Self-Publishing Interview

Part II

So what happened after you wrote the Complete Idiot’s Guide To Detoxing Your Body?

Soon after I finished, I was hired to write a book on SuperFoods. This allowed me to expand on foods not often mentioned in health and cookbooks. Foods such as sea vegetables, pumpkin seeds, micro algae’s, wild mushrooms, well you get the idea, plus really delicious recipes. It’s an informative book, and still selling on Amazon.

Then in 2013 I hired Cheryl Kennedy to assist me in creating an e-book for The Body Rejuvenation Cleanse. I wanted a book people could download from anywhere in the world as I live-streamed the BRCleanse online.

For the e-book, I went to BookBaby, who assisted with the technical issues. They were accommodating and patient with us. When the manuscript was uploaded, they distributed the book to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Apple Bookstore. The e-book allowed me to expand the number of recipes and add more information. However, as a continuous scroll, I am not convinced it is the best way to view recipes. BookBaby has the e-book on its bookstore site, and it can be found on the other book sites as well.

What made you follow this with a photo-heavy yoga book?

Ah, well, that was another moment of necessity. I had been teaching chair yoga to seniors, broken bodies, and advanced students for years. I knew it would soon be the most important prop in a yoga studio. With my yoga teaching partner, Denise Kay, we created a 15-hour Chair Vinyasa certification. Once we had narrowed down the 50 poses we wanted to feature; I reached out to my agent to query a book on Chair Yoga. She dismissed the idea as not being relevant in a glutted yoga book market. I disagreed.

Denise, Kate McGuinness, and John Fazio were willing to pose for the photos. I used a Lumix DSLR camera with a 20mm lens, shot in color against the wall in my yoga studio. I edited the images in Photoshop Elements in black & white. We wanted a book that showed a sequence of variations on each posture (asana), demonstrating different levels of proficiency. That meant a lot of photos to edit and arrange. We had the design figured out from the start; one thing I had learned from the pro’s, and then I went to work putting the book together.

How long does it take you to create a book?

I have found that, despite my enthusiasm and impatience, a book will take a good year from start to finish. I know writers don’t want to hear that. When self-publishing, there is just so much to do, plus learning how to do it all, can slow the pace.

That’s not the whole story. When I was writing for Penguin books, I learned that a common expression is to “hurry up and wait.”

Meaning, I was given a deadline to complete the writing and correct any editing considerations the publisher might have. This happens over a period of about three to four months. Once I had completed the manuscript, it moves from one department to the next, and a good year will have passed by the time the book hit the stores.

As an independent writer, there were days I wrote or edited for hours. Other days I avoided the work with no reason other than I couldn’t bring myself to sit at the computer. Weeks might pass before I returned to the book. I would scold myself for procrastinating, avoiding, resisting the work. Then one day, I realized that it was none of those things. Alone, I was creating a book that required time and thought. I found I needed to learn more about graphic design, positioning text boxes, fonts, headers —once again; I was back to the basics.

I learned to give the book time to take shape both in my mind and on the page. As a technical book, it needed to be clear, instructions precise. We had a Chair Vinyasa weekend scheduled, so I ran off multiple copies at Staples, put them in a 3-ring binder, and that was the first edition we used for the certification program.

I suspect you used another publisher for Chair Vinyasa?

I did, indeed. Understand, the technology had now caught up with my aspirations. Today the internet is flooded with companies willing to get your book into print for a price.

Also, it was time to shift my focus toward creating a series of photo storybooks. I was finally getting close to manifesting my vision.

First, I needed to finish Chair Vinyasa and create a third edition of The Body Rejuvenation Cleanse. I could then walk away from my former life, leaving behind the information people would need to get and stay healthy. I decided to go with Amazon’s Create Space. I had two books in black and white, 8.5 x 11” uploaded and each approved within 24 hours.

It was a bit of a shock to see my books there on Amazon, but I knew it was the best place for them to get attention without my having to push too hard at marketing. It comes to find I was right. Recently, Amazon closed Create Space and now uses the KDP format for print-on-demand books.

What is the best thing about Self-Publishing?

To be more specific, let’s narrow it down to print-on-demand self-publishing. Because in your eagerness to go to press, a few things can get overlooked. You have a grace period in which to correct mistakes. Make sure to check everything before re-uploading to the site again. Also, know the limits of how much you can change before having to buy a new ISBN and bar code.

The other thing is you can set your book price and watch sales grow. You are now more than a writer; you are a business. Getting your book into print is just one piece of the picture. Marketing the book is a whole other ballgame.

Next: Designing Book Covers