Sunday, March 03, 2019

How to Write and Publish--15--Your Experiences

Here are some of your experiences:

I needed to hear this. I've had a story nudging me for many years. I started writing it and it made me realize I need therapy. I am back at it, but verrry slowly, with therapy sessions in between. I hadn't expected writing to be a healing journey as well.
--Monica Krampien

I have learned (the hard way) to read through my editor's suggested changes and then put the manuscript away for a couple days before I look at it again. Invariably, I begin by being upset by how much red there is, and then after a couple days I look at it again and it isn't nearly as bad as my first impression. Then I can start to go through my work and acknowledge that that changes are actually really good things. :) One creative payment method I've used, and this only works is if the friend/editor has a market for your books, is to pay in books that they can resell. I've done this on piano books where my editor was a piano teacher and could sell the books to her students. I'm paying for books at cost, and she makes a lot more than I could have paid her by selling them at retail prices.
--Donna McFarland

I learned that one should always have the contract signed BEFORE the editing begins. I didn't do that and after all the work was done and I felt obligated to the publisher, the contract offered me requested complete control of my family story forever and ever. Fortunately we were able to come to a fair agreement with a time limit and I think we were both happy. But I came SO CLOSE to signing it because we tend to treat publishers like God -- their word is final.
--Catherine Beachy Yoder

Could I add a detail that Ervin R. Stutzman told me when collecting historical material? He said taking photographs of items like grandma’s quilt or great grandpa’s Bible are good ways to document stuff that you might not even own but exist and you would like your descendants to know about.
Let’s all do our offspring a favor and leave them with more information than just our name, birthdate and death date!
--Sharon Nisly

I made a digital Heirloom Catalog of my stuff. I went through each room taking pictures of everything that came from previous generations and then put it in a file on my computer with descriptions for each picture of what it is and where it came from. I put a copy on a flash drive and gave it to my daughter so she will know what things are. She said she was glad to have it. "I was always afraid we'd get rid of something we should keep and treasure something Dad salvaged from the dumpster."
And while you're at it, recommend they write full names on the back of pictures to identify the people. We get lots of pictures at the historical society that are almost worthless because the people are not identified. Your posterity will not know who Aunt Lena or Grandma's brother was. My brother-in-law's mother had a photo marked "all of us last Sunday." Very enlightening! 
--Romaine Stauffer

Our recent discussion about the pro’s and con’s of self-publishing and being published by an established house reflects the changing landscape that authors should consider today in a crowded field that emerged during the self-publishing era.
More than two decades ago, I sold a home school writing textbook to a Christian publishing house. My manuscript was evaluated in detail by an editor, but I was granted the choice of making suggested changes in the manuscript. I helped promote the book during a series of workshops throughout Central Oregon, and the book appeared in a catalog of Christian educational materials. Several years ago, my offer to revise and to repackage an updated second edition was declined.
I began attending writing conventions a decade ago as I considered writing memoir and fiction. It appeared that the speakers were established writers and that the delegates were wanna-be published authors looking for the “secrets” of success.
It was relatively easy to write memoir and to package a group of essays into book form. Because I was uninterested in making profitable book sales, I turned to self-publishing through CreateSpace.
Then, I toyed with writing books of fiction. The first one, a teen Christian book of fiction, was published by a firm that charged a fee for layout, design, etc., but didn’t market the book aggressively. However, one copy was sold. I now have regained the property rights to the book.
Five years ago, I talked with a Eugene agent, who suggested he might be interested in an advice book. I wrote “Touch All Your Bases, Advice for my Great-Grandchildren,” which the agent returned.  I then turned to Luminaire Press in Eugene for help. Patricia Marshall, a former student of mine, is publisher of the publishing company that contracts with the authors to edit, layout and market books. This is an excellent firm for writers who wish to retain control of a book’s content. It is, however, an expensive enterprise.
A decade ago I decided to give fiction a try. Sent inquiries and manuscripts to a series of agents. Didn’t hear from any of them. 
Five years ago during a writing convention, I paid to have an “expert,” not an agent, read a couple of chapters of my first book of fiction in a series. He suggested that as an 80-year-old I might consider self-publishing, which I did.
I turned to CreateSpace again, which landed my books on Amazon and Kindle. Sold a couple of copies but received such a cut-rate price for self-purchase that I began the practice of giving away copies to friends and family members. 
Five years ago, I started writing “Appleton Annie,” the third book in the series, then put the manuscript on the shelf until being invited to join the Fictitious Five last year. That novel is now completed and is being self-published on Amazon Kindle Direct, the former CreateSpace site.
The process in setting up an account, choosing cover and layout designs, etc. is relatively simple and can be followed by most anyone. It is a no-cost operation for the author. You can purchase marketing help, but that is another story, one with which I am unacquainted.
So, what would I do now if I were two or three decades younger?
I would begin writing a novel, join a critiquing group, take the manuscript to conventions for potential editors/publishers to read. I also would seek an agent, which may require a couple of years or so to accomplish. 
Otherwise, I’m not a fan of conventions for several reasons: primarily because I don’t recall learning much about writing and/or marketing and because of the cost/benefit ratio. For example: I never once heard that you should write in the past tense or that romance yarns require at least two protagonists.
So, what about the future? 
I’m hammering out another romance novel set in a retirement home, and I’m writing in past tense, which is fitting in view of the subject matter.
Do I plan to self-publish? Probably, if I survive.
--Dean Rea

I can only speak to my experience with a publisher but friends have shared bits and pieces of their stories with me. 
A royalty paying house usually:
provides an editor, or two,
three proofreaders (important!)
a cover designer ( some take your pictures and ideas and submits them, then gives you final say --not all publishers do this)
sets up the ISBN
the account with Amazon,
provides a publicist and some a marketing specialist (I have a friend who has a marketing team promoting her books)
promotes from their house website
Adds you to all (trust me) the online reader groups
Includes you in their newsletters
My publisher was very easy to work with, plus I believe they improved the original story. We can get too close to our work to see its flaws. 
My friend who self-published
Did not use an editor ( it shows)
Did not have it proofread (it shows)
Her cover was good, but it was professionally contracted
She was experienced at setting up book signings and had a huge following on FB and a good support system to provide reviews--judging from the glowing reports they were also loyal ( i.e. they lied)
Her story could have been phenomenal but the errors were so glaring it ruined the story for me. So I made my review very general which is also like lying. But she was my friend.
Self-publishing has become an accepted and creditable way to go, but the author MUST do his/her homework.
--Anonymous friend


  1. I am enjoying the series.... thanks for taking time to do it! It has really inspired me to continue pursuing those persistent ideas.