Friday, October 31, 2008

Self Publishing 2

It took me a while to get back to this, partly because the Sisters in Crime e-mail list addressed self publishing this last week. Mostly in negative way, I might add. I certainly do not sell my books door to door, as one person said would be the only way I could sell them. And I have had several book signings and presentations, in bookstores and libraries, which a couple people said was impossible for a self-publisher.

If you are going to self publish you have to take care of the things you would expect a publisher to do for you. One of those is to make sure you have a quality, thoroughly edited product. In addition to my critique group and numerous friends, I have two editors in whom I put great trust: Roberta Jean Bryant, author of books on writing and my critique group mentor from Seattle, and Mary Jo Zazueta of Traverse City. Mary Jo, with her imprint To the Point Solutions, made it possible for me to self-publish. She not only did a final edit on my book, she took care of all the nuts and bolts of getting ISBN numbers and getting the book listed in the Library of Congress. She handled cover design and interior design, with MY approval. With a publisher you are lucky if you get any choice in these. She found three printers to print the book and I chose among them. Again, a control only available with self-publishing. In other words, she handled all the details I didn’t know how to or didn't want to handle, but I had the final word on everything that was done with my book. Of course, that cost me money, but I gained a lot for what I spent.

So, what about after the book is published? Doesn’t a publisher do promotion and get your book out there in a way you couldn’t do on your own?

Yes and no.

Writers, even when published by major publishers, are expected to do more and more of their own promotion. The publisher does, however, have a reputation that makes it possible to get reviewed and listed in areas the self published have to struggle to break into.

I hired a publicist from Gaylord, Michigan, Denise Glesser of Progressive Book Publishing. She works a couple hours a week to get me book signings in book stores, spots at book fairs, gets my name out to book clubs and libraries and all the other avenues of promoting my book, and does a lot of the internet stuff I’m not up to yet. In other words, I am self-published but at both ends of the “publishing” part I hired expertise to make sure my book was a good a quality and as “out there” as books published by big companies as I could make it.

Some say self publishing is the wave of the future. I don’t know. Traditional publishers are under the gun and have made it difficult for writers to break in, but to self publish in a way that puts out a quality product that is visible to the market costs money. I wanted to be published and see if I could build a readership. If my books are good enough, I think I can do it. The final answer will come from readers – like you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Self Publishing


Vanity Publishing?

What a negative term!

No, I’m not self-publishing because I have an inflated opinion of my work. I like my book, and I hear other people saying they like my book, but years of ingrained self-doubt makes me wonder if I can really write a book that is good enough to be published.

I am sixty something. I believe in my work and know given enough time I would find a publisher for it, but I don’t have forever to find out. And, fortunately for me, I can afford to spend the money up front to self publish. Yes, it does cost money up front. BUT, in return, I have complete control over my book. No one can sell rights without my okay, or own my copyright, or control what is happening with my book unless I let them. I don't have to worry about my publisher being taken over by another publisher and what will happen to my rights. I am hearing enough horror stories lately to make me believe I have done the right thing by self-publishing.

However, don't go into self-publishing with a blindfold on. Unless you are willing to spend the money and take the time to be sure you have a quality product to hit the market, and the follow-up to get it noticed by the market, self-publishing may not be for you.

My next blog will address these issues.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Cozy Mysteries -- My Way

One of the reasons I write "cozy" mysteries is because, when I started, I couldn't find enough of them to read. Since then I joined Sisters in Crime and discovered a lot more of them. If I'd joined sooner I might never have felt compelled to write them!

To me, a cozy means a book without gore, without murders happening "on the page", without hard core detective or police characters, without anxiety raising terror, and without graphic sex scenes. A "whodunit" that involves everyday people not involved in a professional way with crime, who happen (or snoop) their way into the action and discover a talent for ferreting out the truth. None of the discussions I've seen about what constitutes a "cozy" mystery limits them this much, but that's my view.

One of the best comments I received about What Did You Do Before Dying? (after the ones about it being a "page turner") was that, even though it is not a YA novel by any stretch, the reader felt free to hand it on to his 16 year old granddaughter without worrying about her reading something inappropriate. That may not be a criteria for a cozy mystery, but to me it comes close.