Saturday, January 20, 2007

BookSurge's Ridley
Wears Multiple Hats
Does anyone know more about Print-On-Demand publishing than Richard “R.W.” Ridley?

Ridley has published two books through BookSurge, his latest, Délon City, and the IPPY-award winning The Takers (2006, Horror). He also works as a sales and marketing specialist for the BookSurge.

Ridley recently shared his insights about POD, wearing both his author and publisher hats.

How long did it take you to write The Takers? How was the book edited?
The Takers took about 9 weeks to write. It was a project I had thought about for a long time. In fact, I wrote the first line about a year before I started developing the story. It just struck a chord with me. I am married to an editor. My wife has many years of experience proofreading and developing newsletters and online material. In addition, I had a team of about a dozen readers that gave me input. There were some after market typos that were discovered and easily fixed because of the POD model.

How was the cover design developed?
That was me. I have a background in marketing and advertising so I have experience in Photoshop. I wanted something simple but effective. I love to tinker around with that kind of stuff so it was a labor of love.

What was your reaction to winning the IPPY Award? How has that impacted sales of the book? Has it helped generate interest from traditional publishers or agents?
The IPPY award was just validation that I was on the right track more than anything else. It did generate some sales, and has helped tremendously on the marketing front. I used the "IPPY Award Winning Author" moniker on Book Two (Which is currently available on I will be entering Délon City, Book Two of the Oz Chronicles this year. Librarians love award-winning books, so they have worked me into their budget. I've been through the rejection process with agents and traditional publishers for so many years that I haven't approached them since I self-published. The book's doing okay on its own, and I'm making 25% on sales right now. That would be cut pretty severely if I went the traditional route. I'm not completely closed to that opportunity if it comes along, but I don't feel the sense of urgency I once felt. If it happens it happens. If it doesn't, I'm building a nice little fan base that is spreading the word for me, and my sales should continue to grow.

How many copies of The Takers have you sold?
About 700. Not Harry Potter numbers, but pretty good for a POD.

What other marketing strategies have worked well for you? Have you been able to generate interest in the Charleston media?
I have the good fortune of talking to writers 5 days a week about publishing and writing, so a lot of my marketing strategy has been centered around personal contact. I have a three-year marketing plan put together for The Takers and Délon City and I'll do the same for The Pure (Book Three). I've been invited to speak to classrooms, Book Clubs and writers groups, and the relationships I've developed with other self-published writers have been invaluable. I have shamelessly asked for help. That's what you have to do as a self-published author. I preach this every day to BookSurge authors, and try to lead by example. I have had a few mentions from the Charleston press, and I even had a nice email exchange with the book reviewer from our daily paper. He didn't do a review because they only review pre-publication material, but he did put a blurb in the paper for me. Little things like that help a lot.

What kind of profile does BookSurge have in Charleston? Does the company generate much news locally?
We get a lot of great press from the local media. It's a great company that truly puts the author first. I know the people here, and I know how dedicated they are to putting out the best possible product for the author and the author's customer. I trusted them with my own books, and I didn't just do that because I work for BookSurge. My reputation goes out with every book I sell so my faith in the people behind its production takes precedent over company loyalty.

I see the sequel, Délon City, has just come out. It’s published by Middlebury House Publishing. Is this an imprint through BookSurge or a traditional publisher? How did you come to publish through Middlebury?
Middlebury House Publishing is me. It's still done through BookSurge, but I plan on putting out a compilation of Oz Chronicles books as Advance Reader Copies to try and generate more reviews from mainstream publications.

How long have you worked for BookSurge? How has the sale to Amazon impacted your role with the company and the company in general?
I've been with the company since April 2005. I actually started about two weeks after Amazon purchased the company, so I don't have a pre-Amazon point of reference. I love the idea of being part of the Amazon team. It truly is the great equalizer for self-published authors. They have a lot of great tools to help you gain exposure for your book on their site.

What have you learned about publishing by working at BookSurge?
Basically, I gained an understanding of why all those editors and agents over the years rejected my queries and submissions. The volume of writers seeking to publish is enormous, and when you submit a query, you can be rejected simply because you didn't follow their submission guidelines. It's not personal. It's because they have a pile of manuscripts on their desk that they need to get to. I have much more respect for agents and acquisitions editors. I still think they miss a lot of quality manuscripts, but I give them a pass because of the tremendous task they have to undertake day after day.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions that authors have about both traditional publishing and POD publishing?
The biggest misconception authors have about traditional publishing is that once they sign a contract they won't have to do anything but write the next book. A traditional publisher is going to demand a lot of marketing support from the authors they sign. I've even heard of traditional publishers "requesting" authors hire their own publicists. Publishing is a business and you have to treat it like one if you want to succeed. The biggest misconception author's have about POD publishing is basically the same thing. Some author's have an "if you build they will come" mentality. They invest in the publication of their book, and wait for it be discovered on Amazon. You've got to draw attention to yourself, and most authors aren't willing to do that.

What are some of your favorite books that you've worked on at BookSurge and why?
I've really enjoyed working with most of my authors and I hate to leave anyone out, but The Crescent Veil by Judith Sanders is an excellent read, and Point and Shoot by G.D. Baum has been getting a lot of excellent buzz.

Check out Ridley’s website at and his blog at


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