Monday, August 26, 2019

Writing and Publishing a Book Along the Author's Way

Finishing a book, or at least finishing it before turning it over to an editor, is always a relief. Writing is an act of faith. You come up with a concept, rewrite, redraft, fine tune and somewhere along the way themes emerge and inspiration takes on a life of its own.

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.


kathleen pooler said...

Congratulations, Susan on reaching this milestone in your writing journey. I appreciate your comments about self-publishing and have taken this plunge for my upcoming memoir. It remains to be seen how my memoir will do but I do know it has gone through a rigorous vetting process and I am ready to release it out "into the wild"!

Michelle Monet said...

I appreciate your comments on self publishing too Susan. Congrats! I'm following behind you so I'll be happily watching your journey.

Marian Beaman said...

Congrats on the ten years with the Writing Circle, Susan. What a sphere of influence you have had in your encore career. Kathy and I are following the same self-publishing route. As a first-time author, I was happy the book went through a "rigorous vetting process."

CreateSpace is no more, but my publishing/printing is going through IngramSpark. Because you are not an ingenue, you may want to hire someone for book layout and design and then upload your files to IngramSpark. I was clueless about what happens to a manuscript after it has been copyedited, so I don't regret the money I invested in 1106 Design before the files were uploaded to IngramSpark.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Kathy, Self-publishing is the way to go for a variety of reasons. Mainly it is because publishing has become a shark tank of competition and industry upended by tech changes (ebook availability, primarily) and social media, so their focus is on the bottom line, thereby limiting the number of books they can take. I know that "Just the Way He Walked", your new memoir, is going to be a surefire success with the audience that you have worked hard to reach. And as a self-publisher, you are offering a beautiful and professional product, totally vetted, as you say.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Thank you, Michele. As a seasoned author yourself, I know your publishing decision is based in the best way to get the word out about your book.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Thank you, Marian. I know KDP also offers an upload of files after professionally formatted. It is an option. You memoir, Mennonite Daughter, is beautifully presented, edited and written. I have no doubt it will grace library shelves. Thanks so much for your kind words about the Women's Writing Circle. I have been immeasurably enriched by the wonderful writers who come to our Circle. We look forward to seeing you soon.

robinjack said...

Showing up to write a book is a commitment I - and you - must make over and over again. One morning, I may wake up "too tired" to write. I may feel uninspired. Or, the "to-dos" of my work day call. My cat wants to play the moment I sit down to write. Or, I remember an email that "must" be answered. I sense the tug of war rope threatening to pull me away from writing. I acknowledge it. Let go of the rope.   Author's Unite

Susan G. Weidener said...

Robin, Showing up to write is indeed a commitment. If you wait to feel "inspired", the pen may never reach the page. This quote comes to mind: "Writing about writer’s block is better than not writing at all." Charles Bukowski