January 16, 2014

'How to Be a Man' Publishing Particulars


How to Be a Man was picked up by this great little publisher, Willow Words, and I would like to thank my editors for how much they just get me! 

I’m just kidding.  How to Be a Man is self-published.

I have to admit that I crave the legitimization that comes from traditional publishing, and that’s why I resisted self-publishing for so long.  It took me 11 years and almost 200 queries to get an agent.  (Read more about my journey to get an agent here.)  I’ve written and rewritten two novels that have gone out to publishers.  Though I’ve gotten some very nice notes from editors, neither was picked up.  Some might call me a slow study ~  I call myself pig-headed, and that’s a good thing.

I don’t know if you’ve been reading much about this, but the squeeze that is being put on traditional publishing by disintermediation has brought about the rise of a new type of author: the hybrid author.  (The great Chuck Wendig has been talking a lot about this.) There’s no longer just two tracks ~ traditional publishing and self-publishing.  The tracks are becoming melded and diversified, and much more of the power is back in the hands of the author.  Also much more of the responsibility for getting a book out and connecting with readers.  That’s where the hybrid author comes in.  She or he is someone who, with the help of her agent, chooses the best route for the work at hand and then has to make it so.  This is wonderful and terrifying ~ for everyone involved.  Also, traditional publishers now consider the success of a self-published title in their decision to take book on. In other words, they will take on a book that’s doing well under self-publishing (and I suspect that this will become the norm, rather than the exception). 

In sum, the stigma associated with self-publishing is a lot less.  It makes me feel better, too, that Virginia Woolf self-published (and Walt Whitman and Shakespeare and so many of the Greats as that was how it was done) if you get right down to it. As you can tell, I have residual mixed feelings about it, but this amazing thing happened too (more on this in a minute).

And I’m made for it.  It’s like all my various backgrounds come together in this one endeavor.  Of course the writing part ~ I’ve been writing and improving my craft my whole life.  But then also editing ~ I’ve been an editor in all different capacities. I’ve also been an artist and taken art classes for years, not to mention jobs as a document designer. I took classes in electrical engineering and computers for a number of years, and all that experience goes into making a website and working with digital publishing.  And I’m in marketing and have done freelance marketing for years, which prepares me to be a promo-sapiens.  And I love social media and tend to be a bit of an early adopter.  Not to mention I’m a bit obsessive.

Here’s some particulars.  I wrote the stories over 15 years.  I got feedback on them in workshops and writers conferences. Many of them were published in literary magazines or runners-up for contests.  I was very deliberate about which stories cohered into a unified collection, and I ordered them carefully ~ best stories first and last with groupings of similar stories together. I also wanted to start a little more upbeat, as my stories tend to be pretty dark.  Once I had them collected, I revised through them yet again, and some I changed structurally.  I always knew I wanted a young woman’s face on the cover, and I searched iStock for a long time to find the exact one I wanted.  I designed the cover with some feedback.  Using Word, I designed the collection for digital publishing and used Kindle Direct Publishing to perfect that design.  I designed the document for a 6x9 trade paperback and used Createspace to perfect that design.  I wrote cover copy and a reading group guide and the acknowledgements and added them. I had used Willow as the name of my freelance writing business, so I used that logo for Willow Words.  I uploaded it to Smashwords for wider distribution, as well as Scribd and Google Books.

I have a whole marketing plan.  I’m doing a blog tour through Bewitching BlogTours.  I’ll probably visit a few places between now and then, but the tour officially starts February 10. I’ll send out free review copies to anyone interested. (Interested?! Email me!)  I got a Kirkus review an IndieReader review and entered the book on PW Select and entered it in the Writers Digest Self-published Awards.  I updated my website, and I’ll email my friends to let them know the book is available.  I’ll be shouting about it on social media.  I’ll buy a passel of paperbacks and ask bookstores to sell them on consignment.  I’ll contact local media.  I’m printing bookmarks and t-shirts. I’m going to do a reading with my great writer friend Pembroke Sinclair. I’ll be at AWP, too! And more, but you get the idea.

Finally, the amazing thing that happened.  Last year, I had a total creative collapse.  I not only couldn’t write ~ I couldn’t even read, and that’s the first time in my life that’s ever happened.  I obsessively watched Law and Order SVU reruns for weeks. I can’t express how bad it got, a major depression. There were a lot of factors that  contributed to this, but I realize now that a big one was that I hadn’t made any headway on publishing.  Taking the power into my own hands has broken that down, and I feel creatively empowered in a way I haven’t for years.  And I’m writing again.  Let me repeat that: I’m writing!

If you’re thinking about doing this and would like to compare notes, email me at tamara (at) tamaralinse.com.

Tomorrow, what's coming up next from me.  Time to start drooling in anticipation!


eLPy said...

Congratulations again on self-publishing! As I was just reflecting on today, there are a lot of hats to be worn as a self-publisher and it sounds like you're prepared, which is a lot more than some can say.

Your particulars here I think are a great example of some of the stuff you have to do and worry about on your own, such as creating your own marketing plan. I'm interesting in reading your book and learning more about your process. It's nice to meet other self-published authors and perhaps in the future I could interview you about your self-publishing life as it gets underway.

That's awesome that you're writing again. I know creative blocks can be pretty crippling.

Cheers to you and your endeavors!

eLPy said...

I would like to read your book and I want to tell you about this new group/site that a Goodreads member has put together. She's started this to create a place people can go to to read "recommended" self-published books. Her plan, though in its infancy, is to "screen" available information on the book, if chosen she reads it and if at least 4 other people read it and "like" it then it gets added to their list of recommendations. Perhaps you would like to have your book added to the reading list. You can also volunteer to be a "reader".

Let me know what you think.



Tamara said...

Thank you so much, eLPy, for all your kind words! Sorry I'm just now commenting!

Isn't it crazy, the amount of things you have to do and the number of hats you wear? You've published a book of poetry, right? I'm definitely ordering it! And I would love to talk with you further. Feel free to email me, if you'd like, at tamara@tamaralinse.com. :-)

That Goodreads site sounds great! I'm afraid, though, that although I've signed up for Goodreads, I haven't taken full advantage of it. It's just something I haven't used enough to get into. But I'm definitely going to start. I'd love to be added to the group, but unfortunately I would not be able to commit to being a reader (excuses, I know, but two 7 year olds, another book coming out and writing another on deadline, etc. Sorry!!) But it sounds very intriguing! I will check it out.

I hope your writing is going well!


eLPy said...

Hey all the apologies are mine right now for not replying sooner!

Thank you very much for your interest in my book, I definitely appreciate it and yes it is a poetry collection.

I'll definitely be sending you an e-mail soon, just wanted to touch base with you right quick now and reply.

No worries about the Goodreads group, I just wanted to reach out and let you know about it. An author can pitch their book without being a reader, it's an entirely voluntary group. But I completely understand!

I look forward to talking with you more and good luck with everything.

Take care,

Tamara said...

That would be so great, eLPy! Definitely email me or otherwise keep in touch. (Are you on Facebook?) Happy writing!