April 28, 2011 Posted By Sharon Ritchey
Fedex delivered a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin champagne and a book to my office last Tuesday. And while I love champagne, it was the book I was most eager to open. A Smile Never Hurts, One Woman’s Story, by my client Pat Powers Rothacker has been close to a two-year editorial journey. Pat’s latest memoir chronicles her life from the moment she learned she needed a liver transplant and follows her to recovery today.
I reluctantly took Pat on as a client. I say reluctantly because I’m not a book editor and that’s what she needed. However, there I sat at her dining room table as she told me her story and handed me a jumble of short vignettes that were a compelling mess of emotions.
Pat’s plans were to self publish the book. Her first book, White Gloves to Washington, was published by a niche publisher but that was no longer an option for this manuscript.
Book publishing has changed over the past decade. And self publishing once considered a lowly route for authors and deemed “vanity press” has changed as well. Self publishing is now a viable and profitable option for authors who want to see their words in print, whether they are business resources, non fiction memoirs, or the great American novel.
Industry Wakes Up
Publishers Weekly, the industry resource for the book publisher world reports, “764,448 titles were produced in 2009 by self-publishers and micro-niche publishers.” The magazine now also puts out PW Select a publication that covers the self-publishing industry with reviews and information. As a writer, that signals to me that there is money out there and it’s time for the publishing world to look outside its cubicles. PW Select does say that the most successful self published books are heavily promoted by the authors. Enter Home Row Editorial. Editorial project management, promotional material content development, press, and brand building – bring it on! But how? we had never done a self published book before.
I made several calls when I left Pat’s home that first week. I plugged into my industry contacts and got a recommendation for a fabulous self publishing group, 3Bean Press. This company is run by three women who truly know the industry. I was impressed by their organization and services. They offer authors editing, layout, promotional materials, printing, and the essential behind the book services of securing ISBN numbers and listing the book on Amazon, etc. They also put out their own catalog and have connections to the industry, which depending on the book and the audience, can be put to use. Pat’s book was a slow birth due to a series of unexpected illnesses. 3Bean took it all in stride and recognized the extraordinary circumstances of working with my client and with me. They walked us both through the publication process and I truly felt as if I were working with a large publishing house like Random or Penguin. And though we were paying for their expert editing, project management, and design, it was well worth the money.
This inspirational book now sits on my desk and the next phase of promotion is about to begin. For that I welcome my publicist partner Trina Kaye. But that’s another blog as I continue this self publishing chronicle.
Is self publishing a book right for your work?
Maybe. You must have a level of commitment to both the art of writing and the art of selling. Remember, you have to pay for the book and the cost of your promotions. And while you also sell your book, most first time authors will tell you that they don’t make a lot of money. However, it can be enough to finance your second book and allow you to continue on the path of being a writer. Self published books that sell well can also be picked up by a commercial publisher. Where I once blanched at the idea of self publishing, I have changed my mind – completely. The quality of A Smile Never Hurts is high. The experience I personally have had with this particular self publisher has been amazing. But as always be cautious, results may vary. Do your research and find a publishing company that fits both your pricing needs and your service level needs. But most importantly, keep writing!