Monday, September 27, 2010

Of anticipation...and remembering what appears where

The anticipation I feel has to do with the fact that my copy of Storm Clouds Over Sexton, the third book in the Sexton Chronicles is on a truck in Maumee, Ohio right now. I'm sure it's sitting in a box, bubble wrapped, on top of a copy of Sexton Spice bubble wrapped in its own right, waiting for a driver to show up, so it can be delivered to me. I'm feeling anticipation, not due to anxiety--because this time I took my time reviewing it online--but due to excitement.

There's nothing quite like opening a box and seeing my book inside. The book that began as a blank screen on an old computer running Windows 98 in the year 2010. I'll be able to flip through the pages, and cast a glance at the ream-and-a-half of paper with the coffee stains, red ink stains, and...truth be told...a few blots from a fountain pen desperately in need of proper cleaning. I'll grin because when I stared at that blank word processor screen I had no road map, no outline...nothing but a pile of characters and a strong desire to see Andy rescued before the whole situation with Crescens escalates to a dark war.

As far as what appears might remember my previous blog post. Someone (and by that I mean me) kind of, sort of, wasn't thinking. You see, my friend, these posts also appear on my author page on Amazon!

As the dog Astro used to say on that old cartoon, The Jetsons, "Ruh-roh, Relroy!"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lulu and Createspace

When I was looking to self-publish my manuscripts, I looked at both Createspace (which is Amazon's) and Lulu. I went with Lulu, and I'll try to explain why in simple, but nonjudgmental terms. I think I can do it one sentence:

Amazon charges, and Lulu doesn't.

Createspace advertises early on in one of the screens that it doesn't charge up front fees. That is true. One needs to read carefully... The fee isn't up front. It's there, but it's not an up front fee. You need to look at the side-by-side comparison, and you do that by clicking on a box on the right side of the screen. You'll see there are many publishing/marketing packages offered and each one contains a setup fee. It's not an upfront fee...they take it out of the first of the profits/royalties paid. That fee starts at $299.

Lulu attaches a markup to each book ordered, but there is no setup fee. (I expect no less from any publisher. It's how they can afford to stay in business and why they're in business in the first place.) With Lulu, the writer's royalties/commissions are just that: the writer's. I don't know if Createspace puts a markup on the books. Frankly, I stopped looking once I realized the first three hundred bucks was going to go to pay for something the other guys weren't going to charge me at all. I suspect there is a retail markup on Createspace books, but can't say for sure.

I didn't want to pay $299 for the privilege of publishing my manuscripts. I preferred to pay nothing at all to self-publish my books...and that's what I paid.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Glad I looked...and found I was right

I need to do press releases to the local media about my books. People won't buy what they don't know about.

I haven't done the press releases yet, even though I know they'll drive sales. The local media in these parts are very friendly and are looking for stories like: Local Dude Wrote A BOOK! I'm a local dude, and I've written three books.

I've been holding off on the press releases not because I don't know how to write them or what to include, but because few people have heard of Lulu, and might not be as willing to shop online from a source they don't know as they might be to shop from a site they're familiar with.

I did a little digging on the Lulu website and checked out their marketing guides. They want authors to purchase their marketing services, and I'm not going to do that. I know how to write press releases and follow up with phone calls to writers and editors.

I'm happy to report that the one free bit of advice lulu offers is the one I already knew. My thought was to wait until Amazon picks up the listing of at least Sexton, and maybe Sexton Spice before I launch my personal media blitz.

Lulu's marketing advice: "Wait for your books to be listed with Amazon or Barnes & Noble before purchasing a media kit."

That's my plan.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Serial style, novel format: Sexton Sand

I'm re-typing the first draft (half done) of Sexton Sand, Sexton Chronicles Vol. 4.

I try to keep my chapters to about 1,500 words--a couple of pages in length. Fast chapters, fast page-turning and hopefully seat-of-the-pants stuff. I hope it keeps you reading until you're afraid you'll hate yourself in the morning. That's the way I like my fiction.

