Friday, October 8, 2010

Publishing my Book

Some of you might be curious about my publishing tale. Well, here it is. I live 60 to 80 miles from the nearest civilization, and I didn't have internet at the time. Running to the post office with query letters was an unwieldy task at the best of times. Please excuse me for a shameless plug here but I've started a blog about my life. Have a look. You'll see what I mean. http://AnnaOfAlaska.blogspot.com

My next option was to make some phone calls. I had this fat book that listed contact information for just about any kind of publishing a person might want to do, so I made the run up to the post office with a stack of queries to likely publishing houses. Most of them vanished. Some were returned having been mailed to the wrong person or the address had changed. As I recall, out of 20 some odd letters, only 2 were returned with some type of reply - rejected. My cool book was outdated by 2 or 3 years. I had no idea things were so liquid in the publishing industry. I next decided to call some of those places where my letters had vanished, to see what if anything was happening. They all now required an agent - a detail not included in my book or something that had changed since it was published. My window for mailing anything was closing fast so I turned to the phone book. There are a few publishing houses in Anchorage, but I quickly learned that none of them published fiction. Of course there was a printing company that could handle it, but I knew nothing about printing up a book. Nothing at all. Lo and behold, AuthorHouse had a phone number in my phone book so I gave them a call, and they sent me an application - EXPENSIVE!!! WAY beyond my budget. My dream was effectively squashed. I didn't know of any other options.

A few years ago, my mother died and the family wealth, which I knew nothing about, was divided among me and my siblings. Suddenly, my dream of publishing had new life. If my husband could buy a new f***ing boat, I could publish a book - the price was about the same.

The first thing was to get it edited. Gleefully I copied my book onto a disk (I had to search for a CD cover) and fired it off to them through work - that was in August and it didn't get finished before I was done with work for the season, so I had to figure another way to get the edits back so I could work on it. The man who flies our fuel out every winter sometimes flies over on his way to other deliveries so I asked him if they would mind my giving AuthorHouse their email address. Would they please copy my book onto another disk and airdrop it to me? Bless their hearts, they did. Airdrops cost somewhere around fifty dollars I think, but it was worth it to me.

We left here shortly before Christmas to spend the winter in Fairbanks with my son and his family so I could have internet and thus accomplish the rest of the task in a few months rather than a few years. As I recall, every step took 2 weeks each, give or take a day or two, and by the end of April, I had a book. Hind-sight tells me I could have done it through them cheaper, but hind-sight is like that. I still learned a lot from the process and now that I have internet, I've learned a lot more. Yes, I will probably self-publish again, but I'll continue to search for an agent. Because of where I live, selling books from my trunk isn't possible.

Since then (2008) I've sold over 100 books myself and I've gotten a few royalty checks. My biggest one was $85 but most of them were single-figure checks - one book here, two books there - and there were whole stretches where I got no check at all. For the last year and a half, I've advertised on Twitter and Facebook, and I've had some luck there. My fan base is growing slowly, and the reviews for my book are all good. And since I didn't ask for some of them, they must be true. Another shameless plug here, but I invite you to read them. KING BY RIGHT OF BLOOD AND MIGHT on Amazon - there's a link over on the right. I can only hope you'll buy a copy.

Well, that's my story. Before I got internet, I churned out 20+ books of all lengths from 5 pages to over 1000 pages (page count as if it were a pocket book). Since I got internet, I've done little but editing. I wasn't educated in writing and I hated English in school. Even my college didn't offer much of a writing course but I had to take something and poetry simply made no sense to me.

9 comments:

Bob Scotney said...

Hi Anna.

You have had quite a battle to get that book out there. I just wondered whether you have ever considered going down the ebook route. This looks like being the future and puts you in charge.

S.M. Carrière said...

That's true, Anna. You must know about Lebrary.com? You have the option of uploading an e-book that agents and publishers can preview and decide if they want to sign it on.

If you have a .pdf of your book, why don't you upload it there?

There are also tonnes of alternatives to choose from.

In any case, keep writing!

worddreams said...

Hi Anna

You invited me to ask you questions, so I'm going to take you up on that. What's your typical day run like? Probably nothing like mine--up at 6, off to teaching at 6:30... yadda yadda.

Thanks!

Anna L. Walls said...

Okay - you asked for it. I'll need a day or two to mull it over, then it'll be up on http://AnnaOfAlaska.blogspot.com - stop by for a visit and read some other tales about my life.

A Tua palavra é A Verdade ! said...

Parabéns, vou acompanhar a sua história e orar por você.
Seu seguidor,
Iveraldo Pereira.

São Paulo, brazil.

Anna L. Walls said...

Welcome Sao Paulo. I don't get many foreign language comments. I hope you enjoy my writing.

The Survival Mama said...

Interesting journey. Publishing is tough enough with the added fun of Alaska!

if you give traditional a shot again, nearly all agents and publishers are taking email submissions these days.

Keep up the great writing!
The Survival Mama

Anna L. Walls said...

Thanks for stopping by, Randayle. Yes, email has been an invaluable tool for me. I'm always on the lookout for a likely publisher or agent.

Griefcase said...

Hi Anna, Good post on your journey and self-publishing.

After reading your post, I no longer to do that self-publish thing.

Thanks for sharing.

Linda Della Donna
"A Gift of Love, A Widow's Memoir"
www.bookorbust.blogspot.com