As promised, I’m back today to talk about the ins and outs of self-publishing, insofar as I know them.
When most people think about publishing, there is a general misconception about the idea. If, before today, you associated publishing with
don’t feel ashamed. This is how the vast majority of people see publishing. However, this is printing, not publishing.
While it is true that printing is a PART of publishing, it is merely one step in the process. Publishing is the process of editing a work into “doneness”, finding a printer or contacting your in-house printer to run off the work, advertising the work, getting the work into the hands of distributors, and monitoring sales to determine the suitability of the work to its target audience.
The publishing process listed above is true whether one pursues an established publishing house or chooses to create one’s own.
For my first book, I chose to become my own publisher. Actually, Heather–my very talented wife–became my publisher. After a string of over 40 rejections from agencies with a note that went something like, “This work is well done and interesting, but is not commercially viable,” I decided that rather than shelve the project in the hope that some day in the far future, I might have more luck, I decided that I wanted this book to see the light of day.
The Castle in My Dreams is an intensely personal story for me (yes, this should be true for every story for every author), but this story is about an important chapter in my life, a chapter that many dear friends shared, and I knew that this story would be a way to reconnect with them, and with the time in our lives that we shared. Having a small audience of deeply connected readers was more important to me than potential commercial success with a large publishing house.
After graduating from the Mountainview MFA, Heather and I sat down to discuss the possibility of working together to bring Castle to life. The discussions were full of hope and confidence that we would be up to the task of bringing the book into the world.
And so, we formed Will Publishing. I took on the exulted role of tortured artist. Heather took over the less-than-glamorous roles of agent, editor, publicist, and publisher. From that moment forth, our duties were defined–Heather would do everything in her power to get the book to see the light of day, and I would do everything in my power to stall, delay, muddy the waters, and generally be an annoying author whose sense of self-worth far exceeds their talent.
Despite the author trying to throw up roadblocks in the face of the oncoming book, the agent cajoled, coerced and generally outmaneuvered the author until the author finally got around the making the changes to the manuscript that were necessary to make the story a publishable book. As this was Will Publishing’s first work, we benefitted greatly from the editing work done by Craig Childs, my MFA mentor, while the project was still nothing more than my master’s thesis. He taught Heather and I a great deal about the “what” of editing, but much more importantly, taught us the “how” of successful editing so that in future projects, we can craft works of exquisite precision. I will always be grateful to him for his instruction. Oh, and I highly suggest that you buy copies of his works. If you are intrigued by science and archaeology, as told by a non-scientist and non-archaeologist, Craig is king of the genre. His humor, insight, and passion transform subjects that might otherwise feel too weighty into works that are full of hope and promise.
Rather than load you, Dear Reader, down with too much information in a single sitting, as my editor has told me I am wont to do, tomorrow, I will write another post that details the endgame of publishing. If you are wondering where Heather is in all of this, she is sitting right there ::points across the room:: reading this, and the frowns and smiles as she reads this tells me where I need to make cuts, general edits, and “hey, that isn’t terrible, keep it.” Maybe one day I will be able to convince her to write a blog post of her own, but until that day, I will maintain the ‘tortured artist’ role and put words on the page.
As always, Dear Reader, I’m grateful for you, and your unwavering support. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow for Part II.