But even I had to shake my head at myself, in a sort of blushing, grinning, impish way.

I have four chapters in a row in Sexton Sand describing a battle in a canyon. Each of those four chapters ends in a cliff-hanging sentence. Heck, I wrote them, and I'm turning the page and cussing at myself because there's no good place to stop.

I hope you're not looking for an apology for that. There isn't one coming.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Excerpt from Sexton Sand (Sexton Chronicles, Vol. 4)

    "That's the one." Tom walked to the other side of his horse and took something from the saddle on that side. He held it up for John to see. "Gunpowder." It was a powder horn. "We're going to climb that ridge, go along for a while...sing to them from a bunch of different spots...and have them chase little grenades until we're sure we can pass by safely."
   John couldn't help it. The laugh burst through his clenched teeth like a belch. "That's your plan? Get a hundred guys who would love to kill us just for breathing their air to chase us for bad singing while we toss little grenades at them?"
   Tom's face as without expression, but clear in the moonlight. "Yes. That's the plan. Got a problem with that?"   
   "Only one."
   "What's that?"
   "I've heard you sing. It's not exactly your crowning glory."
   The grin reappeared. "That's why I'll do the easy part."
   "There's an easy part?"
   Tom bent and started filling the bottles with gunpowder. "Yeah. I'll only sing the lion sleeps tonight. You handle the verses, and the awimboweys."
   He wanted to object, but it was pointless. If he refused, Tom would just do it without him. He squatted and held the bottles for Tom to fill. This is nuts, he thought, but it just might work.

I love libraries...but...

Frankly, I'm not going to make any money from my books if they're in a library collection.

I got an invitation through Lulu, to put copies of my book in a library book show that will be attended by librarians from all over the state of Michigan who are responsible for buying books for their library. I'm a new author, and I love the idea that people will be able to check my book out from the library. It's an ego boost.

...but it's not a wallet boost. Let's do some math (and I readily admit I'm not good at math). If a library buys a copy of my book, and they put the book on the shelf...and let's stretch here, an act of whimsy. Let's say someone checks the book out and really likes it. Speed reads through it and takes it back in a week. Someone else checks it out right away. A waiting list forms. By the end of the third month, let's say 100 people have read the book. Let's say a book club forms, an audience gathers, and someone with a huge theater presence reads the book aloud to 1,000 people. This is fun!

Guess how many royalties I will have made from all those people reading my book, or having it read to them.

One. One copy of the book to the royalty paid to yours truly.

Um... I think I'll take a pass at this time. I'm not going to put my book in the library show. Later, perhaps, when I can afford to be more generous. When was the last time you checked a book out of a library and liked it so much you went and bought your own copy?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Writing again. Sexton Sand, the 4th book in the series

It feels good to be pounding away on the keyboard again. I'm re-typing what I have of the manuscript so I can be in the swing when I get to the fresh stuff in a day or two. I'm about 40% through the first draft.

Now that I have published copies, I'm going to accelerate the timetable. With each of the first three books, I wrote the first draft and let it sit for 9 months to a year before touching it again. I was doing that for a couple of reasons, one valid, one not. The valid reason was that I wanted to get started on the next book; the invalid was that I wasn't sure how to proceed after that.

With Sexton Sand, I'm going to write the first draft and move directly to the cleanup, and then the publish phase. Letting the manuscript sit didn't give me least not in a good way. Besides, I can't sell copies if the book is nothing more than a stack of papers on the bookshelf behind my desk.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Storm Clouds is a Kindle book, and soon the others will be...


I see from my reports that Storm Clouds Over Sexton, is in the catalog at as a Kindle book. And, I'm glad to report that Amazon has increased the royalty they pay to a percentage in line with what other producers of electronic books pay.

I don't have a date yet for when the softcover version of Sexton will be for sale at but there's no need to wait. You can buy all three by clicking on the previews on the right side of  this blog, or by going to and searching for my name.

