Self Publishing Isn’t Real Publishing

Hopefully you don’t agree with the title of this article… I actually threw it out there to inspire folks to read and chime in. So… Did my troll work?

“Not real” is something that I’ve heard repeatedly since self publishing my memoir. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told folks that I self published and then hear back, “Oh. So you haven’t really been published.” Even the other name for self publishing, vanity press, has an unctuous feel to it.

In the past, When people told me that I haven’t really been published, I hung my head low and agreed with people who made this statement.

Times have changed. These days I keep my head held high, raise an eyebrow, and say, “Um… My book is in print, it’s available at all major retailers, I’ve sold more than 2,500 copies, and I get quarterly royalty checks. How exactly do you define really published?”

In today’s technology filled world, I believe it’s perfectly valid to self publish your manuscript.

On top of that… Think about the numbers associated with this undertaking. Using my book as an example:

  • I spent more than a year writing the 100,000 words in my book;
  • While we’re on that topic; my manuscript was 100,000 words;
  • It took two months to work through my rough draft and glean a finished product;
  • Months-and-months of my time was spent researching the world of publishing;
  • I wrote more than fifty agencies and publishing houses;
  • The self publisher I used assigned me an editor and we re-edited my manuscript;
  • Last but not least, the entire publishing process (after everything else) took more than six months!

After nearly three years of hard work, my book was bound and published in soft and hard cover formats.

What do you think?

If you’d like to see my self publishing adventure, checkout my article, How I Self Published. Also, if you dig, checkout my Inkslinger category for more writing-based blog posts.

I hope you enjoyed my brief tirade,
Vaughn (a published author)

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NaNoWriMo 2013

Starting back in 1999, the National Novel Writing Month or as most writers refer to it: NaNoWriMo (or simply NaNo) has dubbed November, well… National Novel Writing Month. Essentially, it is a time for lackluster writers and would be novelists to put aside their worries and doubts and bang out a novel. More precisely, the novel should be at least 50,000 words long.

50,000 words?? You scream… Well, if you remember a recent article of mine, healthywealthytribe.com/write-your-book I said that you can write a 120,000 word book in 68 days. hmmmm… That is far cry longer than 30 days. However, the good news is that during NaNoWriMo we only need to write 50K words (50,000 for you non-propeller heads). And, according to my calculations in that article, that can be accomplished EASILY in 30 days with only a half-hour of serious typing each day. Now, most of us mere mortals cannot bang out 60 words per minute for 30 minutes straight… But, I would venture a guess that we could do it in an hour each day. At 1,800 words per day (one hour of typing) we should get our 50,000 word novel completed in ~28 days giving us two days to spare. My recommendation is that on the days you can afford to, write longer! This will ensure that you complete this monumental task.

Who’s with me?

If you want to join me, start today (not a moment to spare) and sign up at: nanowrimo.org

After you sign up, make sure you read through the FAQ and then drop in on the discussion forum and get more info and so on and so forth. Don’t waste too much time in there, because this month is for writing, my friends!

I’ll say it again: Who’s with me?

You can find my NaNoWriMo account here: nanowrimo.org/participants/vripley

In case you would like more info before going to the site, I took the liberty of including their How It Works section to get you started:

During NaNoWriMo, you write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. The challenge may be hard, but the logistics are not! Here, let us guide you through ‘em.

1. Sign up for our website with that big, blue “Sign Up!” button on the homepage. You’ll get an email validation link a few minutes later.

2. As part of the sign-up process, you’ll choose a home region for in-person events near you. This is totally optional, but we think it’s a pretty awesome part of the NaNo experience.

3. Our user dashboard will usher you through the rest of your account set-up stuff. Click on the grayed-out badges to fill out your profile, say hello in our forums, and add writing buddies.

4. On October 1, you’ll be able to add information about your upcoming novel to your profile. Giving your work a title or brief synopsis gets you 225% more pumped for November. It’s a fact.

5. You can also use October to read past author pep talks, grab participant web badges, meet folks in the forums, and learn more about our nonprofit.

6. At midnight on November 1, start writing. Work on your manuscript using any method where you can track your word count. Word-processing program, notebook, typewriter, stone slab: they all work.

7. Update your word count whenever you can. Some like every day; others prefer a few times a week. No matter when, you can do it in that word-count update menu at the top of every page on our site.

8. Stay motivated with pep talks (we’ll send them to your on-site inbox and your email), forum chatter, and in-person events in your region. There’s also a big world of NaNo out there in social media: find us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, and Pinterest.

9. Starting on November 25, you can validate your novel to win. If it’s over 50,000 words, paste the text into the word-count validator. A few robotic calculations later, we’ll declare you an official NaNoWriMo winner! From there, you’ll be able to collect a few prime novelist goodies.

