When my husband Ivan completed Eye of The Moon, we had to delve into what to do next. We had a good body of work, and per the traditional path, we needed to get an agent.
I told Ivan that the next part was my job, and that I would explore and handle the next hurdle.
I proceeded to learn all about agents, pitch letters, building the perfect synopsis—condensed and expanded versions, and then we started to reach out, but it was a dead end.
The responses from the agents included:
What other avenues were open to us, without an agent? I started looking for Small Press publishers, since they don’t usually require an intermediary.
However, the response was the same: they were already overloaded and most required a “referral”.
Next? Self-Publish. As with many industries, publishing has been going through major changes and upheavals. The power has been shifting away from publishers to the author—the artist in direct contact with his audience—and there are multiple ways now to facilitate this:
I decided to utilize our existing Media company and launch Ivan’s book in the same spirit I had founded my translations boutique 22 years ago.
In my research, I found two great books among the many things I read: How do I Decide? Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing by Rachelle Gardner and How to Be a Writer in the e-Age: A Self-Help Guide by Catherine Ryan Hyde and Anne R. Allen.
Ms. Gardner’s book convinced me that we were the “self-publishing type”, with its organized questionnaires posing simple questions and answers to choose from. In fact, we found that we would do better “self-publishing” rather than waiting, and letting others completely take over the process. It’s fun to choose the cover of the book, the interior design, create websites, and choose publicity avenues. It’s another creative expression for the book, and Ivan and I found that it made sense to be part of it.
Jane Friedman is a wealth of information and one is constantly learning about various parts of the changing industry through her.
There is a lot of information out there. Too much information. There is a whole (growing) marketing industry on how to make it as a writer. There is no magic wand (is there ever?)
We found some simple steps that are working for us by addressing the following:
1) How do we define success for this project?
2) What exactly is needed to reach that goal?
3) Delegate, divide and conquer.
4) Reassess as we go.
Social media, as an example, can be quite daunting.
We are private people. We work, play, enjoy family, and have a nice number of friends and acquaintances, and we treasure our quiet times. The social media world as we understood it was just not our cup of tea, and we were originally determined to live the rest of our lives with minimal contact.
However, about the same time we were looking into self-publishing as a company, Ivan wrote an article “Governance and the Rise of Networks”, which shifted our focus in the social media area. We had to reassess our previous thoughts on the subject.
How to Be a Writer in the e-Age: A Self-Help Guide helped us decide that we had to take it on.
There was no escaping that we had to embrace it, but on our terms. Our challenge became how to make it fun rather than a pain. Managing challenges, growth, learning, making mistakes, that’s all fine, and we are up to it, but it must be rewarding and not take over our lives. We found that making this decision at the outset was very important.
As Anne Lamott said in her brilliant Bird by Bird, lighthouses don’t run all over an island looking for boats to save. They just stand there, shining. In a similar way, those with stories to share don’t need to chase readers. They just need to be their authentic selves, and shine. I would add that they need a village to make it.
This will be an ongoing journey, and I invite you to follow our progress. I will let you know what we discover along the way. Stay tuned…
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