Facing some hard publishing decisions

As a commercial book venture, my Dover history would be considered marginal at best.

Quite simply, short of a breakout, it targets a tiny audience.

The city itself is small – a population of slightly more than 30,000. And while the surrounding area runs around a half-million, that’s still small by book publishing markers.

Additionally, my work focuses on the city’s second-oldest congregation, an even tinier potential readership. While that element opens another market of fellow Quakers around the globe, it’s still small.

As for history buffs? They have their niches.

At the outset, at least, any for-profit book publisher would see this as a high-risk, losing bet.

I am, of course, hoping Dover’s 400th anniversary this year will give it a bounce.

And, as a microcosm of a snarky, contrarian New England history, Quaking Dover just might entertain a wider reception.

I mean, how many people do you think would have been interested in covered bridges in Madison County, Iowa?


One commercial publisher specializing in local histories did take a look but quickly backed off. The editor didn’t like the first-person voice of my book, for starters, and got spooked by the fact this volume hadn’t been vetted by religious authorities.

A few others were simply looking for an author-subsidized co-publishing deal.

That returned me to the self-publishing world I found in ebooks and then, for paper editions, at Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

As much as I like ebooks, for reasons I’ve previously discussed here at the Barn, I very much felt this was one that needed to be available primarily in a hands-on physical book form.

While Amazon has no upfront costs for an author in its print-on-demand paperbacks, physical bookstores refuse to carry them because they would have to buy the volumes at retail and then add a markup to the price to cover their own costs. They rightly complain it puts them in an unfair position.

But then came the announcement that my ebook flagship, Smashwords.com, was merging with Draft2Digital, which specializes in producing print-on-demand. Both companies have arrangements with distributors and retailers, and both offer their services to writers for free.

The arrangement also gives me more flexibility in marketing and special sales opportunities.

In short, count me in. I’m truly proud of the result.

Check it out through your favorite bricks-and-mortar bookstore.

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