Day 3: Holly Payne on Alternative Publishing

Holly Payne’s story began with a tragic accident and I’m not talking about her book. I’m talking about her life and the drunk driver who nearly ended it. Afterwards, she wove her tale of an Amish boy in need of forgiveness through her own need to forgive and arrived at “Kingdom of Simplicity”. She found editorial interest for “Kingdom,” but no publishers. As the 15th Anniversary of her accident loomed closer, she felt driven to publish the novel on that anniversary. Thus, Skywriterbooks was born.

Holly did more than self publish. She created her own editing, coaching and small press company and these are her thoughts on self-publishing:

• Never use a vanity press. All they do is print your work. No editing or marketing is involved, and you are your own warehouse. In short, your money pays for paper and ink. There are a variety of ways your money and work can gain greater results.
• Read “The Well-fed Self Publisher. It was Holly’s guide in creating Skywriters and I imagine would be an enormous help for anyone who goes for self publishing, let alone going the extra step to create their own imprint.

• If you do self-publish, consider Lightening Sources. They’re a print-on-demand (P.O.D.) service and they will list your work in the publishing catalogs of, Barnes & Noble, Ingrams and public libraries. There is no need for warehousing with P.O.D., but if you’re sure (i.e. you have orders) you can sell more than 500 copies , then print more than 500 as this will help offset the cost of printing and you’ll receive a financial bang for your book. (Thought I was going to say “buck,” didn’t you?) Printing in paperback is cheaper, so ask yourself how important is it to see your work in hardback. Selling 1,000 copies on your own marks you as a success, since 93% of all books published sell less than 1,000 copies. Is that a kick in the head or what?

• Ask for blurbs and reviews and sent out advance reading copies (ARCs) six months in advance of the book’s publication.

• Have friends go to Barnes & Noble, Borders, Rainy Day, etc. and request the book from the store. This generates tremendous word of mouth because the stores TALK.

One of the many things Holly learned from her experience was, “You’re not, in the end, selling a book. You’re selling an emotion, an inspirational experience. What is it?”

Aside from the words: “I want to see your first 50 pages,” I thought this the most profound thing said at the entire conference. If we are not sure of the emotional power and focus behind our book, how will anyone else recognize it? That’s why today’s somewhat unrelated question is: What is your book’s emotional point?




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9 Responses to “Day 3: Holly Payne on Alternative Publishing”

  1. Janet Johnson says:

    Wow, creating an imprint. Isn't that what Christopher Paolini did? Takes a lot of faith and guts.

    My emotional point? Failure in the world's eyes doesn't mean you are a failure unless you choose to let it.

  2. Victoria Dixon says:

    I didn't know Paolini did that! I knew he was initially self-published, but that was it.

    Good job boiling down "Bob." I think MTC's is "There are some things so sacred, they are worthy of self-sacrifice." Hmmm, that's a lot of sibilants. LOL Still editing….

  3. laurel says:

    One of my CPs also created an imprint–and also handles her own printing and distribution. My hats off to her!

    My emotional point? Our losses and hurts can destroy us, or they can soften us toward the hurts of others.

    BTW, I have an award for you on my blog.

  4. A misinterpreted wave says:

    My emotional point is that bad stuff happens, but that 'this too shall pass'.

    I loved the idea that we are not selling a book, but an emotional experience – totally sums it up for me.

  5. Victoria Dixon says:

    Thanks again for the award, Laurel! I'm way behind on my awards giving. I'm going to have to catch up soon!

    I love all these emotional points – it emphasizes how stories can be similar in plot, structure etc. and still have divergent raison d'etre, ya know? I once had an editor tell me about a poem that if it didn't pack an emotional wallop, it wasn't poetry. I've taken that to heart for literature in general, I think.

  6. Rachna Chhabria says: takes a lot of guts to self publish. I have only admiration for such writers. Its a testimony of their immense belief in their books and faith in their stories that they opt for the self publishing route.

  7. Mohamed Mughal says:

    My book's emotional point? Your relationship with G_d is a deeply personal one and, like in any deeply personal relationship, you need to make sure you fulfill your obligations.

  8. Theresa Milstein says:

    I love the last quote from Holly. As a reader, if I'm not somehow better because I read the book, then what was the point? As a writer, I hope to give my readers something more than just a story.

    Self-publishing is a lot of work. I give people credit who attempt to sell their books that way.

  9. Victoria Dixon says:

    Self publishing takes an immense effort. I have a friend who seems to be marketing her book every weekend – she's always at a fair or some such and I know a lot of her evenings are spent that way, too.

    Mohamed, LOVE your book's point. Is it in print yet?

    Theresa, I agree. I hope that the reader can leave my book, but continue to think on it and the characters for days or even weeks.

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