I have the cover now for Sexton Sand, the fourth book in the series, and you can see the cover on the right-hand side of this blog.

I'm done publishing for a few weeks. All I have done is out there, ready to order or download. I've had fun with it...but now it's time to get back to what I like best...writing more about Tom, John, Andy, Quarick, Cedric, Rolof, Aemilia...and others.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The box arrived, and I need to make...

...a couple of changes. There was a problem with the page numbering, and I like having headers on the know, with the author's name on one page and the title of the book on the opposite page. A revision is in order.
Lulu is very kind about revisions, by the way. As long as I make changes before the book is distributed to Amazon and the bookstore/library catalogs (6-8 weeks after publication on Lulu), all I have to do is order another proof copy and the changes won't cost me anything.
It looks like I'll have an extra copy of Sexton Spice in trade paperback and in hardcover to give away as Christmas presents.

My copy of Sexton Spice is in Perrysburg, OH

 As I have been the last three times FedEx tracking allowed me to follow my books from order, to first stop, to second stop, to third stop (usually Perrysburg, OH), I am nervous, excited, and anxious.

I'm always nervous because, well, it's important to me. On one hand, it's a fool's nervousness. The book either looks as good as I hope or it doesn't. It's printed, and bound. I either got it right when I clicked the "publish" button or I didn't. Still. I made the thing and I haven't seen it yet.

I already know I'll be less than thrilled with the picture on the back. I won't be disgusted by it. I already know what I look like. (That was a little joke. Little.) One of these days I'll get one of those authorlike photos, perhaps. Maybe I'll put a picture of me from college theater...MacBeth. Nah. That one scares me. I look like I just killed 12 people and it wasn't enough.

Holding my books in my hand is a dream long unrealized, and now it's here. Truth is, I really don't care about the photo. I care that people buy and read the books, and mostly that they enjoy the books. The picture? Just little old me in front of a tree with a puff of wind making my hair stand up straight. No resemblance to Tom Benton, Viper. No resemblance whatsoever...beyond the fact that we're the same height and build. Well, okay, maybe just a teensy-weensy bit of character might overlap.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dedicated book: Storm Clouds Over Sexton

I read the dedications authors put in their books, and like the other two or three people that read author's dedications, I rarely know who the author is talking about. So I thought I'd tell you this story.

The first part of the dedication is easy and every bit as sincere as the second part of the dedication. I dedicated the book to my mom and dad. They were, and are, very supportive of my writing.

The second part of the dedication is to a young man who died recently by the name of Adrian Gerber. I never met Adrian, but I heard about him from people who met him. His bravery inspired me. He died of his illness. I'd like to think his bravery inspired me just because it was bravery, but that's not entirely the case. I suffered an illness that could have killed me and it didn't. Adrian Gerber wasn't spared, but from what I heard he kept his spirit clean and positive.

Dedicating a book, by the way, is pretty easy. You just type what you want to say, and that's the end of it. Unless you screw up, like I did. What I did was get Adrian's last name wrong. I was one letter off when I clicked "accept" and turned Storm Clouds Over Sexton into a book. I spelled his last name as g-A-r-b-e-r. I didn't know how to fix it.

I almost let it go. I almost let my lazy self talk my better self into letting young Mister Gerber be Adrian Garber. Fixing it after the book had already been purchased and was being printed by the good people at Lulu didn't seem like a good idea. After all, wasn't dedicating the book enough? Wouldn't anyone understand a simple typo?

I couldn't let it go. It took me about 5 hours--no kidding--5 hours to study the tutorials, download the file, fix the file, upload the file, download the file, and upload it again. All because I put an "A" where there should have been an "E".

I fixed the error around one o'clock this morning. How could I not? The young man in question didn't give up. Besides, I felt an obligation (and I'll go farther...I felt God wanted me to get it right. I did....I really did.)

