I’ve learned a lot in the past week and a half.
As you know, I’m preparing my manuscript Blameless Mouth for publication through Lulu. However, what you may not know is that I’ve been dancing around this idea for a long while. I’ve been asking myself: Should I do it? Do I have time to promote it? Will anyone buy it? Can I ready the manuscript? These questions were dogging me, because there are no answers for these questions.
Finally, over a month ago, I decided to just go for it. I began editing my manuscript and getting it ready to put in the template. This was nothing new. I’ve edited this manuscript more times than I can count. What’s different is that I took that next step.
I am now in a new world, as a writer and creator. I am now fully out of the editing process and into the publication process. I’ve never formally self-published any book and it’s complex and scary. But, like I said, I’m learning a lot. And I’d like to share those lessons with you.
Lesson #1: Brag About Yourself
Did you know that when you publish a book, you have to write about yourself in the third person? It’s true…and completely awkward. I wrote a bio for myself, which I’ve added to my new About page. That was difficult, but certainly not insurmountable.
Then, I had to write a blurb about the book, for the back cover. This was again, not insurmountable, but incredibly challenging. I’ve spent years on this manuscript. It’s the most significant piece of writing I’ve ever created. And yet, I could not distill this book down into four or five persuasive sentences without feeling like a complete phony. I am not quite ready to unveil the blurb yet, because I want to show it to a friend who’s reading my manuscript now. But, the rough draft is there.
Lesson #2: You Need Other People’s Help
It was also recommended to me from several folks that I get a few blurbs for the back cover. I really dragged my feet on this at first, because this involves asking for favors or God forbid help from people. I am not good at either.
During one of my 5 AM creative times I realized that I am not asking on behalf of myself, I am asking on behalf of my work. Certainly, my poetry deserves the effort and potential rejection, if I’m going to all the time and expense of self-publishing it. What I have learned, of course, is that people are generous and are willing to review my work.
Lesson #3: Cultivate Patience
Also, I’ve learned that self-publishing involves a lot of waiting. I am not a patient person, so this has been challenging. Apparently, there are a lot of technical steps throughout the publishing process. Without a formal publishing company to work with, I have to do this work myself. I don’t mind, but I didn’t expect that it would take time.
I discovered early on in my research that Lulu provides an ISBN to your book, if you buy their Global Distribution package. But, the ISBN lists them as the publisher. I have nothing against Lulu per se, but I was a little disappointed when I learned this. Luckily, thanks to awesome Twitter advice, I learned that you can buy your own ISBN, which I bought this morning. (Goal achieved!)
The ISBN form asks for a Library of Congress Catalog Number. It’s not required, but I thought that I should have one. So, I filled out the first step of the form this morning. And I learned that I’ll have to wait up to a week to get this part of the application approved, before I can request the LCCN.
The cool part about applying for all these acronyms (ISBN, LCCN) is that I had to name my publishing company. Today, Everything Feeds Process Press was born. That made me feel good.
That’s where I am now. I am waiting for friends and acquaintances to review my work and potentially provide blurbs for me. I’m waiting for my LCCN application to get approved. My manuscript can’t become a book until all those things happen, so I wait.
It’s exciting and I feel like I’m just going to bubble over with energy. But it’s also nerve-wracking. A big part of me just wants this book out in the world. But now, I have some time to prepare some posts about the book and my writing process, record some poems for audio or video poems, and build a Facebook product page. These are the benefits of waiting to go through the process correctly.
Despite (or perhaps because) of all this learning, I am really enjoying this self-publication process. I have something to look forward to during my morning creative time. Each time I check another item off of my to do list, I feel like I’m building towards an end result: a finished, published book. I guess I can wait a few more weeks for all of it to come together.