Saturday, July 02, 2011

Self-publishing-- a new path to the bestseller lists?

Years ago, my great-uncle, artist Edwin Fulwider, gave me the first self-published book I'd ever read. His friend and neighbor had written a book about life in Northern Idaho during his boyhood and young manhood in the early 20th century. Mark the Wind's Power was an interesting look for me at the land I loved to visit on vacation up above Coer d'lene. Today, used copies DO show up on Amazon and I have seen them priced up to about $90.00.

Self-Publishing, or "Vanity Publishing" as it used to be called, is often seen as "less than" publishing. But, people may be changing their minds. After all, personal finance mega-star Dave Ramsey started out selling his own self-published book and later saw the updated version, Total Money Makeover, of it on the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Recently, I've enjoyed a few other self-published or micro-press published books. One excellent example is Quivering Daughters by Hillary McFarland--a story that needed to be told but hadn't yet made it to the radar of big-time publishers. With all the attention the Quiverfull lifestyles is getting from TLC's "19 Kids and Counting," I'm hoping Hillary's book will go much farther up the bestseller list in the future. (Meanwhile, buy a copy!!)

Right now I happen to be reading a self-published novel based on the experiences of the author's in-laws during World War II. In This Hospitalable Land by Lynmar Brock, Jr., came to my attention in and advertisement on one of my favorite websites--Good Reads. I had a little trouble tracking down a copy thru interlibrary loan, but it finally arrived a few days ago and I have been enjoying it.
Eventually, the author's self-published work was recognized for it's merit and "republished" by Amazon Encore--a new "service" of Amazon to help recognize overlooked talent based on ratings and reviews written about the book on Amazon. The books they publish are also available in KINDLE format.

Finally, several years ago, I enjoyed a pleasant memoir by a military wife from Indianapolis on the joys and struggles of a posting to Japan in the 1960s. I have not been able to trace that book--even thru the Indianapolis-Marion County Library catalog. It was a nice view of "expat" life, the little idiotic things that drive you crazy. I remember one thing this wife missed was Lowry's Seasoned Salt! She had her mother mail her a jar--I guess even the base PX didn't carry it! I read it not long after my on "expat" days in the Peace Corps so I really could relate to that little memory!

So, struggling authors out there--don't give up! Get Amazon to sell your book and generate some reviews. Who knows? You could join Dave Ramsey on the bestseller list!


Susan said...

Lisa - such a timely post!I am in the midst of shopping my memoir to agents, publishers, etc. - but it can be quite a challenge, and disappointing as well to be told, "It's a memoir - unless you're a celebrity, there's no chance." If I don't find a traditional publisher, I'll self-publish (although I won't be one spending thousands to do that - I may just do e-pub?). I think it will be quite interesting to see what happens with e-pubbing in the next few years. Maybe agents will become a thing of the past, which would be kind of cool since they seem to hold most all the cards now. I read recently that publishers will be looking at this Christmas very carefully - it's expected that e-readers will be priced competitively and may really 'take off' then. I didn't know Dave Ramsey started by self-pubbing - or the Quivering book either; I enjoyed your review on that and plan to read it!

Hopewell said...

Self-publishing doesn't have to be "death" if you treat it as a business and do a marketing plan etc.It takes your time and your money to promote it, but then...who knows! Get it onto Amazon and see what happens. Best of luck--and yest, I'd love to actually BUY a copy!!!

Susan said...

You are too kind, Lisa :)
Hey, I did a little more looking into your great-uncle. How interesting! My first thought in looking at his work was that it reminded me of Thomas Hart Benton - then how cool to read on and see that the two had worked together! Those Benton murals are big memories of mine from IU - seeing them at the auditorium, and staring at them in a lecture hall.

Hopewell said...

T.C. Steele, whose home is open to the public in Brown County (Nashville)was another influence. Uncle Ed grew up in Bloomington with Rain Tree County author Ross Lockridge as his best friend. He went to Herron in Indy for art school where he met his artist wife, Kathryn. He taught at Miami (Ohio) U for many years, summering in Bayview, Idaho in an artists/intellectual's colony founded, I believe, by David Starr Jordan....We all miss Uncle Ed and Aunty Katy so much.