This is a guest post by Jennifer Djorjdevic, a National-Louis University writing program graduate, on behalf of the Suburban Write People on their experiences in self-publishing.
The seed for Suburban Write People, unknown to any of us at the time, was planted in the fall of 2005 the moment each of us decided to take part as editors in the quest to publish National Louis University’s first literary anthology, Mosaic.
Conceptualizing, pulling together the content and wrapping the project was extremely gratifying. For the first time, NLU Written Communication students and instructors could showcase work that might not have seen light beyond that of the hallway fluorescents permanently fixated at the school’s Evanston campus.
Through this experience several new friendships were formed and in the fall of 2006 a small group of writers (that’s us!) decided to continue our meetings in an effort to support each other’s writing beyond graduation. Many sessions (and flats of cheesy hash browns, vats of coffee, buckets of donut holes and platters of fruit) later we made up our collective, creative minds to write a book.
After much comical debate we titled ourselves The Suburban Write People and our soon-to-be-book, or so we thought, Save the Last Stall for Me. Months of editing meetings paid off when in the winter of 2008/2009 we submitted our precious collection to Publish America. Almost a year to the date we submitted our manuscript, Save the Last Stall for Me was born.
Our desire to write a second book may return but for now , we continue to revel in our first accomplishment, support each other’s writing and meet at a local coffee house for breakfast on Sunday mornings.
We learned a lot during our quest to write a book. Here are top five issues you’ll want to consider before taking the publishing plunge:
1. Consider a traditional route: While you may want instant gratification of seeing your words in print, it would be worth it to check out a traditional printing route; especially when you consider the time it will take you to market your book. Going with print on demand (POD) means the responsibility of marketing your book with little to no help from the POD publisher unless you pay extra for a marketing package. Fees for marketing vary and can fall flat as bookstores seldom have it on the shelf and often let you conduct a signing.
2. There is no such thing as a free book: POD fees vary from $99 to thousands of dollars. Make sure you get everything writing and read the fine print. You never know what hidden fees you’ll be expected to fork over.
3. Referrals are king: We went with Publish America since one of our writers had a good experience with this POD. Unfortunately the experience for our group wasn’t nearly the same. We waited just over a year from the time we submitted our manuscript to the time we received copies of our book. By that time we were disenchanted and totally frustrated. Lesson learned? Talk to lots of people who have used the POD you are interested in using. Discovering a pattern of good or bad behavior can make or break your decision.
4. Be prepared to work hard to sell your books: PODS will not sell your books unless you pay good money for them to do so. Even then you’ll want to beware. PODS are not like traditional publishing companies where much of the marketing is done on your behalf.
5. It’s all about the group dynamics: Writing solo is one thing but working in a group is a whole different animal. Make sure you’re all on the same page about what POD you’ll be using, who will be the contact person and how you’ll keep the momentum going and the frustrations down.
Oh and because we are shameless self-promoters, make sure you check out ISBN-10: 1608369803 on Amazon.com. It’s a book you won’t want to put down!
Suburban Write People
Here is a description of the book, if you’d like to learn more: “Half a dozen writers. Six masters degrees. Two hundred plus years of work experience. Very few offspring, but lots of pets. Put them together and you get a pack of authors collaborating on the best bathroom book to hit the market since Jokes for the John. Actually, this book is better. Save the Last Stall for Me doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to people pleasing. Like a good read? You’ll find it here: mysteries, humor, poetry and drama. Whether you need something for the commute or for the commode, or a fanciful tale to get your head out of reality, find it all in this literary tribute to the humble bathroom. You’ll want to share the experience. Grab your copy and add a few more to your shopping list for friends and family.”