I don’t know much about the book publishing industry, and when I think about it, I’m glad I don’t.
Think about the list of immensely successful authors who were soundly denied time and time again. Here’s just a few: Stephen King, William Golding (Lord of the Flies), Joseph Heller (Catch-22), George Orwell, William Faulkner, John Grisham, Rudyard Kipling (who was told by a publisher that he didn’t know how to use the English language), and of course, J.K. Rowling who was rejected anywhere between 28 to 36 times (depending on the source) for the first Harry Potter book. You can see more of the details in this article by Michelle Kerns.
It makes you wonder if the publishing industry ever gets it right the first time (or the second, third or fourth time, for that matter). Or, is the initial rejection and often belittlement by various pencil pushers viewed as some sort of rite of passage before an author can actually land a deal and the typical pittance-advance offered. More often than not the catch phrase heard by a rejected author is that their book “won’t sell.” Stephen King was rejected because, he was told, negative science fiction utopias won’t sell, George Orwell was rejected for Animal Farm, because, he was told, animal books won’t sell. I’m sure J.K.
Rowling was told the same thing (What? A boy with magic powers and lighting bolt on his head whose parents were killed by his adult arch-enemy, who attends a witch and warlock school that normal people, or muggles, can’t see…?) several times before her books and films made billions and billions…and billions.
So, it begs the question, when will authors and more nimble, creative entrepreneur publishers take a real chunk out of the market, winning with creativity and a willingness to take chances on what readers will actually like? In a day when big book stores chains are going under because of easy access to content online with iPads, Kindle Fires and the rest; When authors and nimble publishers are able to generate higher quality content than ever before, both in actual print and digital versions – and by the way – make more money per sale of their own publication.
The answer is that it’s already happening.
Take the case of oft-rejected author Ty Allan Jackson. He believed that his story about a young African-American boy – who takes young readers through a humorous lesson on finances, entrepreneurial spirit and politics in Danny Dollar Millionaire Extraordinaire “The Lemonade Escapade” – filled a niche and carried a message that could resonate.
True to form, he was told no…again and again. One-hundred and fifty times, according to Jackson’s own estimation.
So, rather than approach yet another publisher, Ty decided enough was enough and he started his own company. I don’t use the term self-published because that’s not exactly what this was about. He wasn’t simply interested in getting Danny Dollar printed. Ty began a new business that would integrate his own values of advocating for literacy among our children (particularly among children of color) within every book published. Danny Dollar was printed and with solid community marketing, strategic use of social media and word of mouth, he sold 1,000 copies in the first month. While that number is minuscule compared to the number of sales expected by a large publisher, the investment in marketing was also minuscule (next to nothing) and Jackson’s portion of the profit is dramatically greater than the small cut he’d get once a book is under control of the nationwide publisher.
While his books are available online via Barnes & Noble and Amazon, he also drove traffic directly to his website and through local businesses selling his books, since those nationwide online sellers take 60 percent of the sale price.
Meanwhile Jackson said he takes “great pleasure” in reminding those who rejected Danny Dollar of all the success the book has enjoyed, which has included partnerships with various financial institutions and school districts integrating the book into lessons on financial literacy.
To continue to grow his own business, Jackson said he has the challenge of accomplishing what he has done in specific markets on a macro level to make Big Head Books a household name nationwide. No doubt that with his relentless drive to see his vision through, the smart money is on Jackson to succeed.
President of OneEighty Media, Inc., John Krol serves as Director of Accounts and lead communications consultant for this full-service marketing, communications and advertising firm. John’s extensive experience in journalism, broadcasting, public relations, government relations, SEM, community outreach and marketing provides a unique perspective for businesses looking to re-energize and diversify their marketing efforts.