A couple of weeks ago I spoke to an auditorium filled with writers at the Stanford Publishing Course Writer’s Workshop about my experiences as an independent publisher. From the start it was clear that mine was not going to be one of those rare overnight success stories, but rather the tale of an in- process adventure, results not yet known. I shared with the group stories of the rejections I received over the course of the two years as I attempted to find an agent or publisher who believed in the message of Growing More Beautiful, and how I ultimately decided to start my own publishing company. Everyone was on the edge of their seats: Cue the theme song from “Rocky,” swelling in the background as I came to the exciting crescendo of books arriving at my doorstep. As I got more into the nitty-gritty of the time and expense involved, I could feel the audience shrink back in their chairs as if trying to get away from the reality of my words. At that point the music changed to the theme from “Jaws” as the shark arrived to devour my 401K and life as I knew it.
Doing a beautiful full color book is expensive and not a realistic option for most, but there are so many avenues available in self-publishing today that I didn’t want to scare everyone off. There are some distinct advantages to taking control of your project, including:
1. Your book is in print, not languishing in your desk drawer.
2. Your book will not be pushed aside by the next book in the publisher’s cue. The publisher will not tire of your book and move on. Hardly.
3. Self-publishing is full of independent minded people who are inspiring to know. It thrives on cooperation instead of competition, and the fact that everyone is willing to share information.
4. If you persevere, opportunities will multiply.
5. You’ll have one heck of a calling card and brochure.
6. The satisfaction you experience will last a lifetime. Maybe longer.
Anytime we are passionate enough to see something through there is the opportunity for tremendous personal satisfaction. Yet the question remains: Will Rocky triumph or will his shark-chewed remains sink slowly to the bottom of the sea? It’s too soon to tell. But most of us can’t help but root for the underdog. One woman come up to me as I was signing books after the talk and said, “I don’t even have to look at your book to know I want to buy it. Hearing you tell your story was enough.”
To learn more, visit Bay Area Independent Publisher Association at BAIPA.org. I also highly recommend the services of Cypress House, cypresshouse.com. And whenever your project is finished, crack open the champagne and festoon (see column above).