Writing about Reading: Heather’s (self) Publishing Journey so far…

Normally in these Writing about Reading segments I talk about industry specific eBook topics.  And on that note, I did buy my ticket to the Frankfurt Book Fair in October today.  Nearly 300,000 people and five days of book industry madness.  I’m excited!
But beyond that, I want to talk about my self publishing journey, which started about a month ago when I put my first book up on Smashwords and Amazon.  It’s not necessarily the book that I wanted to have written first, but it was the book that was in me and needed to come out before anything else could.  It’s a memoir about losing our son, and I wrote it under a pseudonym, Sophie Wyndham (not because I’m ashamed of it, but because I wanted to keep it separate from my professional writing, and the other books I have in me).  Given the recent announcement that Mark Zuckerberg and his wife also suffered three losses, it seems like the taboos about babyloss are falling, and that makes me happy.

51NsAsZnOiL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_So I wrote the book.  Then I had it professionally formatted (cost about $100) so it would work with all the different services – Google Play, iBooks, Amazon, etc.  I also had a cover professionally designed, which I splurged on and spent $350.  It looks gorgeous, though, and even though you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, most people do (I do) and so I wanted it to be something I would choose.

Then I put it up on all the different services with the jpg of the cover.  They each ask for tax information, so it would take about an hour for each one.

Then I sat back and watched the sales roll in…
…not…

Here’s what I did the first few days:
Set up a twitter account for Sophie where she tweets about miscarriage things.
Posted in different babyloss groups
Told the person who ran our support group
Followed like 2000 people on twitter

That yielded me…
9 sales
(one of which was my mother in law, so doesn’t really count)

I’ve since also paid to have it on NetGalley, which is a website where professional readers request review copies of new books, and in return they write honest reviews on goodreads, amazon, etc.  They have a discounted rate through the Independent Book Publisher’s Association, which I also joined.

Now I’m going a different route, which is painfully obvious when you consider my background: Libraries.

There are currently nearly 25,000 library outlets in the country, and a stat I love is that there are more libraries than McDonald’s outlets.  Most of them are now offering eBooks through OverDrive, or other similar services.  OverDrive is the elephant in the room; the vendor that has been around the longest, and has the biggest market share.  But there are others.  Baker and Taylor has a platform called Axis360.  BiblioBoard works with independent authors through a partnership with Library Journal to form a project called SELF-E (which is getting a lot of flack recently thanks to the fact that they don’t pay authors).   I’ve actually written an article about the different services from the library perspective, and will repost it here after it appears in the other places online.

So, how do you get into those markets?  That’s what I’m currently exploring, and will share my actions and results here, monthly.  It’s a time consuming process given that each library is its own little jurisdictional fiefdom with collection development managers and politics and collection development policies and all of that.

I researched and found a list of every library that has OverDrive.  Given that my book is in the Smashwords Premium Catalog, and so is eligible for purchase through OverDrive, I am hitting up all these OverDrive libraries and asking them to buy my book.  I have started a spreadsheet keeping track of everyone, because these are the same people I will contact again in a few months when I publish my NaNoWriMo2014 book.  Hell, maybe I’ll start consulting with indie authors and publishers, and can share the information I’ve gathered with them too.  (Note to self: Career Idea)

So I have this list of OverDrive libraries, and then I’m manually going to each website and grabbing the information for the collection development manager, which I drop into my spreadsheet.  I wrote a nice email with basic bibliographic information (ISBN, Title, Author, Pages, author website, etc) and included a link to the book on Smashwords.  It takes about 5 minutes per library and email, but then I have the information for my next book, so I’m thinking that it will start to pay off after the first one.

I’m just getting started down this route, so will report back in a month on how it’s going.

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