Scams, rip-offs and double talk. For a budding author, desirous of having his or her work published, the publishing world is indeed a dark place. From shady agents to devious publishers, an author is up against some very nasty characters. Like a storyline ripped from a bestselling novel, the industry is set up to ensure that most authors fail miserably.
The reason? Traditional publishers have the power to decide what people are going to read. If an author writes a book that does not meet the current demand which has been fostered by traditional publishers, that author will not be signed.
What about a vanity press? This is the very worst option for an author to choose if they are serious about having a saleable product. Vanity – the word alone should tell an author that companies like this are all about giving the author a pat on the ego while lightening the wallet.
So here we are back to the traditional publishers again. It would seem that it is every author’s dream to have one of the big name publishing houses buy their book. For some, a very few, that dream has led to fame, fortune and the life the author has desired. For many others, disillusionment clouded their dreams from the start. For those who have reached that pinnacle of success the end of the road was not all it was supposed to be. They found that in order to reach that goal they had to sell their book outright to the publisher. At that moment they lost all creative rights to their work. Often times when the author sees their book on the shelf they are excited and then when they read it they do not recognize it. Back to the reason again – the powerhouse publishers control what the public reads and thus if something is not as they feel it should be, it is changed and the author has no say in the matter.
But hey, they are a published author, so all is well, right!? Not in all cases. Take for instance the advance that is paid to the author. This advance is based on estimated sales and it is not a payment for the purchase of the book. It is as it is properly called an advance towards future sales. The advance is base on the total first run production of the book. Usually 10,000 or 20,000 copies for a new author.
But what if the book does not catch on and start selling? Here is where the heartache comes for the author. If book sales remain flat in sales, the publisher, at their option can pull the book and mothball it. If this happens the author has no option to republish the book outside of filing a lawsuit. While the author can keep the advance money, there will be no further profits from the book as it will not be available for sale. At this point the likelihood of the publisher buying a second book from that author is less than slim.
Turning the subject back to the way the traditional publishing industry controls what the public reads, there was a situation that occurred in the country music industry in the late 1970s. At that time there was something called the Nashville Sound. It was the recording industry’s way of saying, if you sound like this you are in, if not, forget about it. What the public wanted to hear did not matter. The top men in charge of the industry made all the decisions arbitrarily. The following is a little about that situation.
“With his (Waylon Jennings) recording contract nearing an end, RCA had already lost another creative force that year: Jennings had met Willie Nelson, who had likewise been frustrated by the lack of freedom in the studio and by the entire Nashville ethos, which led him to relocate his base to Texas two years earlier. Jennings was seriously considering leaving Nashville and returning to a broadcasting career in Phoenix that year.
1972 – By that time, Jennings was aware of the fact that rock bands had almost unprecedented creative freedom to record what they wanted to record, with or without a producer and even to design their album covers. He wanted similar freedom for himself—an unprecedented move in 1972 Nashville. Also in 1972, RCA issued Ladies Love Outlaws, an album that Jennings never wanted released. Nevertheless, the title track is often considered the first song of the outlaw country movement.
In 1976, Jennings began his career-defining collaborations with Nelson on the compilation album Wanted: The Outlaws!, country’s first platinum record. The following year, RCA issued "Ol’ Waylon", an album that produced another huge hit duet with Nelson, "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)". Waylon and Willie followed in 1978, producing their biggest hit with "Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys". He released I’ve Always Been Crazy in 1978, followed with a "greatest hits" album in 1979.”
So why did I bring this up in an article about the book publishing industry? Creative freedom was being crushed in the country music industry until Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson forced the industry to see that change was for the good. Today country music is a thriving industry and you can be assured that if not for the “outlaws”, that would not be so.
Today, creative freedom is being crushed under the heels of traditional publishers’ mincing grip on the industry. And rather than lift this burden, self-publishing companies and vanity presses bring a greater burden to authors who simply desire to write for a living.
Enter a new “outlaw”, IFWG Publishing – we are planning a revolution! We are a company owned by authors, run by authors, and created by authors. We believe in creative freedom. We believe that the public should choose what they read, not a group of old men sitting in a board room making decisions based on the dollar rather than the expressions, emotions and feelings written on the sweat-stained pages of a manuscript that an AUTHOR spent countless hours bearing his soul to.
We are passionate about this venture. We feel that it is possible to combine the best of both worlds of publishing. By taking the strict publishing requirements of traditional publishing and combining them with the best that self publishing has to offer, we have created a “shining knight in the dark world of the publishing industry”.
This approach gives quality authors a real chance at achieving their dreams. By holding to our strict standards for publication, our readership will come to know that when they purchase a book published by IFWG Publishing, it will be quality. But what if we receive a manuscript that is not of that quality? We have set in place a means for the author, at their choosing, to bring the manuscript into line with our publishing standards. This includes professional editing suggestions as to content, flow and consistency. On at least one occasion we have suggested splitting a very large book into two components thus making each more saleable for a first time author. Our staff of authors are ready to help on every level of the publishing process from creation to the sale of the product.
What does the future hold for IFWG Publishing and our authors? An unprecedented approach to self-publishing. In the future we will be spending a full 1/3 of our annual budget on marketing for our authors. As time goes on and funds grow this will include print adds at no cost to our authors, radio adds at no cost to our authors, and television adds at no cost to our authors.
As we transform the industry we expect that other startups will jump on our coat tails and take a ride. But they will not succeed for they will not be 100% author owned and IFWG Publishing will kick them to the curb.
If you are an author who is desirous of being published, we encourage you to look further into the benefits of publishing through our company. We are international in scope. We offer a wide range of services to help you reach your goals. After all, isn’t that what you are looking for in a publisher!?
R. A. Knowlton