10. If you enjoy your NaNo experience, please donate to support our mission. We believe in making this a more creative world, and we’d love your help getting there. (Here’s more about why others donate, as well as additional ways to give.)

 

I’m off to start my next novel!!! Seriously folks: Who’s with me?

Posted with good intentions,
Vaughn

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Write Your Book

I was inspired by my friend, Susan Kim, to write about how easy (literally) it is to write your first novel. We were talking about writing and the ups and downs of it, when it occurred to me that the majority of people I know dream of writing a book and yet fewer than 5% of them have actually done it. So, as I was taking my Scottish shower (see my earlier blog post for this most energizing and creative way to cleanse yourself – Take a Cold Shower) I started thinking about this more. I decided it was article worthy.

Did you know that most publishers consider 40,000 words to be the minimum word count in a submitted book? My autobiography, Survivor, has approximately 100,000 words in it. That said, there are a few authors that stuff 160,000 or more words into a book; which is more like an encyclopedia in weight and reading time! For simplicity’s sake, I decided to do a few calculations based around a 120,000 word book. This will give us more than enough for an average sized book. The other piece of the calculation that we need to guess is how many words per minute you can type. I believe that the average person in today’s computer age can type 60 WPM (words per minute). This is even true of single digit hunt-and-peckers like me. I can actually type close to 100 WPM with only my pointer fingers and thumbs! I assume most of my friends with aspirations of writing a book can beat the average of 60 WPM, but let’s stick with 60 to cover all bases.

Now for the fun part (I love math). The calculation part… Considering 60 WPM, you could literally type 120,000 words in under 34 hours. You read that right! For all of you procrastinators out there, you literally could write the rough draft of an entire book without sleeping! As a matter of fact, this is exactly how Sylvester Stallone wrote Rocky, when he sat non-stop and wrote the entire thing in three and a half days!!!

Now, most of us mere mortals cannot sit in front of a keyboard for 34 hours straight. At the very least there are things like food and potty breaks. However, don’t you think this is encouraging?? Now let’s dive a little deeper and be more realistic.

Most writers that I have read say that they normally write for about two hours per day. With that in mind, you could bang out a 120,000 word book in under 17 days. Even two hours per day is a bit tough for us weekend warrior types. So, what if I asked you, “Could you find thirty minutes each day to write?” Think about it… Can’t ANYONE squeeze thirty minutes out of a super busy day to write? Of course we can. Now that we know what we can absolutely do, let’s look at the math:

At one half-hour per day, you could write a 120,000 (remember this is a thick book) word rough draft in 69 days (actually 68, but I really love the number 69 – plus this gives us one cheat day. HA!) So, even with some missed days, any of us could type in a rough draft in a mere two-and-a-half months!!!

What are you waiting for? Stop being a lazy procrastinator and get off your ass! I mean it! It is seriously that easy!

Now… Since we got the math part out of the way… In future blog posts I will talk about ways to outline and write your desired story. And, where to pull creative juices from. And, finally we’ll talk about things like polishing your rough, getting it edited, and finding an agent and/or publisher. This is fun! And, simple! Remember what I like to say, “Just because something is simple, does not make it easy.” And, writing is a perfect example of this quote. However, now that you have the math laid out before you, you have no excuses!

While you’re waiting for my future writing posts, be sure to checkout all of my previous ones in the InkSlinger section.

I honestly expect to hear from at least one friend in three months time who adamantly thanks me and thrillingly says, “I did it! I wrote my first novel!”

Love you all,
Vaughn

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How I Self Published

Since my book, Survivor: One Man’s Battle with HIV, Hemophilia, and Hepatitis C, has come out, I have been asked a plethora of times what the process was, how long it took, and how I did it. So, I decided to create a blog article to detail what made me decide to self publish, the steps I went through, the pitfalls, my struggles, cost, and of course, how long the entire publishing thing took.

Let’s go back to the beginning to really get this post kicked off properly… In 1986 I was diagnosed with HIV, due to a bad blood transfusion. My doctor told me that I had fewer than two years to live. After those two years passed, I decided to start keeping track of my life stories (which were often pretty scary) in sort of a diary fashion. I wanted this to be a legacy for my friends and family after I died. In circa 2005 I realized that I had amounted a pretty large cache of data. Sometime around then my wife, Kristine, looked at all of my notes, stories, and timelines and said, “You know… you’ve got a book here.” She was right.

