Saturday, October 27, 2007

 

Insight Into Self-Publishers

Welcome to the last Saturday Blog post of October!

I’ve been working on a secret project over the last several months and I’m finally ready to share it with you all. Guess what? As of Thursday afternoon, I am a published author! I can hear your burning question: “Who published it?” Well…that’s the secret part. I published it myself—with the help of Outskirts Press.

Now, like all of you, I’d heard the warnings against self-publishing places like Outskirts. And believe me, I did the research before making my final decision. This particular book project was important to me and I wanted to be a part of the creative process as well as retain my rights to the story. Because I knew I wouldn’t be able to deal with the stress of publishing completely on my own, I chose the middle route to publishing where I was a part of every decision but still had help with such things as distribution or getting an ISBN number.

Here’s a “bare bones” explanation of my process with Outskirts:
(1) First you send your manuscript to them for evaluation. The point of this step is to figure out what your needs/wants are and to help you decide on which package is best for what you want to do with your book. My book was to be a children’s picture book so I chose the Pearl package geared specifically to such books.

(2) After you choose your package and either pay the deposit or entire fee, the process begins! This is when you get too choose the layout, color scheme and cover design. You have many designs to choose from or you have the option of hiring someone else to design it for you.

(3) This step wouldn’t be for those without illustrations or pictures but you are paired up with an illustrator. You fill out a description sheet for the illustrator to give them an idea of what you want in your pictures. This step was both challenging and exciting because I had to describe what I envisioned so vividly the illustrator would understand exactly what I wanted. Obviously artists put their own “creative flair” into the work but if you’re able to word things well enough, it works out great!

(4) After illustrations (if you have them) are approved, production starts. This is where they create an “prototype” of your book according to your descriptions and layout choices. For those of us who have illustrations or pictures, you’d fill out an instruction sheet of where you’d like the pictures placed.

(5) This is the most crucial part: editing and proofing. Once the book is put together, you are responsible to look it over and make any required changes. I was lucky because my book is very short so the task wasn’t long at all. I merely had to assure my words and pictures went together well.

(6) After all edits are made and approved, your book goes to the printer and, hopefully, within a week or so, is complete!

I had the most wonderful and positive experience with Outskirts. They worked with me, never once tried to sell me things I didn’t need, were generous with their time, answered all my questions thoroughly and quickly and truly made me feel my project was the treasure I felt it was.

All in all, my project cost me about $1800 in total (I also had a few discounts from email coupons I was sent. Watch for those.) It could have been a lot more expensive if I’d added things on but my book is exactly what I envisioned it to be and more: Yes, it cost me money but I had it to spend so it wasn’t a concern for me. Yes, I realize I may have run the risk of a traditional publisher not wanting it in the future but it’s okay, for now. And yes, I know I’ll have to work a lot of the distribution aspect myself but for this project I wanted to have a hand in that part too.

You see, my book derives from the story I wrote for Chicken Soup For The Soul: Children With Special Needs. It’s about how four-and-a-half year old Alexandra explains to people what Sensory Integration Dysfunction (SID) is, what it feels like, and what she goes through so people don’t think she’s “weird.” The book is essentially about Jaimie (her middle name is Alexandra) and is to be used as a reference/educational tool to help teach people about SID and to help SID children explain it to their peers or others they come in contact with. The people at Outskirts knew the purpose of my story and what I wanted to do with it. They were there for me 100% and to them, I am so grateful.

Thank you to Laura, Lora and everyone else—especially my wonderful and talented illustrator--who helped breathe life into my project. With your help, people will come to understand SID children better and see them as the beautiful little people they are.

So, don’t write self-publishers off just because of the warnings you hear. Investigate, ask questions and learn for yourself. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Did any of you have positive experiences with self-publishing? Please write and let us know. Oh! And watch for my book, “I’m Not Weird, I Have SID.” It should be available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble soon.

Happy writing!

Chynna
www.lilywolfwords.ca

10 Comments:

Anonymous Annette Fix said...

Chynna, congrats on getting your very special children's book into print! I know you must be so excited to get your message out there!

But please do use the right terminology--it's subsidy publishing, not self-publishing. It may seem like a matter of symantics, but there is a very real and distinct difference.

Because of the glut of subsidy publishers hawking their wares all over the internet, it has become increasingly difficult for writers to understand the challenges of using the business model associated with that type of publishing.

I wrote a detailed article about it for the July 2007 issue of WOW--The Self-Publishing Travel Guide: Exploring New Territory.

Most books intended for the mainstream can not become viably successful for the subsidy published author because of the financial structure of that publishing model. I won't go into it here--the details are in the 15 page article.

That being said, your book may prove to be an exception because of its specialized niche. You'll need to market the bejeebers out of it through organizations and groups made up of SID families.

I know for you this is a special labor of love and it's important to get the message out for families and children of SIDs, so making a profit is not the main goal.

