Recently I read about a Print On Demand author, Jeremy Robinson, who had signed with a traditional publishing house, Breakneck Books of N.H. His novel was selling well as a POD, and a literary agency noticed and offered to represent him. Sounds almost too good to be true, but I verified the results on Amazon. Both the original POD book (Lulu) and its reincarnation from Breakneck are available. The book is fast-paced and deals with Christianity's origins. A major writer, James Rollins, liked the story, and Robinson got Rollins to write a blurb for the inside cover of the book. Apparently, Rollins' endorsement did wonders for getting readers to buy it.
I tried this approach a couple of years ago with my revised screenplay about Thomas Paine. I managed to get Nathaniel Branden to agree to read it, but I suspect he did so believing I was the other George Smith, the author of books on atheism and the one he knew. His email reply was friendly when he assumed I was his former acquaintance, but when I corrected him his next reply was quite distant and terse. I got the impression he regretted agreeing to read it.
I went ahead and mailed it to him and within a week I got a disheartening reply, again very short, congratulating me on writing a screenplay and wishing me luck with my project. Other than admitting he couldn't verify the history behind the story, that was it. He didn't say anything I could use for sell copy. I figure either he didn't read it or he read it and thought it wasn't worthy of his support.
As harsh as that experience was, I still think it's an excellent way to get noticed. Robinson's experience testifies to that. I've already approached two people about reading JR$, either of whom would be in a position to help me get published. Unfortunately, the first one hasn't replied to my request and probably never will. The second one replied the same day with a very polite and encouraging note saying he didn't have time to read my story.
So I look for others who could help. But as I do, I start imagining no one reads anything anymore, other than short articles. To be is to be in video. Even Amazon offers the option of posting reviews in video rather than writing. And if it's not video it's audio. Notice the popularity of books in audio. I go a little crazy with these thoughts. But of those people who know me, only my wife has actually read my manuscript. Everyone else is too busy. Too busy watching videos or TV. Or listening to their iPods.
Nevertheless, I must push ahead, and I must continue to think of creative ways to get the book out to the public. One thought I had was to publish the prolog and first three chapters on the web, then give readers the option of buying the whole thing in PDF for a low price. If I coupled that with an endorsement, I might make some sales. For an endorsement I could select a famous name and seek him or her out in person with my manuscript in hand. It's hard to refuse someone when he's standing in front of you with pages in one hand and a gun in the other. Ha, ha.
At any rate, I can't give up. I can't wait for an editor to come to supper and by chance read the manuscript, as happened to Margaret Mitchell.