Yes, I know I already blogged today. I had planned to post this particular blog sometime after the weekend, after the Monday play blog. But you know what? I don’t feel like waiting. I have an hour to kill before I leave for John’s, and I want to put this out there. So here goes.
I spent all of 2010 working on a special, personal project; only a couple of people knew about it. I wrote a book. It is a biography/memoir, both of my experiences as Erica Scott, and of those before I allowed her to emerge.
I’ve made no secret, over all my years of blogging and writing on forums, that I struggled with a dysfunctional childhood, and with depression and eating disorders that plagued me for over 20 years. Most of you know I was put on medication at age 36, and that’s when my life began to change. No, I take that back — that’s when my life began, period. In fact, my book is in two parts: Part 1 is called Existence, and Part 2 is called Living. Erica Scott doesn’t even make an appearance until well into the second half.
You all have heard me describe myself as a square peg in a round world. I felt “otherness” very early on, for many reasons. Throw in an undeniable fascination with spanking and no outlet with which to explore it, and you have a whole lot of confusion, fear and self-loathing. But despite all that, I managed to break free and ultimately discover who I am — and accept myself. To embrace my otherness, and fully rejoice in my kink.
I spent several months rereading 50 written journals, several more kept in Microsoft Word and years of forum posts and old blogs. From those, along with my unusually detailed memory, I compiled the story of Erica.
ANYWAY — I met my goal of finishing the first draft by the end of 2010. I read through it a couple of times and edited it, and then I shelved it for a while, taking a break from it. Recently, I read it through one more time, did some more tweaking. Now I’ve decided that’s enough of that, and I want to move forward. So…. now what?
I have been doing some research on getting published the old-fashioned way, and it appears to be a full-time job. There are a bazillion publishers and literary agents, and many ways to go. Writing proposals, sending out sample chapters, writing queries to agents… it’s daunting. And I’m not kidding myself — my book is a niche product. It is not going to appeal to the mainstream.
At first, I thought perhaps I should contact writers with traditionally published erotica/fetish books. I started by choosing three of them and emailed each one, asking if they’d be willing to share a bit about their publishing process, how they made it happen. One didn’t reply at all; one wrote and said she’d get back to me, then never did. The third one sent me a very nice reply, but she made it clear that if I wanted any substantive guidance, I had to pay $200 an hour, two-hour minimum. So I gave up on that idea.
Just for the hell of it, I sent a proposal and some sample chapters to Virgin Books USA, because Virgin UK published Niki Flynn’s memoir, Dances With Werewolves. But I am not expecting anything. Like I said, I know that finding a traditional publisher who’d take my book is like seeking the proverbial needle in a haystack. Another fetish author, Joan Kelly, published The Pleasure is All Mine a few years ago, about her experiences as a pro sub in the scene. I looked up her publisher as well… they’re out of business.
So that leads me to self-publishing. You all know I went the self-publishing route with Lulu, back in 2007. But the industry has grown exponentially in the past four years, and now it’s quite daunting as well. So many choices out there! When I published What Happens to Naughty Girls? on Lulu, I didn’t pay a cent. I carefully formatted my manuscript according to their directions, they converted it to a PDF and then into a book, and that was that. I didn’t have an ISBN, and aside from talking about it on my blog, I had no marketing or distribution. To this date, I’ve sold a whopping 190 copies in four years. I guess that’s OK for a little book of fiction, but considering how much more personal this book is, how much more I put into it, I’d like to do a bit better than that.
All these companies (Lulu, Xlibris, Outskirts, iUniverse, AuthorHouse, CreateSpace, etc. etc. etc.) make it sound like they’re the best for you, of course. They all have various packages you pay for if you want help with formatting, marketing and promotion, ISBNs and so on. But as I delve into each site individually, I keep seeing different pitfalls. Some won’t convert a Word document into a PDF unless you pay for a higher-tier package. Others won’t let you create your own cover (which I want to do, since I have a specific image in mind). Some, like Lulu, have separate packages for editing, marketing and distribution, while others lump everything into one. And yes, some of them still have a free self-publishing platform, but you’re basically on your own with those. This time, I would like to avail myself of some help with marketing and distribution. But I don’t want to pay a fortune for it, either.
Does anyone have any experience with or knowledge of Xlibris? I contacted a few of these companies for their free initial consultation. So far, Xlibris has been the most responsive, and borderline aggressive. They’ve contacted me by phone and email, and they are pushing their packages now because they have a promotional offer going on. Buy one of their packages and you automatically get upgraded to the next higher tier, but you pay the lower-tier price. The guy I spoke with was touting their Professional tier, where you get quite a lot, sounds like, but it’s $1100!! He said I could have it for the Basic tier price, which is $650. I said that was still too high, and he then offered it to me for $520. I said I’d think about it. The offer is good until April 15. I’m a little uneasy about this hard sell, but perhaps they all do that to some degree. However, I don’t want to rush into anything.
So, readers, I am opening the floor to you. Authors out there… what do you think? What are your experiences, and what do you feel is the best way to go? What companies have you worked with? Do you think I may have a viable product? Anyone know of publishers to contact who specialize in off-the-vanilla-path genres?
You know, I had a fantasy of getting all this done, keeping it secret until the end, then blogging “Surprise — guess what? I’ve published my memoirs.” Yeah, it was a nice fantasy, but it’s not gonna happen. I need some help; there are just too damn many choices out there and I don’t want to screw this up.
By the way… the name of my book is Late Bloomer. Because that’s what I am, in every sense of the phrase.
Thank you in advance. 🙂