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?