There are good things and bad things about self-publishing your book.
One of the positive aspects about self-publishing is that it’s all up to you, including the joy of determining how your story shapes out.
One of the negative aspects of self-publishing is that it’s all up to you, including the headache of marketing.
And let me tell you: Marketing your own book is one time-consuming task.
Don’t bother with Barnes & Noble or other national retailers. They don’t want you. And even if they did, there’s still a chance you’d have to pay out of pocket for the privilege of seeing your work on their shelves.
That means you’re left contacting the fast-dwindling number of mom and pop bookstores. Or you could do some real digging to find related book clubs and genre-specific organizations… most of which won’t give you the time of day when you reach out to them.
Believe it or not, I'm not saying any of this to dissuade you from going the self-publishing route. It can actually be lucrative. Just recognize that it can also involve a lot of trial and error before you figure it out.
Even so, last week, when I called the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, I was sure I had a winner. Already armed with proof that the institution does local author book signings, I figured there was no way it would turn down a chance at featuring my Maiden America.
I mean, the novel isn’t just historically researched; it’s historically documented! While I had so much fun making it a non-stop page-turner, I also worked hard to make it true to actual events – right down to the weather details.
What more could a historical society ask for?
That’s why, last Wednesday, I was incredibly confident when I called the place up and utterly undaunted when I was told to call back on Tuesday to talk to the proper personnel.
That was fine. No problem. I made a note to reach out again on Feb. 7. And when yesterday rolled around, that’s precisely what I did.
This time, I got the correct lady right away and explained that I was a local author looking to do a book signing. Naturally, she asked what the book in question was about, to which I responded with something along the lines of…
“Maiden America is a very well-researched novel set during the Revolutionary War that centers around two pivotal events: the battle of Trenton in December 1776 and the battle of Princeton in very early 1777.”
That description was met with a peculiar three seconds of dead silence. And when the very nice representative did speak, she did so with great precision and clear consideration of every word she uttered.
“Well,” she began slowly, “because Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society has Anabaptist roots, it is a pacifist organization. So we don’t really feature books about war.” Then she graciously gave me a few other local leads to look into, which she didn’t have to do.
I have no objections to how she handled the situation. If anything, I find it hysterical that I tried pitching a war-driven novel to a staunch anti-war group.
When I go for an epic fail, I apparently don’t play around!
Welcome to the world of self-publishing