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4 Ways to Get Your Book Published

book

Just like doctors get asked by their relatives about aches, pains and boils, writers get asked about how to get stuff published. One son of a cousin of a parent recently asked my mom to ask me to send him some info on getting his just-finished novel published. I finally! wrote him a note, which I’ve turned into this blog post.

While I do have several published books on the market, I’m by no means an expert. But I can provide a bit of insight based on my own research and experience.

You basically have four main options for publishing your book, and you can mix and mingle the options as desired. I’ve been through the first three options but am inclined to skip the fourth.

4 Ways to Get Your Book Published

Self-Publishing

Pros:

  • Easiest, fastest
  • Get to keep full control and all profits

Cons:

  • Have to do own layout, editing, marketing
  • Amazon takes big chunk of sales (and other platforms not as popular)

Here you can either find a vanity press and pay to have your book published, or figure out where you want to sell your book and do all the layout yourself then upload in proper format seller requires. Amazon has a self-publishing arm called CreateSpace, which is probably the hottest online book market – although Amazon does take a hefty percentage of your sales.

You can sell books online only, made-to-order when someone orders one. Or you can get better prices with bulk printing to stock up and sell in-person or mail out yourself.  If you choose the latter, you can store your hundreds of books in your home office-gym and dust them weekly with the treadmill while saying, “You know, I should really do some marketing with these books.”

Finding a Traditional Publisher

Pros:

  • May get advance
  • Help with layout, editing, marketing (maybe)

Cons:

  • Don’t get royalties until advance is paid off
  • Royalty payment terms may have all kinds of sneaky clauses that result in royalty checks for $2.47

This route involves researching books similar to yours to determine what companies may be interested in your book. Writers Market also publishes an annual master list of publishers, agents and other outlets and resources for getting your stuff published.

Search out publishers that look promising then review their submission guidelines. Some may want full manuscript (ms), some may want proposal and others may be OK if you happen to know the CEO or have a friend of a friend who babysits for her daughter.

Every time I go through the massive boxes of files I move from house to house, I always run across a giant, bright blue folder of rejection letters from publishers. Not sure why I keep them, and also not sure where they are at the moment, but seeking out traditional publisher requires a thick skin (and plenty of colorful file folders).

Oh yeah, and the biggest-name publishers usually only accept book ideas or proposals through an agent.

Finding an Agent

Pros:

  • Guidance and support throughout the entire process
  • Editing help, tips and insider knowledge of industry

Cons:

  • They get a percentage of the cut, of course
  • They may get pregnant and abandon you at the drop of a hat

Writers Market is again the go-to for finding agents in your book’s specific genre, although you can also go with online searches to see who pops up. Make sure the person has a solid history and reputation before you tell them anything.

I had an agent once, rather briefly. She had read some of work in newspapers and contacted me to put together a book. Yippeee!! All was going swell, with her walking me through the proposal process, giving me tips and deadlines – and then she pretty much disappeared.

Got an email from her several weeks later saying she was leaving the agency to go have a baby. “And I’m sure you’re happy for me.”

At least I got a bunch of knowledge out of the deal and now know what goes into the scope of a killer book proposal.

Sitting in Bar Hoping to Get Discovered

Pros:

  • Even easier than self-publishing
  • Can make a lot of drunken friends who will promise to buy your book when published

Cons:

  • Results may not be optimum
  • Probably get a beer belly

This one worked for Mickey Rourke in “Barfly” when he was portraying poet Charles Bukowski. If the movie was indeed true to Bukowski’s life, however, the guy was a mess, wasted any money he earned on booze and got beat up a lot. You may want to avoid this option unless you’re a good fighter.

Publishing First Step

Keep in mind that getting your book published is only the first step. After that comes marketing, marketing, marketing and more marketing. But you’ll get to that one soon enough! The best marketing tip I ever received was “Get your book on Oprah.” Not sure if she’s even still around, so maybe you want to go for Howard Stern?

Good Luck!

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Open Letter to Cox Communications: Is it me or does the company stink?

