My first book Grading the Teacher took four years to write. It was published by Penguin Books Canada in 1996-and became a best-seller!
Over time, for several reasons which I will describe in a later post, I developed the idea for a Mining Your Resources series I believed would be beneficial to individual readers as well as to workshop facilitators.
So …why did I decide to self-publish the four-volume series instead of approaching traditional publishers?
I’m also an artist. No one else puts their paintbrush into any one of my paintings to change it. Although I intended to hire and listen to the advice of professionals such as an editor and book designer, I wanted to be in total control of input and output.
Still Life with Candles. Water media. Copyright Nellie Jacobs
2. THE CHALLENGE
Figuring out how to do a task is extraordinarily satisfying. I knew this project would be complex and multi-level. I wanted, and was up for, the challenge.
3. TIME MANAGEMENT PRIORITIES
I wanted to spend my time in the development of the project rather than in i) creating a proposal and then ii) trying to persuade a publisher to buy my manuscript. Grading the Teacher was rejected by twenty-nine publishers before Meg Masters, a former Senior Editor at Penguin understood the power of the message and took it on.
The overall reasons for the rejections? I had no platform; no one would recognize my face or name.
4. SHRINKING TRADITIONAL INDUSTRY
The publishing industry has changed drastically in the intervening years. Publishers have disappeared or considerably reduced their catalogues. Not wanting to take a chance with a good idea, they stick to contracting with famous personalities with huge followings.
This is understandable, but doesn’t suit me.
5. GATEKEEPERS + AGENTS
It’s difficult to get past the “gatekeepers” at the publishing houses without an agent. Finding an agent is another difficult task I didn’t want to spend my time doing. Agents are looking for well-known faces to promote. It’s a circle. Even when I did have two agents at separate times (one in New York) who strongly believed in the GTT manuscript and put full efforts into promoting it, they couldn’t get very interested publishers to commit for the reasons given above. I ended up selling it on my own, but that’s another story.
6. MORE OPPORTUNITIES
It’s so much easier with today’s technology to self-publish. There are countless companies online offering potential authors full services, ranging from editing to design to marketing.
Since I want these books to equal or better the quality of my first one, I’m choosing to select individuals for each phase.
7. BUILDING MY PLATFORM
I have been building a “platform”. My brand is my name. More about this when I write a post about marketing.
8. POTENTIAL REWARDS
I wanted my efforts to be rewarded adequately.
A traditionally published author gets a small percentage of royalties compared to the years of work applied. Yes, there are considerable expenses to publishing. I’m learning now how extensive the costs can be for every step of the way.
9. INTEGRITY AND HONESTY
Are the sales and royalty reports valid? There’s virtually no recourse if the publisher isn’t honest about, and fair with the accounting. How can one prove the actual number of book sales? How can one prove the existence of a second set of financial books besides the ones available for public scrutiny? I’m not referring to Penguin Books, but yes, I do know of at least one case where that has happened. (Have you had this sad experience? Are you waiting for expected royalties that never arrive?)
I’m driven by an uncontrollable passion to create this series. I love the generosity of spirit and good advice of each of the books’ featured contributors. I’m motivated to share their stories and wisdom which have inspired me in so many different ways!