Here’s the writing prompt for May:
1) Describe an aspect of the world using smells within 100 words.
Not sure what to do with this? See our previous writing prompt for guidance.
IS SELF-PUBLICATION FOR YOU?
by Sherrie Seibert Goff
It takes a lot of chutzpah to write a book. It takes even more nerve to self-publish one. Being on your own with no validation, support or feedback from a paying editor at a traditional publishing house is scary. Below are some practical questions that will help you determine if you are up to such a daunting experience.
Can you edit?
Having the prudence to cut anything that does not contribute to character development or advance the story and rewriting repeatedly for content, flow, missed opportunities and reader satisfaction are the writer’s job, part of the creation process. But is your book line-edited to perfection? Do you feel confident that you have found and fixed all the niggling little grammar, spelling and typo errors in your entire manuscript? If you are not comfortable with your proficiency or just don’t trust your own eye, it could cost a lot to hire professional editing services.
Can you self-promote?
Being a typical writer who is more comfortable with the writing than the marketing, I would much rather be working on my next novel. The thought of public appearances and interviews stops me cold, but if you are not shy and are a good speaker, you can do well.
My best advice regarding self-promotion is to assemble a large binder and start collecting all the magazine articles and internet tips on the subject that you come across. Read with pen in hand and underline the most useful strategies and ideas in these saved articles. Make dividers for different categories like how to do book signings, tips for interesting readings, writing press releases, related forums to join, getting reviews, etc. Prior to publication, use your Marketing Binder to lay out a comprehensive step-by-step marketing plan tailored to the debut of your book.
Can you design a great cover?
Ask yourself how shall I dress my book? What beguiling title and arresting cover art and color would most attract potential buyers? If you are a bit lacking in artistic ability, or the publisher doesn’t do a very good job, you run the risk of making some mediocre or crappy design that your first-rate writing does not deserve to wear. The alternative might be to blow more money hiring a good cover artist.
But whatever you do, do not neglect the back cover copy where in just a few brief words you have one shot at holding onto that reader who picks up your book and turns it over. You know your book better than anybody, so give the back cover your own best effort before chickening out and hiring a copy editor, who may know all the advertising buzz words but still be slightly inaccurate or off base with the intent of your book.
Do you have any good blurbs?
While you are shopping your book around to traditional publishers or trying to entice an agent, and otherwise beating your head against the wall, be sure to enter your manuscript in as many writing contests as you can. Any good blurbs, reviews or awards collected during this period can be used to brilliant effect on the back cover of your self-published book as well as on your author’s website. Which reminds me …
Do you have your website ready to go?
Before you submit your book to the print-on-demand publisher, the most important thing is to register your domain name and build yourself an author’s website from which to sell and promote your forthcoming book. Do this first, so that you can have the publisher print on the back of the book and on bookmarkers and various materials a pointer that says, “Visit the author at http://www.yourname.com.”
Craft your website in an easy to navigate layout and make it clear that the visitor can order your book right now, just a click away. As soon as your book is published, scan pictures of its cover out onto your site and add links that go directly to your book out on the online booksellers like Amazon. (Homestead is the web host that I used. They will register your domain name, and their tools are flexible and easy to use. They can even provide readymade templates in case you’re a babe in the woods.) Check out my site at sherriegoff.com for ideas on what important features should be included in an author’s website.
Can you afford to self publish?
That may depend on how many services you need from the publisher. They will try to sell you marketing and editing help, of course, but it is cheaper and more satisfying to control the creation yourself. So pull out your editor, artist and publicist hats and be prepared to wear them all. If any of your caps are missing, be resigned to pay more for self-publication.
Are you wise to the vanity press snare?
Some outfits will publish anything that is sent to them, as proven by folks who have tested their good faith with nonsense submissions. Check with other writers in online forums to learn from their bad experiences.
If you decide to go the self-publication route, be sure to pick one of the more reputable print-on-demand companies like iUniverse. They at least do an editorial review of new submissions and provide special promotion for works that they consider deserving.
