Just as the Glass Ceiling was, and sometime still is, a political term depicting the struggle of women trying to break through corporate barriers for better positions and equal pay, the Paper Ceiling is a barrier for struggling authors who want to become part of mainstream successful authors who can actually make a living selling their books.
The big difference is that the Paper Ceiling keeps all authors, regardless of gender, race, creed, political affiliates or sexual persuasion from getting a piece of the success pie called Best Selling Author. This title is reserved for authors who already have money and/or know someone in the industry who can jump-start their career. Without and “in,” you will be always “out.”
Corporate greed again deserves blame. The traditional large publishing houses are not willing to take on new authors even if their books are good enough to be best sellers unless there is name recognition. Sending manuscripts to these publishing whores is an exercise in futility. Hiring a publicist to get you into these publishing houses is like flushing money down a toilet; unless you have a whole bunch of green, in which case you will already be part of the beautiful people and surely will have a “best seller” no matter the content of your book.
Enter now the “self-publishing” and “publish on demand (or POD)” world – a world of even more greed and deception. Self-publishing means you hire a printing company to print your masterpiece, fill your garage with books and try to sell them door to door like vacuum cleaners. You write, publish, print, promote and sell your own books…in essence you become a publishing house. This enterprise will take large sums of cash and if you have large sums of cash, you, could save yourself a whole lot of work by going to a traditional publisher, give them the large sums of cash and become famous.
How about publishing on demand (POD)? In this scenario, you give a POD publisher anywhere from $2,500 up to $10,000 and they set up your book with a cover design, copyright, enter your masterpiece into the Library of Congress files and put your book in the virtual world of Amazon and Barnes & Noble. No book gets printed unless someone orders it online and you get a small percentage of the book cost. Please keep in mind that you are still responsible for promotion of your book or books. Also keep in mind that there are literally millions of books on-line for sale and that getting royalties to you is the responsibility of the POD publisher, Amazon and Barnes & Noble (including the newest way to keep your money, Kindle and Nook electronic sales).
I am not saying that all POD publishers are thieves, but that helps little when the giants like Amazon and Barnes & Noble are. Their philosophy is simple – sue us, pip squeak! We will bury you in litigation way after you are dead and buried! Trust me; I can’t make this stuff up. There are horror stories enough to fill a large Stephen King type book concerning the corruption I speak of.
One might read this and wonder why anyone in their right mind would want to be an author. I too have thought the same thing. The answer is simple…being an author is an addiction worse than drugs. Once in your veins you are hooked. When an author gets a paper cut, only words spill out. There is no known cure except death and even then I am not convinced the writing stops.
The moral of this story is never write a book thinking you are going to become famous and live in Costa Rica writing novels. Write novels because it is your passion and a passion you cannot live without. I would rather die an unknown author than a millionaire bureaucrat any day. There is honesty and honor in my fiction murder mysteries and I did it my way to boot – paper ceiling be damned!