An Unlikely Bestseller
For Ralph Fertig, life is sweet. The previously unknown author recently reached number four on The Los Angeles Times Bestseller List after self-publishing Love and Liberation: When the Jews Tore Down the Ghetto Walls.
" I have a stack of beautifully written rejection letters from the traditional publishing houses," admits the author. "Reaching the LA Times bestseller list would not have been possible if it weren't for iUniverse. I was able to design a custom cover, retain control over the final content and distribute the book via fundamentally the same outlets as the traditional houses. Ultimately, I was able to get my book into the hands of the people and let them judge the quality of my work."
Fertig's precedent is one that is being carefully considered by novice writers and publishers alike. By removing the middleman between the content creator and reader, it acts to break down long-standing barriers with which most authors have traditionally contended. These are steps that include outside editing phases, marketing pitches and fitting the given product into a niche, rather than exploring arenas where a book might otherwise garner additional readership. Because Fertig was himself disappointed by the prospects of courting ever more publishers after an already disappointing history of rejection, he turned to iUniverse, an e-commerce publishing site, to navigate the project.
iUniverse is the publishing technology provider that offered Fertig an immediate solution toward becoming a published author. With connections in the printing, digital and e-commerce markets, not only did the company handle the technicalities of book publishing and printing, but they were well-versed in how to distribute the end product from start to finish.
"The process is very easy," iUniverse author William Mize explains. "You submit a manuscript and then actually have a real, printed book with your name on it in your hands within weeks." Once published, the book is available for order in tens of thousands of bookstores and online retailers, such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. Each book is printed on-demand as sales are generated, reducing the inventory costs typically associated with publishing first runs. On-demand printing also allows books to be printed and bound one at a time. iUniverse similarly gives authors control over their works, producing trade paperbacks derived from digital files the authors submit online or on disks. By printing and selling a record 500,000 books, which is more than double that of other self-publishing providers, the company reached a new milestone.
Recently, Mystery Writers of America (MWA) also joined with iUniverse to reprint out-of-print books. "We're giving the members a unique opportunity. They can bring their out-of-print titles back to readers," says Lynn Zingraf, general manager of iUniverse Author Services, "as well as exercise more literary control with their new manuscripts."
MWA writers now submit their manuscripts to be either reprinted or printed anew via the print on-demand process. According to William E. Chambers, executive vice president of MWA, "I believe print on-demand will revolutionize publishing in the 21st century the way mass-market paperbacks transformed publishing in the 20th century. If conventional resistance to change deems this new industry a sail through uncharted waters, I predict iUniverse will be the compass that guides published and non-published authors to the shores of literary success."
MWA's Marian J. A. Jackson has already made five of her out-of-print titles available from her Miss Danforth Mystery series. Other published authors include, Richard Hershatter and Nina Heide.
Zingraf adds, "The success and industry recognition awarded to our authors is a testament to the validity and quality of self-published works. We're using technology to eliminate the traditional barriers to entry, giving everyone equal opportunity to share their stories and publish as many or as few books as they desire."
-Natalie Hope McDonald