The Publisher New York Loves To Hate

New York is known for book publishers and book critics. The former have a love/hate relationship with self publishers, the latter rarely stoop to expressing an opinion one way or another. New York publishers are always on the lookout for books they can make money on, and self publishers form a sort of farm league for the bigs. It's rare enough for a self publisher to have a hit with a novel and it would be practically unheard of for the author to turn down a contract from a big NYC trade publisher. Nonfiction is a different pan of pulp altogether, and a self publisher with a successful nonfiction title will rarely be in a hurry to sign up with a trade.

The publisher New York loves to hate is you, or me, when we turn down a contract with a fat advance in favor of continuing to publish books on our own. I'm happy when my self published titles gross sales go over $100,000 in a year and I net over $50,000, but a New York acquisitions editor whose title sales mirrored my total units sold would be fired before the year was out. NYC publishers just aren't tooled to survive on selling a couple thousand copies per title per year on their frontlist. Heck, I couldn't justify eating lunch with a New York publisher, much less renting an office there. Publishing in New York is a triumph of form over function, there's just no reason for most publishers to be there unless they've confused a social life with a social conscience.

My miniscule slice of the publishing pie doesn't have any New York publishing houses shaking in their boots, but of course, I'm not alone. One of the key advantages of Internet search and new on demand publishing technologies is that they allow for commercial titles to be published on very niche subjects. Combine a lot of niche titles from knowledgeable self publishers and there's that much less room for a general purpose title to thrive and achieve the kind of sales numbers the New York economy demands. And it's no sacrifice on my part to be going it alone. I earn more money than I would if I'd continued getting royalty checks with a NYC (or maybe the publisher's accounting department is in New Jersey) return address.

But the lure of New York to authors is both strong and obvious, as a Google search or two can demonstrate. The big name publishers all show up for a search on New York Publisher or Publishing because they are linked that way from articles and press releases all over the web. Authors are told they haven't made it unless they've made it in New York, but Broadway has never produced a hit tune about making a reasonable living. You don't have to make it here or make it anywhere other than where you live and work, and that's the difference between a dream job and a dream. For me, self publishing has been a dream job, and if that makes me the type of publisher New York won't offer an apple next time I visit, I couldn't give a fig

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