A couple of weeks ago, I finally received copies of my re-printed book. The laminate is on nice and tight as it should be and the cover colors are a bit lighter. It looks good. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like my book is shipping (at least I have not heard of anyone receiving a copy) in spite of the fact that Information Today has their copies of the book. I have no idea why this is happening. My mother ordered the book about a month ago from Information Today’s store and got an e-mail on May 23rd stating that it would ship within two business days. Well, she still hasn’t received it. If I hadn’t heard that, I would have had no idea that it wasn’t shipping. Update: I’ve been told that the book is now shipping from Information Today and people who ordered it should be receiving it within days. Barnes & Noble.com says the book is not available. And according to the marketing guy at Information Today Books, they are not shipping books to Amazon.com because Amazon owes them money (?!!!??!?!?). If I was in a cartoon, smoke would be coming out of my ears about now. It’s unbelievable to me.
I put my heart and soul into every one of the 100,000 words in that book. I really wanted this book to be useful to people; to help them navigate the social software landscape and become comfortable playing with new technologies. I lived up to my end of the bargain in the publishing process. I never turned anything in late and usually got things in early. I took the initiative and did that Flickr Alternative Book Cover Contest to help market the book. I frequently add resources to the companion website to keep the site up to date. I’ve done everything in my power to make this book successful.
If my book starts shipping now, it will have been a year since I turned in the manuscript. That is a LONG time. The printing problem that delayed my book launch was frustrating, but I understood that it was beyond my publisher’s control and that it wasn’t the end of the world. When Amazon canceled everyone’s orders last month, I was a annoyed, because I had specifically asked if someone from ITI should contact Amazon to let them know the release date was pushed back and they said it wasn’t necessary. I’m more than annoyed now. I’m beside myself.
And I’m discouraged. I’ve been sitting on a really terrific book idea the past few months. I’ve been collecting research and I’m itching to write it. But this experience has left me feeling like I never want to go through it all again. I love writing. And I hope that when people are finally able to read the book that they learn something useful from it and realize that you don’t have to be a “techie” to use social software. But I just don’t know if I can go through all of it again. I don’t even know if this is the norm and I’m just too naive and fragile to deal with the publishing world or if this is a crazy situation. I have nothing to compare it to.
For those of you who haven’t been able to get ahold of the book and are going to be at ALA Annual, it will be on sale at the Information Today booth (booth #814) and I will be signing books there on Saturday, June 23 from 10:00 am until 11:00 am. I’m really looking forward to the conference and I hope I get to meet some of y’all there.
I just wish this could be the happy experience I thought it would be.
First, as you know, I think it’s a good book (thanks for the delaminated signed copy!).
Second, no, I don’t think it is the norm–but I’m not sure that there is a norm when it comes to book publishing! I’ve had books take more than a year from accepted ms. to shipping books; I’ve had some take significantly less (of course, I was doing layout and “typesetting” for some of those, which helped).
What is definitely the norm: Fully-vetted traditional book publishing is a relatively slow process. The ALA Editions blog had a post a while back that helps explain why that’s true even without unusual delays, describing a 24-week path from accepted manuscript to release of the project to the printer/binder.
You should talk to Lou Rosenfeld (founder Information Architecture and publisher with Rosenfeld Media) about publishing your own book.
Meredith, too bad you and those who want to order the book are experiencing such difficulties. I called Information Today this morning. I was told that most of the books were shipped last week and mine went out June 7. Should be here any day!!
Meredith, I’m so sorry. Were I you, I wouldn’t declare that you’re being fragile — that’s a lot of disappointing news and behavior from a business partner you expected better of. Being justifiably disappointed doesn’t make you fragile!
I hope that this experience doesn’t turn you off writing and publishing, because someone who has the joy and passion that you have for expressing your ideas in a way that can help people… I wouldn’t want that to be lost. But you might want to look into alternate publishers to partner with. 🙂
Have fun at ALA!
I ordered the book 3 weeks ago and thought that the book would be delivered by a ship, which sank in the deep Ocean between the US and Europe, but there was nothing on the news. Now, I’m set at ease. 🙂
A year ago, I knew that I had to decide whether to publish a book or build a knowledge-based for my students which we called the UBC Health Library wiki. My rationale was that most of the knowledge I needed to share was timely, and fast-changing. This precluded a long publication cycle, and the delays you talk about with your book (sorry, about that, btw).
Did you consider publishing with ALA or similar group? Someone suggested a smaller publisher which might help for the 2nd ed. – Dean
I have your book and I’ve been reading it. I got it at CIL. Will bring it to ALA and I hope to meet you and have you sign it. You are also a friend on Ning. I am using my middle name on Ning. Julia. See you at ALA
I’ve had pretty good luck with Lulu.com for self-publishing. They bill themselves as a PRINTING company and point out that publishing is more than that, like distribution, editing, promotion and so on. If one can do that oneself, hurrah. If not, they keep a file of people who will contract to do it and who have a decent track record.
At the same time that I’ve “published” six books with Lulu.com, I’ve been heave-ho-ing a book through an academic press. It’s taking a little more than a year. I’ve done a great deal of the prep work and expect to do a lot more when it comes to promotion, since they have a very limited budget. I was pleased with the editor, who made almost NO changes. The layout is being done this moment and I would have had a hard time with it, but a professional friend upgraded all my photo illustrations without charging me or the press. If I don’t keep after them with a sharp stick, they seem to drift off to working on other books.
In short, I think we all sort of hope that a publisher is the equivalent of a fairy godmother. But they are not. Sigh.
I hear your discouragement, but please press on…I appreciate your enthusiasm and your thinking, and look forward to reading your book soon. 🙂
I’m sorry that you’ve had such a difficult time!
Here’s a link to my blog post that Walt mentioned above:
And a few more that deal with other aspects of the publishing process that readers of this post might find interesting: