Publish using your own publishing company



Start your own publishing company

Start your own publishing company

Publish using your own publishing company. It is easy but is it necessary?

You can have your book printed by any print-on-demand (POD) publisher by following the steps outlined on their websites. Pick a POD company like CreateSpace and publish your book under their imprint. It’s as simple as that. For many of us, this is the way to go. But there is also the option of forming your own publishing company. You still use a POD publisher but your title uses the imprint of your own publishing company.

So, what are the pros and cons of each option?

The primary benefit of using a POD publisher is the ease of the process. They do much of the work for you. It is also cheaper, a lot cheaper. You do not have to pay for a lawyer or to file the necessary paperwork to form a new business. In addition, POD publishers will provide the necessary ISBN (International Standard Book Number), and a barcode to identify your book, for a nominal fee, in some cases for free. This is a substantial savings because a single ISBN costs $125 and a single barcode costs $50. If you decide to form your own publishing company you will have to pony up for all these expenses.

The major benefit of starting your own company is pride. The book is yours. You are the publisher and your individual imprint appears more professional.

This is no small matter. With the opportunity to self publish, authors with varying degrees of dedication, have taken to the market place. An estimated 3000 books are published every day. Of these there are, unfortunately, a lot of slap-dash books with a CreateSpace, Lulu, Lightning, et al imprint on their spines. With your own imprint you stand out. If you take that kind of pride in your work, form your own publishing company, bite the bullet and buy a block of ISBNs. More about ISBNs in the next blog.

Two other concerns bear addressing here. In the past it was reported that the brick and mortar book stores would not sell CreateSpace books. That appears to no longer be true. Here is a link to a letter from Barnes and Noble explaining their business approach to self published books.

There is also a YouTube video claiming that certain contests will not consider self published books for their awards. I have not been able to verify the truth of this assertion.

If you do decide to form your own publishing company, here are the steps to follow:

  • The first step in starting any business is to decide which type of business you need. You can choose between a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation. In a sole proprietorship you are the owner of the business, responsible for all its obligations. With a partnership, those responsibilities are spread out among the partners. A corporation can consist of a single individual or a group. Its main benefit is that it limits personal liability. The corporation becomes responsible, not the individual, for any monetary losses or lawsuits. Most authors write their own books so a sole proprietorship is probably best. You can always upgrade to a corporation/LLC at a later date if you desire.
  • Unless you intend to hire employees to help you, another benefit of a sole proprietorship is that there is no requirement for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). And there are no special taxes.
  • The next step is to decide on a name for your company. You can choose to use your own name, or you can create one. If you choose to create a name it is called “Doing Business As” or DBA. You must check to ensure that the name you select is available. This is a simple procedure. Most municipalities have an online search service where you can check.

I live in Suffolk County, New York. I was able to download the necessary forms from the County Clerk’s office and check for my business name online. Once all the forms were filled out, I submitted them to the County Clerk and received my DBA.

  • With your DBA in hand you can open a bank account in the name of your new company if you so choose. This is a good idea because it enables you to separate business and personal accounts.
  • Here is a government website for the many specifics related to starting your own business.

If you do go the route of forming your own publishing company you might also consider generating a logo. That way when you publish your book, the logo will accompany the name of the publishing company. It will look more professional – part of that standing out from the crowd mentality.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Proofreading produces professional products


Proofread, proofread, proofread

Proofreading produces professional products. It is the final step before your manuscript gets writ in stone and it cannot be ignored.

After you finished writing your first draft, then rewriting and rewriting and rewriting, you sent this “finished” work out to a copy editor for review. At least I hope you did. Copy editing is generally considered an essential step in the publishing process. I’ve covered that subject twice in these blogs because copy editing is so crucial.

When you got your manuscript back, you made the necessary corrections as proposed by your copy editor.

Generally speaking, we make most of these changes but not all. After all, this is our work and we know our story best. So while the copy editor may suggest modifications, we do not have to agree with all of them. I made about 90% of the suggested changes, but I left alone those that I felt best expressed my original intent.

So, finally, we are done.

Not so fast.

As you corrected your work, you may have found, as I did, that some of the wording had now become clumsy and needed further revising. Sometimes I was also visited by the inspiration genie while making these changes. This entailed adding or, in some cases, removing copy. So now what?


