So You Really Want a Traditional Publisher? By Judi Daly

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Years ago, I’m not even sure how long it was, I decided to write a book. Trail Training for the Horse and Rider was born. By the time I was finished, I knew I had something worthwhile. Not only was it a great book, but there were no other major titles on the subject in the market.

POD didn’t exist back then, so I definitely didn’t want to self publish. With a full-time job and two horses to take care of, I knew I didn’t have the time to promote my book, and I would end up losing a lot of money. I was determined to get a royalty-paying publisher. I went through a round of querying, and they responded that, since there were no books on the market on the subject, there wasn’t a market for my book.

Then I had a revelation. I would publish it as an e-book. I set up my website and turned my book into a PDF. When I got a review by a major horse publication, I was on my way. I figured in a year or so, I would try to get a regular publisher once I proved that I had a market for my book. Less then 6 months later, a publisher found me. I was in heaven. I’ll never forget the date, September 10, 2001. My feeling of happiness came to an end on September 11.

Now, the publisher I signed with is a small publisher. Maybe if I had a larger publisher, my experience would have been different. First problem – it took three years before my book was ready. Three years! By the time my book was released, it was followed by a slew of other ones on the same subject. I may have been first, but I lost my monopoly just a few months later.

Do you know how many times I talked to my publisher? Once, and that was on September 10. I did get a few phone calls from her assistant. I got no updates unless I pestered them, and then they weren’t always the friendliest e-mails. After a while, I was hesitant to even ask about when it would be ready. The months just dragged on.

My book was basically finished when they got it, except for photos. I furnished many of them, and the rest were furnished by my publisher. Some of their pictures didn’t suit the book at all. They added pictures on how to use a product that I had never even tried, so it made it seem like I endorsed it! Fortunately, I did end up trying the item, and now I can endorse it.

So, you don’t want to do the formatting of your book? Guess what. I had to format it for my publisher, and it wasn’t an easy template like the one (and BookLocker formats manuscripts for no extra charge for authors who need help anyway). I had to do it from scratch to my traditional publisher’s specifications. It took hours.

Then, there was all that postage for certified mail to ship things to them. They didn’t want to send things electronically. I spent a fortune in film and developing since they wouldn’t accept digital photography. I even had to buy a printer so I could print out the manuscript. This was all getting very expensive.

The book, well, it is just beautiful, and it even won an Independent Publisher Award. I guess it was all worth it, though they have the rights to the book. I signed them away…

Another thing – I can’t write a book that involves horses without giving them the right of first refusal. When I wanted to publish my second book, Trail Horse Adventures and Advice, I had to get them to turn me down before I could publish it on my own. My new book is the best parts of the e-newsletter I started to promote the first book.

By this time, technology had progressed, making Print on Demand (POD) books an option. I work as an estimator at a large commercial printer with a POD division, so I felt very comfortable with the process. I signed up with for about the same amount of money that I spent when I had a royalty publisher (on copies, postage, 10 rolls of film with developing, and that printer). Instead of it taking years to publish, it took less than a month. Both Angela Hoy and my cover designer were friendly, helpful and responsive. I had full control of the content – what a nice feeling, and I maintain all rights to my book. I won’t even have to wait six months for a royalty check! Publishing with Booklocker was truly a painless process, and I have the experience to appreciate it.

Judi Daly is an avid trail rider that typically rides well over 1,000 miles a year on her two trusty steeds; Cruiser, a Morab gelding, and Mingo, a solid Paint gelding. All that experience inspired her to write the award-winning “Trail Training for the Horse and Rider.” She produces the monthly “Trail Training E-Newsletter” which is the origin of Trail Horse Adventures and Advice. She also contributes a regular column in “The Morab Perspective.” Judi’s website is at