My past interviewed authors have all been Australian (to showcase the talent we have here), but when I was asked by an American author if I could review her book, I thought it a great chance to find out about her self-publishing journey.
Her journey is a little different from those interviewed on my blog so far, in that she chose to go with a Print On Demand Publisher.
Print on demand (POD), sometimes called publish on demand, is a printing technology and business process in which new copies of a book (or other document) are not printed until an order has been received.
Taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Print_on_demand
So let’s find out why Barbara Barth, author of The Unfaithful Widow decided not to go the traditional route with the publication of her first book.
Stop! Newsflash! But, before we do, please drop by my blog this Thursday for my review of The Unfaithful Widow.
Now, on with the interview.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I always loved to write down ideas for books and movies and wrote children’s stories just for myself. Never did anything with my ideas, just liked to play with them in my head. I did own and publish a hobby newsletter for thirteen years that had an international following. It was on doll collecting and I started it in 1988. I mostly did the editing, layout and a monthly column.
When did you start writing?
When my husband died I sat on the couch with nothing to do. We didn’t have children and I had retired from my federal job. I had a small antique business but it did not require much time to maintain. The house was so quiet (I did have two dogs but they didn’t have much input) and late at night I would write on the computer, pouring out my grief. Then suddenly I liked writing and went in to fine tune my thoughts. My girlfriends and I would laugh at all the things I was doing again and they said to me, ‘You should write a book.’ That was the encouragement I needed.
What genres do you write in/or have written in?
The Unfaithful Widow is my first book. It is a memoir of my first year alone doing all those things I never thought I’d do again
Why did you decide to self publish/publish independently?
I published using a print-on-demand company. It is an exciting way to go and affordable. There are the set up costs, but then the books are printed when ordered. This differs from self publishing where you pay a lot of money and have a basement full of books to sell. I also did not want to wait to find an agent and then a publisher if I was lucky. I needed something to do and taking charge of my book was my bridge from being a widow to my new life.
How did you get started, ie. how did you go about self publishing or gathering information?
Quite by accident. I met a woman at the post office who was a writer. You can get into some interesting chats standing in line. She told me about a course on publishing at Emory University (US) that was being held later in the week. I went home, got on my computer and signed up for the class. I took that as my sign I should do print-on-demand which was the course that night.
How did you go about editing your work?
I am still editing it. Currently having corrections done on my book so the next orders will have some of my typos removed. I edited my own work, eight rounds. I learned that on my next book I am hiring a professional to edit it. I feel strongly about my words and don’t want those edited…but my spelling and punctuation …yikes!
How long did the self publishing/independent publishing process take place, ie. from the beginning to the printing of your books?
It took about three months from the time I finished my book until my first copy was in my hands. The eight rounds of edits slowed me down a bit. The actual process of using a print-on-demand company is fairly quick.
What was your print run?
Print-on-demand (POD) is a printing technology in which new copies of a book are not printed until an order has been received. The copies are printed digitally and can be done individually rather than in the traditional printing run.
What are the advantages of self publishing or publishing independently?
I loved the fact I had my book quickly and done the way I envisioned it – from cover to inside illustrations and layout. My story was very personal and I did not want third party interference. For me it was a total art project.
Are there any disadvantages to self publishing/publishing independently? If so, what are they?
There is a prejudice in the book world about self published authors. I have found that independent book stores are hesitant to carry self published books. Most of my marketing has been online. My book is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle in their online stores.
What advice would you give other authors who are thinking about self publishing/publishing independently, or setting up their own company?
Research the different companies that do print-on-demand to find one that fits your needs. Some companies do all the work for you, i.e. putting your word document into a print ready PDF while some companies need a print ready file. There is a wealth of information online as to the different ways to self publish and you should do your homework. That said, I used the first company I looked at because they offered to do the technical work for me. They did a beautiful job on my book, but next time I will try something different because now I have learned so much I am braver.
What attributes do you feel are necessary to be a successful self publisher, eg. determination, patience, organisation, sales and marketing experience, self belief, ????
Be prepared to have a marketing plan and get it in motion before you have your book ready. I had started a blog and had other avenues ready to go when my book was ready.
If you were offered a publishing contract with a mainstream publisher, would you accept it?
I would definitely be interested as long as the publisher wanted to promote my book. Even with a publisher the writer may still have a lot of legwork to do. I am working on another book I will self publish but I have an idea for a third book I want to pitch to an agent because it will have a much broader audience than my current work. But that is shhhhh for now.
Where would you like to be in five year’s time, ie. writing wise?
Big dream… my book into a movie. Still writing, and loving it.
What words best describe you?
Quirky, happy, friendly, thankful
Have you any other words of advice?
Believe in yourself. Take a leap of faith.
And Barbara, just to finish, could you just complete the following:
At school I was … nerdy
When I was a child I wanted to be … a mommy – funny since I never had
I relax by … playing with my six dogs
The Unfaithful Widow
Stockists for The Unfaithful Widow:
Available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle in their online stores:
Barnes & Noble
Web links: http://www.barbarabarth.net
DON’T FORGET to drop by my blog this Thursday 19 August (Australian, Eastern Standard Time) for my review of The Unfaithful Widow.
AND just to let you know, that (for a very short time only) copies of The Unfaithful Widow may run out while the author is making some corrections – another advantage of Print on demand.
Helen Ross interviews Barbara Barth 16 August 2010. Copyright Helen Ross 2010.