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 Getting into Print!


More and more authors are going the self-publishing route!
December 03, 2006|By Philana Patterson | Philana Patterson,Special to The Baltimore Sun


For Dr.Toni Hatton, publishing her own book was more about providing encouragement rather than getting rich or gaining fame. To date, the Gwynn Oak mother of four has sold more than 200 copies of Don't Be Afraid: He's Preparing You!  The book is about her experience dealing with her son Kevin's battle with cancer of the eyes and his subsequent blindness.  At the time, she couldn't find any books that provided help with her family's challenge.

Her experience included educating herself and school faculty about tools that would enable Kevin to attend public school.  "My reason for writing was to give back what I didn't have," Hatton says.  Hatton is part of a growing trend of self-published writers who bypass publishing houses or become frustrated with them and decide to strike out on their own.  In the United States, 22 percent of books are published by large publishing houses; 78 percent are published by medium-sized publishers and self-published authors, says Dan Poynter, author of The Self-Publishing Manual (Para Publishing, 2001).  Many authors, like Hatton, aren't shopping their manuscripts to literary agents and book publishers because publishers don't spend much time or money to promote most books.  And for most writers, there's not much money to be made in getting an agent and going through a publishing house, Poynter says.

"They are saying, 'Why should I have to deal with an agent? I am going to make more money (on my own) ... I know what my audience wants and what they need,'" he says.  The trend toward self-publishing is evident in Baltimore.

A few years ago, the annual three-day Baltimore Book Festival had about 10 self-published authors. This year, the festival featured 90 self-published writers selling their books - 30 different authors on each day.  Julie Williamson, who in March opened A Good Book store, 2101 Gwynn Oak Ave., is making the most of the popularity of self-publishing.  About 25 percent to 30 percent of her inventory is composed of works by local, self-published authors, she says.  "So many come that I cannot purchase every book," says Williamson, who sells Hatton's book.  In most cases, she works out a consignment agreement, with the author getting 60 percent of the proceeds when the book sells. In addition, Williamson holds frequent book signings with self-published authors and participates in the Meet the Author show, which airs on WOLB-AM (1010) at 2 p.m. every third Friday and features local authors. 

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