But for most authors, subsidy publishing will be a very unsatisfying financial situation.

Good luck with your marketing! I wish you the very best! =)

1:01 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

Congrats Chynna!!!

And to all you readers out there, I had a chance to preview Chynna's book, and it's wonderful! It's a much needed book and will be a super help to kids, parents, and friends of children with SIDs. Before you told me about Jaimie I had no idea what SIDs was, so I know your book will bring a lot of understanding into this world. :-) Kudos and congrats to you for making this happen!

And on Outskirts -- I know several people over there from emailing back and forth over time and them sending me review copies, and I have to say that they're definitely one of the most reputable subsidy publishers. They have a nice staff and work closely with their authors.

I think that as long as an author knows what she's getting and decides to go that route, there's nothing wrong with going with a subsidy publisher. And for your book, I think it was a wise decision. Thanks for sharing your experience, love!

(((hugs)))

Ang

1:19 PM  
Blogger Chynna said...

Angela, that means more to me than you'll know. Thank you so much for your support. <3

Annette, thanks for the correction on the terminology. It's important to understand the difference between self-publishing and subsidy-publishing. Be sure to read Annette's article, everyone. ;o)

Thanks for letting me post about my project.

I'll let ya know when it's officially out! =oD

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Annette Fix said...

Did I sound too harsh in my first comment? I hope not! Chynna, I truly think it's awesome that you've gotten your daughter's story and the SIDs information out there. I had never heard about SIDs either, until I read your incredible inspirational story in this month's issue of WOW. I think having a resource like your book will greatly help families who have faced the same challenges and it will help educate the rest of us!

I didn't mean to be such a terminology nazi--I just wanted to make the distinction in the various publishing options. The newest option on the scene is "Venture Publishing" which isn't covered in the article I wrote. Venture publishing is a co-op between the publisher and the author where they both share in the costs and decisions of design and production, and split the profits. But I digress...

I agree with Angela, there is definitely nothing wrong with using a subsidy publisher if that business model works for an author. We all have our own writing and publishing journeys. And fortunately, now with all of the wonderful opportunities and new publishing technology, writers have more choices than ever before.

I've done a lot of research about the intricacies of alternate publishing models over the last two years, and for a brief period of time, considered using a subsidy publisher myself. But that model wouldn't work well for a book like mine.

I think the diversity of the WOW contributors--in knowledge and experience is a great asset to WOW readers. They get the benefit of so many different perspectives that will encourage them to research their options and help them make informed decisions about what will work for them. =)

That's what it's all about--women writers helping women writers.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Chynna said...

OHHHHHHH Annette....it's okay! I knew what you meant and you're right--there are differences among the various publishing routes writers should know about!

LOL @ "terminology nazi" =oD

Thank you so much for your support too, Annette. I really appreciate it. Now off to read your article again...I think we need more info on here about venture publishing too. I think I know of a publisher that does that through querying and stuff.

<3

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Annette said...

Ok, someone smack me with my own terminology whip for my lazy publishing lexicon.

I darn well better practice what I preach! It's TECHNICALLY called "Joint Venture" publishing. LOL I didn't notice my lax usage until I saw you repeat it!

So, if I'm going to prance around like a pain-in-the-posterior know-it-all, I sure as heck better work on my computer-side manner and be accurate in what I say!

Besides, I don't want my Ultimate Anal-retentive Award to be taken away by Sue! LOL

2:32 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

Chynna,

To expand on Annette's idea of marketing... I think your book would be perfect to sell to libraries. Did you ever read Patricia Fry's article "How to Tap into the Lucrative Library Market"?

You can find it here: http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/11-how2.html

I can imagine that they'd want to have a book as unique as yours. ;-)


<3

Ang

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Annette said...

Chynna, your book will need Library of Congress CIP data or at least a LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number) to get into the libraries.

I highly recommend the book "Beyond the Bookstore" by Brian Jud. It's packed with alternate marketing strategies. =)

3:03 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

Oh, my! I leave for a few hours to enjoy a soccer match and some ice cream, and a lot happens on the blog. Yikes. ;-)

Chynna, I read your book, and I've already told you what I think. Your book will give other children and parents great insight into an illness most people probably know nothing or very little about. It doesn't matter if it's an adult or a child who needs to learn about SID. It applies to people of all ages.

Your book will open a window to the reality that you face each day. Plus, kids are amazing creatures. When they know a friend has a "situation," an illness, or a disease, kids can be more compassionate than anyone. Yes, kids can be mean, but most of the kids I've worked with over the years use their hearts to help classmates and others, especially when they understand what someone is going through. Your book will open a window of compassion for many people who need to know about SID. What a fabulous project!! Thanks!

3:46 PM  
Blogger Chynna said...

Thank you so much for everyone's comments, input and advice. MAN! I'll certainly need it. =o)

Loads of love,
Chynna

6:01 PM  

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