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A Novel Way To Romance A Book Deal

Susan Bradley had a relationship problem.

After seven years writing a how-to book on dating and romance, she was getting left at the altar.

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Knowing she'd get only a paltry advance from a traditional publisher, she had decided to self-publish.

But after months with a traditional printer, the relationship fell apart.

So, with two weeks until a Valentine's Day, 1996 publication date - and book signings scheduled in her hometown of Cleveland - she called Xerox's on-demand printers.

Five working days later, she had 500 bound copies.

The cost was high, about $8 a copy, but it put her book in the stores.

And sales were so brisk that Ms. Bradley landed a contract with Waldenbooks. Nearly two years later, she has sold 20,000 copies.

If she had stayed with a traditional publisher, "I wouldn't have a book until Valentine's Day this year. Now, I already have 350 radio and TV interviews under my belt.... It's a great way to test market a book and see how people respond."

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That's the kind of inroad digital technology opens for new authors.

"You no longer have to produce 10,000 copies of this book," says Don Seise of Simon & Schuster. "You can produce 150 or 300 copies ... and see how they sell."

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