From time to time in this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following are the words of Chad McDonald, author of “To My Children: Love, Dad.” Click here to receive a free publishing guide and to receive more information on self-publishing your book with WestBow Press.
My first book, To My Children: Love, Dad, has finally been published. Let’s just say it was an interesting experience. I am on disability and, therefore, had the time to spend on the book.
I did learn a few things in the process. Select a publisher who has your values. If you are Christian, you definitely will want to work with a Christian publisher. Patience was especially important for me. With a limited budget, your selection of publisher services will likewise be limited. I only paid for things up front and that is the way it is in the industry. If you want to publish to the nines, use the company editorial services, and maximize your out of the gate marketing, be prepared to pay more than I did. These services are worth it, but if you’re willing to be patient, you can do it on a budget.
It had been many years since I had written and, frankly, I found myself writing and editing with a grammar book open many times. Commas are still my nemesis but I hammered through it. Don’t hesitate to ask a friend or to go out and buy that grammar book. In the end, it pays off. Or at least I’m hoping it will. If you are imperfect at editing, get one of the many grammar checking software programs out there. They will definitely save you time. In my case, I chose to relearn the grammar of the English language, but that’s what happens when you’re on disability.
Once you submit your book for design, take your time and look for design as well as grammatical errors. If you didn’t catch the errors the first hundred times through your book, catch them now. It may be annoying and seem as if it is nickel and diming you to death, but a quality book is what you want to be able to present to the public. You might as well start saving money for this stage of publishing when you begin writing your book.
Be grateful to each and every person along the way. Thank them each step of the way and with every e-mail. Be sincere in thanking them, after all, they are doing their job but they are the ones who can make this process pleasant or miserable. Remember to be sure your work is done before asking them to do theirs. Going over the same mistakes is painful for everybody. Gratitude goes a long way in life, especially when you’re engaged in a business transaction that you hope to make money on.
Learn their names and don’t waste their time. Most publishing “meetings” will take place by e-mail because time is a limited commodity. Show them due respect, and don’t take your frustrations out on them. Inevitably, some may come through but try to be humble about it. They aren’t paid to listen to us complain.
As you progress through the process realize that this is only the middle of your book writing journey. You still have sales and marketing. Listen to what the publisher’s marketers are telling you. Ask questions that are limited to their position and, if that doesn’t get you the answer, ask for a referral to a person who does. Marketers may not have all the answers but there’s a reason they are in that position: they know things you probably don’t. The reason publishers provide marketing experts to you is simple: if you can make money, they are going to make money. And isn’t a little extra for that vacation worth listening to someone who knows what they are talking about?
Sales are your responsibility unless you have a deal with your publisher. Be prepared to give a lot of face time in front of groups, book stores, and online. Your returns will match your efforts and don’t be shy about using your connections to help you. And be sure to reward those who help you, even if it’s with a free book.
As for me personally, things are slow because I don’t have a lot of resources. These things I have told you are lessons learned and worth learning. I have started my second book and will be using my own advice when dealing with Westbow Press in the future. And I will be saving up for the next publishing experience with the profits I make from this book.
WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books, are invited to do so by sending a message through our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WestBowPress, by tweeting us @westbowpress, or by emailing kgray@ westbowpress.com. We may not be able to use every story, but we will read and consider them. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar and punctuation accuracy; as well as for space.