I can’t say that definitively, as there are possibly success stories in the past, but the likelihood that you’ll sell any books at a showcase – or even that someone will remember your book after seeing it – is small. This past weekend I went to the LA Times Book Festival, an enjoyable madhouse of booth after booth of publishers/writers, etc. selling their wares. There were booths for Authorhouse, Xlibris, iUniverse, and Author Solutions.
Fairly daunting, but fascinating. You can read about 300,000 books being self-published a year, but until you’re in a booth like this one it really brings home the idea that: Oh my god, there are a lot of books being self-published. The trouble is that people at these festivals will buy books from the booths of bookstores like Book Soup or Vroman’s, but there wasn’t a lot of bookselling going on at the subsidy publisher booths. More, it’s for Author Solutions to show off what people can do with self-publishing – not about selling those individual books. Same old, same old – it’s about selling services to writers, not about selling books. So for a writer with a book, the return on investment may just be the feeling of progress, without making any actual progress.
Pod Peep has this cautionary tale about Lulu – which says as much about Lulu’s customer service as the validity of these packages:
Lulu: “Your book will be displayed physically at the New Title Showcase on the Exhibit Floors AND Your book, along with your contact details will be listed online and in the printed catalogue given to attendees … $399” (250.17 British pounds)
Peter May: “First, Lulu is not shown as an exhibitor at the London Book Fair. They do not have a stand … Your book will be displayed on a shelf in The New Title Showcase area of the show for passers by to look at if they want to … Does it cost £250.17 to place a book on that shelf? Not if you book directly with the New Title Showcase organisers at http://newtitleshowcase.com/ who charge £125 plus VAT per title. Yes, £125.”
Peter May: “There were 91 books listed in the catalogue under the Lulu.com heading. But it wasn’t clear on the shelves which books were Lulu’s as there was no separation on the shelves … I couldn’t see any advantage over the Lulu £250+ package and paying £135 directly to the organisers.
Basically, this pinpoints the uselessness of being displayed in a subsidy publisher’s racks. Authorhouse charges $499 to show off your book at Book Expo America. Granted, this is a lot cheaper than the $3810 price to list individually, but still, there are better ways to spend your money. Authorhouse brags:
With the Combined Book Exhibit, your book is:
- featured in the display
- included in an Exhibit Catalogue, created by CBE for the show
- included in a comprehensive online database where interested parties can easily find and buy your book
Translation: your book will be listed alongside a dizzying list of other books. iUniverse has this list of promotions for the LA Times Book Festival. At the iUniverse booth, there was a fairly long line to get autographed copies of books – especially from children’s authors. So a book signing could definitely be worth your while – depending on the nature of your book. But gallery placement? Does about as much good as a listing on Amazon.
P.S. Unrelated to book galleries, but this post is a must-read about Lulu.