How do you define self-publishing? I’m not sure the term “self-published book” is accurate. I struggle with this term because there is so much to do in order to get a book published. I learned this first hand when I began to query agents and publishers about my first book. In order to “self-publish” a book, you would have to be a jack-of-all-trades and cover everything from A to Z. And when I mean “cover everything’, I mean:
a.) Be able to write a book
b.) Then edit the book with a critical eye
c.) Know when to tell yourself that the story you just wrote sucked and you need to go back to the drawing board.
d.) Know how to create track changes in Microsoft Word, then decide which ones to fix and which ones to debate against yourself to leave in the book.
e.) Know how to layout a book in Adobe InDesign
f.) Know which fonts are best for readability and then find out that some aren’t good for eBooks.
g.) Know how to design the cover art
h.) Know why you should have a color cover
i.) Know when to say that your cover art was a bad choice, and select something different.
j.) Know how to create and edit eBooks
k.) Know that there is a difference between the files that you have to make for the Kindle, Nook and iTunes.
l.) Know how to purchase an ISBN number or numbers, since you need more than one if you plan to have a hard cover, paperback and various eBook editions.
m.) Know how to hire a company to print your book
n.) Know how to hire a company to distribute your book
o.) Know how to get your book listed with the Library of Congress
p.) Know how to get the press to notice your book
q.) Know how to market yourself so people will know about your book and buy your book
r.) Know how to build a website for your book or for you the author
s.) Know how to contact bookstores to set up book signings
t.) Know how much to discount your book so that book stores will carry your book
u.) Know how to prepare yourself to give an artist talk.
v.) Know how to design an advertisement for your book
w.) Know how to use social media sites in order to promote your book
x.) Know how to convince book stores to short order your book
y.) Know what to say when bookstores won’t carry your book because it’s “self-published’ or “print-on-demand’
z.) Know how to stay calm and carry on, even when someone gives you a bad review on Amazon.com.
Do you see what I mean? Everything from A to Z. There are probably more things to add to this list. These just happen to be things I had to learn about or research when I started writing. This is why I worked with a TEAM of professionals on my book Instant Connections: Essays and Interviews on Photography. You need to have many sets of eyes on everything that you do when taking on the challenge of writing a book and actually seeing it through to the end. I am grateful to my amazing editor, to my proof readers, and for the design team who worked on the layout and cover for the paperback, Kindle. Nook and iTunes eBook versions. And I shouldn’t forget the friend who took the photo for the cover. I couldn’t have done this without my team. I think when you have a good team, you come away with a great end product. Whether you’re working with a large publisher or an indie publisher, there is always a team of people working with you every step of the way. And when you have a great end product, less people will care who the publisher is. Am I bummed out that one of those big named publishers didn’t pick up my book––of course––who wouldn’t want their large marketing budgets. Am I happy with how my book came out in the end––absolutely.
If you know anyone that has every single one of the qualifications that are listed above, kudos to them. In the meantime, please support all authors, whether they are published by a large publisher or an indie publisher. The publishing industry has changed dramatically over the past few years. You can no longer dismiss the little guys. And by the way, all big publishers had to start somewhere, right? And this holds true for bookstores too. Support those indie stores as much as the big box stores and Amazon.
Keep writing. Keep reading.
I may be a late bloomer to Steve Almond’s book My Life in Heavy Metal, but I’m glad I picked it up on my most recent trip through the Harvard Book Store. I sat in on a session with Steve at this year’s Muse and the Marketplace literary event hosted by Grub Street and found him quite funny.
I grew up listening to heavy metal––Ozzy, Metallica, Ratt, Poison, G&R, Aerosmith––you name it, but wasn’t as adventurous with the ladies and my relationships as detailed in the first chapter of his book. Maybe I should’ve waited to finish the book so that I could have given you a more detailed review, but if the rest of the book reads as the first chapter did, well, I’d make it one of my suggested readings to all of my friends.
His more popular book, Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America, is a non-fiction story about small candy companies doing it the old-fashioned way. My candy vice growing up was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Can’t wait for Halloween. Hopefully I can score a few freebie style!
But back to heavy metal, here’s an essay flashback of one of my metal stories for you to read when you got a minute: Driving Around With Metal Heads Without Seatbelts.
Since I’ve been on a John Adams kick lately, I found this great short video that The Boston Globe featured about one of my Back Bay neighbors, David McCullough, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book, John Adams. I hope I run into you in the Commonwealth Ave Mall one of these days. Click on the photo to go to the video link.
After an up and down week of many highs and lows, I decided to clear my head and read. It was either going to be reading or writing (since a beach vacation was out of the question), and since my editor has been busy picking apart my own book (which I can’t wait to begin working on again), I opted for something full of suspense.
Dan Brown‘s newest novel Inferno came out last week. I had it on my calendar for months. I have enjoyed all of his other books, especially the ones with Robert Langdon as the protagonist. After watching Tom Hanks play the lead in the movies The Da Vinci Code and the follow-up Angles & Demons, I hear his voice in my head when I read. I’m not sure that happens to anyone else––maybe I’m weird.
I like books that suck you in and when you read them, the sentences go by in rapid fire progression. You never want to put the book down: you want to continue reading even when it’s the wee hours of the night. These are also the kinds of books that I never forget where I left off. Sometimes I even dream about them as if I was just in the scene.
This book is good and makes me want to go back to Florence. Others in Italy are hoping for a tourism uptick. Check out this article from The Guardian.
This TED talk was filmed at TED 2004.
Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell gets inside the food industry’s pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce — and makes a larger argument about the nature of choice and happiness. (via ted.com)