hit tracker Dave Shields Author Blog: In the Eye of the Storm

A journal detailing my efforts to launch my career as a novelist. The goals are to share info about succeeding in this field with other aspiring authors, to provide updates to the many supporters who have asked me for them, and ultimately to build the momentum necessary to assure success in this venture.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

In the Eye of the Storm

December is always a busy time, so when you throw a new baby into the mix it's sure to be chaos. What an incredible Christmas present a brand spanking new little girl is, though. This has been a holiday season that our family will never forget.

Last post I explained how I went from writing a manuscript to transforming it into a publishable manuscript. "The Pendulum's Path" is the story of a man living in Utah, and through his experiences it gives readers a unique taste of the culture and geography of this region. As the 2002 Olympics approached I knew the timing would never be better to test the market for this book. In order to do so I published it through Xlibris. There are both great advantages and great disadvantages to this route, but ultimately I feel it was the correct step at that point in my writing career. It was time for the rubber to meet the road, and since I couldn't yet convince a major publisher to take a risk on me, it was time for me to take a risk on myself.

The primary advantages are the ability to easily turn a manuscript into a book and to make it available through on-line sites like Amazon. The primary disadvantages are a stigma reviewers attach to Print on Demand sources like Xlibris, and big barriers to getting such a book on the shelves of brick and mortar stores. Reviewers are hesitant to even consider books from sources like this, not the least of which is that they know the quality control is non-existent. That doesn't mean there aren't good books to be found. Stores are hesitant to devote shelf-space because POD titles are normally non-refundable and are rarely supported by any cohesive marketing effort.

I was fortunate enough to get some very good reviews for "The Pendulum's Path," and also to get it stocked on the shelves of a number of local bookstores and souvenir shops. I went to lengths that seem hysterical in order to promote the title, but they worked to a certain extent, and (just as importantly) they fit within my budget. For instance, when "The Today Show" set up house in Park City during the Olympics I set up house on their set. I was armed with a big poster of my book cover which got lots of airtime in the crowd shots, but I never scored an on-air conversation with any of the hosts.

The more important thing I gained from my experiences with that book were the many lessons I learned about creating a marketable manuscript. Armed with all sorts of new knowledge, I was ready to produce my next novel.


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