The Journey Begins with Step One

When there’s money flowing, things get done. In June of 2018 I began working with Beaver’s Pond Press in earnest, but the start was slow. Hanna was my main contact, and we began with a high level estimate of services. We negotiated our way through this phase, mostly Hanna explaining what things like “copy editing” vs “proof-reading” meant. We also talked our way through how many of the services I wanted to buy, and how much I would have to do myself. On this front, I saw that they didn’t offer audio book production, and that I felt strongly that I wanted an audio version. The rest really were “must have” items. I needed professionals to read the book and offer feedback. I had plenty of friends who had done this, but I love my friends, and I know criticism is hard to give/get from friends.

Once we settled on a basic game plan, Hanna put it all down on paper. The initial time line got us to completion around March 2019, seven months from start date. The components of the plan looked something like this:

  1. Identify publishing team, hand over the manuscript for a developmental editor. Pay money.
  2. Start marketing plan (I had already done this but had miles to go.)
  3. Finalize title and subtitle.
  4. Design kick-off: trim size, cover concepts, high level decisions (quantity, hard vs soft cover, etc.)
  5. Work on metadata, comps, BISAC, synopsis and a bunch of other things I didn’t understand.
  6. Work on biography, dedication, acknowledgements.
  7. Review and approve cover concepts that were being designed by a cover designer.
  8. Marketing meeting.
  9. Review developmental edits, make changes, refine and finalize.
  10. Approved manuscript, send revised manuscript for copy edits, including front and back matter/cover.
  11. Pay more money.
  12. Review interior concept, sample pages and make selections based on designer’s recommendations.
  13. Review copy edits/approve copy edits.
  14. Pay more money.
  15. Submit endorsements, back cover copy, author photo, URL.
  16. Review proof read.
  17. Approve manuscript for typesetting. NO FURTHER CHANGES
  18. Pay more money.
  19. Start planning launch.
  20. Review typeset interior.
  21. Finalize list price and print quantity.
  22. Submit marketing plan.
  23. Finalize metadata.
  24. Approve final interior and cover for print.
  25. Pay more money.
  26. Review print proof/Approve print proof.
  27. E-book conversion/review and approve e-book
  28. Finalize distribution details.
  29. Pay e-book costs.
  30. Books arrive!!
  31. Pay more money/final payments

As you can imagine, this is not a cheap process. There were at least four editors of various flavors. A designer. Project manager/mentor/editor/advisor. In addition, because Beaver’s Pond didn’t do audio books, at about stage 22 I began searching and hiring a firm to do the audio book. More money.

And there was nothing about the sales/marketing/public relations side of the process except for one meeting with a marketing consultant. She didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but that’s because I am a marketeer. And it was classic consulting—she told me what I had to do, she wasn’t a “do-er”. That fell on me.

But I was committed to the process. I was trading my money for the time it would have taken to find an agent who would then find a publisher. And I believe I still would have had to do and pay for a lot of these steps with both an agent and a publisher. My business goal was to pay for my writer’s education, shine after book release so that down the road an agent and publisher would pick me up post initial offering. I’m still working that plan.

I am sure there is a question hanging out there: How much does this all cost??? It will be different for everyone–in my case there was actually very little editing that needed to be done which helped keep us on track dollars and time wise. I’d say if you Google the cost of getting an MBA, the cost to self publish in the fashion I did it would be about 1/3. Remember, I was going for the entire five course meal. I wanted a comprehensive education. I have published a few books on Kindle Direct Publishing for pennies in comparison. But frankly the quality right now at KDP isn’t at the same level. And it isn’t all about printing a book—the value of having copy editors comb through the manuscript is worth it—if you can afford it. Everything’s a trade off. For me, it was investment spending.

This was my MBA and MFA rolled into one, done in less than a year. As it turned out, it’s taken more than a year, but it is nearing fruition. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. But the journey started way back in August, 2018 at Step 1.


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