I often hear from people who want to write a book but don’t know how or where to begin. Or from people who have already written a book that’s ready for publication but don’t know how to get it published. I recently began a new blog series, Writing and Publishing Tips From Authors Around the World, to help writers.
The twenty-second contributor is U.S. author George Polley who now lives in Japan and he’s here to talk about self-publishing.
Self-Publishing: Why and Why Not? by George Polley
Back in the old days, “self-publishing” had a bad reputation, and writers who engaged in it were written off as losers who couldn’t find a reputable publisher to publish them, or an author’s agent to represent them. Almost as bad were authors who used the so-called “vanity” publishers, who would publish anything you sent them . . . for a price.
Things began to change quickly when amazon.com began selling books in 1995. A little later when browsing around a software shop, I stumbled across a program from Blue Squirrel called Quickbooks, that claimed to turn a manuscript into a printable book in one simple click. In fact it promised, and still does, to do more than that: “You want to print books, and you don’t want to spend a lot of money. With ClickBook, design with Microsoft Word or any program you know and like. ClickBook turns your work into a book, brochure, catalog, bulleting, poster, banner or PDF.” I bought it, took it home, put a manuscript on it, and was in business. It was, and I think still is, the best program out there that does what it does. I published with Tortoise & Hare Publishing (my trade name), and in the next several years, I had published, and placed on Amazon, a collection of short stories (“Fernandez’ Tale and Other Stories”), a poetry collection (“Seeing, Collected Poetry 1973-1999”), a book titled “Living and Working in the 21st Century”, and a half dozen or more booklets that I marketed on Amazon and in the bookstore of a mental health clinic where I had an office. One of those booklets, “Being Here, exercises for renewed living” is still available on Amazon.
There were hundreds of authors doing exactly what I did. And then 2006 came along with eReaders like Kindle and eBooks exploded onto the scene, opening the market to thousands of authors. From that point and for the next several years, my books were published by eBook publishers like Abbott ePublishing, Night Publishing, then Taylor Street Publishing. When it began closing down in 2013, I had to ask myself a question: Do I want to go with another Indie publisher, or do I want to resuscitate Tortoise & Hare and publish myself?
The problem with so many Indie publishers is that they come and they go, some in only a few months, leaving their authors wondering what to do with the books they’ve published, the books they have waiting to be published, and their works-in-progress. The decision I made with a book I was working on — “The City Has Many Faces, a love story about Mexico City” — is that I would publish it myself. The advantages are many: No matter what happens to me, my book stays published; I have a record of royalties earned; I earn all the royalty, not just what’s left after my publisher takes what it has earned; I find editors and beta readers; and I do the marketing (which I have to learn). The main disadvantages have been learning the technology (formatting for Kindle and CreateSpace, learning Scrivener), and doing all the budgeting and record-keeping that goes with running a business. (I thought I had retired from all that.)
How do I feel about it? To be honest, rather ambivalent, because there is so much to do. Ask me that in six months and I may have a new answer. For now, I promote my Mexico City book, which has so far received eleven 5-star reviews and one 4-star review, and I am delighted.
George Polley began writing in the mid 1960s. His short stories, “Jonah’s Birth,”“Requiem for Blue,” “The Storm,” and “The Disappearance” His poetry has been published in a number of literary magazines. Another short story, Seiji, was included in A Rainbow Feast: New Asian Story Stories, edited by Mohammad A. Quayum and published by Marshall Cavendish Editions, Singapore in 2011.
Until early 2008, George Polley fit his writing around a busy mental health career, from which he retired at the end of 2007. From Seattle, Washington (US), he and his wife moved to Sapporo, Japan, in early 2008, where he writes full-time. His novella The Old Man and The Monkey, was published in 2010, and two novels, Grandfather and The Raven (2010), Bear, a novel about a boy and his unusual dog, (2012), and The City Has Many Faces, a love story about Mexico City and its people (2014).
The author and his wife moved from Seattle, Washington to Sapporo, Japan in early 2008, where they currently reside.
His Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/George-Polley/e/B002TNEGO2/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1430176366&sr=1-2-ent
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/gwp79