Dear friends and fellow writers,
I've gotten a lot of questions regarding self-publishing my memoir Seeing Red; I hope this blog post will inspire you and answer some of the questions you may be carrying as you consider how best to publish your work.
So, Why did I Self-Publish?
First of all, I did not want to do the dance with traditional publishing, getting an agent and hoping to sell to a publisher. It felt too passive for me and I knew that no matter how this book entered the world, I’d still be the one to do the work of getting it out in hands of readers.
Second, I did not want to wait the year or two it could take me to find a publisher and get it out in print. I wanted the book in play now, both because the story is poignant and timely as the world is moving toward a more feminine era, and because I knew it would help me build platform/credibility for the next stage of my creative work and output.
Third, I liked to have control of the design so that I could align it with my artistic sensibilities and brand.
Why Did I Choose She Writes Press?
There are millions of self-help--I mean, self-publishing--companies out there now, offering you book publishing packages. A lot of scams or money-drains too, so beware who you choose. You do not need to spend 20K. In fact, you can do it all by yourself.
You need to:
- get an ISBN no. and registered trademark if you choose to do your own imprint
- get someone to do your cover design and interior layout, for both print and e-book (get a good designer who knows the book trade)
- get a final proof edit and layout by professional proof reader / designer
- get distribution (for instance, Amazon CreateSpace or the like for prints, Amazon for kindle, Book Baby can source to other e-book channels)
- create an author profile on Amazon, with photo, a synopsis, book testimonials if you can get some.
- do the marketing and outreach
I chose to get help, because I liked to have a project manager who knows the book business.
I specifically chose She Writes Press because of my relationship with Brooke Warner (she helped me polish the final edit of the book) and because of SWP’s focus on women writers. I also liked that I could bring in my own designer, Rebecca Pollock. We used Lightning Source for the print production and Ingram for book store distribution.
What Does It All Cost?
I am not a measurer. I do things because I’m deeply compelled to, and so this book has lived with me for a decade and I’ve been at it on and off in spurts. How do you ever measure the hours spent on writing and thinking about your book? The workshops you've attended? The money you've paid for professional editing? And then, the final production of the book?
I’d say I spent roughly $4500 on final editing of book + book design + production, including 100 books in hand + postcards.
You can do it cheaper, if you do it all yourself, but I liked having a team around me to keep it all together with an eye to a final, beautiful product. And it paid off: the book turned out more beautiful and sensual to the touch than I had dared imagine.
A long time ago, I made a personal movie about my trip to Tibet, which is central to the memoir, so it was natural for me to want to create a book trailer. And a good idea, too, in this world of YouTube and homespun video fests. First I created a rough story board, used footage from older films I’d made and had someone come interview me for new voice over and edit the film. Since I know about producing and editing movies from past experience, it was easy for me to be involved in the process and direct it as per my liking. I’m particular, as you may have already noticed.
You can see my video here http://lonemorch.com/seeing-red/
Good quality and brand consistency between my website, book cover, and such is important to me.
These days videos for the web don’t need to be fancy or have high production value. You can do one with your iPhone and edit in iMovie on your Mac, but I still encourage you to do a good job, tell a story, have good sound, good fonts, and make sure it matches your style and theme of your book. Avoid cheesy music, special effects transitions, and too many zooms in and out. It can be distracting from your message.
I’d even say make it shorter than mine if you can. 3 mins. is almost too long for today’s web. Brevity is my challenge. Ha! I really should be writing novels.
Not exactly. I chose to do a soft-launch because…
a) I have other projects I want to complete,
2) I don’t have the personality or budget to do the big loud launch and,
3) I also think a spiritual travel memoir is more of a slow-burner with longevity rather than short-lived hu-hah kind of book.
Also, I’m not the one to talk about things before it’s real, tangible, so instead, I seem to feel better when I go step by step.
Some of the things I’ve done/want to do to promote:
- A Book Release Party in my town – to celebrate with friends, clients and those who love books.
- A member of Left Coast Writers, Book Passage arranged a big book party for me and they also carry my book.
- Did a giveaway on Goodreads. Have yet to hear from some of the readers.
- I've sent out a press release to some magazine book editors and bloggers who I thought would resonate with my book. Some requested the book, but have yet to see if they'd do a review. (Crossing my fingers)
- I've sat at a few panels talking about book publishing and marketing.
- I submitted to a couple of indie book rewards and won the SF Book Festival Honorary Mention. I also got reviewed by a Readers' Favorite reviewer when I submitted for their contest. Submission costs money, and there's no guarantee, but an award sticker on your book will sometimes perk readers' and bookstores' and editors' attention.
- I've asked those who've ordered my book to review on Amazon and Goodreads.
- I've jumped on any interview opportunity, from blogs to talk radio hosts and women I know.
- I'd like to see if I can get out to speak to women's studies and groups, but have yet to find the way 'in.'
- I created an online program "Your Sacred Journey" alongside my book to support others in taking their sacred journeys. I was hoping the two offerings could cross-pollinate, but it's happening only slowly.
- I have offered a special reading guide and live/skype Q&A with book clubs, but haven't really found the right way to spread the word and get book clubs engaged with it/me.
At heart I trust the process, even if it's a slow and rough one. I'm in this life for creative exploration and expression, so I have the rest of my life. I don't spend my time dreaming of getting on Oprah or become the next hot commodity--rather, I spend my time creating and I believe that when we do good, solid, soul work, it will eventually reach those it needs to reach. Yes, we do what we can, and it's important to find a way to market that really works with your personality and preferred ways, rather than doing it all. Personally, I feel most alive and sane when I keep creating, so this is my priority.
In fact, I'm fast at work on my next book. It will be about Lolo’s Boudoir and the transformational photography work I've been doing with women over the past decade. I may also self-publish this to begin with, to have books to share, send out, and sell and get a feel for how people respond to it before I invest a lot more in a full production. Photography books are much more expensive to make. I'm considering a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds, but because that in itself is a lot of work, I may simply start with Blurb.com to get the book out in play. I will surely keep you posted.
Okay. I think this is plenty for now. Feel free to ask more questions or add your 2 cents below. Would love to hear more of your experiences too, especially with unique ways of marketing your books.
Left to say is: keep writing, keep putting your words, your stories, your visions out for the world to relish and be inspired by.