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Lessons from self-publishing – part I

The story begins almost five years ago. I’d had a lightbulb moment as I walked out of a piano lesson: I was irrepressably enthused with the idea of assembling a collection of recipes designed to comply with a 30-day liver detoxification regimen. In case you’re new here and wonder why in the world I might be excited about such a thing, the short story is that the year before I had sought out a naturopath to help me restore my energy and to prevent any more hair loss. Among other things prescribed by my new medical guru, the month-long diet without processed foods, caffeine, wheat, dairy or sugar had a profound effect on my health — I felt fantastic!

I charged ahead, deciding to self-publish rather than pursue acceptance with a conventional publisher. And with the idea burning in my head and nothing yet on paper, I attended Publishers’ University, a 3-day educational event hosted by Publishers’ Marketing Association. This was followed by an overwhelming weekend at BookExpo, a book lover’s idea of heaven-on-earth! PMA is a great organization and I recommend it to anyone considering self-publishing. So, here’s …

Lesson #1: Join a professional organization. Read the newsletters, enter your publisher’s profile online, on paper, anywhere possible. The wealth of information, experience of other members, and networking potential is well worth the annual membership fee.

There are other national organizations for independent book publishers, as well as many regional groups, too. I was introduced to PMA by my brother who works in the technical end of publishing. Had he not called me up at the end of April and said, “You have to go to this!” I don’t know how long it might have taken me to figure out that the extended support of a professional organization could be so valuable. Publishers’ University and BookExpo always occur at the end of May/beginning of June — I had one month to prepare for my first foray into the Big Apple in twenty years.

So perhaps Lesson #2 is: Seek out anyone and everyone you know remotely involved in the industry and give their advice serious consideration.

I purchased a train ticket, reserved a room in the hotel directly across the street from Penn Station, assembled three day’s worth of all-black outfits, and printed up some business cards identifying me as a publisher —! And thus a new career was born.

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  • Kathryn May April 16, 2007, 4:43 pm

    Lisa! I’m loving your blog, not to mention all the amazing other blogs you reference. Your photos are fabulous! Regarding self-publishing, I stumbled onto a website by Melanie Mendelson, who has lots of good, practical suggestions for writing as well as publishing ebooks. You might want to check her out.

  • audaciousblog April 9, 2007, 9:59 am

    Self publishing is one of the easiest ways to get your book out there these day. I recently met with a director at the hospital that had written a book and was unsure of the different publishing avenues. We reviewed self publishing, publishing with a major publishing company and delivering his book via an e-book (electronic download) format. I had brought with me many examples of books and he was amazed to see that self published books have the same look and feel of any other book! The good news you can print on demand self published books making your book order from you website go right to the the printer who also ships for you. Gone are the days of buying your book in bulk. Self published books can be sold on Amazon and in as many resources. Anyone can become a published author today with self publishing!

  • Alisa April 3, 2007, 11:57 pm

    Hi there, I viewed your response from the Bittersweet Blog regarding the Sunflour Baking Co. review. Could you clarify what you mean by a trackback?

    I can be reached via the Go Dairy Free website (contact us section) if the email doesn’t come through. Thanks!