I've self-published two novels and will bring out two more this year. I've been asked how it differs from publishing via a conventional publisher. The answer: in almost every way. As former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin said of his decision to self-pub his book, "When you hand your book over to a publisher, you don't know what's going to happen."
My most recent blogs have focused on my experiences in conventional publishing. It's brought back memories, both pleasant and unpleasant--but the most unforgettable experience any author can have is the sale and publication of their first novel.
I queried Maria Carvainis, who became my agent, in May 1984, and received her response, asking to see the manuscript, in June. She signed me as a client in September. In late March, after extensive revisions, it was sent out to twelve publishers. Eight made offers. On April 26, 1985, it was sold to Damaris Rowland at Berkley for a $25,000 advance, paid in three installments. I got a congratulatory telegram from Maria and roses from Damaris!
Damaris' enthusiasm was such that she went on to buy two more manuscripts from me within six months, for a $100,000 advance. Berkley was making quite an investment in my career! And more roses!
What followed was a lot of work. Finally, Dance of the Gods was on the schedule for publication in May 1988 as a lead title. A few months before the pub date, bound galleys were sent out to reviewers. On a trip to New York, I got my first look at the book's cover, which was beautiful...but I'll admit I had hoped for something that revealed a bit more about the story.
But then, the book that was published bore little resemblance to the novel I'd set out to write.
I love bold, vivid colors--the more vivid the better--so needless to say, I was disappointed that the midnight blue cover Damaris showed me in New York would end up being black on the printed books. I did get the blue cover for Angels at Midnight, and requested--and got--red for A Time for Legends.
As the May 1st pub date approached, I'd already delivered the manuscript for Angels at Midnight. Press releases went out; interviews were being scheduled, mostly with local media. It's not easy to get any media attention when you're an author nobody's ever heard of.
Rarely does a publisher throw a launch party for a first novel. Again, who's going to come out to meet a new, untested author no one has ever heard of? I did get a launch party, however, held by friends and fellow St. Louis authors, and attended mostly by other local authors and their spouses/significant others. It was great--my favorite foods, prepared by authors who had better things to do than cook, but they did it anyway. There was a toast and a lovely handmade centerpiece featuring copies of the book.
Though most of my current circle of writing buddies live too far away for me to throw them a launch party, I will toast each of them in turn and look forward to being able to throw a party for those who are local when their time comes. Carole, Nicole, Cathy, Kyle--I'm talking about you. And unless he forbids me to do so, I will make the trip to Canada to celebrate with my partner in crime, William, whether his first published novel turns out to be Heaven & Hell or our collaborative effort, Same Time, Tomorrow!
Next time: Judging a Book by its Cover. And please check out my guest blog at good friend Donna Yates' blog, Believe in Yourself. And for more photos, including pics from writers conferences and booksellers conventions, check out my albums at Facebook.