I'm glad I did. Mom, Dad...Adrian...this book's for you.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It always feels good when you realize you're worried about the wrong thing.

When I published Sexton, I got the first copy off the press. When I got it in my hands, I wrote "Author's copy. Copy #1."
Since then, I've published Sexton Spice, and Storm Clouds Over Sexton. There was a delay--called waiting for payday--between publishing them, and me placing an order for my copy.
In both cases, someone ordered Sexton Spice. And someone else ordered Storm Clouds Over Sexton. My first reaction was a dazed wonder--how could I have let this happen? How could I, the author, not have copy 1?
I was being...let's substitute "Silly" for the word I want to use. The word I want to use is a shortened version of "stupid excrement."
Here's the way I should have looked at it, and the way I look at it now:
  1. Someone other than me is buying the books!
  2. I'm the author. Why do I need copy 1, when I have the manuscript?
  3. (This is the dark side 1, and the most convincing to me of all) ...What if I was the only one who ordered the book? Yikes!

To my dear friends who bought Sexton Spice, and Storm Clouds Over Sexton before I bought my copies... Thank you! Make sure I autograph and authenticate your copies the next time I see you.


Sexton Spice and Storm Clouds Over Sexton--rare editions

...Who am I fooling? They're all rare at the moment...they only recently went on sale!
But... I have two errors to fix, and that means if you order the books now you'll get editions that will only get rarer as time goes by. The changes are minor, but as long as I can still fix them, I will.
Here are the changes:

Sexton Spice only has page numbers up to page 135. I'll fix it so all the pages are numbered.
Storm Clouds Over Sexton is dedicated to my parents and to a young man I never had the opportunity to meet, but who fought valiantly against the disease that took him. His name was Adrian Gerber, but I listed it as Adrian Garber by mistake. I'm going to fix that error before I send copies to his parents (who I have also never met.)

You can still order the books. Follow the links to the right.

The first three Sexton books are in print, and now I can...

...write again.

Don't get me wrong. I've had a lot of fun working with Lulu Enterprises to get Sexton, Sexton Spice, and Storm Clouds Over Sexton in print. Trust me when I say I'm looking forward to the day I'll have DSL rather than dialup internet, and a computer running something newer than Windows 98 (yes, it's true... I'm the guy running Windows 98)...but it's still been fun.

What I want to do now, and can, and frankly...must write. I love to write!

I'm about halfway through the first draft of the fourth book in the Sexton Chronicles: Sexton Sand. I don't have a timeline for completion, but if all goes well, my hope is to have it published by St. Patrick's Day.

You know what I call a hope I put in writing? ...A goal.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Opening sentence of Sexton (Sexton Chronicles, vol. 1)

"He stared at the bottom of the ravine and waited to shoot his friends."

  It's what Tom is doing when the book, the series, opens. I knew it was a harsh way to open a book, and given some of the feedback I've received, I wasn't wrong. I'm not going to apologize for it and wouldn't change it if I could. (Come to think of it, I could.)

  The sentence is thematic to the book. Although he doesn't know it at the time, eventually Tom will have to decide whether to kill his friends and betray the trust his adopted kingdom has placed in him, or if friendship is more valuable as a self definition device than loyalty to country.

  Thank God I've never had to make that kind of choice, and I hope I never do.

  It's the opening line to a series about three Americans in a different world... You know that, and I'm pretty sure you already know what Tom decides. Or do you just think you know?

Storm Clouds Over Sexton is available!

It was a busy day today, and a good one. I finalized Storm Clouds Over Sexton, and it's now for sale at as softcover, hardcover, and file download. Lulu prices are based in large part on the number of pages, and at 513 pages, this book is considerably larger than the first in the series, and a bit larger than the 2nd in the series. That's probably the only thing I have in common with the writer of the Harry Potter series.

In other good news, I extend my thanks to the people at Amazon, who are now giving writers of Kindle books 70% royalty on the price of the kindle books...a more than 100% increase over yesterday, and in line now with what other publishers of electronic books pay writers.

