Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Self-publishing with Kay Nichols

Welcome back, Kay Nichols! Kay has bravely tackled my questions about self-publishing with candid and heartfelt answers. I appreciate her coming back to Whispers for a second time and sharing her publishing experience.

See Kay's first interview here.

Check out Kay's paranormal novel, SOULS, here.

"Like" author Kay Nichols here.

Tell us a little about your decision to self-publish.

The publishing world is a hard nut to crack into. I may not have the next NYT best seller, but I have some entertaining stories. If writing were solely a way to exercise my own creative muscles, then I would be content to keep my books all to myself. But it's not. I write because I want to entertain. I want people to be able to use my books to escape from their life - even if only for a few hours. Since my proverbial nutcracker was not getting me anywhere, I took matters into my own hands and opted for self-publication. It may never make me rich, but it satisfies my dream.

What was your process for picking the right self-publishing company for you? In other words, what made you pick one over the rest?

I talked to a few other self-published authors and lulu.com came highly recommended. One of the reasons I like lulu is that you have the ability to do as much or as little as you want. An author can publish for free, market to only family or to everyone, or purchase a pre-designed publishing package that requires little effort on the part of the author. All self-publishing sites are the same as far as services offered, but through my research I found that lulu.com has the most consumer traffic.

Did you hire an editor and cover artist, or were editing/art services provided for you by Lulu? What other services do they offer?

Lulu offers whatever you are willing to pay for: marketing, publishing, editing, cover design, etc. It also offers you the tools you need to do it on your own at no cost. Personally, since this was my first book, I opted for a publishing package. Lulu handled the formatting, cover design, and ISBN. I think this was the best route for my first book, but going forward, I intend to handle it all on my own. I did have an editor, a cover artist, and a marketing specialist that I will be working with on these future publications.

Is your self-published book available at the same venues traditionally published books are sold? For example: Will we be able to find SOULS on amazon.com or at a local brick-and-mortar bookstore?

Lulu has a relationship with amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. It does not provide an "in" at any actual stores. I have found, though, that many local bookstores will take local authors' books on consignment. It requires more legwork on the part of the author, but it's relatively easy. Most large book companies and retail stores will not accept self-published books for sale at their stores.

A lot of people reading this are actively seeking publication. Should they decide to self-publish, is there anything else you can share that will help them in their decision or prepare them for what comes next?

The best way I can answer this is that they need to do what is best for them and what accomplishes their goal as an author. My dream has never been to be a #1 selling author. I just want to write. I just want to see my books in print. I just want my family and friends to be able to actually hold a copy of a book I created in their hands. But, for those that dream of mass distribution and fame, self-publication would not be the way to go.

As far as whether this will help an new author stand a better chance of being published by a big name house: NO, IT WILL NOT. Self-publication is not considered publishing history. In fact, mentioning it in your query letter may actually work against you. Anyone can self-publish. A publishing house or literary agent does not see this as an accomplishment unless you manage to sell thousands of copies.

If you decide to self-publish, be prepared to market your book. I set up a facebook account, a Twitter account, and purchased a website. I also contact every local bookstore in my area to work out consignment deals. I have set up book signings. I contact every local media outlet in the attempt to gain an interview that could promote my book. It is not a bad route to go if you are willing to do the work that an agent or publisher would do.

I would like to add here that when I first made the decision to self-publish, I felt like I had failed. That is until I read one of YOUR blogs, Rhiannon. It was the one about everyone wanting that last piece of the "publishing" pie. I realized that the only way to achieve my own, personal dream was to go the route I did. And then I received the first copy of my book. It had that new book smell. My dream had come true. And that was all I ever wanted. I got my piece of the pie!

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