Dare to act!
My grandma once told me that the best fruit is out on a limb. Prepare yourself as best you can, then go for it!
MISC NOTES OF INTEREST
1. Print-on-demand companies are successfully positioning themselves as respectable alternatives to mainstream publishing and erasing the stigma of the old-fashioned vanity press.
2. They give the author an advantage in the way of total control over the title, design, and editing.
3. So what if you have to promote the book yourself? The truth is, even if you are published by a traditional house, they expect the author to promote the book and they do very little to help in that regard.
4. The majority of books by self-publishers sell a few hundred copies at most. Random House and Simon & Schuster want big bestsellers and famous authors; they do not want an author who has an audience of 10,000 readers. People who are looking to come away with 20 copes of something very personal and very important to them, like a family history or a cookbook with all the recipes they’ve collected all their lives, are perfect fits for self-publication.
5. Even some established authors turn to self-publishing because they are unable to interest their publishers in a new genre, or else they want to bring their books back into print. One good thing about print-on-demand publishing is that your book will not go out of print.
6. The only downside is difficulty getting your book placed in bookstores everywhere. But in today’s world, books are increasingly bought online, through booksellers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and e-book publishers. Print-on-demand technology makes hard copies as well as e-books instantly available to the entire internet world. Plus you can use internet links and online forums to your advantage by targeting likely buyers.
Hi fellow writers,
Just a quick addendum here — this is an apology to all of you who were attempting to post on our blog, but never had the posts show up. The problem, as it turns out, is that this system does not notify me of pending posts (which I thought it did).
So…to rectify this problem in the easiest manner, I have simply upgraded everyone in the system to an “Author” which allows you to post without going through me. Sorry for all of the headaches! In any event, hope that this will help the blog become more active.
Hi Fellow Writers,
We’ve got another meeting coming up this Saturday, April 18 at 4-6pm in the Minnie Howard Room of the Marshall Public Library. So, what’s on the agenda?
We have readers in the second hour: Sherrie Goff, me, Judy Brutz and Alice Kane. As always, same house rules…keep it within 5 minutes, bring copies of your work so people can follow along and make comments on it.
For the 1st hour, I’ve decided to try something a little different and have a discussion on self-publishing. It’s something that’s been on my mind ever since I came across this NY Times article on self publishing.
So, I did a little digging around and found some interesting articles and ideas on self-publishing.
Here are a few provocative quotes.
…self-doubt should not lead to self-publishing. It should lead to determination. Every bestselling, highly successful writer started out as a no-name amateur struggling to compose that first query letter. They didn’t take the fast, easy way out. They [sic] persevered and became successful one reader at a time. If this writing thing were easy, everyone would be a bestseller.
I think most of the perceived stigma of self-publishing is with other writers, not with the reading public. Readers don’t know or care where their books come from as long as they’re good. There are valid reasons to go corporate and equally valid ones to go indie, but none of it has a bearing on the reader, who only cares if it’s a book s/he wants to read.
I will say that the majority of articles I read were skeptical or leaning towards the con side, but I’d like to explore both sides of this idea and hear what you have to say. Is self-publishing a good idea? Are there situations where it is better to self publish, and others where it isn’t? Does self-publishing leave a stigma on a writer?
So, let’s give this a try and see how it goes — please let me know your feedback!
As always, if you have a better suggestion of how to run the meetings or have a topic you want to discuss or talk about, we’d be happy to give you the floor.
Also, just an FYI, yours truly will be taking a vacation in China during June/July, so I will not be around to facilitate the meetings. We can certainly still meet if there is demand, but we’ll need to have someone else take the reins, if that’s the case. Otherwise, you might be interested in taking the time off to, say, work on polishing up your latest manuscript, or getting started on that novel you’ve been meaning to write (yes, you!). We’ll discuss on Saturday and you can decide.
See you this weekend, and happy writing!