Monday, February 3, 2014

Are you Indie...? Are you make your own paper Indie?

So, I will admit to having some early reticence about publishing through createspace, because it is owned by Amazon. I did a lot of research and found about half a dozen indie-publishers. aka 'vanity publishers'. Every company I found came with a fee or a contract that included fronting the cost of additional editing, formatting costs etc... The low end for these types of publishing services is $1000. You can also pay them to design a cover or convert to ebook. You can probably pay them to write your next book.

Createspace was the only publisher I found who would let me do everything by myself. By myself, was a lot of work. By myself was also the support of a lot of readers, friends, encouragement and support. Nothing is free. I did purchase Indesign and a few other tools necessary to do it myself.

Now, I am in the same place as any other independent author, paying printing costs and trying to find ways to get my book out there, trying to figure out consignment, trying to figure out who will give me the time of day.

Much to my surprise, support  may not come from booksellers who support independent authors. I choose sweat equity and Amazon and the result is that I am alienated from some of the only resources I have to get my book out into the world. I've yet to send my book to reviewers yet, mostly because I have no idea who they are, but I have to wonder how many people will refuse to ever open the cover of my book because at the end of the day, my independent writing project is too corporate.

They funny thing is I still pay for each printed copy. I pay printing and mailing costs. If an independent bookseller sells my book at a 50% split, they make $6. I make $6 - printing and mailing cost, so I make about $2. And Amazon makes $3.

Obviously, I am not going to get rich. I am not even going to break even. It would be nice to get it out there however. Again, thank you Brooklyn. Spoonbill and Sugartown in Williamsburg is the only response from the indie publishing front. Very grateful for that.

Okay, back to my mortar and deckle.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

I, Frankenbook

This project feels pretty dead. I have pretty much exhausted my local resources. I have inquired on several occasions to local book reviewers and new reading venues, but I seem to have run out of cred. Also, between the holiday extravaganza and a major work transition (and 14,000 other projects) there has not been a lot of left over time for follow-ups and blogging and general go-getting.

So, I have constructed an old stone tower, with a very long wrought-iron lightening rod and my book is laying on a clinical table with a clean cotton sheet over it. Hopefully with a nice ZAP!!! she will be back on her feet:)

I've attached a photo of an incredible resource for indie authors that was assembled by a pair of Brooklyn authors: M. Craig and Rami ShamirThe map is a comprehensive list of books sellers who stock titles by indie authors. It is a big list and I am sure each has its own consignment process, but I just sent an distribution inquiry email to each store listed, so hopefully I get some responses.  It may be a good idea to follow up with a snail mail letter with a copy of your book. Or at least that is what I am going to do if I don't hear back from everyone of them:)

Still working on some regional readings and need to crack the professional review acorn. Hopefully I will have something to report on in the next blog. An earnest effort to get a review, do a modest book tour, and procure some national distribution and I think I will have done everything in my power to give this project a fighting chance. I think I will be able to look myself in the mirror at least. And then I can write the next damn book.

Let me know if you want a link to this google map. These guys are rockstars in my book. The generation of this map is probably the content of its own novel. Check it out!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Short Stories, Brick and Mortar, and Book Tours

It was brought to my attention that I had not recently listed by own book project in the blog yet, and if you are reading this, you might also be curious about my novel. If so, you can find it in paperback and as an ebook on Amazon. Here is the link: The Turnpike by Thom Sibbitt.

You may have heard the novel is also available at my first brick and mortar locations, Jackson St. Books and Our Bookstore in the Old Market passageway. Hopefully they will be at The Bookworm soon:)

Still working on finding a location for my first out of town reading. Lincoln based artist, Nolan Tredway, was kind enough to make a few suggestions, so hopefully I will hear back soon! And next stop Kansas City! My community here in Omaha has been extremely supportive, but it is time to leave the nest and see if this book project has wings.

