Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Self-Publishing One Year Later

It was one year ago today that I signed off on the paperback edition of Again in a Heartbeat, my memoir.   I had self-published the book. So much has changed in one short year about how self-publishing is viewed that it has felt like riding a huge, cresting wave. What was once considered risky is now becoming mainstream as more people  hop on the self-publishing bandwagon.

The rise of eBooks and the reader's love of paperbacks - now prompting traditional publishers to abandon the hardback and go for the paperback, sometimes less than four months after the book's initial release - all point  to one thing. Self-publishing.  Why?  Because eBooks and paperbacks are the bread and butter of self-publishing.

Things I have learned this year about being a self-published author:

Do your research before you select a self-publishing company.

Pay special attention to working with your design team so that the cover is simple, beautiful and expressive of the book's central theme.

Take advantage of publishing packages that offer eBook formatting at little additional cost.

Do not expect huge sales once you hold the product in hand. Instead, believe in your book and view marketing it as a lifelong endeavor. Your book has unlimited shelf life this way.  So what if you only sell 200 books the first year?  Who cares as long as the book continues to sell and you recoup your initial investment, which you will if you take the time to market your work.

Keep remembering why you wrote the book in the first place. You had a story to tell and you believed that story would resonate with readers.

Get over the fact that self-promotion can feel uncomfortable. Promote, promote, promote, but do it with sensitivity. No overkill.  Talk to the people who read your book.  Thank them for buying it.

Tie your book into other initiatives.  Sign up for a table at a local book festival, blog about writing your book, attend Open Mic nights.  Provide a  link on your blog or website that makes ordering your book easy.

Convince yourself that self-publishing is no longer looked down on.  Why?  Because it is true. This has been one of the most dramatic changes I have noticed in the last year. Self-publishing has become increasingly credible in the changing marketplace of Internet sales and the (unfortunate) demise of many bookstores.

Be counterintuitive. If you still fear POD (print-on-demand) has a bad reputation, turn it around. Announce early on that you love never having to worry about a garage full of books.

Enjoy those royalty checks when they are posted each and every month to your online bank account.

Never lose the thrill, the feeling of excitement, when you hold your book in hand. It is an accomplishment of which you deserve to be proud!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Conversation With My Body

As summer winds down I am thinking about the shorts and bathing suits that have offered up a good, long look every day of my legs and arms, my hands and my feet.  I wonder . . . what if my body could talk?  What would it say as I slather it with suntan lotion, douse it in chlorinated pool water, listen to its heart beating late at night as I try to sleep?  What would be the sound of its voice?  Would it speak in a whisper, a grumble, a throaty contralto, a booming bass? 

Our writing prompt for the August 13 read-around at Wellington Square:  A Conversation With My Body.

This prompt is a chance to practice your skills at dialogue as you talk and your body answers.  Maybe you want this conversation to take place when you were a child; maybe now as you look back over the years, just you and your body.  Let the body become a character in the scene.  Does your body control you?  Define you? Love you?  Hate you?  Give it a name, describe it. 

As always, this is just a suggestion, a prompt that may lead down other paths.  And don't forget to take a deep breath before you start writing.  Your body will thank you for it!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Problem With Writing

The problem with writing. It is hard work. It means digging up stuff you didn't want to deal with anymore. You're tired.  If you could just pull back the covers, get out of bed . . .

She was an automaton, cynical, on autopilot. She vetoed the journey of enlightenment and self-awareness.  Why bother?  But wait.  Maybe if there were others to help  . . . a community of kindred spirits.

Writing is transformative.  Writing heals. Writing breaks the silence.  As we light the candle and open the Circle, we feel alchemy. Something magical is about to happen.

This morning at Wellington Square we read to each other the history of our writing lives. "Writing is a mirror in which I meet myself," Ginger wrote. 

"There is a lightness of spirit when I write," Pat wrote. "I explore my imagination."

We are finding our voice. 

Here's the rub. The outside world - worse, our family - would have us stay silent. You are too outspoken for a girl! The world doesn't need another book, a husband says.  Why are you writing, a daughter demands? What could you possibly have to to say, a son asks?

Writing is a ribbon of light weaving through murky water. It is a saunter on a warm summer day. It is a trek up a mountainside.   It is as necessary as the air we breathe.

As Trish said today, "I have a right to write."