Jennifer Basye Sander will be speaking about avenues for becoming published at our next monthly meeting on February 16, at 2 pm at the Four Points Sheraton on Hopyard in Pleasanton. She is the author of more than 50 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published, the bestseller Christmas Miracles (1997) and her most recent anthology, A Miracle Under the Christmas Tree: Real Stories of Hope, Faith and the True Gifts of the Season (2012). Jennifer has decades of experience in the publishing business. Visit her website to learn more about writing retreats.
If I had to pick the most exciting half hour of my summer, I’d choose the thirty minutes I spent with Kyle Pressley, a man not my husband. We connected. He understood me. I was head over heels in love with his machine.
That would be the Espresso Book Machine (EBM), one of the newest production options for writers.
I heard about this nifty new way to create a book from a fellow writer. I Googled Espresso Book Machine locations. There were a few in California, the closest was the Sacramento Public Library. I broadened my search to Michigan, where I’d spend part of my summer, and found one in East Lansing. That sparked my thrilling relationship with Kyle Pressley. By e-mail he walked me through the basics.
EBM is a variation of print on demand. The big differences are that the set up fee for EBM was only $5, and I left with books in hand. The per book cost was $13.34 for 367 pages.
I handed Kyle my thumb drive (with two PDFs, one for the book, one for the cover). I watched as he hit a button and the machine copied and collated my pages, printed a cover, trimmed and bound it all into the first copy of my novel. The process took ten mminutes. It was like giving birth, without the pain. How cool is that?
EBM meets the needs of a special market. If you have a memoir meant for your family, a cookbook you want to share at Christmas, a family genealogy, or other small run project, it’s a great way to go. For poets, it’s the perfect way to create a professional-looking chapbook.
For the writer wishing to sell a million copies of a novel, EBM is still a valuable tool. You can print your work in progress cheaper than you can have copies made at Kinko’s. And it LOOKS like a book. You’ll get an emotional charge when you hold the finished product in your hands and see your WIP as a real book.
With the publishing world in turmoil over the future of paper books – real books to many of us – I started thinking about the first great revolution in publishing. The printing press brought book ownership to the masses, which is good. Literacy spread; also good. There was a down side, however. While the Bible was the first book printed by Gutenberg, cheap novels (in every sense of the word) and political attack pamphlets were the more popular products after that. Yes, even in the fifteenth century, trash paid the bills. I’ve read about the battles over censorship, intellectual freedom, and the balance between duty to society and duty to conscience. The principles resonate with me, but the costs were much higher. Printers as well as writers faced more than loss of income if they offended the wrong people. An angry monarch could order the books destroyed – and the writer, and the printer. Writers and publishers are still fighting battles over censorship, and freedom, and duty, but at least no one is coming after us with guns or burning torches. There is money to be won or lost; reviews from readers that border on cyberbullying; the challenge to actively promote yourself without turning into a non-stop infomercial. Beyond that, however, we only have to suffer as much as we want to. And isn’t that an amazing gift – to live through a publishing revolution without dodging bullets?
Bragging is frowned upon in polite society, but I’m going to do it anyway. The first anthology of Tri-Valley Writers, Voices of The Valley: First Press, is now in print. The club has dreamed of providing members an opportunity to experience being published, and like all big dreams it never seems quite real when it comes true.
The dream felt real enough in the middle of the process. The club decided to be as professional as possible about the anthology, which meant that members were asked to submit their work – then submit themselves to the review and revision process. The anthology committee collaborated with each submitter in an editor-client relationship. All thirty authors in the book, including the members of the committee, had a chance to experience seeing their words through another’s eyes. The back and forth, give and take of this type of revision proved beyond doubt the truth of the adage that the best writers are re-writers.
After revision, the committee had another opportunity to learn and grow: creating the manuscript. Assembling thirty voices expressing their unique truths in poetry, memoir, travel and short fiction opened our eyes to the way separate stories can be viewed as a whole. There is as much art in deciding where the pieces fit as in deciding what illustration goes on the cover.
Now comes the next step in publication – promotion. The well-bred lady my mother wants me to be must stand aside for the glad-hander, smiling as I swoop down on my friends and family announcing, “Look at this!” Still, when the product one is promoting is as wonderful as Voices of The Valley: First Press, bragging comes easy.
Catherine Coulter will present an insider’s look at the publishing industry and how to join the game in her talk, “Stranger in a Strange Land: Publishing today.” She has written 67 books and has over 70 million books in print worldwide. Moonspun Magic, a historical romance, hit the New York Times Bestseller List in 1988 and she has continued to hit The List 65 times. False Pretenses, her first contemporary suspense, appeared in hardcover in 1988. Her widely popular FBI suspense thriller series got its start with The Cove in 1996, and the 15th book in the series, Split Second, came out on July 19th, 2011. Coulter continues to write both historical romances and the FBI suspense thrillers, enjoying humor and mysteries equally in both the present and the past. She and her husband love to travel and ski and watch professional football. They live in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area with their three cats Cleo, Peyton and Eli.
Nina Amir is a seasoned journalist, nonfiction editor, author, consultant, and writing coach and publishing mentor with more than 30 years of experience in the publishing field as well as the founder of Write Nonfiction in November, a blog and writing challenge. Currently, she also serves as the national Jewish Issue Examiner and a staff writer at Grocery Headquarters magazine.
As a publishing mentor, Amir teaches workshops, teleseminars and classes on how to get published. She also speaks to organizations, writing groups and at conferences on topics related to writing, getting published, building platform, and realizing the dream of becoming a published author. She works with individual aspiring authors not only on their manuscripts but on staying inspired as they maneuver their way through the sometimes long and arduous path to becoming published.