In Which I Interview Myself On Publishing Books

Part I

I once hosted a radio show, Food For Thought, which ran from 1997 to 2006 in northwest New Jersey. It was fun, and I was good at coaxing a story from my guests. Since most authors wanted media attention, I would contact whomever I wanted to talk with and have them send me their latest book to read. One question I always asked before the show’s date was what music they loved the most. Then I made sure to play that music between breaks. I found what the music said about the person proved to be the most surprising thing of all.

When reshaping my website in 2018, I felt called to include interviews with older artists I know or have met during my travels. I hope you have enjoyed meeting these amazing men and women. Having published my latest book, Lifting The Veil ~ Human Nature, a compilation of songs, poems, and stories, I decided it was time to interview myself.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Taking that first step is commendable. Continuing to walk a thousand miles is an education in determination, courage, and love.

After thirty-five years of teaching a holistic lifestyle based on yoga practice, proper nutrition, natural foods cooking, and periodic body cleansing, I was done. Over those years, I had published six books with reputable publishers, and self-published three on my own. I love the whole complicated process of creating books. I am a constant reader, and journal writer, have been all my life. I was finally comfortable with living my life as an artist. The door opened to a new way of being, one that would give me that final push to leap out into the unknown, knowing I would be just fine.

What made you think you could start a publishing company?
It was a dream I had for my life, a big goal that I didn’t know if I could accomplish. The process is fraught with so many things that could go wrong, and then there is the out of pocket cost that can defeat the most dedicated writer. Honestly, though, I didn’t like the way the publishers I wrote for had handled my books. I wanted more say in the design, layout, and cover art. As an author for hire, these were limited, so I accepted my money and got the job done in the allotted 3-4 months.

One thing I needed to do was learn how to write. To structure a sentence, tell a story, and keep the reader engaged. Writing blogs for online publications, and books on mind-body health were the way I learned. Immersing myself in research, then putting the results out for editors to correct and English teachers online to catch mistakes helped me to hone my craft. I don’t recommend it for everyone, but it was the way I learned.

When did you begin to self-publish your books?
In 2007 I was handing out three-ring binders with pages I had run off that afternoon. It was for the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse classes I conducted out of my home, StillPoint Schoolhouse. I had been doing the same since 1998 and felt it was time to publish the manuscript if just for convenience’s sake. The publishers my agent contacted did not think a book about cleansing the body with food would find an audience. So, I decided to publish it myself.

What kind of self-publishing help did you have in 2007?
Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual became my bible. Lorraine Fasano volunteered to assist me. Every Tuesday and Thursday, she would come to the Schoolhouse, and we would go page by page, putting into action what Poynter recommended. There was no print-on-demand back then, so we researched publishing companies, getting quotes that were up and down the scale. Not much different today in that the more you had printed, the cheaper the cost, but then the shipping fees would be enormous.

How did you know how to layout the book? Did you use a template?
What I did then I still do today. I spent time in the library and bookstores studying books that were like the one I envisioned. In my eagerness to complete the book, I overlooked many of the basic principles of writing a manuscript for publication. Headers and footers, title fonts, paragraph font sizes, borders, grammar, how one page ends on the left, or should begin on the right. As I said, the basics. A friend gifted me with a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style, which helped sort out many questions I had.

Today you can hire editors and designers to do that all for you or use a template provided by the printer. I was determined to learn it myself. The manuscript version that reached the printer had a few errors, but by then, it was too late. I had ordered a thousand 8.5 x 11″ copies, and the shipping alone cost $400 to truck up from Florida. There were forty-two boxes of books stacked floor to ceiling in every closet I had in the house.

It took a few years, but I sold every one of the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, first edition, and made a nice profit.

Then you were hired to write the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Detoxing Your Body.
Ironically, yes. It was a godsend, really. Self-publishing can limit your page amount, as in after a certain number of pages, you pay extra for each additional page. The Body Rejuvenation Cleanse Manual was a little over 100 pages. I was asked to write a 365-page book for CIG that became the companion manual to what I had already begun. The two books together contain all the essential health and nutritional information I had been sharing with my clients for years.

The best thing, though, was learning the Complete Idiot’s Guide process for writing a book. The first thing they wanted was a complete Table of Contents (TOC) outline, with chapters, subchapters, and sub subchapters. You couldn’t just have one subchapter but multiple ones staying true to the direction of the chapter. By the time you were done with the TOC, and they had approved it, the writing was easy, basically filling in the blanks. That’s an excellent book, by the way, and one I was proud to share with the world.