I'll put the preview of Storm Clouds Over Sexton on the right side of this the morning. I mean the actual morning, not the clock morning...when the sun and I rise.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I hope to do to others what I did to myself

I just finished editing Storm Clouds Over Sexton, the fourth book in the series. I wanted to stop an hour ago, but I couldn't.

It's been a year since I finished the manuscript, and (here's the part I promised in the title of this post) I forgot some of the ending. I wanted to stop editing and go to bed, but I couldn't. I wanted to see how it played out. I like it. I like it a lot. Further and unabashedly I say I hope you like it too. I also hope you can't stop once you get to the last 100 pages or so.

I don't think it'll give away to much, but if you think so...then don't read the end of this post. You see, I thought I'd share the last line of Storm Clouds Over Sexton with you here before anywhere else.


Here it is:

"He jabbed his finger in Tom's direction, "Now that, my friend, sounds like fun!"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

BMD--they make good stories

BMD: An acronym of my own creation that stands for "Brief Moment of Duh."

   It doesn't take much to suffer a BMD, and it doesn't take much for a BMD to become a major inconvenience. They're usually good for a laugh, and today's BMD is no exception.

  I work in a locked room--locked for the protection of those within. When I work in the morning, there's another person in there working with me. We each have a set of keys to the room, but they're not our keys. We get them when we punch in. My co-worker left the room for a moment and I continued working. A few minutes later, he call me from the hall and said he left his keys in the room.

  I left the room in a hurry... I didn't want to leave the poor guy in the hallway. I opened the door and he thanked me.

   "I can't believe I left my keys in there," he said.

   "It's okay. Perfectly understandable." I knew something he didn't know, but I was reluctant to spill it. I had committed my own Brief Moment of Duh.

   "Are you going to open the door?"

   I shook my head. "I would," I said by way of explanation, "but I left my keys in there when I came out to get you..."

   I'm glad I'm the one who writes the books!

Friday, September 10, 2010

My first hardcover, and it's made beautifully

I admit I was too excited to sleep well last night. I remember now what it was like to lie in bed Christmas eve, barely able to contain the excitement of unwrapping special stuff in the morning.

  It's a good thing FedEx allows tracking of packages. I watched it get closer and closer, until I grabbed the box from between the door and the storm door.

  It's pricey. At just under $40, I recommend the equally well-made softcover version of the hardcover book. But...the printing, binding, paper, and construction of components on this book is top notch. That's coming from a guy who earned his bookbinding merit badge (back when there was such a badge) when he was 13, and has continued to examine every book he ever bought with an eye on how it was made.

  ...Of course, that the book has my name in gold print on the spine under the wrap-around cover does bias me toward the book. You know, just a little.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"You did not! Show me your I.D.!"

Sometimes it's helpful to be the "mouth" in "word of mouth." I took my book with me to a couple of places in town. One of those places was the gas station near my house. I stop there several times a week, and the clerks know me by face. It's the bane and the benefit of living in a small town.

I held out my book and said, "See? I wrote a book."

She asked if she could look at it and I handed it to her. She flipped through several pages and eyeballed the description on the back with a smile on her face. "This sound good!" Her eyes hardened, though still twinkling, as she looked at me over the top of her glasses. "You wrote this? Really?"

I assured her I did.

She looked it over, trying to find my picture. Mental note made: put a photo on future books. Her eyes locked on mine and she asked again with different emphasis: "You wrote this?"


Pause. "Show me your I.D."

She was soon as she matched the name on my driver's license with the name on the book. I'm starting to like this author thing...

Library...soon, a book signing event

The public library in Vassar is the best small town library I've ever seen, and I've visited several. In my years as a professional in the Boy Scouts, I made a point of visiting libraries in towns I served.

   I just got back from a conversation with our librarian. The other day I dropped off  a copy of the cover of my first book (commercial: Sexton, by David J. Steele, available at along with the ISBN for Sexton, and Sexton Spice.