You can proofread your manuscript yourself, but having read and reread and reread it so many times you have probably become word-blinded and will be unable see your own mistakes. So it’s probably best to have fresh eyes read your work for you, to see if they can find any errors.

And they will, which will then entail making these additional, final corrections. A renown author of numerous books once informed me that the last step he took before sending his work out to the publisher was to read it BACKWARD. You are allowed to groan here. I did.

I did read my manuscript backwards, as difficult and boring as that was, and I did find mistakes. Don’t ask me how the brain knew, but it did.

Guess what? Since that backward read, I have made additional changes (can we ever let go of our darlings?) necessitating a final proofread. I am now in the process of making these final (please let this be true) corrections which will then require another backward read. Groan.

This is proofreading and we cannot do without it.

One last note:

Proofreading and copy editing are, apparently, not exact sciences. Below, I have included examples of how different experts corrected my work according to their own styles and interpretations of the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS).

I have the luxury of knowing several professionals. I sent my work for proofreading to a PhD, a MFA, and an English teacher with 50 years of experience. This is in addition to the copy editor I hired to review my work and whose changes I had diligently (90%) employed.

Here are examples of how these proofreaders differed:

Example 1:

“Do not let the word hostile frighten you, Will. How about the word challenging?”

“Do not let the word hostile frighten you, Will. How about the word challenging?”

“Do not let the word ‘hostile’ frighten you, Will. How about the word ‘challenging’?”

Example 2:

“First you have two different systems; one for time and one for distance. Now, within your distance system you have two separate systems; miles and/or kilometers.

“First, you have two different systems — one for time and one for distance. Now, within your distance system, you have two separate systems — miles and/or kilometers. (; here is wrong)

Example 3:

“Any agent of the BGK, that is who.”

“Any agent of the BGK that is who.”

“Any agent of the BGK. That is who.”

So, which variation should you choose? Google any confusing issues and use those results, tempered by your own common sense. You must use precise wording in order to express the exact sentiments that you are trying to convey to the reader.

This does not mean that you will not get your manuscript sent back to you all marked up in red again. This is my best understanding of the process of proofreading, and I have no other advice to offer.

I welcome your experiences. Please share your take on the proofreading process so we can all become better writers. Thanks.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Building a website using professional help


Trust us – We’re the Experts!

Building a website using professional help can be expensive. It is sometimes possible, however, to get the help you need on the cheap.

In the last blog I described how I was able to build my own website by following the instructions in Kent Mauresmo’s book, “How to Build a Website with WordPress…Fast.” The result is my website, not this website.

This website was created by the professionals at Web Hosting Hub. The reason I hired experts was precisely because of the freight train of doubt that almost ran me down. As happy as I was with my efforts building my own website, I was still very unsure whether or not I had actually done it correctly.

I don’t know anyone in the web design business. While some of the novices I questioned were as helpful as they could be, I needed someone with enough expertise to sit down with me and go over my website point by point. In short, I needed reassurance. What had I neglect to put in? What about all the minutia? What did I not know about, not have a clue about? And how about that pesky SEO stuff?

But I could not afford the thousands of dollars it usually takes to hire professionals. I was given figures hovering around the $5000 dollar amount.

Luckily, a year ago Web Hosting Hub offered a package for $100/mo for 12 months to create a website. I managed to work that hundred bucks a month into my budget, so I hired them. This website is the result and I am happy with it. Check with your web host to find out if they offer any deals.

This website also gives me a template against which to compare the other. That comparison resulted in some minor changes. Overall, though, I found that my personal efforts were pretty much on the mark. I am, however, already planning on additional changes. Recent research has hipped me to the fact that I need to add MailChimp, and I may be changing my SEO plugin to Yoast, the one used here.

As I was writing these last two blogs I went back through Mr. Mauresmo’s book searching for topics I may have missed. I rediscovered passages that I had forgotten all about (like editing my permalink.) I got several, well-needed, memory jogs not included here (or this would be a book too.)

Keep in mind that whatever book or website you choose to get information from will, probably, have recommendations by the author as to which domain name provider or web host they recommend. These recommendations are often based on monetary arrangements between the two so just remember, that while the author’s ideas might very well be valid, there are other opportunities out there. Do your homework.

Note: I am not being paid for these blogs (wish I was.) This is all just long, hours-earned knowledge. Take what you need. I hope some of this information will be helpful.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Building a website


It Can Be Done!

