Today’s post comes from a friend of mine, Kristin Skarie, who has recently self-published her book; A Year of Nothing New – Tools for Living Lean and Green and is in the midst of marketing and promoting it. I first heard of Kristin from my son who was on the student government at his University – Karen conducts leadership, team building, and motivational workshops – and when Spencer spoke so highly of her I knew she was someone I wanted to meet. In this post Karen provides valuable advice and insight for all writers on how to effectively get your finalized words out to the world. Enjoy, Wendy
Fun With Self-Publishing
by Kristin Skarie
Step One – Write
Step Two – Publish
As you know, the writing process is an entity unto it’s own – with a personality, a temperament and a voice – sometimes many voices talking at once in a “meeting gone bad” kind of way! Sometimes the project itself takes on a persona. Besides the actual book title, I named my book project “Newell” to make it more like a personal relationship and less like a task to be accomplished. A friend of mine named her book project, “Hope” – to envision the book and the writing process as a trusted confidant who loves you for who you are and doesn’t mind if a lot of time goes by between visits because you can pick up right where you left off. This was a much more positive and motivating metaphor for me than what was in place prior – a dark, disappointed cloud hovering and lurking around every corner chastising me for not paying enough attention, making too many unfulfilled promises or ever finishing what I started. Ah – the power of self-talk!
And finish it I did – with a lot of help – 3 years after starting the writing process in the summer of 2010. But only after finalizing the book title, designing the front cover, writing the book blurb, determining the price point (agony), purchasing the ISBNs and the barcode, and registering the title with the Library of Congress.
I decided to self publish for three big reasons, the main one being there is a much higher margin of revenue with a self-published book. I wanted to maintain more control of the design, layout, timeline and promotion. I am also blessed to have an established audience in my college clients/friends who would purchase books in bulk for their staff and students and didn’t think I would need the supposed credibility of a publishing house.
While still writing (which was not always fun, might I say), I secured an editor, a printer, and a layout expert. Gratefully, I have a great friend who served as a point person for these contacts. She has self-published four books and had the process down to an art form. Ideally, I would have been free to do these tasks AFTER writing but I am pretty sure I have never done things the easy way.
I did things a little backwards in some ways because of a convention deadline. The book was on target to be done in July 2013 – nice, but not in time for this event. I wanted to take advantage of the crowd and share my book news with the 4000 conference attendees in February with a postcard – book cover on the front and the blurb, ISBN and price on the back. I also backed myself into a corner with a book delivery date – never do that. Film at 11.
The number of things I learned in this process was in the thousands – starting with trusting the right people and letting them help. I had a team of friends and family who looked at endless cover designs, combed through multiple manuscript versions and answered endless panicky emails and texts from me in an instant. So many mini-projects emerged alone the way including a new headshot for the back cover, register with the Library of Congress and creating “Nothing New Publishing” as my publishing company. I also decided to purchase a domain name for a potential NNP website and linked it to my existing company website. Oy.
There was a significant up front cost for cover design, editing, layout and printing – start saving now! It was essential to staying organized – I had a notebook where I wrote EVERYTHING about the process and took it with me everywhere – a sanity saver to be sure. I used classic manila folders to keep all the aspects of publication separate and to keep the hamster in the wheel at bay.
Promotion is a full time job! Pricing, shipping cost and materials, website sales, book signings, distribution sites, newspaper and online coverage – a skill set with a steep on-the-job learning curve. It takes daily attention to cultivate the essential relationships for this to happen successfully and with minimal trauma.
In the end, I did most of my own editing which was terrifying. The responsibility of having the final say (even thought that’s what I wanted) was overwhelming at times. Late nights, dishes in the sink, messy house, no exercise, and a lot of Coca Cola.
My left eye is still twitching a little bit even though I received my book shipment (2000 of them) on November 15, 2013. Yup. Making this book happen was the biggest, most difficult and most rewarding project I have ever done. Much of it was a lonely journey with a level of detail required that challenged my very existence as a human. Last night, I finally moved 15 boxes of books from my living room where they were stacked in a corner (in place of the Christmas tree) into my home office. I said out loud to my cats, “These are my books, I wrote this.” I wish you, Writer, the same sense of satisfaction, gratitude and pride in your self-publishing voyage.
Kristin Skarie is self-published author of “A Year of Nothing New – Tools for Living Lean and Green”. Her consulting business Teamworks has been thriving for 18 years through work with college, corporate and community organizations to build peaceful and productive leaders and teams. Follow her blog Nothing New News as she prepares for a Summer 2014 Semester at Sea voyage and continues learning how to green her corner of the world.