Thinking About Self-Publishing

She used Llumina Press to produce the novel.
She used Llumina Press to produce the novel.

I haven’t mentioned Mr. M in a long while. He’s a writing buddy, and he recently told me that he’s decided to consider self-publishing. I’m almost hoping he will go that route so I can see what it’s like from one-step removed. Mr. M, the guinea pig!

Anyone could get sick of slogging through the muddy land of traditional publishing, right? I haven’t given up, but today, I decided to ponder self-publishing along with Mr. M. We went to a meeting of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers to listen to a novelist, Linda Kuhlmann, talk about marketing for self-published authors.

And you know what? I don’t think I could hack it! Kuhlmann’s always carting around promo copies and every trip, no matter how small, how casual, is an opportunity to check-in with local bookstores, visit area libraries, and scout out possible events. She’s got spreadsheets (there’s that word again!) and “Autographed copy” labels that she made herself. (Actually, I was impressed: Avery labels come in shiny gold–who knew?)

She’s so on top of self-marketing that she’s practically a professional speaker now.

I’m serious, I don’t know if I could hack that. I know we novelists have to self-promote–I get that–but I dream of having a support system behind me even if it’s one harried publicist with minimal time to deal with my book because she has the likes of John Grisham and Danielle Steel to oversee.

And who do I think I’m kidding anyhow? During the networking portion of the meeting (immediately I’m thinking: yee gads), a freelance editor asked me what I write. Novels, I replied. She cocked her head, eyebrows raised. Getting nothing out of me, she jutted her head forward a little, opened her eyes wider. Such expectation.

But I choked. Given the chance to excite someone about my novel, I inevitably clam up. Uh uh uh. I know the novel backwards and forwards but rally around it in a couple of sentences, off the cuff? Hah!

That was an ARGH of a moment, truly. Because despite what I tell myself, in the reality of self-promotion, anytime and anywhere is the perfect time and place to talk about my opus. That’s what it’s all about.

I was exhausted by the end of the meeting, but I left with three conclusions:

1. There are plenty of resources out there for self-publishing novelists. I was impressed with the group at the meeting. I might have even met my future website designer!

2. I need to join Toastmasters (again, yee gads) because today’s novelist is doomed to have to speak in public. Unless you’re Cormac McCarthy, of course.

3. I need to come up with two, just two, novel summary sentences and practice them in front of the mirror until they roll out naturally. I mean come on, how hard could that be?

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4 thoughts on “Thinking About Self-Publishing

  1. HA! A guinea pig, that’s a fine howdy-do. I’m still kicking around the idea. Like you, I don’t know if I’m up to shlepping around books and labels, but it is a way of getting your book out there. I’ve also checked out some literary publicists: Kuhlmann mentioned Phenix & Phenix and skimming through the internet, I found Breakthrough Promotions out of Texas. They handle mysteries. Figure it this way; if you sign with a major publishing house, they probably won’t promote you and you’ll have to hire a publicist anyway.

  2. Ah, but the difference is that a major supplier like Ingram or Baker & Taylor won’t distribute a single-title publishing company, so the only way you can sell your books is out of the trunk of your car. I would not hesitate to publish a nonfiction book, and go around giving talks and selling books, but fiction is a whole different animal. What will you speak about while you’re touting your tome?

  3. Mr. M…guinea pig…Liz makes a good point about the fiction versus nonfiction scenario. But, then, you gotta do what feels natural, right?

    I’m going to look into Toastmasters, Liz. I’ll have to remember to ask you about it the next time I see you.

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