Building a website is fun, and, believe it or not, relatively easy.

I had no experience building a website when I sat down to attempt to do so, NONE, and, yeah, I was nearly run down by a runaway freight train of emotions before I even started.

The locomotive pulling that freight train was lack of self confidence, followed by a long string of cars laden with varying degrees of fear, nervousness, doubt, inadequacy – pick a negative emotion, any negative emotion. The caboose took a long time arriving. A bunch of Yahoos were leaning out its windows and over the rear railing yelling at me that I was just too damn stupid to even try to accomplish such a lofty goal.

My ego, Mot (see “My massive ego website,” four blogs below this one) poked me in the ribs as the caboose disappeared around a nearby bend, reminding me that he was not going to give me any rest until the website was complete.

But where to begin?

I began where I usually begin – on Google. Once again that research drone raises its ugly head. If you intend to do most of heavy lifting yourself, including building your own website, get used to doing research, or be prepared to spend sack-fulls of sheckels.

I Googled “how to build a website” and all the rest fell into place. Well, it didn’t just fall into place. I had to follow instructions. I can do that and I did.

Please remember that the website to which I am referring is not this website. It is website that I created for my book. This website was created by professionals at a later date as a venue for me, the author. More on that in the next blog.

If you Google “how to build a website” right now, you will get pages and pages of instructions, YouTube videos, tutorials, book offerings, etc, some of which are free. There is a wealth of information there.

I noodled around, exploring various options, reading what was being offered, before I decided on a course of action.  Out of all the information I found I decided to buy an ebook that caught my attention. It is entitled “How to Build a Website with WordPress…Fast” by Kent Mauresmo. The Kindle edition costs $2.99 and Amazon’s “one click” purchasing tool made that easy. (This tool is so easy as to be dangerous.)

I see that Amazon is now offering other similar books that were not listed when I started my research so I cannot comment on them. I am, however, quite satisfied with Mr. Mauresmo’s book. He led me through the process step by step.

Step one is to log in to your webhost which will take you to the basic WordPress theme. WordPress offers hundreds of themes and there are thousands more on line, some free.

Do not be frightened by new words like “themes” or “widgets” or whatever. If you come across a word you do not understand Google it. Find out what it means and how it applies to your task. If you still don’t get it, move on. Sometimes frequent usage of a term can help make clear what it means and how it’s used.

Select a theme you like. I like themes that have moving slides on the home page because they seem more alive, and are able to display more information than a static homepage. I tried a number of different themes before selecting the Solidate Theme.

When you are on the homepage of your theme, at the very top, you will see either the name of the theme or your name. Click on that to display the website’s dashboard (also called the administration area). On the left margin you will see a list including: posts, pages, comments, appearance. Plugins, tools, etc. These are the tools that you can now use to customize your website. You can add pages or even change the look of the website by building your own menu. This is the fun part of creating your own website. You can do it your way.

On my website I set up three pages. The first page operates like a blog. I make periodic entries on this page which is my “Home” page. I also have an “About” page which describes my book and a “Contact” page which enables others to contact me by leaving me their names and email addresses (required) and a comment box.

Solidate came with only five slides but I added another bringing the total to six. I inserted pictures in each slide. I adjusted the speed at which the slides moved, the time between them. Then I changed the pictures again. I was having fun.

Another option is the use of “plugins.” These are extra goodies you can use to accomplish important tasks. There is a Meta Tag plugin that will help search engines find your site. Others include: All in One SEO Pack, XML Sitemaps, Jetpack, and many others. One is called Shareaholic. This is a plugin that inserts icons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other at the bottom of your blog so that you can share them. The book I was working from recommended the plugins listed above (and others.) I followed the directions and installed them. It was easy and I achieved a great sense of satisfaction when done.

Themes have widgets such as a search box, lists of past blogs, and email subscriptions among others that you drag and drop where you want to place them. When you look at your theme before you start altering it, you will see language that looks like some kind of pig-Latin, or foreign language. These are just place holders and will be changed as you move your widgets around or type in new text.

When I had completed most of the author’s suggestions and they seemed to be working properly, I Goggled my website name. Bingo! There it was, and, boy, did I feel proud the first time I saw my own handiwork on the World Wide Web. Considering my ignorance when I first began I did OK. No, I did better than OK. I did good.  I did that! Wow! And if I can do this so can you.

