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.

The Universe Always Trades Up

I have an dear old friend who I mostly connect with these days on Facebook. I posted a quote from Danielle LaPorte yesterday that said “The universe always trades up.” And my friend’s comment was “What does this even mean?” I told her it was a Buddhist koan. That was a joke. It’s a pretty straightforward affirmation: You want something. You don’t get it. Six months later you know why you didn’t get it, you’re happy you didn’t get, because something better came along. The universe always trades up.

Which brings me to my best friend, Ali. Ali would get the koan joke. And incredibly, I feel closer to her than any of my geographically close friends despite her living all the way across the universe. Well, England. Eastern edge! Until quite recently, Ali ran a website called A Woman’s Wisdom. It was my favorite place to go on the internet for author news and views, plus Ali would post her own delightful vingettes “Tales From the Manor” which I especially relished. They’re all still there for your reading pleasure.

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Recently, Ali decided to stop reviewing indie novels and start researching a project dear to her heart. The universe is trading up for Ali, I can tell you that much. We still communicate every day. We Skype and email and sent FB messages to each other all the time. I thought what Ali did on A Woman’s Wisdom was incredibly generous and kind. She gave all her time and talent to promoting other people. Including me, which is how we met. She’s still promoting me, but in a more personal bestie-across-the-sea way.

As sad as I am at the demise of A Woman’s Wisdom, I’m more excited about Ali’s next adventure. And my own. The universe is trading up for me, too. Ali had a lot to do with that. She encouraged me to expand my author platform and even did research about ways I could spend my time giving my books their due. This has always been my secret wish: to do better by my books. I write them but that’s about it. Ali promoted the heck out of them, and so did others I am so very grateful to…but I needed more. I needed to let go of my insecurities and let the universe do its thing.

It did in a WOW way.

I have, with Ali’s encouragement, hired Woodward Press. They help authors in many ways, but the first thing they’re doing for me is bringing out my first novel, Sister Issues, as a “real” book not just an e-book. Sister Issues has a special place in my heart and I always meant for it to have a print edition. I’ve been re-reading it to see that it holds up and so far so good. Whew.

I have the entire “book behind the book” here. I wrote about the successes and challenges writing it whilst writing and publishing Sister Issues, which was called Sugar Shack for a couple of years, right up until I went to load it into KDP. The blog was way more meta back then. I’d write my pages for the day, blog about what happened, terrible or inspired or somewhere in between. I gave resources I used to solve novel problems. Like that.

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Another reason I love Sister Issues and want it in print: the selfie of my darling daughter-in-law Jessica and her sister Meg. They capture the essence of the relationship between Cher and Ariel with their quirky pose and a hot burst of sun behind their lovely faces. Woodward Press is not daunted by turning an old iPhone pic into a cover that looks professional. They are trying something a suggestion from Jessica, who is an art chick. You should see her house, the way she decorates.

I cannot wait to see Meg and Jessica on the cover of my newest release,  coming out in just about a month. I’m not real sure on the timing as I have another book coming September 15 from Amazon Encore, also a reissue, this one of Blue Heaven. Then Love and Death in Blue Lake is also due this fall or early December. I am really hoping for November, first week. Because as Dora of Woodward Press says, once you get to Thanksgiving with book promotion, you might as well wait until mid-January.

So my hope is to have a bunch of placement of real books in real stores before the holidays. Also have a signing or two. Also do online things like a blog hop and also new things that aren’t same old/same old. Woodward Press has a PR person to help me with all that. And with three books out in three months, I will need all the help I can get. Today I have an appointment for a professional author photo session. No more selfies! I am partnering with Woodward Press, stepping up to do my part, which is integral to the whole idea that the universe always trades up. Yes, it does. But you have to do your part.