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Guest Post: My Publishing Adventure by Davis Aujourd’hui

Today’s Guest Post is the second of two posts on writing and publishing, provided by Davis Aujourd’hui. Check out yesterday’s post on writing, and keep your eyes open for more from Davis in the next few weeks, including excerpts and more insights into writing. Enjoy!

***

I had never dreamed of writing a book, let alone writing a series of books. Consequently I had never dreamed of becoming a published writer. That all changed when I sat down at my computer and began to write a story based upon characters I’d developed in order to entertain a former colleague of mine. When I finished writing the book, I still had more ideas. One good book called out for another. By that point I had really gotten the writing bug and I began to craft a series of books based upon my hilariously wayward nun who loves her bourbon and her Marlboros – Sister Mary Olga Fortitude.

The question that remained was how I would go about becoming published. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. I had no knowledge whatsoever about the publishing industry. I was about to receive an education.

I bought a reference book called The Writer’s Market. It’s a book that’s revised every year. Within it are contained listings of agents and traditional publishers. The book is nicely organized so that its reader can determine which agents or publishers are interested in the genre of an author’s book and what an author needs to provide in order to be considered for publication. To begin with, the author needs to submit a query letter which provides basic information about his or her book. The Writer’s Market advises authors about how to compose such a letter and gives examples of good and bad query letters.

With The Writer’s Market in hand, I began to search through the listings of agents and publishers who might be interested in my first book. Many of them were able to be approached via email. That was how I began my search. I began to fire off query letters, sometimes attaching sample chapters in those instances when the listings indicated that the agent or publisher was open to receiving unsolicited material.

While I was pleased that I received some very positive feedback, no one offered me a contract. I didn’t lose heart. Having a book published via a traditional publisher is very difficult, especially in these tough economic times. I soon learned that there are over 400,000 books published every year. It’s a highly competitive business. That’s when I decided to consider other options.

The beauty is that, if one can write well, it’s possible to get published. This is due to the proliferation of publishers that will help an author self-publish a book. In most of these cases, the author retains creative control of his or her book and retains all rights to the book. Even so, there are some self-publishers who will insist on retaining publishing rights for a specified period of time. That was to become the case with the first self-publisher from whom I was offered a contract. That was also  one of the reasons why I chose not to go with that publisher.

The pitfall to self-publishing is that the author usually has to pay the publisher to publish his or her book. There is also very little if any marketing assistance provided. This means that an author has to be willing to put a lot of time and effort into marketing if the author has any hopes of creating a financially successful book. That would become the task which lay before me.

First of all, I had to wade through an array of self-publishers from whom I was given offers. I ended up making my publishing decision on the basis of the recommendation of an author friend named Alan Ray Hoxie. He had already successfully published two books with Outskirts Press with whom he’d enjoyed a very positive experience. I decided to give them a try.

I was extremely pleased by the highly positive feedback I was given upon their review of my manuscript, The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude. They immediately offered me a contract and I decided to accept it. That was the beginning of a new adventure. It became a heady time for me. What came next was to work with an editor who formatted my book. After that I needed to review proofs of the book and make the necessary corrections before publication. I also worked with an illustrator who created a marvelous custom cover based upon my conception of several of the book’s leading characters. It was a lot of fun!

The publishing process didn’t take as long as it does with a traditional publisher. My book hit the market about two months after I began the process. It was an exciting day when I received my first copies of the book I had written two years earlier. That was when it became time to become active in marketing my book. Fortunately my publisher provided a marketing coach who provided direction in small doses so that I would not become overwhelmed.

Over the course of the next several months, I began to solicit reviewers to review my book and I began to pitch media across the country. I emailed every independent bookstore in the country. I held book signings at the local bookstores that carried my book. The major bookstores didn’t want to have anything to do with a self-published writer. That didn’t bother me since I had become aware that most books are now sold over the internet. The challenge was for me to create a buzz about my book.

I had very limited success with the media. My hometown paper generously ran two articles on my book. I had a podcast interview that was posted on itunes. KISS-FM also aired an interview on all of their radio stations. Furthermore I was fortunate to later receive a glowing spotlight article in Instinct Magazine.

Most of my reviews were excellent. My readers loved the book and the professionals who reviewed the book also gave me resounding thumbs up reviews. The vast majority of my reviews were rated at five out of five stars. I had high hopes, but my sales had only started to recoup my initial publishing fee. I decided it was time to make an investment in myself. I decided that I needed the help of a professional. That was when I went shopping for a publicist.

I soon became aware that the most important consideration in drawing attention to me and to my book was to permeate the internet. The question was how would I go about selecting a publicist. There was a veritable sea of them out there. Some of them were extremely expensive.

As before, personal experience played a role in my decision-making process. Through some informal networking on some book-related sites I developed a few relationships with some fellow authors. One of these authors shared her very positive experience in working with a publicist called Full Circle Administrative Services. She was very enthusiastic about them. I decided to check them out.

I looked at this author’s blog which had been created by them. I was impressed. I learned about all of the things that they could do to help promote an author and my new friend shared all that they had done for her. I decided to contact Full Circle for a quote.

A very personable woman named Mindy immediately responded to my email. Not only did she address my professional concerns, but she responded to me in a such a personal way that it helped relieve my anxiety over making a big decision. It didn’t take me long to decide to give them a try.

What made it even easier for me had been the endorsement of my new author friend named Jennifer Chase. She’s an up and coming author of crime and suspense novels for which she has received rave reviews. I felt a sense of renewed hope that my book would receive the attention which it deserves.

As for my blog, I was told that it was most important to create interest in me as a person. It was a secondary priority to create interest in my book. I was told that I needed to be patient. Success doesn’t happen overnight.

In the meantime, I was once again signed by Outskirts Press to publish my first sequel to Misadventures. It is another deliciously silly satire called Babes in Bucksnort. It should be published sometime within the next couple of months.

For now I am excited about seeing the blog which Mindy has nearly completed for me. Within it, I will keep the readers updated about the progress of my series. I will also be writing a number of articles about my own personal and professional experience relating to subjects covered in my books. I will cover topics such as recovery from alcoholism, recovery from sexual addiction, coming to a place of acceptance of being gay, recovery from mental illness, working as a social worker with the disenfranchised members of our society among a number of other interesting topics. I look forward to my readers’ comments and I look forward to my continuing publishing adventure.

***

Davis Aujourd’hui is the author of the Sister Mary Olga Fortitude series of hilarious satires. The first book is entitled The Misadventures of Sister Mary Olga Fortitude.  It was followed by Babes in Bucksnort.  Davis possesses a rich life experience that has enabled him to draw from it in order to create a colorful canvas upon which to paint very human lives. He is a retired social worker, having worked for Adult Protective Services in New York State for nearly twenty years. He developed the characters within his series of books in order to entertain a colleague by using the gift of humor.  As will be the case with Sister Mary Olga in his third book, he is a recovering alcoholic. He also happens to be gay as are several of the endearing and humorous characters within his novels. He can speak from his own experience. He has possessed all of the foibles of his cast of characters who are naughty, nasty, and nice.  Davis lives in Upstate New York where he is currently sharing his life with his partner of seven years. He is socially-minded and spirituality is the most important ingredient in order for him to maintain a happy and successful life. For more information, visit his blog.

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