Here is the exciting news. I have got two solid ideas for short stories in the works. My plan is to release them as an ebook and list them for free for 6 months or so, in hopes of tapping into the larger number of free downloads. This is one of the ways several self-publishing blogs and authors recommend getting your work into the hands of new readers. The winter is a great time for writing, so I hope to have a few projects completed by Spring. Of course, saying this is like saying publicly that you are going to quick smoking and failing miserably. All your friends and family just nod their heads in your direction and you can't do anything accept scratch your name one more time in the fail book.

Did I just compare writing to the pain and misery of being uncontrollably addicted to smoking? Um. Yes. It aint easy. All the forces of the world conspire against you:)

Well, I haven't smoked a real cigarette in a week and a half. Don't hold your breath, but I can breathe for the first time in a long while.

Time to hunker.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Can I sleep on your couch?

I've sold one book since my last book reading and have received zero additional reviews. Don't worry, I am not going to start complaining about how hard it is to self promote a book. It's going to be tooth and nail. It's going to be mostly ineffectual. (Am I describing my sex life or my book?) What I am going to do is get to work.

Just sent a few inquisitive tendrils out to friends in Lincoln and KC, in hopes of finding a good venue to do a reading and hopefully find a place to crash. I have neither the time nor the money to subsidize an actual book tour, so I am going to try and schedule readings throughout the winter in communities that are close enough for me to drive to.

So I guess I am on the market for a groovy bookstore in Des Moines, if anyone has any suggestions. 

On the local front, I am bringing the paperback to 'Our Bookstore' in the old market passageway this week. This is my first brick and mortar location. I am my own distributor at this point. It costs about $3 to print a book, so I am ordering one small batch of copies at a time. After printing and postage, I take whatever $$$ I can get for the book. I have been selling the book for $10 thus far. It is 12.99 on Amazon. 

Free and cheap books are probably the best way to attract new readers and downloads on the internet, which is great. I would love to put out a collection of short stories this year and just give it away, to generate newsreaders. I am too deep in the hole with the current project to give it away for free, but maybe I am shooting myself in the foot. Maybe I am already legless, but have not yet realized it. I haven't been able to feel anything from the waist down for awhile.

Blogs are like road trips. Road weary and starting to get punchy, the likelihood of ending up in the literary ditch is imminent. What I need is a really lovely scenic overlook, to get some perspective, to recharge, to get inspired, to get back on the road. 

Any self publishing questions? What am I missing? -thom

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Comfort Zone

Just had a reading last night, to celebrate the launch of the paperback edition of the novel. Celebration is exactly the word I would use. There were about 30-35 folks there, most of whom I know very well and all of whom have given me their support time and again throughout this project. And I am grateful. There really is nothing like sharing a piece of your creative soul in a room of people who have cultivated that spirit in you. Validation. Trust. Joy. Gratitude.

I have gotten enough positive feedback to begin to doubt it:) It is time to push this project outside the comfortable confines of my personal network. Of course I have no idea how to really do that. The journey of a indie publishing continues!

Paperback in hand... now, how the fuck do I put it into the hands of people I don't know? This last year has been a series of hectic pushes to get this novel polished and ready, formatted and re-formatted, uploaded and downloaded... and here it is. Here we are.

Golly. Next steps? What more could I possibly do? Shit tons in fact, because I don't want this project to die in my lap. I have got to get this project out of the sphere of my network. My hope is that it will be a literary javelin, thrust into the side of the white whale. In truth, in spite of the professional editors, countless readers and dozens of careful re-reads, every time I open the book, something drives me crazy. That tells me something. First next step. Start writing something else. Short form, fiction, poems, monologues... doesn't matter. I don't think I am truly gonna cut the cloying creative link with this novel until I start writing something else. The umbilical needs to be cut. You really must divorce yourself from the creative work at some point and focus on the work of selling and promoting.

