Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Publishing Lessons

I've traveled quite a journey during the publishing of my books. My first book was published through AuthorHouse, a subsidy publisher. As subsidy publishers go, AuthorHouse is probably one of the better ones, and I do have a few good memories with them, but mostly the experience was a disappointment for me. Like all publishing houses where you hire them to publish your book, for a rather high fee, if you ask me, they run your baby through their mill and "BAM" you have a book, but really, what exactly do you have? Here is something of what I ended up with.

If you know what you're doing, AuthorHouse can do you good, especially if money isn't much of an issue, but my journey wasn't so simple. You can get a small taste of it here. AuthorHouse puts out a good quality book, mine happened to be error free, and there were a few things their editor caught that had slipped past me. However they did not go any farther than they absolutely had to. My baby was merely $$$ to them and nothing more. I got a cover that could have been better with a tiny bit of coaching on their part. Also with a modicum of effort along the line of word find and replace, they wouldn't have left behind the formatting errors I found AFTER the book was already approved and published.

This book was my first - I mean I knew nothing at all about writing let alone publishing, I was hoping to learn something. Boy, did I. My very expensive lesson? Don't pay for publishing. Don't pay for advertising. And if you are joining a publishing house, don't pay for copying fees, editing, not even the cover. If you are being asked to pay for any of these things, you better also be paying an independent contractor hired for the service BY YOU. If a publishing house offers these things at all, it should be free. A real publishing house makes their money from book sales, not from the writer.

Living in the wilderness can present problems in this writing/publishing journey, so I took my new knowledge and my new internet access and started searching for something that would work for me. I was blessed to find a very understanding publisher who has since published the first two books of my trilogy. Book 3 is due out next summer, and the next book is already sitting there waiting it's turn. It seems he either likes me or he likes my writing - hopefully both.

With this small victory under my belt, I confess to being a little impatient. Without actively searching, I still kept an eye peeled, and upon the recommendation of a friend of mine, I went ahead and submitted to yet another publisher, and low and behold, they too accepted and the publishing process was under way again. Now, while this publisher was a fine publishing machine, I find I preferred the more personal approach I got from my first publisher. I'm not sure I'll publish through them again. Sales haven't been all that great either, while my trilogy is doing very well by comparison. So, is it the publisher? Their advertising? Or is it the book, classified science fiction rather than general fiction? I have no way of knowing. They are all sold on Amazon.

To round out my publishing venture, I took the plunge and, thanks to a very generous donation, I was able to buy an awesome cover for my blog novel. Now that I had a cover, I wanted to turn it into a real book. I tried very hard to make reading the blog as easy as I could, but a blog is what it is, and unless you actively keep up with a blog novel, catching up is kinda awkward. It's still there though if any of you care to take a look. Just follow the link on the right.

At any rate, I couldn't afford an editor so I did it myself with utmost care, and then off to CreateSpace I went with my manuscript and my cover picture. I discovered that it was incredibly easy to do, just follow the directions. The most important part is to take your time and make sure it looks like you want it to. You are given the chance to flip through the pages and check every one. It is my advice that you look at EVERY SINGLE PAGE. Doing so allowed me to discover a tiny mark up near the title of one chapter. I was going to ignore it, it was just a little line, but then I found a couple other little things so I backed up and fixed it all. It's a year old now and so far no one has informed me of finding any errors (whew). The best part, even though I priced it nearly as low as I could, sales were good enough to pay for my internet for two months in a row. It's kind of settled down among the slush pile now even though I advertise every day, but with every new book, the older books seem to awaken a little, and every new friend I make on Facebook just might see my advertising and check out my books, and MAYBE they'll tell their friends and so on.

And so it grows, slowly but steadily. I plug away at expanding my platform. Of late, I've taken to offering what I've learned to anyone who might be interested. I know the value of another pair of eyes and officially offer the service on my website. Most recently I've added ghost writing as well, thanks to negotiations with a friend. I am fully aware that starting writers are seldom financially comfortable, and hopefully I charge accordingly. I'm not trying to get rich, just trying to earn enough to pay for my next cover or to pay for my next book to be edited.

This is my journey so far. Share some of yours.


William Kendall said...

Writing is something of a marathon, not a sprint. At least that's how I've found it.

I haven't been writing anything seriously in months... but that's the problem with grief. It takes away every creative impulse.

Anna L. Walls said...

A marathon is right. One reason why I don't ever participate in Nano. Maybe I will someday though, when I get my finished manuscripts published and I need to work on something new. Until then, though I too haven't done any serious writing for a while now, Grief hasn't been the reason. Hugs from me. Hope you can find your way beyond the grief one day soon.

Jacqui said...

Fascinating, Anna. I do all the pieces myself--to save money. Takes a lot of time and attention, but I'm used to it. I have been creating my own covers (I do non-fiction, so it's easier) with Photoshop, but I think I've finally found a guy to make covers. He's much better than anything I do.

Enjoying your journey!