Book: Year One
A year ago I launched my self-help book on communication tools, Communication Breakthrough, How Using Brain Science and Listening to Body Cues Can Transform Your Relationships. I want to reflect on what this first year of the having the book on the market has looked like and what I learned.
I hired Susan Farese, a publicist to help promote my book. Susan is warm, enthusiastic, supportive, full of energy and has great marketing skills. Although I have always loved standing in front of a group and performing, whether as a teacher, speaker or actor, I find it tedious to set up those gigs and have always fantasized that someone else would do the arranging and just tell me where and when to show up. Susan made that dream come true! She sent me on a tour of bookstores, libraries and other venues where I would speak, meet, greet, sign books, and chat with folks. She often attended, took photos and taught me how to post on social media. She also got me interviews on television and radio, which was exciting and enjoyable.
My writing coach, Marni Freedman is a warehouse of talent, skills and resources. She got me involved in the writing community through San DiegoWriters Inkand Women Thought Leaders who Write. She told us that we need to support each other by becoming beta readers and generally cheering each other on. I enjoyed reading and writing reviews for other authors in the group and appreciated their feedback on my book. I liked chatting with them at book events and trainings.
I also received some book awards. I was one of the winners of Featured Books of 2018 through the San Diego Library, which included a reception attended by authors from all genres. One of the authors I spoke to was a six year-old girl who wrote a children’s book. I also received two International book awards, one in the “Self-help” category and one in the “Psychology/Mental Health” category.
I have found the economics and details of book distribution somewhat complicated and annoying. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Ingram Sparks all print on demand but take a cut. A nephew of mine ordered my book from Amazon and somehow received the proof copy with yellow highlighter and red marks from my notes to the formatter! When I complained to Amazon they explained they could not trace it as they outsource to other outfits. So I learned that I, as the author, have no control over what the customer receives. Because he is my nephew, he was charmed rather than alarmed by the mistake and said it was interesting to see my editing remarks. But what if a stranger had received that? I also received a box of 60 books that were all blurry, which was irritating and a waste of paper.
Getting a new book into the marketplace is a major process. I learned that in order for your book to have high visibility (e.g. in the front of the store, where it is most visible), it is less about quality or popularity (unless you are a major celebrity or famous writer) than it is about money. There are so many sharks in the water promising fame and fortune, if you pay them. Like Coyotes, they will take you over the border to the land of “bestseller” for a hefty fee. As they tug at your hopes and dreams, they try to put their hand in your wallet. I found it difficult navigating those waters and figuring out who to trust and who to avoid. This part of the business took some of the shine off the venture and slapped the naiveté right off my face.
So, my book is out there. I want people to buy it, as I wrote it to help improve communication and it is a full of useful tools. But I have decided after a year that I am not interested in spending Saturdays in bookstores and libraries promoting that book. My eyes have landed on a new piece of shiny glass on the beach. I am writing a memoir. I love the creative aspect of writing and the supportive community of writers. Once written, I now know that it will be a fulltime job when it comes to hiring and managing all the players to turn it into a finished product. Once it is finished and needs distribution, I will clutch it to my bosom and have to dive back into the part of the sea where the sharks troll. And those sharks, they troll for me. But at least I now know, because I have been through this bad neighborhood before, to keep my head down, ignore the barkers, and walk with caution and alertness…holding tight to my wallet.