Thursday, March 21, 2013

Birthing classes

I met Matt at IHOP.  What better place to discuss The Leap than a place with HOP in it's name. I felt like Dorothy standing before the Wizard.  She knew nothing of wizardry other than the wizard knew the way back to Kansas. I knew nothing about publishing but Matt and Kudu Publishing did. He held the key to ink. Matt was a regular guy. He patiently answered my questions and established credibility. I'd found a partner willing to co-publish The Leap.

Finding a publisher felt like birthing classes for me.  I'd been dreaming of having this baby for years, but the process was scary and potentially painful. Like birthing classes, Matt explained what was about to happen in a way that alleviated my apprehension. In the ensuing weeks, we dealt with contracts, costs, book covers, author biography, back cover text, type fonts, photos, textual corrections and a myriad of other publishing details occurring after the author thinks he's done.

My first peek at the book cover design was like a baby's first sonogram.  Until then, it was still a dream.  Seeing the cover breathed life into my manuscript. My decades-long dream was about to happen.  I loved the cover at first sight. It oozed Africa and at a glance, summed up the message of the book.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Don't Cruise the Amazon

Amazon River Taxi
The Amazon's a great river.  It's an even better bookstore.  I love it. I shop there all the time. But please don't buy my book there.  At least not yet.  When you buy on Amazon, Amazon gets paid. The distribution house they buy from gets paid. The publisher gets paid. Several shipping companies get paid. Others I don't even know  get paid.  Many months later, I'll get something if there's any left. When you buy the book directly from me (in person or on-line), I get paid. You pay the same either way, but I'll get many times more if you buy direct.

I've personally foot the bill for the publishing costs. I cleaned out savings, checking and my cookie jar to help my book find ink. After Mom, family and my friends buy the book, I'll be delighted for strangers to buy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and dozens of other retail book outlets.  But for now, please don't cruise the Amazon. Buy from me online.

Here's how.  Go to my blog. You're probably already there. There's a menu bar below the acacia tree.  No it doesn't serve drinks. Click on BUY. Click on the PayPal "Buy Now" button. It's that simple. If you aren't yet a PayPal member, you can sign up right there. It's easy and quick. As a PayPal user, you're much more secure as an online buyer.

I'm delighted Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores sell my book to those who don't know me. But you're my friends and I need to get my investment money back. Thanks for understanding and get ready for an African adventure. You want to read The Leap. I know you do. Right now.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Down at the Waterhole

Now what? Was my book-writing dream just a pipe dream? Hardly. I'd told the story well and its message was significant and timely.  Once again, I went looking for advice.  Rob Andrescik fed me pig and suggested self-publishing. I'd need a book cover and interior proofs; I knew people who did that. I'd need an ISBN and eBook formats. The design person did that too. I'd need someone to help me find a printer and negotiate costs. I knew an excellent book broker. About that time I listened to Robert Young's story of self-publishing The Shack. He'd sold 6 million copies and the book was still climbing. Let's roll.

Months later, I was still stalled.  The people I needed weren't available. Once again, Rob's encouragement got me going.  Had I considered co-publishing?  Consider it? I didn't even know what it was.  He explained I'd still have to fund most of the production and printing costs, but the publisher would guide the process and help me market the book once printed.  It sounded fine since even traditional publishers rely heavily on the author to promote and sell his book anyway.

Rob sent me to Matt Green and Kudu Publishing. What could be better; an African antelope for an African tale. After many obstacles and delays, the path toward publication opened before me. Who knew.  I went thirsty to the waterhole and found a kudu.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

In Search of Ink

Now what?.  I'd written the manuscript and scrubbed it squeaky clean.  Now I needed a publisher. Thousands of books die at this point each year. The unpublished book cemetery is huge: so many writers, so few publishers. Don't bother sending unsolicited manuscripts. Their recycling bins are already full. Unless an agent recommends you, editors won't give your work a first glance.  I went looking for an agent.

I wrote a book proposal.  I emailed it to dozens of potential agents.  I pondered the sounds of silence as my mailbox rusted shut. I knew this rejection was coming, but it still hurt. My only response came a year later from an agent who advised a complete rewrite before she would consider representing me. What now?

I signed up for a writers conference.  That felt good. Communing with fellow writers might reveal a new plan.  I'd learn more about the book industry.  I'd receive valuable pointers for finding ink.  Agents also come to these conferences.  They let you practice pitching your book to them.

My first conference was a disappointment. Successful writers tell hopeful writers why they haven't much chance being published. They attempt humility, but it sounds like gloating. Agents advise not wasting their time with unmarketable offerings. Before agents salivate, writers must build a solid marketing platform : speaking engagements, website, blog, social media, newsletters, media interviews. Holy macaroni! I thought the publisher did that for you.

The only consolation was meeting lots of budding authors, all in search of publishers ink.  We cried in each other's beer and went home discouraged.