Onward Methuselah, Part 2

IMG_2056I didn’t get a chance to read this book until this morning and then, I did not read the whole thing.  It’s almost 500 pages long.  However, just skipping through the chapters I could tell it is an exceedingly comprehensive book on publishing. I wish I’d read it twenty years ago because as they say in Chapter 2, A World Wide Wonderland,  “. . .these days it’s imperative to start assembling an audience long before you’ve written a word.” To someone who’s been writing as long as she can remember that’s like saying “assemble an audience before you’re born.” Sheesh. My first book Flipka was in final edits before I even knew about twitter accounts.


Too late chicka. No audience, no book deal. Mom and Dad don’t count.

The chapter on blogging contains some interesting factoids I did not know, for example, you’re supposed to post pictures of yourself at various stages of life.  Readers love family pictures. Really, what do you think?

I was always a little odd.

I was always a little odd.

If you’re going the traditional route, there’s gobs of information on dealing with agents, how to get a larger advance from a publisher, and how to conduct yourself on television interviews. Ah, not my big worry right now.


Ah, Miss Twissel, did you get the memo about being youthful, attractive and scintillating for your TV debut? You look a bit like Methuselah.

The chapter I spent most of my time reading was Publish Thyself which, as the title suggests, focuses on self-publishing. Here are some things I learnt:

  1. It’s not uncommon for writers to spend up to $50,000 to self-publish if they avail themselves of all the so-called “writer services” available. (so word to the wise)
  2. Upgrade to off-white paper instead of white. It looks more professional and is easier on the eyes.
  3. If you’re listing yourself as the publisher, get a PO box and use it for contact information on the copyright page. (amazing to think people would actually list their home address as contact info but apparently it’s been done.)

Regarding item 1, writer’s services include editing, proofing, layout, cover design formatting, ISBNs, website design, bio help (professionally done head shots), marketing, distribution, etc., etc. The book contains many stories of writers who’ve gone the whole hog versus those who’ve flown by the seat of their pants. In the end success generally came down to perseverance on the part of the author, no matter how much money was spent.

Regarding item 3, to list yourself as a publisher all you need to do (in the US) is register your name as a business with the county clerk.  For about $50 JT Twissel became a business with me, Jan, as the President.  Now if I could only afford an admin.

I want to thank Krista over at  Krista at the Heart of It All, for the recommendation of Silverwood Books.  I did check them out (even saw your book listed!) and they seem exceedingly professional. Their packages seem competitively priced and a good deal but I’ve already gotten fairly far along in the process thanks to my previous publisher.  I will probably go with CreateSpace. Now thanks to Cinda I have a good idea what to look out for and which services to spurge on.  Maybe I’ll actually get started tomorrow. Ya think?

22 thoughts on “Onward Methuselah, Part 2

  1. Really interesting Jan. I use Feed-a-read for my POD, though I also set up with Createspace to see which looks best for each book. They are easy to sue and give better royalties than Createspace but probably have other downsides. They even have real people check your formatting. Apart from an editor to check for typos etc and a cover designer I do it myself (maybe it shows).
    PS I’ve just started Willful Avoidance today; very impressed and the section with the computer avoiding receptionist rings some very loud memory bells

    1. I’ll check them out – thanks Geoff. It’s seems like there’s no publisher without some problems. I guess you have to decide what you’re willing to live with. I hope WA doesn’t bring up too many bad memories and thanks for reading!

  2. The list of things to learn about publishing is never ending. When I pitched to agents two years in a row at the PNWA conference, questions always inevitably were asked about author platform and follower numbers. Fast forward to an internship I did for a literary journal. The MFA students had nary a clue about platform building. Go figure 😉

    1. Interesting. Many academics are in denial about the realities of publishing. I guess that’s why they call it the “Ivory Tower.”

  3. Oh, it’s like a minefield out there, Jan, but thanks for looking into this and giving us your tips.
    I’ve still a lot of work to do, but I’m still feeling the excitement of publishing that first book.

  4. Probably the last thing you need right now is another book recommendation…but “Making a Literary Life” by Carolyn See is highly motivating and gives some clever ideas on how to become known. She attended our Mendocino Coast Writers Conference about 10 years ago and was a delightful teacher and human being.

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