A decision is made
Well, after many, many query letters, many, many different approaches and a weekend at the Writers Digest Conference in August 2017, I finally accepted that if I wanted to see Discovery in print, it would have to be self-published. It sounds easy, but comparing it to the traditional publishing route, nothing could be farther from the truth.
As I said in my first post, I love to write. I see patients during the week, and I love that as well, but when it comes to my free time I don’t long to sit outside, or garden, or go to the beach or take a hike. I do those things from time to time, but usually because the weeds are destroying the flowers, or I have guests I can’t ignore. But writing, imagining, polishing, revising, have nothing to do with the business of publishing.
All the steps between finishing up with my editor and sending the manuscript to people I didn’t know existed, planning the cover, hiring a printer, a publicist, and following up on all of that is a full time job; and not a job I’m good at. But it was that or putting the (virtual) pages in the proverbial drawer and locking them up for someone to find after I’m dead. (Hmm, sounds like a new story idea.) Fortunately for me, Bob, my husband, hero⎯and now my publisher, is excellent at business, details, and filing things on the computer.
The Process of Self-Publishing
First it was picking a formatter. Of course, I’d never heard of a formatter, but as it turns out there are pages and pages of them to choose from on Google. They all have excellent reviews and offer different, and to me, mysterious “packages” at different prices.
I’d been reading a blog by Jane Friedman, and in passing she mentioned a formatter called Damonza and gave them a vote of approval. For reasons as yet unknown to me, their prices were well below the others I’d seen online; I hired them and they did a great job. They allowed me to keep making changes for as long as I wanted to, which I now know is not unusual or unexpected.
I’d been strongly advised to leave the cover to the professionals, but in the end I decided to use a portion of one of my paintings, which I thought captured the spirit of the book. They did a great job with it, and most people agree. The title of that painting is Rennes-le-Château, a pivotal location in the book, and it wraps the words inside in an image that I think evokes mystery, romance and a little sensuality that is part Father Saunière’s character, and maybe David’s as well. They have poetry in their souls, which I tried to capture in the painting. See what you think and let me know.
Then we hired Smith Publicity. I was assigned to Sarah Miniacci, a young, enthusiastic, supportive and connected publicist who knows the publishing biz and became my champion. If I believed in angels⎯and maybe I do in some cosmic way⎯she would be one of mine. At the very least, she was a gift, certainly to an inexperienced debut author like me.
I never really liked social media. The idea of posting a photo of my dinner, or of myself, never appealed to me, although I must admit pictures of some of the children in my life have made the cut. But now! Now I have been welcomed into a community that shares a love of books. There are other writers and readers, those who blog about books and promote books. And wherever we are around the globe, and no matter our ages or life circumstances, we have our love of books in common and we touch each others’ lives.
So now onto the next steps: getting some events scheduled at small bookstores and being interviewed on a few podcasts. I did one some time ago that needs follow up called GracefullyRadio, and there is one coming up at the end of September hosted by Carolyn Pouncy, author of many historical books, and a series. As an author she goes by C.P Lesley. The podcast is on NB Historical Fiction on Facebook and @NewBooksHistFic on Twitter. I’m very excited for that opportunity. I don’t know whether anyone listening is tempted to go and buy the book, but I find that I love talking about it, and I’m well aware there are too many good books to read in a lifetime. I don’t take it personally.
So these days, being a published author has become part of my identity. It is no longer something I aspire to, or an avocation. Doing this thing I love, spending the time and energy to get it as good as it can be, and sending it out into the world with trepidation and pride, feels like one of my greatest achievements. I hope you’ll read Discovery and start a conversation about it. It has lots of ideas I find fascinating and thought provoking, and I hope you will too.