Selecting a Web Hosting Service

web host

Selecting a Web Host

Selecting a web hosting service is our next step on the long and winding road to that cloud-floating castle in the sky where “authors” abide.

If you Google “web hosting services” you will find a number of sites listing their assessments of the top 10 best web hosting companies. They generally list the same top companies, albeit in different orders. These sites contain reviews of what each web host offers as well as price comparisons. You can also Google “web hosting reviews” for further comparisons. Take your time to review them so you can winnow the top 10 down to your top 3, and then make your decision from there.

Here is another take on choosing a web hosting service that I just recently found on Google+. It is written by Helen Nunia who has also written numerous other useful articles. Here’s the link: You can weigh her ideas against mine to get an even broader view on the subject.

At the time (approx. 1 year ago) my research had me tinkering with the following three web hosting services:  Internet Options, Inmotion Hosting, and Web Hosting Hub. Internet Options was on my list because it was highly recommended by a knowledgeable friend. I included Inmotion Hosting and Web Hosting Hub as the other two in my top three because of their reviews. Their fees were all comparable.

I disregarded Go Daddy because it is such a large company and I was afraid I would get lost amidst the multitudes, but this was just my own personal idiosyncrasy. Likewise, iPage did not then have the status it does now or it would have been in the running. As we know, the internet and its offshoots rapidly evolve.

In the end I choose Web Hosting Hub because of the wide variety of services it offered, because it was responsive to my inquires, and because of its reviews.

An aside here;  I find reviews to be an invaluable resource for making decisions on any number of subjects; books, restaurants, hotels, tools, you name it. I usually only read a couple of 4 and 5 star reviews because I find I get more valuable information from the 1 and 2 star reviews.

My experiences with Web Hosting Hub have been excellent. Their support staff is great with a few exceptions here and there. When I called and requested information to which they did not have a ready answer, I was sent an email with suggested solutions. Unfortunately, the emails were occasionally outdated. I got the feeling that the particular individual with whom I had just been dealing did not want to be bothered finding an answer for me. Most of the time, however, they were fine.

Once you decide on a web host they will register your domain name for you if you have not already done so. Your web hosting service will act like a nanny for your website for a fee payable monthly, quarterly or yearly. It is pretty basic and they will lead you through the process step by step. Questions can be answered 24/7 on their support lines.

I decided that I was going to build my own web site because I did not have the money to hire a professional. I learned that hiring a professional cost thousands and thousands of dollars, thousands of dollars I do not have. I did not know what building a web site entailed, so I had to snuff it up, and do the best I could.

It became apparent pretty quickly that the best bet for creating my own website was to use WordPress. WordPress is a free software tool used to build custom websites and it is so commonplace that all the web hosting services that I visited utilize it. I have no experience in building a web site other than that I gained working with WordPress.

There is and, each offering slightly different features. Here is a link that compares the two so you can make up your own mind which one is best for you: I choose to go the .com route because I wanted my website to be more on the professional side.

Before I wrap up this post I want to call to your attention to the fact that the title of this blog and the first sentence use exactly the same words. This is the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) factor that I mentioned in my last blog that enhances the placement of your website on the internet. I have, however, come upon another opinion that states that the most important characteristic for websites to get high SEO ratings is the quality of their content. Going for both can’t hurt.

Search Engine Optimization is a wide-ranging, ever-changing subject all its own that falls under the even wider topic of marketing. These subjects will be explored in future blogs

So, we have chosen our domain name(s), our web hosting service, and will be using WordPress to build our own website. The fun now begins, We will next be creating our own websites.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Domain names – the first step in building websites

Let's start building a website

Let’s start building a website

The selection of domain names is the first step when building websites. Your domain name is the title that will identify your website. This sounds simple enough and, in most cases, it is, but there are a couple of aspects of this process you should be aware of.

Please note the structure of the first sentence of this post. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) recommends that the title of a post and its first sentence use the same words, the same phraseology. This approach helps maximize the probability of search engines such as Google, Internet Explorer, Firefox, et al, of finding your post. I’m still new to learning about SEO, and will let you know what I learn as we progress. It all has to do with marketing. If you expect to sell any books, I hope you have already begun your own research into marketing. The Marquis de Sade could learn a lot about cruel and unusual punishment by studying marketing.

