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In Marketplace

Burbach tapped Net to achieve dream of becoming an author

The Internet is changing the world by changing the way we look at familiar objects. Even this magazine you're reading right now doesn't use paper and doesn't require a trip to the newsstand.

For many musicians, the Internet means new means of distribution. Internet-based publishing on demand companies are allowing writers of all stripes -- novelists, historians, poets - to get their voices heard.

Just ask Cherie Burbach, Milwaukee-based author of "The Difference Now," a slim, attractive volume of poems, published by iUniverse, an online-based "vanity press," which is the traditional term for publishers that are paid to publish books.

"I think print on demand will make the dream of publishing a book a reality for many people," Burbach enthuses. "I don't think revolution is too strong a word to use for this new technology."

And a revolution it is. Online print on demand publishers will, for a fee, lay out and design your book, edit your book and provide marketing and other services, helping aspiring writers enter the marketplace with a professional-looking product, allowing them to be taken seriously in the highly competitive world of bookselling.

Although she's been writing poetry since she was a child, Burbach's book project has been in the works only for a few years.

"Over the last several years I started attending several author appearances in the area," she says. "During one of them I noticed the author had used print on demand technology to publish his book. When I asked him about this, he told me ... that the book was a dream of his that he wrote in addition to his regular job .

"As soon as I started researching print on demand, I knew it would work well for me. It was not costly or time consuming and I knew that with my marketing background this would be the perfect technology for me to publish and promote this book."

Now that "The Difference Now" is available online and in bookshops, Burbach is surprised at its success.

"(It) has just been out a couple weeks and so far I've sold far more than I ever thought I would," says Burbach, who is now working on a book of children's stories and one on marketing. "Initially I thought I would sell two books: one to my mother and one to my husband."

But if everyone can publish their own book, will the world be so flooded with books of wildly varying quality that consumers will be hard-pressed to find the gems among the dross?

"We've certainly seen an increase in both positive and negative aspects with the introduction of almost every area of new technology in various areas of business, and I would imagine print-on-demand would be no different in that respect," Burbach admits.

"I think authors will have to be more aware of their marketing plan before they even begin to submit a book for this type of publication. (But) all the marketing in the world won't sell a rotten book. More choices always mean that the consumer, will have to be that much more diligent in picking out great pieces of literature and telling others when they find it."

And, in the end, is there anything more democratic than allowing everyone the right to publish his or her own book of poems, fiction, musings or whatever? And, nothing makes it easier than the ability to ante up a few dollars and enter the marketplace.

"The up-side to this technology is that I as a new author can market my book on my own, and even if it doesn't sell well it will not have broke the bank for me to do," Burbach says. "And I do not have a pile of 10,000 books in the basement that I have to sell either. Print-on-demand lets me direct people to Amazon or Barnes and Noble, so they can order as little or as many as they want. It gives me the freedom to write -- and market -- at my own pace and allows people to buy the book in the way that works best for them."

View Burbach's book here. The iUniverse Web site is iuniverse.com.

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