• Renate Stendhal
  • From the First Self-Publishing Summit to a First Self-Published Book: Part I
From the First Self-Publishing Summit to a First Self-Published Book: Part I
Written by
Renate Stendhal
April 2014
Written by
Renate Stendhal
April 2014

Really? A book designed and controlled by the writer? A conversation between Kim Chernin and Renate Stendhal, authors of the forthcoming Lesbian Marriage: A Sex Survival Kit.

Renate: A year ago, I wrote a blog post about the First Self-Publishing Summit, organized by Brooke Warner, the editor of  She Writes Books, together with the Kindle expert Howard VanEs. I reported on the exciting learning experience the weekend provided. It left me with both doubts and desires: I wanted to launch myself into this new world of do-it-yourself publishing, but would I dare? Would I be up for the many challenges? Would I have the money as well as the time and energy necessary to self-publish a book and make it a success?

Kim: I was in Peru, visiting my daughter during the Summit. I began to hear about it first by message, then in phone conversations. When I got home Renate couldn’t stop talking about this revolutionary possibility for us as authors. We had co-authored two books in the past; we loved to collaborate. Why not again? I told her why not: I had published 17 books with various New York publishers and was sick to death of the continual struggle over every aspect of the book.  A title, for example, is an essential part of the writing--it can’t just be changed on a whim because a sales representative, who has never read the book, thinks a different title would be more in fashion. There would be the usual fights over the cover design, the flap copy, the pub date, you name it. Sometimes I won and the book was published as I wanted it to be; sometimes the publishing house got its way, often to my regret.

Renate: Kim had decided once and for all never to publish again.

Kim: Instead, I would write and deliver the manuscript to the drawer in the time-honored way. Nothing friends and fans said changed my mind. Until the Summit. But could it be true? A book out in the world in just a few months? A  book designed and controlled by the writer? A cover I chose? A book as long or as short as the topic wanted it to be? That wasn’t publishing as I had come to know it!

Renate: We said to each other: if we are going to do it, let’s do it with guidance. I’d been impressed by Brooke and Howard. When I checked out Howard’s website, I found an inviting site that was plagued by typos and other little flaws. Purely in a spirit of fun I edited the site. This led to an exchange of messages and jokes, which told me a lot about Howard’s sense of humor. I soon knew he would be the right guide for an e-publishing project. But which project?

Kim: As it happened . . . two and a half weeks after the Summit, the Supreme Court  handed us our topic by allowing same-sex couples to marry in California. Renate and I had been together for almost three decades without ever being interested in marrying. Why were we suddenly excited by this change in the cultural climate? Why were all of our friends, gay and hetero, ecstatic?

Renate: Clearly, we had entered a new era. We were all part of a great historical moment. Lesbian couples were stepping into full recognition by culture and society, There would be the invitation to fill the age-old institution of marriage with a new spirit and new forms of living. But there would also be more pressure to succeed as a couple and potentially a family.

Kim: We were keenly aware that nobody until now had told lesbian couples how to succeed in marriage and how to keep sex and romance alive “until death do you part.”

Renate: In our work with individuals and couples and in our long relationship we felt we had “seen it all.” We had something to say about what it takes to build and maintain a passionate, fulfilling marriage.

Kim: This seemed a promising start  for a book . . .

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  • Renate Stendhal

    Thank you, Patricia -- you are much appreciated! Yes, the next parts will be about the process of collaborating on the book and the technical challenges of it all. In fact, we found that all self-publishing is one big collaboration, in many ways and colors...

  • Patricia Robertson

    Looking forward to hearing about your venture into self-publishing, more on how it differs from your experience with traditional publishing. Will that be part 2?