This past week, I finished A Woman Alone: Lessons from the Writing Life. It comes as the final chapter, so to speak, in this writer’s journey. The journey began in 2010 with the publication of Again in a Heartbeat and then two years later with Morning at Wellington Square. While this is a memoir, I also like to think of it as a "how-to" manual. Moving forward, taking risks, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary and creating meaning as a woman, confronting aging in the final act of her life, that's what this book is about. What are lessons learned? Will this resonate with others who have sought a way to quiet the mind and emerge from the busyness to appreciate and understand what truly matters?
Even as I write this on a sun-filled August morning, I realize that thanks to the Women’s Writing Circle to whom the book is dedicated, the journey basically wrote itself. Since I began the Circle in November, 2009, the last ten years have been something of a totally unexpected gift―an encore career of creativity and community―of stories and inspiration―of the journey of the feminine.
Now comes the hard part―as if writing weren’t hard enough. Seeking a publisher, a "home" for A Woman Alone. In the “old days”―a mere nine years ago―I stumbled across CreateSpace, Amazon’s publishing arm, almost by accident, and found in it the resources to design a cover, receive professional formatting and eventually place my own publishing imprint―Writing Circle Press―on my trade paperbacks and ebooks. I knew I would self-publish because I relish the creative control the process offers. I have taught workshops on traditional and self-publishing. I know many swear by the former, but I am of the latter mindset. I set the price for my books, have the final say over editing and design.
I was an outlier in the days before the fever of self-publishing as an entrepreneurial endeavor took the book world by storm, creating many spin-offs, including partnership or hybrid publishing. I was on my own. I'd been through the proverbial mill...the competition of writing, the barracuda that drives a work, not on its creative or ethical merit, but its potential sales. Self-publishing offered the ultimate freedom. So I'm sticking with the self-publishing game.
CreateSpace is no more so I research options ... one that doesn’t break the bank. (Yes, I have heard of people spending thousands and thousands, upwards of $20,000 to publish a book.) As I began my research this summer, I was intrigued by the myriad publishing packages offered, from simply having the book formatted and designed, to paying a company for a developmental editor and a copy edit... marketing strategies and materials. And what about royalties? If I sold an ebook for $4.99, I received 70 percent of that … not bad considering that as an independent author sales will be limited, but over time each sale adds up to a nice little sum. Purchasing my trade paperbacks was economical and I could mark them up at a rather nice profit at my signings, at workshops and community events and in the Circle.
So the journey continues, the research, the business savvy, but as always I come back to why all of this matters to me―and, hopefully, to my readers who have stayed with me over the years on this blog and in my memoirs and novel. As I write in A Woman Alone:
Who is the woman alone? What makes her find within herself the strength to carry on when so many have left or died? How many times can she—can I—reinvent myself? Where will it lead? Does metamorphosis have no end date? Now there are so many of us, alone and in our sixties and seventies and beyond, it is a road heavily traveled. There’s a wildness to this, an excitement in this sea change of women alone, all us thinking that depending on anyone other than ourselves would be backtracking....
I know this—happiness, if there is such a thing—revolves around finding your passion and creating a meaningful life. All the rest falls into place.
Can you share your publishing journey? What went into your decision? Your comments are welcome.