It’s been 25 years since my first book was published. Since then, I’ve written and sold others, but not all of them got to print courtesy of a standard publishing house. If you’re eager to see your name on a dust jacket, my experiences may offer incites you haven’t considered.
Tales From the Emperor’s Kitchen
We were five strangers at a weekend writing conference who decided to collaborate on a book and sell it at the following year’s conference. We wrote, edited, proofed, bought paper, designed a cover and pooled our cash to print 500 copies. After gathering our laurels a year later, we asked the owner of the Chinese restaurant (hence the book title) hosting our editorial meetings to display it at the register. He received a cut for selling the remaining 500 copies.
Write a tongue-in-cheek reference book that proposes George Bush as a dictionary author? Easy. I went to AuthorHouse, one of the many publish-on-demand (POD) houses currently open for business. For a modest fee, the book was produced. I sold copies to friends and at public venues. It’s still available since PODs don’t print a copy until it’s ordered.
Work for Hire Projects
My name is on the cover of many books, but I don’t earn royalties on any of them because I was hired just to do the writing. In each case, I was paid a one-time fee and all copyright/ownership rights reverted to whomever hired me. I adore this avenue: All creative and no stress, plus my name appears on the cover.
Save the Last Stall for Me and Heavy Petting
Members of my current writers group wanted to write a book, but they didn’t want to pay for it. We turned to PublishAmerica, a POD charging no fee to produce our short story collection Save the Last Stall for Me. For our second book, Heavy Petting, we pitched and were signed by Musa Publishing, an e-book publisher. Royalties? Not much. But seeing our names on the cover remains a thrill.
The Christmas Quilt
It wasn’t hard to find a publisher for my O’Henry-style romance novel. Mélange Books editors optioned it and were a joy to work with. The cover artist’s first design was exceptional. Royalties are modest and marketing remains partially my responsibility, but Quilt remains a part of Mélange’s online catalog, selling as both a download and paperback.
While I’ve tried a variety of publication methods, these five tips apply to all of them:
1) Ask yourself: Do I want to write a book or become a writer? If it’s the first, consider POD.
2) Tenacity trumps all. You must be committed to stay the course, no matter how long it takes.
3) Never take a rejection personally. I would repeat that if I had no space limitations here.
4) In it for the money? Don’t pursue publication unless you can keep your expectations in check.
5) Never give up. Seriously. Don’t ask me why. Just don’t.