• Lone Morch
  • [SWP: BEHIND THE BOOK] Why I Chose to Self-Publish
[SWP: BEHIND THE BOOK] Why I Chose to Self-Publish
Contributor
Written by
Lone Morch
June 2013
Contributor
Written by
Lone Morch
June 2013

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.

Do I Need a Video Trailer?

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.

What about Marketing? Do I Have a Marketing Plan?

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.

Trusting the Process

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.

In art & beauty,

Lone

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Comments
  • Lone Morch

    LaWaughn, how wonderful, I suppose I'm of the same ilk, I just want to create, and as long as I keep creating and putting it out in the world to share, I'll succeed.  Hard launch is when you build a whole campaign months before the book comes out, and gets people to pre-buy it and rally around it to reach Amazon top list the day it comes out. I will visit your book site ... have a great weekend. xo

  • Thanks for the information...I love coming here to be mentored and encouraged...my book has been out for about a month and I didn't come from a writing background so I just self published because I thought that was the only and best way...some of my She Write friends gave me tips and a ball park money range and after praying about everything I took it and ran with it... I don't know a soft from a hard launch...I just did it and will keep it going until my brand is set in stone and the next one is out...my motto is that the only way I can fail is for me not to try...again thanks for sharing love the trailer and I did one too.

  • Helen O\'Reilly

    Love your "can do" attitude, Victoria!

  • Nancy Babcock

    A great post and it says what I've been feeling about what I want/don't want when I get to the publishing stage. Love the soft launch approach--can't stand hype and hard sales in any form. Your video is well done and I so relate to the part about giving your power over to a man-I've done that too, and it's not the way to finding what makes me happy. Happy to see that we're nearly neighbors (I'm in Sonoma County), and I wish I'd known about your Book Passage appearance before rather than after the fact. Thanks  so much for the information here--I'm keeping it for future reference (in the not-too-distant future).

  • Rossandra White

    Well done Lone! I loved your trailer.

  • Helen O\'Reilly

    Thanks, Lone! I sense a kindred soul. I do think you could find a way to make the book newsworthy again. In fact, you got me thinking and writing a post of my own on my Booklikes blog describing ways to do just that. I will be right back, or if you want to, you can toggle over there and read it. http://booklikes.com/post/text/

  • Lone Morch

    I love that Helen. How fun and frisky you are!! thanks for sharing your press release. You got me curious and laughing. Do you think it even makes sense to write another press release for a  book that was 'soft launched' late 2012 and officially in 2013 -- or has it run it's course ?

  • Helen O\'Reilly

    Just checking out your blog again today and in rereading I was struck by the number of things we have done similarly in both our "soft launch" approaches to launching our books. Particularly this:

    "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)"

    Perhaps because I've written scads of both flap copy and press releases during my checkered career, I have had some success with press releases that grab reporters' attention with humor (and with apologies to any hardworking reporters out there, I really think that for a press release to work, whoever writes the release has to do a LOT of the reporter's work for him or her. Read on and see what I mean).

    Our local Las Vegas paper has agreed to do a piece on me and my book, Spunk, a Fable, based on this:

    Area Woman, 60, “Not Dead Yet,” Pens Novel, Spunk, a Fable;

    Book Rebuts Feminist's Claim Men Are Doomed

    June 26, 2013

    Las Vegas, NV— When it hit bookshelves in the fall of 2012, journalist Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men: And the Rise of Women (Riverhead, 2012) provoked debate about her premise that men are obsolete, and that women are becoming the dominant sex. “It certainly got me thinking,” says Las Vegas author Helen O’Reilly. Thinking and writing; O’Reilly’s resulting novel, Spunk, a Fable, just released (Createspace, 2013), and it’s available in paperback and kindle versions from Amazon.com.

    “As a heterosexual woman who has married two of them, buried one of them, and given birth to three of them—men, that is—the idea of a world without men irked me. Of course that’s not literally what Rosin’s book is about. But after all, technology has now made it possible to start with a cell, replace its DNA, and cut papa out of the picture. I began to think about the kind of world that would create, and Spunk, a Fable was the result. Eventually.”

    Having published myriad titles the traditional way, for Scholastic, Inc. and others, O’Reilly was well aware of the perilous health of the modern publishing industry. “I spent about twenty minutes feeling like a victim: ‘Oh, publishing dies just as I finish my first novel.’ Then I decided to take advantage of what was killing traditional publishing—self-publishing—and became my own publisher.

    Living and writing in Las Vegas, NV, O’Reilly works as a book editor for a specialized small press. Her previous titles include The Secret of Willow Ridge, and The Soul Workout, for Central Recovery Press, and A Poem a Day, for Scholastic.

    “I think I’m a typical Baby Boomer; we keep thinking of new things we want to try, and don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t. I’m also a classic Las Vegan. This is the land of re-invention. I’ve entered my third act now, as a novelist. I've become what I always wanted to be when I grew up.”

    Contact: Helen O’Reilly

    email: helenhavlin@hotmail.com

    website:

    (702) 465-5759

    (702) 493-7781

    (702) 476-1993

    http://helenhavlin.wix.com/spunky

  • Lone Morch

    Good evening Lisa, thanks for connecting ... It's good to hear that it's slowly building, I have gotten great reviews but I don't necessarily see big sales ... but I do hope slowly it will all gain momentum. Let's keep sharing what works and what doesn't here. it's helpful. Thank you. Good night. xo

  • Lisa Thomson

    Great share, Lone. Congratulations on your book release. It looks fascinating.  I also self published for the same reasons.  It's been an exciting experience but overall, fairly successful.  Getting reviews are like digging for gold.  I've gotten a few great ones and I cherish and publish them wherever I can! The whole online awareness though, is a slow build but is effective once it start to gain momentum (my site is just beginning to get more visits). Thanks for your tips and sharing your experience.

  • Lone Morch

    Hi Helen, good to know i'm not alone. ;)

  • Helen O\'Reilly

    Gosh, you sound very much like me; I identify with so much of what you have written.

  • Lone Morch

    Love the idea of serializing Victoria. Thanks for sharing your journey with self publishing. Yes, to the long haul. ;-)

  • Victoria Noe

    Congrats! I gave myself a little over a year of pitching to agents, only half of whom responded to me. Of those who did, most really liked the concept but admitted they had no idea how to market it. Well, I did.

     

    Last spring, I decided to self-publish. In June, I decided to serialize it, with an eye towards bundling all 6 (possibly 7) small books (less than 12,000 words each) into one at the end.

     

    This spring, I published the first two: Friend Grief and Anger: When Your Friend Dies and No One Gives A Damn and Friend Grief and AIDS: Thirty Years of Burying Our Friends. The next two - Friend Grief and Community: Band of Friends and Friend Grief and 9/11: The Forgotten Mourners - will be out in late summer. Talk about niche marketing! Each one is a different group to target, which keeps me on my toes and not bored.

    For example: I lowered the price of ebook #2 to 99 cents in June, which is gay pride month. I'll donate 25 cents for each ebook sold to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, an organization near and dear to my heart. They're cross-promoting, as are my friends in the gay press. I'm marching in the gay pride parade here in Chicago on the 30th. I'm running a giveaway on Goodreads this month, too.

    There's interest building for #3 (about the military) as well as #4 (if the bookstores in NYC that are interested like it, it will be a tremendous boost to my career and pocketbook). Like I said, never a dull moment.

     

    It's a lot of work to do this thing right: hiring a cover designer, editor and formatter. Publicist is next, as is website upgrade. All in good time. I'm a tortoise not a hare because I'm in this for the long haul.