After I screwed up enough courage to attempt to build my own website, I needed all the information I could find on how to go about doing so. I needed a bare-bones, step by step outline to follow.

I keep harping on research for good reason. This is the only way I know of how to gather what I need to know. Daily, day (and night) long assignations with Google started making my wife jealous, until she saw how in despair I was with such a demanding mistress. But putting in the time is necessary. I know what you’re thinking here. You need every spare minute for your writing. Believe me, I feel the same way. So, unless you intend to hire outside help, which is entirely possible and, at times, necessary, you will have to spend (great word) time learning how to build a website. In fact, that’s why you are reading this now, in hopes that I can save you some time by telling you what I have learned. I hope I’m helping.

I Googled “how to build a website” and found pages of entries on how to accomplish this goal. Of these, the one with which I was most impressed, the one I used, was entitled, “How to Start/Create Your Own Website: The Beginner’s A-Z Guide” by Christopher Heng. He leads us by the hand through all the intricacies of creating a website. There are links throughout his presentation that enable you to further explore individual subjects about which you feel you may need more prompting. It’s a great source. Check it out. Here’s the link:

As I mentioned in the opening sentence of this post, step one is selecting and registering your domain name(s). Christopher Heng (above) warns about the unscrupulous vermin out there who hover online watching to see what domain names are being checked. If you do not immediately register that name they will scoop it up first, and hold it hostage, only to be released after paying a handsome ransom. Luckily, I have not had that experience.

Choosing the right domain name is critical for building an online presence. You want to be found as easily as possible, preferably on page one of each search engine. In my case I choose to use the name of my book, The Riddle of Riddles, because, I felt, it was catchy, and easy enough to remember.

So, select a name that is relatively short, sweet, and to the point, and make it the name of your website. I’ve read, somewhere, that only 5-7% of the millions of domain names that are out there resonate with the public. So, make your domain name count.

Once you’ve selected a name, you must find out if it is available. Google “domain names” and you will find a list of websites on which you will be able to search to see if your domain name is available. Enter the name you selected, with the suffix you desire (.com, .net, .org, etc) to find if it’s available. If it is, you must resister it to make it your own. You can sometimes register your domain right then and there depending on which site you selected. The fees range from about $2 or $3 up to about $10/yr. and must be renewed each year. Depending on how important your website name is to you, you also may consider  registering one or more of the other suffixes listed above, so that no one else can use them. If you do, you can “park” them on your web hosting site where they will be safe. You can also register your domain names directly through the web host that you select. That’s next..FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Blog and/or Website


Your blog is on your website

Having been brow-beaten by my massive ego (see previous post) into building a blog and/or website, my next step was to determine whether or not I needed just a blog, or just a website, or both. It turns out that the correct answer, for me, was both, and, much to my happy surprise, I discovered that a website can also function as a blog. Eureka!

I was so green early on that I did not even know the difference between a blog and a website. This is what I learned.

The term blog is a portmanteau for web and log, combined to read blog. A blog consists of entries called “posts” written by the author of the blog. These posts appear with the latest on top, and previous posts beneath it (reverse chronological order.)

Blogs were usually the solitary efforts of individuals writing about whatever it was that interested them that day. Today, blogs are written by groups, institutions, corporations, whatever.

A website, on the other hand, is a group of pages usually organized around one central theme. The page titles are listed on a top banner, and indicate the major features of that website. For example, as a writer, I wanted to create a website dedicated to my book The Riddle of Riddles. So, I created three pages for that website: Home, About, and Contact.

My Home page contains regular postings (my blog) of assorted riddles. The About page contains a brief blurb about the book, and the Contact page enables readers to contact me by leaving their names, email addresses and whatever comments they have in mind.

I have referred many times to research in my previous blogs. The reason is that research is the only way I know to discover the information needed to move forward towards our common goal of becoming authors. Keep in mind, however, that what works for me may not necessarily refer to you.

While exploring various ideas to get my website noticed (MARKETING, MARKETING, MARKETING) I hit on the idea that two websites would be better than one. I would create one for my book, and a separate one for me as an author.

The reason for this is that I would place the emphasis on the book, The Riddle of Riddles, by periodically posting riddles on the book’s website, and posting the answers to those riddles on my author website. The idea is to generate cross-referencing, and, as a result, expose both the book and author.

