So, What's up with the book?
Written by
Preeva Tramiel
January 2015
Written by
Preeva Tramiel
January 2015

What’s up with the book is that I had almost decided to self-publish, then changed my mind because I got the name of an agent through my author friend Rebecca Goldstein. Now I'm waiting for that agent, Barer Literary, to get back to me. I got a form letter that says they have my query.

These are the steps I took to self-publish my book, which are the same steps one would take to send the book out to agents:
I edited and re-edited the manuscript, gave it to a couple of friends to read, even read much of it out loud to my assistant, Elspeth, a historian who is presently cataloging my library. We called it ‘storytime,’ and she took notes on whatever was unclear or didn’t flow right. Reading aloud is a great way to improve on writing, and more often than not I got ideas of what was and wasn’t working while I was reading.

Then I submitted my first chapter to the She Writes memoir contest and got to the finalist round (top 20 out of maybe 200 entries, not bad!)

I proofread and re-proofread the manuscript for typos.
Again with the help of a friend, I created a glossary of foreign words and terms, which are numerous in the book, since I am a child of survivors and lived in many languages as a child.

I printed it out on paper. Found formatting errors.
I saved the manuscript in PDF format, and found more errors. Despite our faith in them, computers have gremlins that appear when changing formats. Or maybe WE are the gremlins. Either way, changing formats always warrants an inspection.

Then I looked at self-publishing options, and settled on Bookbaby. It's not what you would spend on a whim. Bottom line, you can’t get 50 books out of BookBaby for less than $1000. The books are eight bucks each, the ISBN number and set up costs for ebooks and the cover design added $600. But that’s fair, these things don’t happen without a person working, and work is worth money. My book needs about 25 color pages, because of the photographs, so that would be even more, maybe another $1000.

There is a chance I could spend less by getting one of the people who advertise $25 book covers, and buying my own ISBN numbers, and going to a printer myself, but I like the way BookBaby supports conferences I go to.
So I’m almost ready to send my PDF in when one of my friends mentions that she met a memoir agent in New York in November who is looking for new work.

Agents are the old-fashioned way to get into publishing. An agent lunches with publishers’ reps on a regular basis. An agent takes your proposal to book auctions. An agent could see to it that I both the prestige of a publisher’s imprimatur (hope I used that word correctly) and get some cash to boot. In short, if I can get an agent to represent me, it is much better than self-publishing.

So I’m polishing up my proposal and sending it off to this agent. The BookBaby quote is good till March. If the agent says no, I’ll go back to planning to self-publish.

And I'm going to do a reading from my book tomorrow at a local coffee house. I'm excited, yet worried I am going to pick the wrong piece to read!

Ah, the life of an author...


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  • Preeva Tramiel

    I signed up for a salon that happens every six months in my area. There are often literary salons happening right under our noses. This one had been going on for six years without me realizing!

  • Sally Ketham

    I've been waiting three weeks since I've submitted the book proposal. Definitely longer and sloggier than expected on this end too!! My situation is one where an associate agent expressed interest, but doesn't have the authority to make the final decision. If it were up to her the agency would represent me for sure, but she has to wait for her boss (the owner) to look at things and decide. The owner read the first chapter and query in December and loved it...then asked for the book proposal, but it took her 7 weeks to read the first chapter so I'm not holding out high hope it will go much quicker to read the 64 page proposal. So overall, I've been waiting close to 3 months since I decided not to self-publish in pursuit of this avenue. :)

    Yay glad your reading went well! What a great idea, I have it stuck in my head that I can only make appearances only after the book is published. It never occurred to me to do so before. How did you arrange that?

  • Preeva Tramiel

    Shelah, I feel for you--how long have you been waiting for them to get back to you? I have only been waiting a week.

    This process is longer and sloggier than I'd hoped.

    My reading went quite well last night.

  • Sally Ketham

    Hi Preeva! You and I have had a quite a similar journey. I'm right where you are...three weeks before self-publishing an opportunity with a literary agency came up...I've submitted my proposal and am now waiting. Let me know when you hear something! :)