notes: So you want to be an author?|
|Tuesday, 25 October 2011 08:19|
Conventional wisdom suggests you should … forget-about-it!
As a first time author your chances of gaining fame and fortune are less than one in a hundred. Oh! So it’s biographical? Then the odds are even worse! Auto-biographical? That’s worse still!! And you are hoping to sell the book in the Bahamas? The odds are yet worse again!!! You surely remember the old adage about hiding things in the Bahamas by putting them in a book?
But hang on a moment, with that said there is no good reason why you should not write a book especially if you are that rare breed of cat who actually reads. You might be the one in a hundred who writes a best-seller or, and this is not so bad, you might break even and have the satisfaction of having a published work.
But let me tell you from experience how difficult it is to get published by a recognized publisher. I had the good fortune to be published a long time ago by a ‘big name’ publisher. The books sold well, in fact one can find out online what libraries carry your book and I was gratified to see mine was available in most of the big cities in America and even a few copies ended up in Britain and Australia. Then came time for a third edition.
To gauge the local market a representative of the publisher of my book flew out from England. When he arrived in Freeport the only ‘pure’ bookshop had been closed for months and book sales were handled by shops that sold everything from baked beans to ceramic ashtrays. Nevertheless the representative tried to get an interview with a few shops that sold books to talk about the market for books - but all of them turned him down. Frustrated, and in light of his experience in Freeport, he said he was going to recommend the publisher not produce another edition … and they didn’t.
Experiences like this throw you into the arms of ‘we-want-to-publish-your-book’ publishers who are disparagingly called ‘vanity publishers’ by people in the trade. Print-on-demand (POD) publishers are in this category but because of POD publishers the book trade is changing. There are still bookshops in most countries that display and sell books but if you don’t see the book you want - don’t despair. The book salesperson will politely tell you that they can get the desired book in three days (more like two weeks in the Bahamas!).
And of course you can always order direct from Amazon or Barnes and Noble in the States. This is the magic of modern book publishing. Your order from a bookshop or Amazon is immediately placed with POD company. They put the electronic title you want into an Expresso Print machine (that looks like a large refrigerator). In five minutes or so the book you ordered is printed and bound and on its way to the bookshop or perhaps even to to you directly …
Perhaps surprisingly, more books are being published now than ever before. In Britain 40% more titles were published in 2010 than 2001. So what’s stopping you …?
Photo: Cover of the first edition of Grand Bahama. It went through three editions but is now out of print.
© Peter Barratt
Island Notes is contributed by Peter Barratt, extracted from his new book: "FREEPORT NOTEBOOK”. This new book is, in some ways, supplementary to his other, better-known work, 'GRAND BAHAMA', a text that has gone through three editions and will shortly be published in a new edition. He has some very interesting notes on the early history of Freeport but, he admits himself, he should have taken a correspondence course in poetry writing. Barratt's books are available in Grand Bahama at Oasis drug store, the Rand Nature Centre, Bahamian Tings and the Garden of the Groves shops. In Nassau his books are available at most bookshops on the island.
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