This idea occurred to me after I had build the RofR website, and realized that, as an author with subsequent books in mind, I needed to also highlight the author, me, as well as my current book. If you Google major authors NONE of them do this. They have a page, or pages, listing their various titles. So, I could be wasting my efforts with this approach. As I mentioned before, what works for me (or doesn’t) may not work (or might) for you.

Upon completion of the website for my book, I hired professionals to create my author website. I did this because I am a coward. This was my first effort at creating a website, and I was so unsure of my abilities that I wanted to make sure that I got at least one site done correctly.

Guess what? I did a pretty good job on my own. I have to admit, though, that the reassurance I got comparing my work to that of the professionals, was sorely needed. Whew! I did OK.

There is much more to this and I will follow up in my next BLOG post here on my WEBSITE with the steps I took, and am continuing to take, to maintain my progress toward becoming an author.FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

My massive ego website

My massive ego

My massive ego

My massive ego, being what he is, demanded that I satisfy his lust for fame by creating a website.  Being shy myself, and not knowing anything about websites, I was reluctant to give in to his unyielding demands.  In fact, I ignored his demands for years, but as time passed he became more and more insistent.  Finally, he would not let me sleep.  My eyes would pop open in the middle of the night, and there he would be, sitting on my chest, staring down at me until I got up.

I’ll call him Mot.  That’s French for word and it’s my nickname spelled backwards.

I tried to put Mot off by grabbing a cup of coffee, catching up on the late-night news, reading my emails, anything – except building a website I knew nothing about just to make him happy.  All the while he would follow me around like my shadow, trailing me, mere inches behind.  Every once in a while, if I was silly enough to believe that he had gone to sleep, I would glance over my shoulder but, sure enough, there was Mot staring blankly back at me.  His stare was not really blank at all. On the surface it did appear to be vacant, but glints of cunning peeked in from around its edges. It was embarrassing. He would not leave me alone.

Mot was never nasty, but he was uncompromising.  Occasionally he would try logical arguments, and those were actually the only times we really got along.  He did make some good points about how I had succeeded in other difficult endeavors in my life, and how those successes had satisfied me.  He often resorted to praising me, telling me how intelligent I am, and how easy this new project would be.  He knew all my weaknesses, and preyed on every one until, finally, he did get his way and I agreed to build him his website, um…our website.

It was only after I discovered the importance of marketing that I realized that he had been right all along. A website is crucial to successful marketing, but I couldn’t tell him that or I’d never hear the end of it. Come to think of it, he probably already knows all of this but is letting me slide for some diabolical purpose all his own.

I started out by researching everything and anything I could about creating websites.  Since I knew nothing,  I read a lot of useless information, went down too many dead-end paths.  However, little by little, I found my way.  In fact, some of the dead ends had value in what they taught me to avoid.

I was so green at this that I often had to stop my research just to look up the meanings of the terms being used.  Wikipedia became my best friend but Mot never got jealous.  He seemed to thrive in the ménage-a-trios of it all.

Still, he would not let me sleep until the website was 100% completed.  By this time we had become co-conspirators, although he never came up with any creative ideas except schemes to make himself look good.  He left all the heavy lifting to me.

Mot struts around now with a self-satisfied smile, even though he actually did none of the work.  He leaves me alone for the most part, so we’re getting along better, and I must admit that I am proud that I completed such an involved project, and that it came out reasonably well. So, he was right about that. You can check it out at if you’d like.

I wish I was unable to let him know he was right, but he reads my mind so that satisfaction will forever evade me. Even now he is now probably laughing up his sleeve as I write this.

Good night, Mot!FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Research, research and more research


The Internet is for research

Publishing a book? Get ready to immerse yourself in research, research and more research. Unless you are already in the industry, once you decide to become an indie-publisher, the learning curve gets steep, very steep.

Prior to the days of print-on-demand (POD), if a writer could not get read by a publishing house, he/she could not get published. And yeah, rejection sucks.

Sure, there were the Vanity publishers out there, vultures only too anxious to strip whatever cash we had from the bare bones of our bank accounts, leaving us with a garage or basement full of books that we had no idea what to do with.

That was not for me. While I knew the value of my work, my conceit did not blind me to the realities of the marketplace – or the greed of those willing to prey on those who were so blinded.

