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Kay Stoner Interview -- Part II

IpubHere's the second part of my interview with Kay Stoner of (Part I is here).  It's only one question but Kay's answer is loaded with great insight, so I think it stands on its own (and I wanted everyone to have access to everything she had to say):

JW: What are some of the warnings you'd offer new authors who are considering the self-publishing route?

KS: Be prepared to continue your writing career in obscurity for the immediate future. You may totally believe in your book 100%, and you may in fact be the next Saul Bellow, but it takes time for the rest of the world to figure that out. It takes a huge amount of work to continuously promote a book -- which is what you have to do, if you want to catch anybody's attention, these days. Be prepared to work -- and work hard! -- for every review, every mention, every sale. The work pays off, but be prepared to work harder than you ever thought you had to. Follow up constantly on every contact, post to blogs, keep your website up to date, make your calls to the press, send out your news releases... go for it! But prepare to work hard, and possibly without immediate reward in the first month or so. These things take time.

Don't get depressed by your earnings numbers. You may indeed come up with a best-seller, and you may make some serious money in sales and speaking engagements, but there's always a chance that won't happen. The bookselling business is notoriously difficult, and that fact is largely obscured by the huge operations at mainstream publishing houses, which create the illusion of a profitable industry to the uninitiated. Do what you can to promote your book, but don't be thrown off if the numbers start off at a trickle at first. Remember, some books that become blockbuster best-sellers over several years' time start out fairly anemic. So, steel your nerves for a slow start, just in case... If you gauge your success only by how much money you make or how often your name shows up in Google, you may develop even more of an inferiority complex than you had when all you had to show for your writing was a drawer full of rejection slips. So, don't let slow sales get to you at first.

Just as importantly, be prepared to be successful! There's nothing worse than having a big hit on your hands and not being prepared to follow through on the invitations to television appearances and radio interviews and all the publicity activities that go along with a hot new project that everybody's very excited about. So, make sure your calendar is pretty flexible around the time that you're doing your book launch -- and be prepared to follow through. Be clear about what you will and will not do -- how far you're willing to travel, when you're prepared to make appearances, etc.

Bottom line is, as an indie publisher, anything can happen -- which can be the best thing in the world, or the worst thing! If you have a plan and you stick to it, that can simplify things a great deal and get you to your publishing and publicity goals.

Also, there's still a tremendous amount of bias against self-publishing. A lot of people still believe the hype about publishing houses being the ultimate arbiters of literary taste, and they love to tell you about it. It's totally up to you whether you listen to them or not, but a lot of people won't be shy about turning up their noses at you. Of course, if you've already established credibility as an expert in your field, then you can possibly overcome the objections quicker. If you're a multi-millionaire, or you're a well-known subject matter expert, and you're sharing what you've already made wildly successful, that can overcome the "vanity press" bias.

You can also do a great job of obscuring your humble origins by having a professional-looking cover and formatting your interior with a more formal font than Times New Roman. There are a lot of people who know about fonts, and they love to share that knowledge online. Do your research, look at other books, and see how they do it. Try out different fonts, and don't be afraid to scrap a certain layout if it just isn't right. You can overcome the anti-self-publishing bias by right of a well-built "product" - seeing is believing!


T Demop, Blogging for Business

Great interview! I'm been published a couple of times by the traditional route and am now very seriously considering the self publishing route. I'm "wetting my feet" with a little booklet for starters.
I hate to admit it, but I may have a slight bias against self-published books. This interview has helped me see/admit it. I've seen some atrocious self-published books as well as some really great ones.
I do think self publishing is the future. It probably will never entirely replace traditional publishing, but the world is changing. Not sure most publishers get it (amazing, ehhh?)

Joe Wikert

Hi Ted. I'm sure other publishers have a variety of opinions about self-publishing. My opinion is that it's a good thing and will only help challenge publishers to do a better job than they might have in the past. I'm talking about everything from hunting for new authoring talent to being overly reliant on agents. There's also a lot to be learned from some of the more successful self-published authors and how they used their platforms in new and exciting ways.

Kay Stoner

Hi Ted -

Keep in mind that you can "obscure" your self-published status by doing a few things:

1) Publishing on Lulu as "Direct Access" book -- it won't show up in the Lulu search results, if you want to keep it out of the ranks of self-publishers, but you will have an individual "buy page" for your book that you can use. Alternatively, you can produce your book with Lulu and buy copies from them as you go, to distribute through your own website. You can also purchase a global distribution package from Lulu which lists your book on Amazon (and other online booksellers, once it's in Books In Print and in the international "ISBN database in the sky") as being published by you, rather than Lulu. There are lots of different options available to you, some of which make Lulu all but invisible (except to you).

I've actually seen books marketed in very slick packages -- and I realized, from being familiar with the covers in Lulu's cover gallery, that they had published the book with Lulu, using a stock cover. Lulu was never mentioned on their website, which was very professional.

If you form your own company (or register a DBA) you can simply print/distribute with Lulu and market under your own moniker, and no high-minded customers need be the wiser... unless you want them to be!

There are plenty of alternative options!

Joe Wikert

Hi Kay. Thanks for this follow-up information, and thanks again for agreeing to the interview!

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