Publishing

So, how do you want to be published?  What is your dream?  Mine? It was really just to produce a present for my granddaughter.  Her present was the contract I could sign.  If she liked it, then it was good enough.

My self confidence was low.  My belief was sketchy, and my focus was scattered. It took a lot to get Snowball in print, virtual and ink.  Two years.  A huge stack of rewrites and reworks.  A lot of drawings that just plain sucked.

A lot of mistakes were made in book design, in so many ways, and areas.  For a while I focused on just those.  Now a year later, I am more amazed that I got it done.

It was a benchmark.  I have sold nearly a hundred copies of it between print and e-books.  Though it is more than sales goals that it has set for me, I want a better book for the next grandchild.  Design, layout, artwork, story, all of it.  Better.

The truth is, it won’t be the best, that is somewhere down the line.  This is a craft that takes practice, it takes risk, vulnerability and stubbornness.  It takes making mistakes and improvements to get better.

For those who self publish, they also have to decide if they want to incorporate or just be a sole prop; they have to be a business administrator as well as writer, marketer, public relations, accountant, . . .  and so on.  Those decisions and responsibilities take even more knowledge, research and decision making on how, what and who – if you choose to hire it out.  This is serious business, self published writing.

Those that opt for seeking a contract with an pub house have just as much to research.  Besides query letters, deciding about representations, seeking editors, pub relations and what not, most have to keep either hearing nothing back, or reading rejection letters with out letting it stop them.

There are many paths to get to this last stage.  The path is unique to each of us. How we traverse it, is entirely up to us. Happy travels my friends, happy travels.

Last Status

What is it?  Well, duh, ‘Publishing’ and all that goes with that. (Meaning the advertising, the books signings, the write ups, the donations, reviews, all that stuff).  This stage is actually starting from the moment you begin writing.

Personally on my business plan (and yes, I have one), this last stage will be coming in parts and pieces.  I chose to do this my way, which screams rebellion and ego. What plan I have involves the recognition that books, reading material, is much like food.  Consumable.  We don’t regurgitate and re-eat our food, over and over, nor do we pay once and never expect to eat again.

We buy, we eat (ok, so some grow and eat, but they still buy seeds and supplies  – over and over).  That is the way of books, reading.  Those particular dishes and bites we like the best we go back and buy again.  I love my chocolate, so, of course that is consumed and replenished in my candy dish.

Well, I want my product,  my writing is the manufactured good/product, to be sought and bought.  You aren’t going to buy the same loaf of bread, nor would I expect a reader to buy the same book over and over.  You want a new fresh loaf of bread, I do.  So would someone who reads and enjoys my stories.  Therefore, to me it is a waste of money to spend so much on one singular story.  Once I have accumulated several published stories in the same genre, then I will begin deciding where and how to allocate my pennies to advertise and seek the readership to purchase those stories.

Yes, I chose to publish my ‘stuff’ now.  First and worst, and yes, I made mistakes in writing, editing, formatting, and design.  That doesn’t out weigh the fact that I did complete and publish the first.  The start, five of the children at least, and no telling how many will make it to the last stage of my more favored mixed genre tales.  But once I have those several completed and published, then it is time to actively seek out my audience.

If they like what they read, and want to read more, there will be no waiting as there will be several options to purchase and read more.  It sounds like maybe I should just write and prep2pub for a while and then massively release a bunch at once.  Something on the order of the recent releases of entire seasons of shows on the streaming outlets right?  Well, yes I considered that.

But.

How is that going to build a fan base? How is that going to build a readership?  So, slowly all these are trickling out.  I will find my way into the minds and hearts of those who enjoy my style and build my base, one that will require not flash in the pan publicity, but struggling along with me as I go from just an idea, to a dream, to a business.  Then we will do the publicity and the advertising.  Think the best of both worlds.

This also allows me some failure and learning time to get better at not just my craft of storytelling, but all the other stages and business aspects of publishing.  Being a kinetic learner this suits not only  my personality but my style.  Something every writer should consider during those first weeks of pursuing their dream.

Come to think of it what you want to achieve and how to do so best is something regardless of your dream you need to consider.  We talk so much about making ourselves happy, sometimes we neglect to realize that it isn’t always perfect.

I have had no false illusions.  I don’t expect to be come a J.K. Rowling.  First of all I am a J.K. but not a Rowling.  I am  Julie Kolb and I can’t be anyone else, nor would I want to.  I am stubborn and making mistakes, failing here and there won’t daunt me for long.

I am not a success, yet by many standards.  But I am by others.  I am doing what I set out to do. Check.  I wrote and completed all my eight steps to publishing a story.  Check.  I am writing more stories and working on other books.  Check.  Oh, wait, yes, I am a success.

So, before you hit the upload button on your first tale, get clear with your expectations.  Have a plan on how you are going to sell this tale.  What are you willing to risk?  This is a crap shoot people, there is no guarantee you will sell one, much less one hundred. So you will be better off, at least by my opinion, to know what you expect of yourself, and how you are going to accomplish that.  Read, again, and always read.  Research, educate yourself on what you want to do, how others have done it, how can you do what you want?

Best of luck to you!

Prep 2 Publish

This in my world is the last minute lookie loo to the story.  Everything is scrutinized over, which includes asking fresh never been exposed to eyes to give it a read.  Making sure all the formats are compatible.  Are the photos or illustrations of the right type of file and size to upload?  It is beyond just the story itself.

