A brief recap: I started my book in 2004, while I was still working, but got bogged down by the lack of a plot and work. I set it aside until after retirement and thought about what the story should be, its themes, and how I was going to develop the plot. I began writing in earnest in late summer 2008, which included considerable research to be certain I knew what I was writing about. By late 2009, I had a manuscript. My wife read it, told me what she thought of it; and I rewrote it, tossing forty pages of work. I had considerable help from a content editor—she read it, I rewrote it; she reread it again and I rewrote it again. I followed this by hiring a copy/line editor, which resulted in another edit on my part. Then on August 28, 2010, I attended a workshop of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA) in Denver and met authors, agents, editors, publishers, printers, book shepherds, self-publishers, and consultants. Here is where I learned that “writing a book is a creative act. Selling the book is a business,” and I knew nothing about the business.
I joined CIPA, attended the meetings, and continued to develop relationships with the knowledge-holders. I worked with Mary Waleski, an expert on social media marketing, who taught me how to professionally market a book—an interesting dynamic for one who thought he’d left all “networking” behind. (She also read my manuscript and offered a few suggestions.)
I listened and learned and weighed the choices I had for publishing. I concluded that with the state of the publishing industry, the major players are simply not going to be interested in a retired businessman’s first attempt at a 100,000 word mainstream character-driven novel. And I wanted to avoid the “vanity press,” those that make money off the writer rather than selling the books. My choices were simple: self-publish with on-demand printing and e-books or find a small publisher, which was my preference. I then found Dr. Patricia Ross of Hugo House Publishing, a local publishing house. I submitted a book proposal, we met, and she agreed to take on the project. She’s read through the manuscript, made numerous suggestions, and I edited and edited and submitted it back to her.
The task is to tighten up the themes—I know what they are, what I’m trying to say, but perhaps they’re too subtle or I’m just not writing it very well. Dr. Ross is obviously looking at it from the viewpoint of sales. Can we get this book, that she likes, to a better position to sell? We’re working through this as I write this update—and it’s fun—it’s a learning process. Once we’re both happy, we’re going to send out manuscripts to her connections for some market research—find out who the likely buyers are. Since about 70% of the purchasers of popular fiction are women, we know that is where the majority of purchases are likely to be, but we’re looking for more specific demographics, if that can be determined. When all that is completed, the decision then is do we print on demand because we’re having difficulty identifying the audience or do we publish via the more expensive route? To be determined….