For most of my writing career, I've had an aversion to publishing my own stories. I've said for many years, 34 to be exact, that if my novel couldn't be published the traditional way, it wouldn't be published at all.
To me, self publishing meant that I wanted to see my novel in print so bad, I'd go to any extreme in order to get it. It meant shelling out huge amounts of money, probably putting myself and my family in debt to have a copy of it in my hand. The words "self-publish" brought memories of nightmare experiences of others I've known and heard about, who had used what was called "vanity publishers". These shysty publishers produced ugly books at great expense to the author, both emotionally and financially.
In 1988, there was no easy way for the ordinary person to find out the legitimacy, or not, of a business in another city and state. Ashley Books and Gwen Costa offered to let me "involve myself "with them in the publication of my novel, Kirkland's Choice a.k.a Come Hell or High Water. I had no way of knowing if this was a legitimate offer, or if I could possibly be stepping right into that huge debt I wanted to avoid.
The two letters I recieved from Gwen Costa have always represented what might have been if I'd had the nerve, and the money, to accept her offer.
I'm sure there are authors out there who had good experiences with vanity publishers. I haven't heard of any.
There are a lot of myths that surround traditional publishing, too. One of them is that if you can manage to get an agent they will do all the hard work of marketing your book for you. After attending the Oklahoma Writer's Federation Conference in May, 2010, we all came away from it with a full understanding that that doesn't happen anymore-- if it ever did.
I'd heard this before. I'd watched a friend who had published 2 novels through Dell, as she called all over the country setting up her own book signings, paying all expenses out of her own pocket. I was confused. I thought they did all that for you. And I was discouraged because the last thing I wanted to do is call and talk to someone I don't know and ask them to do something for me.
The result of this was a slow but certain decision that getting published was more trouble than it was worth to me.
I am a writer. I've been since I was a child. So, I never stopped working to improve the story of Revis and Toby in Come Hell or High Water, its sequels and other stories, but I stopped sending anything out.
When I first encountered an article,several years ago, about "print on demand", I wondered how the publishing world would change because of it.
As I approached 60, it seemed more and more likely that I'd die with my novels unread.
Then some new, younger women joined my writers' group.
Tina Haapala ( http://www.excuseeditor.com/ ) and Monica McCawley ( http://monicanewton.blogspot.com/ ) were up to speed on "print on demand" and the new "self-publishing" options that were out there.
Monica had published through Publish America and seems to be one of the few who have had a good experience with them. Tina was an advocate of the new way of doing things although her stories were published in the "Chicken Soup" books.
These women are all about getting their manuscripts, stories and articles read one way or another. Monica is actually one of those who makes a decent weekly salary writing freelance. They know all about blogging and its potential to expand a writer's audience. Tina edits for a financial adviser who writes for the newspaper.
One day as I was considering, aloud, entering Come Hell or High Water in a nation-wide contest, Tina looked at me and said, "You should just publish it."
My old aversion to self-publishing raised its ugly head as soon as she said it, but later, when I was alone, my more practical side began asking, "Why not? "
Come Hell or High Water is a good story. Is it a potential best seller? I don't know, but everyone who has read the story says it's a real page turner, so why not publish it myself? The bottom line: I'm getting on up there in years. If I don't publish it myself, I actually could die with it still hidden away on my computer.
In all fairness, I have to say that my son, Ronnie, had been trying to get me to publish the book through Lulu.com for a long while. I'd even begun the process on Lulu but had never completed it. I guess I thought family ties played a big part in Ronnie's encouragement rather than realizing that he was as up to speed on the new way of doing things as Tina and Monica. But it didn't really seem like a good idea until Tina said, "You should just publish it." I guess that's because she's a writer.
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