Now, having a pile of notes and publishing a book are two totally different animals. But, I was on the right track, and did have a great start for an autobiography. With that in mind, I started turning my compiled notes into a book format. I had to create stories out of each journal entry, and this was hard work. I wrote the whole thing in the first person, and made it as if I was telling a story; which I was. Early into the project I also decided to be utterly frank and blunt. I was not going to hide my secrets (like the one I divulge in chapter twenty-five). I wanted my story to be brutally honest.

Once I had the book written, I started sending query letters to agents and publishers. For about a year or so, each one was politely returned with a cookie cutter postcard that essentially said, “no thank you.” Then, I got my first break. An agent actually sent me a personal note, and it talked about how unless I had slept with a celebrity or was a famous figure, that my chances of publishing an autobiography was close to nil. While this was disheartening, I did appreciate the sincerity. I was once again back at square one. Then, out of the blue, someone suggested that I look into self-publishing. The funny thing is that I didn’t even know what that meant. Before long, I realized that it was a good avenue to get my work printed, published, and distributed. So I researched out the wazoo (something that I’m fairly good at). I finally narrowed my search down to one self-publisher in particular: iUniverse.

On November 30th, 2009 I clicked a link to request more information about iUniverse and they responded that day. On December 2, 2009 I paid $1,400 to iUniverse for what they called the “Book Launch Premier Pro” package. Their website showed that the package listed for $4,200, so I was able to get a really good deal! And, this package was filled with tons of goodies including an email marketing campaign, all kinds of website setup (which I didn’t need, because I already had my own), Library of Congress and copyright setup, ISBN assignment, and 80 books (20 hardcover and 60 trade softcover). You can see iUniverse’s current packages here:
www.iuniverse.com/Packages/PackageCompare.aspx

I instantly justified the cost of the package, because I would be getting a retail value of $1,800 worth of books along with all the goodies they provided.

The team at iUniverse was incredibly helpful and extremely prompt (no, I do not get kickbacks for praising them – I sincerely loved working with them). My assistants and helpers were a Godsend, considering I knew nothing about the publishing world. I was assigned an editor, who proofread my work and sent back suggestions. They also worked on taglines, biographical line, and additional marketing based things. Essentially, they did all of the legwork and tough stuff (besides writing the book) for me.

After edits, rewrites, little changes, and adjustments we were finally ready. I looked over my final proof and approved it. The finished product was officially published on September 29, 2010. So, the entire process took ten months. I think that was a reasonable amount of time considering the copious amounts of work and effort that went into the project after I had finished my rough draft.

I would strongly recommend utilizing the self-publish route if you are struggling to get published. I would also highly recommend iUniverse, although I suggest that anyone going this path do their own research and draw their own conclusions on what publisher to go with.

One final note is that I sometimes hear, “Yeah but your book wasn’t really published…” To that I would retort, “My book was published. It has an ISBN, is registered with the Library of Congress, was printed and bound in soft and hard cover, and is available on all major online book seller sites. On top of that, it has been created on all popular eBook formats and is even available in the Frederick County Library system.” How can anyone say it isn’t published??

If anyone ever asks you about the validity of self-publishing, you can always fall back on the list of other authors who have done it: Mark Twain, John Grisham, L. Ron Hubbard, Irma Rombauer, Walt Whitman, Richard Paul Evans, Jack Canfield and Mark Hensen, James Redfield, Beatrix Potter, Thomas Paine, Edgar Allan Poe, T.S. Elliot, Carl Sandberg, Gertrude Stein, Deepak Chopra, Upton Sinclair, D.H. Lawrence, George Bernard Shaw, E.E. Cummings, Henry David Thoreau, Virginia Woolf, Margaret Atwood, Tom Clancy, and Stephen Crane. BOOM!

One additional piece of advice is that everything is negotiable. So, when talking to the self-publisher you decide on, make sure you barter on the package price and future prices for your books that you buy.

You can buy my book directly from my publisher, or through Amazon (among other online book sellers):
My publisher: bookstore.iuniverse.com/Products/SKU-000173056/Survivor.aspx
Amazon: www.amazon.com/Survivor-Mans-Battle-Hemophilia-Hepatitis/dp/1450260306
Kindle: www.amazon.com/Survivor-Battle-Hemophilia-Hepatitis-ebook/dp/B00466HHTG

If you’ve been through this process, or have questions, or simply feel like chatting, please comment below using the simple form.

I sincerely hope that this article motivated or inspired someone out there, and helps you see that this process is doable!

Love to all,
V

Please comment by clicking “Leave a Comment.” And, if you dig, share this article! Also, please type your email address into the “Subscribe” box up top to get updates each time I post a new blog article.

You can rest assured that we will never SPAM your email account, and it’s only used to send the latest articles.