I’ve just returned from a trip to San Diego, where I gave a talk about my book to the members and guests of the San Diego Writers and Editors Guild. About twenty-five people attended and we had a lively discussion about Hannah Arendt and my latest experiences in “indie publishing.” The day after my presentation I received high praise from those in attendance. “Thank you, thank you for a dynamite evening...” one person wrote.
What follows is a summary of my presentation (without the book reading, which accompanied it).
While writing and publishing Diving for Pearls: A Thinking Journey with Hannah Arendt (Thinking Women Books, 2013), I learned a great deal about the perils, pitfalls, and pleasures of being a writer and (now) publisher. The book industry has changed enormously in the last decade or so, as I’ve written about on my blog. Here’s some wisdom garnered from my latest publishing experience:
Not already famous? Don’t have a sensationalized (read Hollywood-like) story? It’ll be hard to convince an agent to represent your non-fiction book; even harder for fiction. If you do get an agent stay clear about your vision for your book.
Independent Publishing (otherwise called “self-publishing,” a nomenclature I abjure) is an available route. But IT COSTS MONEY AND TAKES TIIME TO MAKE IT LOOK PROFESSIONAL (at least $3000-4000 on average). Check out the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), who offer helpful advice on maneuvering indie authorship.
Professional and Cost Considerations:
Content is yours, but professional editing is key to make it sing! Hire a professional editor (and maybe an indexer, if that suits your genre). Search for someone in you writing genre whose work you respect, and who has considerable experience. My editor, Louise Bernikow, gave me excellent advice and doubled as a cheer-leader when my confidence ebbed.
Layout of print book not same as WORD doc. Templates are available to convert to print and digital formatting. Check out which “trim size” suits your genre best and find a layout to suit.
Joel Friedlander (TheBookDesigner.com) has templates and some excellent giveaways on his site. Sign up for his emailed newsletter.
You want a professional cover? Get professional help.
Blurbs for back cover: Find writers in your genre you can trust to lend their words of support.
POD publishing is not all the same quality: Amazon’s Create Space, Ingram’s Spark both offer print and digital options. Smashwords for ebooks only. If you want your book in libraries or independent bookstores many require using a distributor such as Ingram. (That’s what I did).
ISBNs: Amazon’s basic plan provides them, but limits how the book is distributed. For Ingram, you’ll have to go to Bowker and buy your ISBNs (you’ll need at least 2—one each for digital and print versions of your book)
You may make more $$ via Amazon, but the types of cover design and trim size of books the basic plan offers are limited.
You need proofs to send to possible review sites AT LEAST 2 MONTHS IN ADVANCE OF PUB DATE for most sites, such as Shelf Awareness.
Plenty of online review sites will review for free, if you send them a book. Blogcritics.org is a very good site (and you might try writing reviews for them too!)
Paid reviews—range from inexpensive (Red City Reviews is one; they have a book contest you can enter for $40 (now closed), which includes a guaranteed professional literary review you can circulate on various web sites, such as Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, Smashwords) to VERY expensive, such as Kirkus (nearly $500)
Full time job and can be expensive with no guaranteed results.
Press Release with Good HiRes Photo—a month in advance
Ads—no telling impact, may enhance visibility, may not.
Book Clubs, Speakers’ Bureaus and Book Awareness Campaigns (Susan McBeth’s Adventures by the Book, a local gem of a resource)
o KEEP WRITING!