Archive for the ‘Adventures in Self-Publishing’ Category

My Mother & Books

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

My mother used to leave people’s homes saying, “Well, they had a nice library.” Or “Can you believe it, not one book in sight! Do you think they even read???” My sister and I grew up believing that books had to be seen, saved, and, most importantly, displayed. Because of this we both have spent much of our transcontinental lives overpaying grossly for exceptionally heavy boxes of books to be mailed from one place to another, books from high school, college, graduate school and so on, going with us wherever we go. Even when the paper gets brittle and beer-colored, we save these books. In my house, I have an office with 4 six-tier high shelves of books, most shelves sagging due to double-layering, one set of books behind the other. There are also numerous books laid horizontally on top of these. I also built book shelves into the two closets of my offices.

We have books in the living room, our bedroom, both children’s bedrooms, and my husband’s office. They crowd the attic, the basement, and rest many stacks high along three big bookcases the full length of the hallway upstairs. Others stacked on the foyer shelves.

I find it painful to part with books I have read, certain that some brilliant passage that nourished my soul will be stripped from me forever if I give up the book it is encased in.

Which is why it is particularly hard for me to celebrate when my readers (whom I love and am so grateful for and want to hug) say, “I just gave your book away to my mother…my dog walker…I sent it to my friend in Cincinnati.” Two weeks after the book came out, there were used copies available on Pre-owned! How do people do it???

This is why Kindle is doing so well. Will an e-reader ever suffice for my mother? What will she have to say about the neighbors?

Meeting “Animal” Readers

Friday, September 10th, 2010

This is my first book about dogs (in Animal Studies departments referred to as “nonhuman animals.”) Which means that, although I’ve gone to dog parks and beaches and through the neighborhood on dog walks, and although I used to volunteer at an animal shelter, I am suddenly meeting many more dog people than ever before. The other day, at a promotional event, someone came up to me, and said, “Do you meditate?”
I replied, ‘Sadly I do not.”
“Well, you must. For the animals. I am inviting you to meditate on animals with us every morning at 10:00 a.m. at the Apollo Theater.”

That night, a well-intentioned friend called. “I wish I knew how I could help you get the book out there,” he said. “Have you tried pet stores?”
“Have you tried bookstores?”
“What about Rogation Days?”
“That’s when everyone in the Episcopal Church brings their pet to church to be blessed. You could set up a booth and sell your book!”
But Jesus chased the moneylenders out of the temple.

Did you notice the reverse spelling of G-O-D is D-O-G.

Meeting “My” Readers

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

One of the magnificent aspects of self-publishing is actually encountering your readers. When I read at a bookstore and signed books, I hardly ever got to speak more than three sentences to any book-buyer. Earlier today I was preparing a mailing of two copies of LOVE LIKE A DOG, from an order placed on my webpage. As I scotch taped, and folded, and addressed, I loved and coveted the reader named “Alicia” in California. Who is this wonderful person who has found my book?

Readers have written back to me. I’m sharing a couple of comments because this is what happens in self-publishing. What will happen to you.

Hi Anne,
> I received your book and loved it!! I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up
> until 3am the first night reading it, then finally made myself go to sleep
> since I had to work in the morning. As soon as I woke up I started reading it again and ended up being an hour late for work!
> Thank you so much for sending copies to give to adopters. I look forward to passing it out.
> I write an online column for Examiner and would love to write an article
> about your book. A short interview, perhaps? Would that be ok? I can email you the questions if you agree. Here’s the link to my page there.

> Thank you so much for writing Love Like a Dog. 🙂
> Rebecca Novak
> Shelter Angels Pit Bull Rescue

Here is the link to the article she wrote:
Online article about LLAD:

Okay, I’m Polyanna. This feels darn good. As if a) writers and b) readers are all this big world needs to create the fullest cycle of literature. Meanwhile, the whole publishing empire is collapsing. I think they have forgotten, really, about a) writers and b) readers.
My favorite, favorite reader comment shared by Toni Phillips, the founder of the amazing shelter, is:

>You’ll love this, almost as much as I do … while I was here in the barn checking email etc. Mike (her husband) was in the camper READING YOUR BOOK!!!! That may not seem a big deal, BUT I’ve only seen Mike read one book in TWENTY YEARS and that’s his Bible!! He was really enjoying it …

Back to Permissions

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Were I asked, I would tell any aspiring writer: “Never use song lyrics in your fiction.”   This is a real pity as it means populating literature with characters who will never listen to, nor replay in their minds, the riffs of jazz, the heart-break of  ballads or hard hits of heavy metal.  Symphonies might do, but no opera.  Permissions rights people are slow, difficult, expensive, and even incomprehensible.

This is a recent exchange of emails, through my permissions person, four months after first requesting permission to use two lines from a Smokey Robinson classic.

Thank you for your email dated August 2, 2010.
As your deadline has approached (we had offered a tentative publication date of June), the author will need to remove the lyrics from “Tears Of A Clown” from the publication as approval has not been granted.

But the question remains; will permission be granted later?   Should we wait and hope, or was this a permanent clear-cut denial?  The reply to this question was:

Thank you for your email dated August 3, 2010.

 The request has not been denied regardless, however I can not guarantee any sort of a time for a response to arrive.

This is the lyrical world of permissions we live in.   Did you know that when you write a book, you must program half a year’s delay to your publication, if you need permissions?  Let this be a warning.

Other Opinions on Self-publishing:

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

David Carnoy’s article: Self-Publishing a book – 25 things you need to know & a recent article in Newsweek titled:
Self-Publishing: Who Needs a Publisher Anymore?
It reports: “According to a recent Bowker report, the market for ‘nontraditional books’ in the United States grew by more than 750,000 in 2009 – a 181 increase over 2008.  Five of the 100 top bestsellers n the Kindle store – which now produces more sales than Amazon’s hardcover list – are currently self-published.”