   He was pleased to hear I'm going to donate copies of the hardcover editions, but what he really wants is for me to do a book signing there. We agreed to hold off until late October, and that it's best I have some inventory on hand. I explained that it would take more sales before I have enough money to front inventory, but I think we can work something out about that. He seemed to think he can get my books cheaper than I can because he's ordering for a library. He's right about that, by the way.

  I'm excited about that.

  The other thing I feel good about is that he offered to call his contact at the Saginaw News, the feature editor, and tell her about my book. He offered to help generate as much publicity as possible, and I'm excited about that as well. Two years ago another local author (who wrote a history of Vassar) did a book signing event there. I was going to attend...and couldn't find anyplace to park. People were lined up out the door! If my books can generate half of that, I'll do a jig all the way home--which in my case, fortunately, is less than a hundred yards.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Get a 10% discount on my books until 9/30/2010

I just got an email from Lulu Enterprises, the publisher of record for my two books in print: Sexton (book 1), and Sexton Spice (book 2.)

If you order prior to 11:59 PM on September 30, you get 10% off the cover price up to $10.00 in discount.

Follow the link, and place your order. You'll be asked to register (sign up) free.

In the space that calls for coupon code, enter: AUTUMN

Here is the fancy wording from Lulu with those little caveats and what if's:

"* Disclaimer: Enter coupon code "AUTUMN" during checkout and save 10% off the purchase price. Discount cannot be used to pay for, nor shall be applied to, applicable taxes or shipping and handling charges. Maximum amount that may be applied to discount is $10.00 per account. Promotional codes cannot be applied to any previous orders. no exchanges or substitutions allowed. Only one valid promotional code may be used per order. Offer expires September 30, 2010 at 11:59 PM EDT. reserves the right to change or revoke this offer at any time. Void where prohibited.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

On writing and reading...and royalties and ego

I love to write almost as much as I love to have people read what I write. It's a good combination and drives me pretty hard. Now that I'm trying to make enough money writing to be able to commit myself to it full time, I'm also thinking about royalties.
  Here's where ego comes in, and I'm sure I'm not the first author to notice this one: there's an inverse relationship between the amount of bucks (based on format) a reader shells out to the amount of the royalty. For example: I make less than a dollar if someone buys a hardcover copy of Sexton or Sexton Spice. But...(and I'm sure I'm not alone on this one), my ego loves that someone was interested enough to shell out the money for a hardcover. The fact is, hardcovers are more expensive to produce and therefore there isn't as much money left over to pay the writer.
  I'm a bit of a fool when it comes to a struggle between ego and money. I can afford to be...because I'm not going hungry or broke. Therefore, I'm sure I'll beam and feel a warm glow when someone buys a hardcover copy of one of my books.
  Ahh...who am I fooling? At this point in my career (fledgling stage), I'm damn glad when anyone spends a dime on anything I write!

Started Sexton Chronicles group on Facebook today

I thought it would be fun to have a Sexton Chronicles group on Facebook, and anyone with a Facebook account who reads this is welcome to join (Hello, individuals in China who read this blog, and welcome!)
  My plan is to have different stuff there than is here. What that stuff is...
   ... I don't know.
We'll see how it plays out. Anyone can participate... Toss some ideas around, speculate about future developments in the books, you know...almost whatever.

Monday, September 6, 2010

This is what it feels like to sell a book? I love it!

