The Long Road to Print

41QYVx8F5vL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_My first published novel, Sister Issues, is finally in print. It only took a dozen or so years after I wrote it for this to happen. What took so long? Paradoxically, my impatience to be published is what held this book back from seeing print for so long. Readers of this blog know that I’m a fan of publishing online. When the Kindle came out, I already had one book in print, an indie non-fiction title I used to teach creative writing. My campus bookstore kept it in stock, so I had a built in distributor in a brick and mortar store.

In 2007 not many people even knew about the Kindle. E-readers had been around for awhile but only a few tech savvy readers were on to them. Amazon popularized e-readers, and I took notice. One day I decided to upload my own book to the Kindle Digital Platform (KDP) for students who preferred an online version. I think I may have charged 99 cents, a significant savings. What I found was other people, not just students, bought that book. Which amazed me. And gave me an idea.

I’d been writing novels and knocking on the doors of traditional publishers for a long time. I’d also been blogging for five years. I knew how fun it was to be published digitally. Maybe I should just by-pass all the traditional publishers and put my most polished book out on KDP. I well remembered the hassles and the long months of indie publishing a print book from my experience with the creative writing manual. Had I known the work and time involved, I don’t think that first book would have ever seen print.

So I was not anxious to do that again. Enter KDP. Suddenly, everyone was using it to self-publish their novels, why not me? So I went ahead and did it. What a thrill. Then the bigger thrill came when The Wild Rose Press (TWRP) accepted another novel I’d written. Soon I had a book contract with a bona fide publisher and didn’t have to worry about cover art, formatting, ISBNs, uploading or printing a book. All that was done for me. As I continued to polish my manuscripts and publish them with TWRP, I never forgot my first novel. I couldn’t submit it to my publisher because it was already published online. If only I’d waited!

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All this time I was teaching too, so life zoomed by pretty fast. Before I knew it I had ten books to my name. Amazing! And yet…I really wanted to publish a print edition of Sister Issues. I wanted to hold it in my hands. A decade into my career as a published author, specialized companies run by tech savvy entrepreneurs sprouted up everywhere. These companies helped indie authors do all the zillions of things I had to do myself when I self-published my first book. I started to see the impressive results of friends who worked with one such start up here in Detroit.

Another idea was born. I could hire Woodward Press to bring Sister Issues out in print! Really, how much could it cost? I was sure it would be less than the $3000 I’d paid to order a modest print run of 500 books on my first endeavor. After all, with POD there is no need to order a print run. A single book is printed as it’s ordered. So I called Woodward Press and found out that the costs were significantly lower to publish this way, even a decade later. Working closely with Woodward Press, I began the process of preparing Sister Issues for print. From start to finish the project was significantly less anxiety provoking than doing it myself. And it only took two months for me to receive a copy of Sister Issues and hold it in my hands.

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If you still prefer print books to e-books, and many many people do, now you can order Sister Issues in print from Amazon.

Early Release!

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When I was in junior high, I tried out for cheerleading. No matter that I couldn’t see and refused to wear glasses so there would be no way to learn any of the cheer footwork since feet were fuzzy and too far away. No matter that I’d never turned a cartwheel or done anything athletic in my life. I jumped in and did it. And I failed. When I saw what the other girls could do–human pyramids!– I understood that cheer was not something I could join in order to learn. It was something that needed previous practice. So girls who had parents that took them to classes before they tried out, or even just girls who went out and hunted down someone, an older sister, a neighbor,  to train them, were in and I was out.

I have a new challenge ahead, and like every challenge I face, I’m reminded of why I failed at cheerleading try-outs. I was not prepared. I also thought I was clumsy, just a natural clod, until I started yoga many years ago. Through yoga practice I learned headstands and plows and half moons. I learned balance and loved it. So when I have a new challenge I also think of yoga and what I can do. So, I felt both fear and elation when I learned that Blue Heaven is going to be released this Friday exclusively on Amazon.

All the hard work of writing, when you don’t want to, when you’ve revised to death, when you’re unhappy with sales and think “Is this really worth it?” It is. And the way I feel right now is why. Fizzy with happiness. Elation mixed with fear. What if my book sinks without notice? So many books do now since indie publishing has gained tremendous momentum in our popular culture. How to stand out? How to sell?

This “early release exclusive” is a marketing ploy; I’ve used some of the tricks before, when I was on my own and didn’t have the savvy of a publisher and super media consultant. I cannot wait to see the results this time! There are a couple of steps to this extended release. First step is Friday. I can feel myself at the keyboard all day saying “Hey!! Look at me!! I published a book!!” Hmmm. Maybe I should apologize for being obnoxious up front. Maybe during my cartwheels, I’ll fall right on my tush.

Marketing does not come easy or naturally to me. Some folks have it and some of us don’t. But I’m going to try for my little book. Books are like pets or children in that you will go places you absolutely fear to ensure their happiness and health. And healthy sales bring happiness. So, watch me as I try to do this thing called marketing. No cartwheels necessary.