See that book up there? Number 66? The Adventures of Abigail Rose – Ida Patten’s Antebellum Doll. That’s mine! I wrote that. I conceived the idea, came up with the characters, the plot, the story line… I wrote it, then I sat on it for months. I knew I wanted it published, but guess what?
I was scared.
Scared of what? The unknown. I had no idea how to get a book published. Despite the fact that there are millions of articles on the internet about it. Even though there are books published on publishing books (yes, that is as funny as it sounds). There I sat, completely stymied. Frozen in fear.
I thought the best way was to ask local businesses and like-minded people to donate money to cover the cost of printing. But whom should I ask? And how? I HATE ASKING FOR MONEY. Hate it. I suck at the asking for money part of anything, if it’s for my own benefit. I can raise money for a cause or for a friend like a champ, but uh-huh when it comes to me, myself & I. Nope.
So, the project sat.
Then it dawned on me that this book NEEDED to be in print by the Spring Open House event at the property where the story takes place. Why? Because the restoration efforts for the historic home, for which the book proceeds were intended, was about to be underway and this was a great vehicle to draw attention to the cause. Aha! There’s that word. CAUSE. Suddenly, I had the motivation I needed.
So, I jumped onto GoFundMe and created a campaign to help raise awareness and the necessary funds to green-light the project. Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch wrote a book called APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur–How to Publish a Book. What a Godsend. The book literally covers every aspect of self-publishing, in terms that made sense and quelled the flames of fear. In the book, there was even a way to estimate how much money an author would need to raise to cover the cost of editors, proof-readers, printers, etc.
So… I asked. And PEOPLE ANSWERED. I was joyfully astounded by the outpouring of support. Friends from Facebook, strangers from Facebook, and family (who also happen to be on Facebook) generously donated to the project. Suddenly, the pieces were falling into place.
But there was still that little problem of the unknown. The how to get it done bit. A couple of trusted individuals (as well as Mr. Kawasaki) had recommended CreateSpace, a self-publishing arm of Amazon, so I timidly visited the site. It was completely overwhelming. The website had TOO MANY WORDS on it. The process seemed convoluted and scary. But, after consulting a local printer and discovering the up-front costs of going that route, I was determined to make CreateSpace work.
And it did. Obviously. Turns out, it was easier than I thought. Within a few weeks, I had tweaked my manuscript, found and verified the images I wanted to utilize, created the cover and back cover, added some fun bonus material, and had three editors comb the pre-press galley proof for dumb mistakes (somehow three mistakes still made their way into the finished product… more on that later). I was ready.
When the box arrived with the finished books inside, I nearly fainted. There they were. Multiple copies of MY book staring back at me once the cardboard flaps were parted.
What a remarkable sensation. To say it was surreal sounds trite, but it kinda was surreal. Here I had this project simmering on the back burner for nearly TWO YEARS and now, here she was, looking up at me from a box of 50. For someone like me, who revels in the creation phase and has more unfinished than finished in her repertoire, this was quite an achievement. And on time, too. (Those who know me, expect me to be 15 minutes late, always.)
So, now for the truly hard part. Selling it.
Did I mention I don’t like asking for money when I am the beneficiary? Luckily, I am not the sole beneficiary this time. The majority of the proceeds will go to the restoration of the Patten House—home of the heroine of the story—a lovely Victorian home on the Gamble Mansion property, a short distance from the Manatee River, in beautiful Ellenton, Florida. (Below she sits in her newly renovated glory, back in the early 1970’s.)
My husband insisted that a little bit of the money help us with our own bills. I never realized how much an author pays in TAXES on a book she writes. We pay sales tax on the book when it’s printed and income tax on the book when it’s sold. (I just keep learning new things.) So, yes, I am keeping a small portion. To try and not feel guilty about it, I’m channeling Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec who stated so eloquently in an interview, “Success is becoming a dirty word. I make no apologies for my money.” (Watch the interview here.) I’m nowhere near needing Herjavec’s level of denial, but it struck me when I heard him say that. I crave to be that at ease with success.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED:
- I see now that it is absolutely true that everyone has a book in them and it is an irreplaceable feeling of accomplishment. I think we all need more of that feeling. Scratching an item off your To Do list is invigorating. If writing a book is on your Bucket List, can you imagine how it will feel to scratch that one off?
- No one gets rich by simply being an author. If that’s why you want to write a book, don’t waste your time.
- Knowing when to quit editing/adding is the most difficult part. Somehow you have to get to a point where you feel comfortable walking away and calling it DONE.
- Being OKAY with finding mistakes AFTER the damned thing is printed is sometimes impossible. Especially weird mistakes that SHOULD have been caught by YOU. Ugh.
- Self-publishing is AMAZING. I can now help anyone get a book published. No matter how small, how silly, how imperfectly written… If you want to publish something, contact me.
- People will surprise you. There will be some that you totally expect to support your project that won’t and some that you never imagined would that do. Life is certainly like a box of chocolates.