Back when I was was a young writer, I dreamed of being a published author. Didn’t realize that I already was.
My first “published” work was a red construction paper covered anthology of all I’d written in the fifth grade–which I proudly presented to my teacher, Mrs. Miller.
When I was fourteen, I tried to get my western Captive Tomboy published. An aunt gave me the name and address of a publisher that turned out to be a vanity publisher. For $1776 they would happily do so.
I was crushed. Just devastated!
Really, the piece wasn’t ready for publication anyway. Needed edits and to be typed up. But that outfit didn’t seem to care. They’d’ve worked from my handwritten copy. Now the cost of vanity publishing is much, much higher.
Self-publishing is different. But there are costs. Depending on the route you go, it can be done on a shoestring or it can cost thousands. I’m doing it on that shoestring. But I digress . . .
The next published piece showed up in True Experience. Gotta laugh about that–doubt many of those stories were actually true. Mine sure wasn’t! I netted $125 for the story about a young (19) woman, minding her own business in a store, is pointed out by a lost child as her mother. Had fun with that one. Some improbable things occur which the editor
Some improbable things occurred in the tale which the editor requested to be changed–wasn’t a command, just a suggestion. I might have been offered more for the story had I wanted to edit it. But I decided that I liked it and told them to publish as is. Today, I would probably do the edits.
Had an article I’d submitted to Horse, Of Course accepted. But by the time it was supposed to come out, the magazine folded. Was supposed to get $150.
Vermont Ink published a short story I’d done for a lesson in short fiction for NRI–not to be confused with NRA . . . I’m thinking of revamping that story into a novel. For the short version, I got $25.
Then in 2011, I worked with another author to put out a novel about a woman who worked for the government on secret formulas for biochemical warfare. I’d never done a novel like this before and likely never would have on my own. The story was my partner’s and I wrote it from the notes and outline he had for it. It came out right around the time of 9-11 . . . and I had a stroke of conscience for writing it. Wasn’t a thing like what happened then, but–I found I couldn’t promote it. Didn’t know how to in the first place, but–I’d lost the will at that point.
The only money I made from that was from any copies I sold myself. We got one royalty check that I know of. $250. Which went to my partner because he footed all the expense of the so-called edits and whatnot. I kicked in a bit, but he was able to afford it while I wasn’t. The edits were unreal. So badly done, that I couldn’t believe the publisher thought them better than what I’d written in the first place!
The next novel was written for my youngest son’s fifth-grade class. Another teacher who was inspiring his students to write! How could I not agree to come read my stuff to them and help encourage them? Or refuse their request that I write a story with all of them in it?
Mr. Smith thought they were asking for a short story, but I knew better. Took me all year to write that novel. A time travel in which I did managed to mention each and every kid in that classroom and their teacher too. I never got to read it to them since it did take that long to write. So I bought a boatload of paper and some more ink, and I printed out twenty-six copies of the story and passed them around to the kids a day or so before classes ended that summer. Somewhere I still have all the letters the kids wrote me. There might have been one from Mr. Smith himself–Yes, I think there was. I’ll have to hunt those up.
Those copies had no covers of any kind. I have seen some of the kids since, all grown up now. Some with kids of their own. They still remember me and the story. Some still have the story. They all want me to publish it for real and keep their names in it. Warms a writer’s heart to hear all this!
That takes me to the present. Where I’ve dropped the idea of becoming traditionally published. My experience with being “traditionally” published soured me on that idea. Of course, the publisher my partner elected to go with was a small press publisher who was in it for the money he made selling edits and extras of the sort. Not saying we didn’t need those, but they weren’t professionally done. For the price my partner paid–several thousand dollars–a high school English major would’ve done far better!
I stopped poo-pooing ebooks and self-publishing and stopped sending my work out to agents and publishers. Started learning more about it and the business end of the business and in 2010, I hopped aboard the Kindle platform. That was the easy part.
The harder part for me to wrap my head around is the promotion and the marketing. I don’t toot my own horn very loudly. I’m told I should. So, I’m going to learn to set my humbleness aside for this and blow it vigorously.
Maybe . . .
All right, I’ll try!
This month I’ve widened out from Amazon and signed up with a site that works with other online retailers, including iBooks, Nook, Barnes and Noble, and others.
I also learned that it’s not a vanity to form your own publishing company to publish your books from. It’s a part of doing business in the book world. Some people diss others for doing it, saying it’s not necessary and it’s pure vanity–but I know of a good many authors who’ve gone this route and are doing well. I’ve stopped letting the naysayers mess up my head, and I proudly attached my own ISBNs to my novels this month. I do wish those all important numbers weren’t so stinking expensive–but it’s another part of doing business in this business, so I’ll suck it up and get another block of ’em.
Now I have to learn the promotion part of this business. I have mentors, so hopefully they can impart their wisdom to me in a way I can wrap my sometimes empty head around it. Time will tell. I just pray it won’t be too much time!
In the meantime, this site will likely undergo a few changes as I search for my brand; my special look. What will help make me a published author making a living off the work she loves!