Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Monday, July 27, 2009

Getting ready to self-publish

A few months ago, I made a decision: I will self-publish ALL of my poetry books. As I explained to one writer who sympathized with my decision, I was tired of the whole cat-and-mouse game I'd been playing with TWO different publishers. For over 4 years, I have been going back and forth with these publishers who wanted to publish my book, but nothing happened. Had I made the decision to self-publish this book long ago, it would have been in print by now!

So I just got fed up and threw in the towel with trying to get the book published traditionally. I just didn't want to rely on somebody else to make that happen. Nobody in the world cares more about YOUR book than you do. And I care about this book enough to stop being lead around on a leash by traditional publishers. I just decided I'll do this thing myself.

Ever since I made that decision, I have consulted with a lot of people who have taken the self-publishing route. I am still consulting with them! There are still some others I need to talk to about this. I have also been reading EVERYTHING I can get my hands on about self-publishing. I want to learn everything I can and get it right this time. The one time I SP'd a poetry book, it was a failure. (Mainly because the font I chose for it ended up being a bad idea and I could not afford a bar code or ISBN number at the time, limiting my options to sell and market the book.) Still, I'm not giving up!

I want this book to be published. I am passionate about this book.

And, in fact, I have discovered that I WANT to self-publish my poetry books. You know? Just one book a year. Even if nobody buys them.

So my next decision was, which printing option should I use? I will never again go the vanity root. My first poetry book was published by a vanity press, with zero distribution and marketing once it came out. And it's hard to get it into bookstores. So, that's NOT going to happen again.

Already tried the traditional self-publishing route, with the second book. Moving on.

So I thought, what about POD? I checked and THE one POD company I wholeheartedly support (Booklocker.com) does not publish poetry books. However, I AM going to take the new version of my novel, November's Child, through them. (The new version is called Shadow of Samhain and even though I had some personal struggles with it, which I will talk about later, I have a strong feeling that this is the perfect route for me to take with it. I will explain why later, when I talk about those personal struggles.)

I looked at Lulu.com (which MANY fellow poets I know have heartily endorsed) and CreateSpace, which is a subsidiary of Amazon.com. Both of them look promising. A fellow poet I network with recently tried CreateSpace for her poetry book, and I'm keeping tabs on her progress. However, I am also asking questions of poets who have used Lulu.com. I have not yet decided on one, but just checking them out and trying to decide which is the better option. (Just a note: these poetry books are a labor of love for me. I'm not doing this to become a millionaire, or anything.)

Money is one of the factors in the decision I will make. I am on a limited income and have only so much money to spare each month. I also have very little time to freelance to make the money I need for all of the things I need it for (my baby's surgery, a laptop, paying the cover designer, etc.). What time I DO have to write has to go towards working on the books I am under contract to write! So the less amount of money I will have to spend for this, the better. Am I being a bad author by skimping on the cost to self-publish the book? I can't say, but I do know I'll give it my best effort with what funds I WILL have available for it.

I am also putting together a marketing plan for this book. I am trying to figure out ways I can promote it (again, on the limited budget!) and how I can market it.

Here's hoping that, as the saying goes, the third time will be the charm.

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  • At 1:14 AM , Blogger Lillie Ammann said...


    You're going about this the right way, by weighing all your options and making informed decisions. Most of my editing clients self-publish their work and have been happy that they did so. Most of them have done short print runs through a local printer, but POD is a viable option. I have a self-publishing primer available for free download, and I also have a review of a book on choosing the right POD company that might be useful for you.

    I hope you have a positive self-publishing experience.

  • At 2:27 AM , Anonymous BookWhirl.com said...

    Hello Dawn!

    We totally understand your dilemma about traditional publishing. But in this era of technology, self-publishing is probably one of the hottest trends. Writing a book wholeheartedly is easy. But getting everybody to read your own piece is another story. It's not difficult to market a self-published book. There's just this thing we call "challenge". Monetary sustainability is important. But you know, it's not everything. It does not really matter if you land on the bestseller's shelf. Keep in mind that writing books / poems is a form of devotion. It may not have made jillions of dollars but rest assured that the lives that were touched by your poems will remain a legacy. That alone is priceless.

    We encourage you to write more about what you are passionate about. You never know. A piece of writing can change a life. Writing affects eternity, and you never know when its influence stops. So anchor your hopes and inspiration on that legacy you will be leaving to humanity. It may not make your bank account fat, but at least you are assured that you have contributed to humanity's enrichment.

    BookWhirl.com is giving you an opportunity to market your book for free. Please log on to this link: http://www.bookwhirl.com/Online-Directory-Listing.php

    You may want to read on interesting self-marketing articles. Please do visit this link: http://www.bookwhirl.com/Marketing-Tips/1.html


    BookWhirl.com | You have the bool...We have the Marketing Resources.

  • At 11:14 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...


    Thank you. I checked out your links. I think it is so awesome that you put together the Primer! Very neat. I have been going through it and find the information extremely useful. As I said, I'm reading everything I can get my hands on about self-publishing in order to be more informed. So your E-book is very helpful to add to my collection of resources and I highly recommend it.

    The thing I like about POD is that it makes it easier for someone not very knowledgeable about self-publishing to have a professional-looking book put together. Booklocker, for example, secures the bar code information and has the ISBNs, and they take care of putting all of that information into the book. They also give a concise tutorial on formatting the front of book matter (i.e., the copyright page). I am not very aware of those things so it's nice to have a company willing to take care of that for you.

    As you said, self-publishing is not for everyone. I know first hand the exhaustive work involved in marketing and promoting the book. I also know it is not a venture that can guarantee every writer can retire happily with millions of dollars in sales from their self-published book. I am glad your clients hired you to edit for them. A lot of SPing writers don't go through a professional editor, which I think is a seriously grave mistake. I have seen SP'd writers say "oh, I have a degree in journalism, I don't need an editor" or "I am a good photographer so I don't need a cover designer" and, right away, warning bells went off. The publication of a book is not a solo project. Not ever.


    Wow, thank you SO MUCH! :) Please note that I am not planning to release this book until January, 2010. So meanwhile, I am getting ready, educating myself and making all of the necessary preparations for it. I do NOT plan on failing this venture the third time. I hope I get it right this time. :) I really appreciate your links. I can definitely use a few tips on marketing. One thing I know is that marketing is not my strong suit. So part of this learning process includes learning what I can about effective marketing for my book.

    Your words had a powerful impact on me. Believe me, it's like you completely understood why I am doing this. I am very passionate about my book, and about my writing. Part of that passion is taking this approach seriously and getting it done the way it should be done. I hope that will happen.

    Thank you, again! :)


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