I've arranged to sell the book at Our Bookstore  in the passageway in downtown Omaha. That is my first brick and mortar bookstore and I would like to place it locally in a couple more. I am also working on breaking the ice for a local review. This has been impossible up to know because I have not had a physical copy. I need to generate a press contact list of reviewers and online listings.

Also, still planning on uploaded to espresso book printing machines at some point. Need to record the audiobook, need to upload the 1.1 version of the ebook. Need to book a reading outside of Omaha.

Yeah... lots to do. So what are we doing writing/reading silly blogs... Lets get to work.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Not making the same mistake as Thoreau

I only printed 30 copies. The cost for each print is 3.08, which is pretty darn good! I am hoping to sell each and everyone of these beauties at the upcoming Omaha Downtown Lit Fest, where I have the pleasure to be speaking on a panel entitled: Experiments: Writing around the Mainstream. Later this month, Oct 27th at 7pm to be exact, I will will be selling the remaining copies at the official paperback release at Howlin Hounds Coffee. Aside from the usual honey dripping online sales rate of my book project, I am feeling great! Hoping to secure a review now that I can send a hard copy to the few press contacts I have. Still hoping to break even by the one year mark. 

So, for you self publishers out there, I went through create space, an Amazon company. (Here is a order online link: I want to own the turnpike!) Of course Amazon is a mother-big corporation and it's difficult to call oneself an independent publisher when taking advantage of free services offered by a corporation swimming is surplus. Nonetheless, from one enabler to the next, I feel great about being able to work hard on a personal project and successfully see it into print. At some point soon, I hope someone will call me out on my absolute cowardice, in not sending a single Query Letter to a publisher. I am sure it is too late for that, but alas, I have a box of books, which I will pimp door to door if need be. 

It feels like a really successful and productive month. Now I really really really need to go grocery shopping. 

(Keep scrolling below to find a banned bonus blog wherin the word olive is used as a euphemism for testicle.)

You chose wisely. 

Well, I missed my banned book week blog post, for which I shall never forgive myself. Here I will enclose a little naughty excerpt from a unjustly suppressed book, The Ragionamenti: The lives of nuns, married women and courtesans by Artino. Artino was friend of Michaelangelo and caller upon the Pope, but alas had to flee his home after the publication of sixteen obscene sonnets. No justice I tell you!

"Let us go on now. After the old hag, we went to see the Seamstress, who was at loggerheads with the Tailor, her master, and, having stripped him quite naked, was kissing his mouth, nipples, rod and olives, as the nurse kisses the little babe she is nursing on its tiny nose, its little mouth, hands, tablet, mickey, and its bare bottom, as if she wanted to suck it, as the babe sucks her milk. Of course we were going to place our eyes at the slit to see the Tailer rip us the selvedge of the Seamstress's gown, when we heard a moaning, after the moaning a howling, after the howling as alas ! and after the alas ended, an: 'Oh! Lord!!' which upset our whole heart. "
                                                                              -Aretino (the scourge of princes) 1534ish

Too often, literary work is taken out of context, twist and bent, called obscene or heretical... Well too be clear this excerpt is taken, with love, from a wonderfully obscene and heretical context and is twisted only in its unfortunate truncation. Best, Thom

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Proof is in the Pudding.

This came in the mail tonight. The Proof copy of the print edition of my novel. Wow. So... self publishers of the world who have a tenacious spirit and a can do attitude, the proof lays before you. It can be done. I am neither proficient at InDesign, or copywriting, or Photoshop or even writing. I am a relentless bastard however and the book does smell pretty damn good. If I can do it... Well... to thine own self be true, but I say you can.

Of course, thanks to the dozens of people who have helped and supported me. I am going to run a fine toothed comb through the book this week and then off to the presses and back to the PR train! Analogue book release and self promotion campaign, take two.

My goal this year was to break even... My quick math tells me I need to sell about 250 books to pull that off. From where I am sitting that seems like a lot. Can I get a re-tweet?