Somebody made my day today, which is no mean feat because I almost always have good days.
  I'll confess I look at my sales reports (Kindle, and Lulu so far) on an almost obsessive basis.  I own stock and mutual funds and have never watched them this closely.
  As an optimist, I'll tell you I'm looking for good news and don't bat an eye at days when nothing sold. I just don't. It's not a morality thing, or a forced positive attitude... I just get a rush out of good news and figure no news or bad news is fleeting.
  This afternoon I looked at my Lulu sales report and saw that, at that point in time, no one had purchased Sexton, or Sexton Spice. But...when I looked again later, someone had! I think I know who, but I can't be sure. I only get numbers. The purchaser will get a thank-you email from me, but it's an auto-send thing.
  I know it wasn't my wife, my mother, or my father. But I can tell you this: I feels great. It's a warm feeling, knowing that I gave my best shot at writing an entertaining, hopefully seat-of-the-pants fantasy novel. Lulu will print and mail a copy just for them...and after that, it's up to the reader.
  I say this with both humility and hope: I really want them to enjoy reading it!
  I say this as a writer who wants his books, his series, to grow wings and fly: PLEASE, EVERYBODY, BUY...THE...BOOKS!
  I'm going to hit the hay now. ...All that dancing I did to the music playing in my head done tuckered me out!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I'd love a traditional publisher, but self-publishing has advantages too.

Traditional publishers produce lots of books, have editorial, and production, and design, and marketing staffs, and big budgets. They can do a lot for writers...make bestsellers out of 'em. If you're a brand name author, that's the way to go.
  Most of the time, if a writer can land a book contract at all, the book lands on the publisher's list, might or might not get placed in book stores...and if all those things happen, the book will land on a shelf among thousands of other books.
  Someday I'll get there.
  But...and it's a big but... Self-publishing (once dubbed by The Big Boys as "Vanity Press"), has come leaps and bounds. You know what the #1 advantage I have right now with my self-published books is?
  I still own all the rights. I have 2 Kindle books, and Amazon owns the Kindle platform...but not the books. Lulu is my publisher of record for the paperback and hardcover versions of my books...but only because they own the ISBN. I signed no contract with them, and can yank my books from Lulu with a few day's notice. It's a big advantage, especially because as Vice-President of Marketing (in addition to doing everything else for my mythical company I call Sexton Enterprises), I plan to publish Sexton books in every available format I can figure out how to use.
  Still... I make no bones about it, I'd rather be published by someone else than published by--you know--me.
...Now that's vanity! 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why Lulu? (a different question than "Why, Lulu?")

I went with Lulu to publish the paper copies of my novels (1 so far with more to come) for several reasons. First and foremost, I was looking for a self-publisher that didn't seem to want to rip me off. It's buyer beware when it comes to printing people's stuff. Flip through the back pages of Writer's Digest and you'll see a lot of ads for self-publishing companies.
  Lulu was the one I found that earned my trust very quickly. For one, they don't charge upfront fees. There's no setup fee at all. They make money when the author makes money, period. If someone, like me, feels comfortable with the tasks needed: writing (the big one), editing, proofreading, cover layout and design, cover copy, etc., they can do it themselves and Lulu won't say a peep. They offer a' la carte services for a fee, but you don't have to use them. They don't nag you with emails, or ads, or testimonials. They provide a free ISBN number, which by nature of its use makes Lulu the publisher, but that's no big deal. I read the fine print. They use their number, and will deduct taxes from your royalties like any other publisher, but the author retains all rights. If I decide at some point in time that I don't want Lulu to be the publisher, then I pull the book and get my own ISBN. Lulu, in turn, lists my work with Amazon, Bowkers, and several other cataloging companies that booksellers look to for books.
  Most of the markup (and I count anything that doesn't go into my pocket as markup) is Lulu's printing cost, and profit margin...just like any regular publisher has to do.
  They're pretty smart, those people at Lulu, when it comes to protecting our mutual interest. They let me buy my books at cost. In fact, they're forcing me to buy one copy of each...hardcover and softcover, before they'll ship a single copy to anyone. That's not so they guarantee one sale, although it does. I'm sure they're covering themselves. If I have to buy one print copy and approve it before they start printing it on demand, I can't attack them if I don't like the way it looks.
  So... My apologies to anyone who orders a copy of Sexton before my hard copy arrives... I can assure you I'll approve it as fast as I can so my publisher, Lulu, can ship your copy to you.