publishing

Publish What You Write

Many people write stories, memoirs, essays, poems, or other work that could be published. Yet, for various reasons they never publish their work. I think every writer should consider publishing what they wrote and making it available for someone to read.

Today, self-publishing a print book* can be done online or through a local printer with varying degrees of cost (they may be free to upload, but will cost to print).

For online printing, there are many companies providing a wide range of support from the writer doing everything to the company doing everything. The main benefit to online is that a reader, such as a family member, can purchase the book and have it delivered wherever they want.

The other way is through a local printer. Most everywhere has a graphic store producing signs and banners or a chain office-supply store, both of whom usually provide print services. This method is good if the writer wants a limited number of books and is concerned about their work being online.

What if the writing is not very good? I think that if the writer can understand it, they have told a story and a reader can be found. The two just need to meet.

With so many services, more writers should print their work in some form. Even a pamphlet will do. It will cost, but the value to the writer of holding something with their thoughts inside is worth it.

* This blog post is mostly about people who write for a specific audience, such as their family, who want something to hold. These writers are not interested in making a profit or even selling their work.

2021 Creative Writing Goals

I’m setting writing goals this year. Something I haven’t done before. Usually, I fumble along until I surprise myself with some accomplishment. Now I have my first book published and I formed a limited liability company (LLC) for my writing. So, I thought I should be more organized.

My first goal is to put more time into my writing. This means freeing up time from other projects such as grant writing. I’ll still write grants, but for fewer nonprofits.

I will also not send short stories to magazines. This is time consuming and competition has increased over the past year, although I may try again later. It is a great confidence builder to be published by someone besides myself.

With more time, my second goal is to publish more books. I’m in the final editing stages of my second book and I am editing a third book. I have a fourth book written, but it may need a lot of editing.

I plan to publish these books through my LLC, which needs to be better organized. Right now, my LLC is little more than a legal name. I need to create a more defined business structure. Maybe have meetings with myself.

My fourth goal is to leverage my LLC and put more effort into my so far futile attempt at marketing. This is the biggest unknown to me. For example, I’m supposed to have a marketing plan, but what do I put in the plan?

There is plenty of guidance and suggestions to help self-publishers market their book. However, I found that the details are unique to each book and author. I’ll probably do a blog post on marketing in the near future.

Now that I’ve written my goals, I just need to remember them.

My Limited Liability Company

In February 2019, I posted my reasons for not forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC). At the time I thought it would have added more complications to an already complicated self-publishing route I was taking. Now that I’ve self-published my first book with plans to publish others, I decided an LLC might help with marketing and promotions.

Many people say don’t form an LLC. They cite taxes to be paid and an LLC does not protect against a lawsuit. Also, an LLC is something to keep track of along with other self-publishing duties.

I discovered that setting up an LLC was not complicated and there are few additional duties other than what I would do anyway as a sole proprietor (which most self-publishers are). There is an LLC tax to be paid each year (it’s a reporting fee, but still a tax), which I am treating as a marketing expense.

As an LLC, I found my book listed in more places worldwide than under my name. Distributors and bookstores seem to pay more attention to a business rather than a person running a business. The LLC provides some legitimacy to my self-publishing.

To some people, an LLC or corporate entity means the author is serious about their publications. This may or may not be true, but if an author goes to the trouble to form a company they are more likely to put more effort into their books. Also, under U.S. law my LLC name is more protected than a name under a sole proprietorship.

I’m glad I formed an LLC. I don’t know if it will help me sell any books, but it makes me take my self-publishing efforts more seriously.

P.S. My LLC is “Every Word Rise, Ltd. Liability Co.”

P.P.S. The logo is a work-in-progress. Anyone have ideas for a logo?

My First Book Signing

A few Saturdays ago, I had my first book signing at a local bookstore. A podcast I previously heard had advised that authors at a signing event should not stand next to their books. People will more likely browse the book without the author there. This did not help.

Whether I stood by my book or not didn’t seem to matter. Yet, I still had a good time. I was outside with great weather on a Halloween afternoon and next door to the liquor store. My creativity was on overload with all the people I could write about who passed by. And I sold two books (yeah!).*

Despite few sales, I felt encouraged by the book signing. It is easy to feel negative about such an experience, but this book process (writing, publishing, marketing) is long. Just like it took me a long time to write something that people would want to read; it will take time (I hope not as long) for me to sell what I wrote.

My encouragement came from just being there with my book. I think all authors should have book signings. Even if there are no local bookstores, local shops would enjoy having an author out front. Just don’t expect to sell many books.

Instead, enjoy the experience and meet people. Book signings may not generate many sales, but maybe that podcast advice could work for someone else.

For me, the next time I have a book signing I’ll use a special pen to sign books. It won’t help sell anything, but it will make me feel as if I may have a chance.

* Note: I won’t mention they were sympathy sales to people I knew.