Then, one day, the sun came up on a new world. Scientific progress rewarded us with the internet, the advent of indie-publishing, and the ability to take charge of our own destinies.

Thank God for the internet. We are truly blessed to live with this incredible tool at hand. The answers to anything it seems (except a truthful accounting of how politicians spend our money), are only mouse-clicks away.

Becoming a published author is now a viable option. But who publishes indie-authors and what are their requirements? Those questions immersed me, like a post-grad student, in research, research and more research.

These are some of the major topics I found that needed addressing:

  • Create a website
  • Compare POD publishing companies such as CreateSpace, Virtual Bookworm, Lulu, etc.
  • Join social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and YouTube
  • Find a copy editor, a proofreader, and a book formatter
  • Find a book cover expert
  • Create a book trailer
  • Crowd funding is available if needed
  • Marketing, marketing, and more marketing

There are other ancillary subjects (such as MailChimp, etc), too numerous to list, which came up in my research and needed investigation. Any that prove to be important will be discussed in future blogs.

There were lots of dead-ends and false leads, usually because of my own ignorance. I did contact some individuals who were very generous with their time and advice, but whose input, I later learned, did not apply to my specific needs. Everyone I have been in contact with has been very understanding and most helpful (OK, there were a few curmudgeons.)

Being unfamiliar with the industry jargon was, and continues to be, a major problem. While reading I often came on terminology with which I was unfamiliar. What was the difference between downloading and uploading? (That’s how green I was.) What is back-linking and how important is it really? And then there is the library of abbreviations: API, SGML, VeRO, XML, etc, etc, etc.

Each new concept, each new term, each new abbreviation, required defining. Then I had to find out what each of these items did and did not do. Some ideas mattered and some didn’t but I couldn’t tell which was which without the research. I’m sure I’ve missed some concepts that are important but I work alone, like most of us, and I can only do so much.

Early on, and throughout my research, MARKETING established itself as the PRIMARY concern. With some 3000 books being published daily how was one to get noticed in this blizzard of words? Marketing is a subject in and of itself. More on that later, much more.

My research continues. I am moving forward with the information I have while continuing to keep an eye open for new ideas I think may prove useful.

Writing a book, and actually getting it published, is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Soldier on!FotoFlexer_Photo Quill

Rejection sucks



If you’re a writer you’ve been rejected. It comes with the territory. That does not mean that you have to like it, accept it or chalk it up as some kind of (choke) learning experience. Rejection sucks, whether it is your manuscript or a date to the senior prom. It sucks.

As writers we can “accept” rejection as a fact of life without “accepting” rejection as screwing down the lids of our coffins. We accept that some ivory-tower-snob, who has never written anything other than a rejection letter, just doesn’t get it, doesn’t understand the art of writing. We don’t hate them (grrr). We shake our heads and go on with our work.

But rejection is not an easy emotion to dismiss. It is an attack on our spirit. It is like an attack on our children. We get protective.

When I first started my journey of becoming an author I knew nothing about the industry other than how to write. I knew the odds of getting published by a major publishing firm were thin slim. I counseled myself against any expectation that I would be one of the lucky few, but it did not help when it came time for my first submission.

I hand-carried my manuscript to one of the major publishers in NYC. The company owned the whole building, maybe the whole block. There was a guard in the lobby to stop guys just like me from delivering their “over-the-transom” manuscripts. I ignored him and went straight to the building directory, found the floor I was looking for and went to the elevator. The guard must have thought I knew what I was doing because he smiled at me as I passed. I smiled back.

I found the office I was looking for and was surprised to be greeted by an exceptionally good-looking woman. I gave her my elevator spiel[1], trying not to be distracted by her looks. She accepted my manuscript with a “thank you,” a handshake and a quizzical look. I smiled and left, skipping down the sidewalk, believing in the power of fate.

Several long months later I was humiliated to find my rejected manuscript stuffed into my mailbox like an aborted fetus.  All my self-counseling about rejection was to no avail. As I pulled my rolled-up, mutilated manuscript from the mailbox, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I was instantly depressed, the kind of depression not easily shaken.

But then I got pissed. Defiance overcame me. I will be published!

But how?FotoFlexer_Photo Quill


[1] Picture this: You’re in an elevator. The lead editor gets on the same elevator. You have seconds to give him your elevator spiel before he/she gets off. You’d better make it good.