Saturday, November 03, 2007

Author A.C. Ellis

Hits POD Trifecta

Comparing and contrasting Print-On-Demand publishing companies has sprung up as a bit of a cottage industry unto itself. But what do these surveyors really know about the process? Sure they’ve checked out a few websites, studied a few contracts, and maybe even made a few phone calls. But can they truly judge a company without publishing a book with the company?

Author A.C. Ellis may want to consider setting up shop as a POD pundit after he’s done promoting his latest tomes. The Denver science fiction writer published three books with three different POD companies this past summer. In May, he came out with Worldmaker, an out-of-print title originally published in 1985, through iUniverse’s back-in-print program with the Authors Guild. Soldier of ’Tween was released by Angela Hoy’s Booklocker that same month as was In Pursuit of the Enemy with Infinity Publishing.

Ellis recently took time to share his POD experiences.

Who was the original publisher for Worldmaker? How did you go about landing the publishing contract back in 1985? Do you have other traditionally-published books?
The original publisher for Worldmaker was Ace Books, the mass-market arm of what is now known as the Berkley/Penguin group. My then-agent sold the book to them and negotiated the contract. She later sold the book to a German publisher (the German edition appeared in 1993) and about five summers ago the book was optioned by an independent Los Angeles film producer. After about two years of negotiation, the deal fell through.

Previously to the initial publication of Worldmaker by Ace, I had a collaborative science fiction novel, Death Jag, published in 1980 by Manor books. The co-author on that one was Jeff Salten.

How did you learn about iUniverse and the Authors Guild back-in-print program? I was simply browsing the Web one day, looking for self-publish/POD opportunities, when I happened across the iUniverse site, where they mentioned their partnership with the Authors Guild and the Back-in-Print program. I contacted the Authors Guild to confirm the information, joined the Guild on the spot, and applied to be included in the Back-in-Print program. The rest, as they say, is history.

What was your impression of that program and iUniverse?
I was truly impressed with both iUniverse and the Back-in-Print program. They were professional and extremely helpful. I had input into every step of the process, and even came up with the idea for cover art. A very enjoyable experience. And, to top it off, under the Authors Guild Back-in-Print program, there is absolutely no cost to the author.

If you have an out-of-print book you are having trouble getting back in print, I highly recommend this program.

What led you to publish Soldier of ’Tween with Booklocker? What was your impression of that company? How was the process different than the iUniverse process (aside from back-in-print versus new manuscript)?
After beginning the process of getting Worldmaker into print through iUniverse, I realized I had a perfectly good novel, Soldier of ‘Tween — which I had been offering as an e-book for a number of years to good reviews — that I hadn’t really tried to publish in paper format. I knew that I would have a hard time getting it published traditionally, because it had been out there as an e-book, so I decided to go the POD route. iUniverse was quite expensive in any of their publishing plans other than the Back-in-Print program, and Soldier of ‘Tween would not apply for that program. Besides, I wanted to try other POD publishers, to see how they stack up against one another.

I searched around and compared. The one that seemed the best for the money at the time was Booklocker. They seemed more author-friendly than most, and it appeared they would work with the author to produce a quality product.

I was right. Working with Angela Hoy was a writer’s dream. She is not only an expert in the POD publishing process, but is extremely knowledgeable about the creative process, as well. And those who work with Booklocker know their stuff, as well. I sub-contracted with a cover designer, and when I was sent a number of cover ideas that didn’t really suit my book (but were very good in the generic sense) was allowed to produce a cover of my own that more closely represented the book’s content. Consequently, on Soldier of ‘Tween, I got not only the byline for the book, but also the cover art credit.

It all worked out quite well.

What led you to publish In Pursuit of the Enemy with Infinity? What was your impression of that company? How was the process different from the other two companies?
In Pursuit of the Enemy, I had just finished my first mystery, and the first book of an envisioned series. I was still in the POD experimental mood, went looking for a company that did mysteries well. I finally found Infinity Publishing. Their editing process was quite good, and distribution was excellent.

Again, I came up with the idea for the cover, although this time I did not actually produce the artwork. I was amazed by how closely they had captured my concept when I opened the package containing my proof copy. Really, one fantastic cover!

What I plan is to brand the covers of the Brad Carpenter series books. Each will have a smoking gun pointing out toward you, but each will be a different gun. Each will have “Pursuit” in the title. Besides In Pursuit of the Enemy, I foresee Extreme Pursuit, In Pursuit of Justice, In pursuit of Happiness, In Hot Pursuit, In Cold Pursuit, In Pursuit of Honor, In Pursuit of the Past, and, finally, Final Pursuit.

Are you working on any new projects? If so, where will you be publishing it?
I am currently working on the first book of a very dark, very bloody mystery series, the Point series. The titles will be similar to Hollow Point, Point Blank and Point of No Return.

I hope to publish these books traditionally, capturing an agent at the March 2008 Left Coast Crime conference. That’s the plan, at any rate.

What kind of advice can you pass on to other authors using Print-On-Demand companies?
Shop around — don’t go with the first one you find. There are now many POD publishers out there, and you should be dealing with the one that is the best for your needs. And, of course, each author’s needs are different.

How are you marketing the books? What's worked best for you? What has been the least effective?
I am marketing my books. I realize that, even if my books were published traditionally, I would have to take the responsibility for getting them noticed. Publishers just don’t do that any more, not that they ever did much for writers that weren’t best-sellers to begin with.

It is still too early to tell what works best — these books were released during the summer of 2007 -- but I think the best bet is to do as much as you can through I have published two short stories, The Navigator and Strolling the Road, through their Amazon Shorts program. On each of the pages selling those stories, there are links to my books.

And Amazon has several other programs designed to help sell books on their site, such as their AmazonConnect, Search Inside, and Affiliates programs.

Then, of course, there are my e-mail signature line, e-mail newsletters, Web sites and Blogs. Even this interview. Any way I can get the word out about my books.

Read more about A.C. Ellis and his books at his website


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