independent publishing enables the author to shine
I recently attended a terrific workshop put on by the Manitoba Writer’s Guild featuring a panel of self-publishing experts. I was most impressed by the personal story of Winnipeg author Mary Anne Appleby, whose book Winnie the Bear won a gold medal for the Canada West region in the Non-fiction category of the Independent Publisher Book Awards held in New York City in June, 2012. That’s quite the achievement for a first-time author!
Appleby says it was her lifelong dream to write this book, as her father had a personal connection to Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, the man who raised and nurtured the black bear cub made famous in the Winnie-the-Pooh books authored by A.A. Milne.
In November 2011, Appleby saw her dream come true and Winnie the Bear was published, all under her own direction, and with the assistance of a team of independent publishing professionals which she assembled herself. These included an editor, book designer, illustrator, and printing house that helped bring her vision to fruition. The result is a beautifully illustrated published by Appleby’s own company, Dominion Street Publishing.
Appleby prefers the term “independent publishing” to that of self-publishing and was generous with advice learned as she experienced the reality of writing and publishing her own book. Here are her tips to getting it right:
- Let your project percolate. Don’t rush it through the evolutionary process as your idea develops.
- Know your intended audience and create a product they will want to buy.
- Be determined and follow your dreams.
- Finding the right people to work on your project is key. It can make all the difference to the success of your book.
- Consider yourself a business owner. Cost out the price of your product (book) before you begin and know what to expect when negotiating with book stores and other retailers.
- Develop a marketing package for your book. That may include customized business cards, postcards, notecards, and complementary products that fit nicely with the theme of your book.
- Don’t put the price on your book so that you can change it according to the country you are selling to, and so that you can include unexpected cost variances, etc.
- Get to know the media and look for free publicity opportunities to help publicize and sell your books.
- Enter your book into any awards for which it may qualify.
Appleby says every writer should publish their own books. “It’s a real learning experience. There are a million decisions to make along the way, but it is so worth it.”