Sunday, July 24, 2016

Reflections On Dropkicking My Way Through Self-Publishing

Dear Lit Loves,

Greetings fellow lovers of reading!  Yes, I just wanted to announce that my new memoir entitled Brave Soul Rising:  Tales From The Trenches of An Uncharmed Life written under my pen name of Grace Sutherlin just appeared on Barnes and Noble's online site for sale!  I was thoroughly ecstatic!  I thought about running around our apartment tennis courts screaming while waving a paperback copy of my book in the air; however, I didn't want anyone to call the police and then have to explain why I was acting insanely.  Truly though, that's how excited I was when this development occurred. 

And then someone recently made a snide remark to me about how I wasn't really "published" in the traditional sense.  This person had the audacity to say my work was not legitimate because it is/was self-published.  OH God, Please Let Me Not Get On My Soap Box And Seriously Give This Individual A Lecture On My Experiences With Traditional Publishing -  it was an excruciatingly brutal experience and I am a person known not to mince words.  So you know what my reply was?  "It's My Book And I Did It My Way. I Have No Regrets, Comprende?!"  And then I actually had a literary agent recently inform me that you cannot publish a memoir using a pen name.  Oh really?  Since when?  I write using a pen name because the first author I truly admired was O. Henry (pen name) otherwise known as William Sydney Porter (real name).  When I first realized he wrote using a pen name and the concept was explained to me by an English teacher, I thought, "Too cool!  I would love to do that one day, too." So I did.

Taking the self-publishing route was not an easy choice; however, when you have written four adult manuscripts and one children's manuscript and literary agents keep rejecting you not because you don't write well, but because you do not have the social media following of a Kardashian then there is something wrong or rotten in the halls of traditional publishing, folks.  So when an author friend of mine and another editor/vice president of a traditional publishing house suggested self-publishing, I took it as a sign from Jesus.  And I went for it.  People now ask me how to indeed self-publish so herewith is a list of the steps I took on my way to publishing Brave Soul Rising.


1)  Realize that not every literary agent recognizes a unique manuscript when it is given to them.  Honestly, Still Alice, The Martian, and Legally Blonde were all originally self-published according to my research.  That right there tells me that sometimes you are meant to captain your own ship and well, I've always been somewhat known as a loner so if the shoe fits darling, wear it well is what I say!

2)  Write an interesting, meaningful, and moving manuscript.  Personally, I have had so many absurd things happen to me in my life, it really wasn't that hard to get those specific times in my life down on paper.  And it definitely wasn't hard to elaborate on those same absurd life events.  For example, browse this entire blog site.

3)  Edit. Edit. Edit.  Okay, this was the hard part.  I honestly can't tell you how many times I edited my manuscript.  I'm a former English instructor so I knew the manuscript probably wouldn't be as perfect as I would like, but I was damn well going to get as close to a mistake-free manuscript as possible. 

4)  Build a writer blog and website.  Initially, I started with a memoir blog utilizing Blogger where I reviewed newly released memoirs and reflected on my experiences with the rejection process involved in traditional publishing.  Then I l reviewed the websites of some of my favorite memoir authors and I sketched what I wanted my author website to include.  I handed this to my husband (a tech guru) and his trusty and skilled software buddy.  And two weeks later, I was editing my new author website while giddy with pleasure that I even had a website.

5)  I continued to connect with other memoir authors and editors via LinkedIn to build my professional network.

6)  Research a book cover designer and obtain price estimates.  This part was scary.  Some book cover designers can charge such large amounts I felt they were probably guilty of highway robbery.  I kept searching.  And then I found the book cover designer who could take my image of what I wanted on the book cover, including colors and fonts, and translate that into an e-book cover and paperback cover.

7)  Decide on what company you would like to publish your book and in what formats.  I decided I wanted e-book and paperback versions of the book that were not outlandishly priced.  Next, I uploaded the manuscript and book covers.  I also ordered a proof copy of the book just to be able to have the product in my hand and ensure it met my expectations.

8)  Market the book.  First, I have a huge extended family so I am in the process of letting them know of the book along with friends, acquaintances, and anyone I meet who might be interested in the book.  I have business cards and I made my own book promotional packet.  I researched book clubs in five southern states because I knew I wanted those groups to know about the book.  I sent my promo material to newspapers, magazines, and even some independent bookstores.  I also had long ago joined an online site specifically for people who love to read, write, and review books.  I am still making connections on that site and offering signed copies of my book in an online book giveaway.

9)  Continue to write.  Continue to read in your particular genre.  Continue to connect with other authors.  And I am also choosing to submit my book in self-publishing competitions to gain more attention,

10)  Enjoy Being The Captain Of Your Own Ship And The Commander Of Your Book Publishing Career!

Till my next post......


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Yes, Gretchen Carlson, I've Been In Similar Circumstances

Dear Lit Loves,

Hi!  Greetings!  I am in the midst of launching the marketing campaign for my recently published memoir entitled Brave Soul Rising:  Tales From The Trenches of An Uncharmed Life.  Okay, I wrote it under my pen name of Grace Sutherlin because I've always wanted a pen name and I do like some inkling of privacy. It was absolutely fabulous to publish this book without any constraints or ties to an agent or publisher.  I was able to do the entire book from beginning idea, to rough outline, to chapter editing, to cover design, and finally now, sold book.  And yes, I did it my way!!  I should have done this years ago.  Seriously.

Okay, now to my post for the day which relates to the news today that former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson is suing Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment.  I've been in a similar situation on many an occasion unfortunately.  I worked at a company mostly comprised of men where a male employee organized a strip show for one of the company's founders.  It took place in the company lab.  It was interesting fielding phone calls while this was happening.  How to explain the whereabouts of most of the men on the staff was rather awkward as calls arrived with requests to speak to this employee or that employee.  When one male employee's wife called asking to speak with her husband I really wanted to tell her what the ignoramus was in the midst of at that particular moment.  Additionally, I had a male employee who actually arrived at my desk in the reception area of the company building and pulled the slit in my skirt apart to examine the height of the cut in the fabric.  Nasty bastard.  And when one of the company founders rubbed his hand all over my leg at the company Christmas party which his wife was also attending, I felt the urge to remove his hand and tell him that the only place it belonged currently was on his own body where the sun don't shine, buddy.  I kid you not.  I reported all this after I eventually left the company, but nothing (to my knowledge) was ever done to enforce consequences for this most unprofessional behavior.  Actually, the human resource representative I reported this delinquent behavior to who was also female actually stated, "Well, I know we would like to horse whip these men, but that's just not possible."   And I've also experienced an assistant principal and other male teachers make remarks about my clothing, shoes, and general appearance on regular occasions.  Why does this keep happening?  I mean, if you report it as I did it just seems to get swept under the rug.  Or maybe those that should be holding these men accountable are choosing to look the other way or continue to repeat the same old tired line of "boys will be boys".  Not Acceptable.

So I applaud you Gretchen Carlson.  Sue, sue, sue away and I hope you win because until a woman or women find victory in having men who harass women in the workplace held properly accountable, the rest of us females lower on the totem pole will most likely continue to be victims of this kind of vulgar and despicable behavior.  I say there should be zero tolerance of sexual harassment in the workplace and it's about time for some accountability and major change in the work environment, ladies!  (By the way I detail some of what happened to me in my new book Brave Soul Rising:  Tales From The Trenches of An Uncharmed Life).  Ladies, stand up to this aggressive, piggish behavior  and when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace say, "Not On My Watch!!"  

Till my next post.....