IMMEDIATE ACTION REQUIRED

Dear Cox Communications Collections Department:

I am in receipt of your URGENT letter dated April 23, 2012, that threatens to disconnect my service unless I pay the amount of $140.98. The letter goes on to further threaten reactivation or reconnect installation fees if my service is interrupted.

Give me a break.

Not only are your threats offensive to a loyal customer who has paid her bills on time for the past five years, but your information is inaccurate.

When I received my bill for May services, I was appalled to see charges of $140.98 and immediately called your so-called customer service number to find out what was going on.

I spoke to a Cox representative on April 24, 2012, who told me her name was April. She explained the payment I made for the April monthly bill did not properly go through. Rather than send a check as I usually do, I decided to try your suggestion to “Go Paperless!” and pay my bill online. It obviously is not as fun and easy as it may seem. Continue reading Open Letter to Cox Communications: Is it me or does the company stink?

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National Poetry Month rocks – but no one seems to care about it

Poets are notoriously late for everything, so it makes sense that a column celebrating April as National Poetry Month would come in the latter half of the month. Cheers!

Being a poet in Tucson—or being a poet anywhere, for that matter—comes with distinct advantages. For starters, you can ignore that thing called being on time. Then you have that peachy perk called poetic license.

Poetic license lets you misspell and even invent your own words. You also get to make up your own grammar rules. Tis loads. Of fun. You should.

Try it sometime.

You can also take the license a notch further and come up with your own versions of the truth, a thing my mom calls “selective memory.” She still swears she has no recollection of blaming me for the dark caramel swirled into the living room’s white carpet that was actually caused by the grubby kid visiting from next door.

The major downside to being a poet, of course, is the pay. Although I have nabbed several paid performances and awards—like my tie for first place in a suicidal poetry contest—my overall poetry career has so far netted me less than $500. That’s not counting the free hatchet I once received for writing the creepiest Halloween poem.

National Poetry Month seems like the epitome of a Hallmark holiday invented to sell more cards. After all, a big chunk of cards are splattered with poetry, or at least attempts at it. “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m sending this card ’cause I love you.”

April’s poetic designation, however, actually came from the Academy of American Poets. The academy kicked off the celebration in 1996, choosing April based on the academy’s thought that April would garner the most participation.

Besides, March and February were already taken by celebrations of women’s history and black history, respectively. January is just too dismal to celebrate much of anything due to maxed-out credit cards from holiday shopping. Thus, April it was, and has been for 16 years.

So why don’t more people seem to care?

Continue reading National Poetry Month rocks – but no one seems to care about it

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Grooving music video illustrates – and solves – America’s biggest problem

Grooving music with a hard-hitting beat that leaves you startled yet oozing with peace. Such is the summary of the “Together as One” video produced by Santa Fe Music Videos.

The startling parts of the video come from shocking facts, figures and images – although anyone living in America of late should not be too shocked by statistics the video reveals. One in 45 children is homeless in the U.S. An estimated 643, 067 people are homeless across the nation on any given night. More than 50 percent of Americans live below the poverty line. The video adds to the shock with crisp images of begging children and hungry families. Protestors tout signs like, “Dear Wall Street, Learn to share. Thank you.”

Contrast that with a naked woman lounging in currency and you have a sickening juxtaposition. Continue reading Grooving music video illustrates – and solves – America’s biggest problem

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Death of the computer help desk: How to screw up your computer system in three phone calls or less

Once upon time in a land as close as your nearest computer, you could call this thing called a help desk if you needed a fix with technical issues of one sort or another.

Each manufacturer had its own help desk service, each stocked with people familiar with its products and issues surrounding them.

A helpful-sounding someone would answer the phone, listen to your problem, and then offer a solution. If the first fix did not work, the person would keep trying until your issue was resolved, or at least as close to a resolution as you could come without ripping all the wires out and hurling your computer and related gadgets out the window.

Even if the help desk helper was unable to fix your problem, the call was usually worth your while. At least you knew you had been supported by someone who knew what you were talking about and what was going on.

All that has changed.

Continue reading Death of the computer help desk: How to screw up your computer system in three phone calls or less

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