I probably should have mentioned that part about files, formats and sizes. However, I am not the most knowledgeable software computer geek.  I did research and realized I needed to hand this stage off to my eldest son who was willing to do the grunt work.  This is definitely a ‘to each their own’.  You  may be able to handle it yourself, handle it yourself with a help from a friend or family member, or this may be where you need to research the ‘how to’ by comparison shopping.  (IF you are spending your money for any of these stages, ALWAYS buyer be wary.  Ask for references, especially from those with websites you like, formats you enjoy and are doing it in any way similar to how you want to proceed.)

All along this path to publishing Snowball, I read and researched when I wasn’t able to write about the formats and methods of getting the story out there.  So when approaching this stage, I knew what I didn’t know, and what I needed and expected from someone who was going to get me to the final stage.

The problem with going into details in this series is that the information will be obsolete in a very short time frame. The software and files used today can become so outdated and usage decline fairly quickly that what worked then won’t be available when you read this.  As I am going about the second children’s book production, I am finding that there are things to change in not only my writing process, but also in the delivery of the story to the public.  What ever you ‘now’ is, and when you expect to publish, try to look ahead if possible.  What is coming down the pipeline of technology? What are the markets doing in regards to your genre?

This includes being aware of whether a particular subject matter is on the way in, hot, or out; adjust your expectations to that status.  For instance, my purpose for Snowball, (yes I have run that into the ground) was multiple.

  1. Birthday gift for my granddaughter
  2. Get something in print
  3. Learn how to self publish
  4. Not chicken out

No where in there do you read, ‘best seller’, or ‘make me famous’.  It did what I set out to do. Is it the best thing ever? Probably not.  Was it the best written and ultimately illustrated story I could do at the time? Absolutely.

The prepare to publish stage is about the project as a whole rather than just the story itself, or getting all the files uploaded to the platforms you wish to sell it in. It is about what do you want to present to the public; how do you want to present the project and yourself; and what do you need to do that?

It is about –

what do you want to present to the public

how do you want to present the project and yourself

what do you need to do that?

It is the stage that ties the conceptualizing phase and every phase in-between to date.  The bulk of this phase is putting into action the results of research and education on your part as to those tiny details that will make or break meeting your purpose.

This is the last second thought phase.

By Any OTHER Name

This time for me can included editing, rewriting, revising, proofreading and any variety of ways to improve what has been written.  What I like to call the ‘last ditch effort’ to put the best I can produce out.

There are so many resources online and so many people who are willing, for a price to provide every bit of guidance you want and/or need.  Personally, I would do a lot of researching to include asking for references to assist in getting quality for your money, but that is up to you.

If you are going to spend money, which I did a little, joining organizations such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  I did as well as going to monthly meetings.  I joined Writers Guilds and went to their monthly meetings. Romance Writers of America is another membership of value. Can’t forget the education and mind blowing exposure to writing for children that Mira Reisburg and Children’s Book Academy offered.

I have been very choosey about where I spent my money and on what. Quite a bit of improvement comes with the progression that practicing the craft of writing proves rather than who and what you pay for –  I accepted the fact that right now my writing is the worst, because it is the first and will improve over time.

Being a lazy person I like to make my effort do double duty.  I consider push mowing the lawn exercise as well as normal yard maintenance.  So, why not share with the world what I am writing and along the way grow a fanbase?  Sounded like a fine idea to me. So here we are.

So I am polishing away at the craft.

Polish

Something I rarely do on my blogs, polish.  Even editing is on the fly and not necessarily done if I am in a hurry.  That is so bad!  Part of what makes me a ‘bad writer’.  I am lazy and sloppy.

Seriously, anyone who doesn’t research their information, grammar, spelling, and approach before, during and after writing is sloppy.  That isn’t even taking into consideration the grammar police out there or the persnickety reader.  It just is.

Yes,  I am very guilty of this, so please don’t take these as absolutes.  I don’t even observe my own process all the time.  Still, I have one.  That is part of what most writers develop over time.

So, polish.

polish – improve, refine, or add finishing touch  (definition from Oxford Dictionary)

This is how I look at it –  Editing is getting all dressed up. Sure you showered/used soap and cleaned up, put on your best clothes, but still you have a dirty neck.  That dirty neck, something you forgot, that could you go back and redo – IN A HEART BEAT. That is what the polish stage is for fixing.

Taking time to do your best to the Nth degree.  Sure, let anyone who helped you edit give it one more look.  Still better, is something entirely different.  Someone who after all the beta reading, rewriting, and editing, has never seen it.  This will be their first look, after all that work is finished.  That person, they will see that something.  The material is fresh.  They are the blank slate that most readers (one hopes) are.  So you get feedback on what finishing touches would put it over the top.

Ok, so maybe they don’t have a suggestion, but talking with them after reading might inspire you.  Or it might not. And you can decided if a suggestion is appropriate.

So spit on it, get that polishing cloth out and give it a go.

Self Edit

I am still working on this one!

Based on information from reliable sources, this is what I ‘get’ or understand about self editing.

Take it line by line.

Look at the obvious – grammar and punctuation.  When in doubt, look it up.

  • There are many sources, Grammar Girl  on-line, English grammar books from high school as well as college classes, etc.
  • dictionary, thesaurus

Read it aloud.

  • Record and play back later to really hear what it sounds like.
  • Have someone else read it to you.

Set it aside and come back to do the above at a later time (I rarely do that for posts).

If you have more suggestions, please share!