The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese: How to Avoid the Traps of Self-Publishing

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The self-publishing option is full of traps for unwary little mice who jump into the fray without the necessary understanding of what all is involved. Carolyn Schriber shares her tips to help new self-publishers. The book is an anecdotal account of what she learned along the way and what you, too, need to know in order to get your piece of the cheese. More

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Published: Jan. 19, 2012
Words: 56,960
Language: English
ISBN: 9780982774571
About Carolyn P. Schriber

Carolyn Schriber received her PhD in History from the University of Colorado, where she worked in two very different fields: medieval Europe and 19th-century America. She enjoyed a successful career as a tenured professor at Rhodes College, specializing in medieval history and publishing extensively on relationships between Anglo-Norman bishops and kings in the twelfth century. She also served as Editor-in-Chief of the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies (ORB), an early and extremely successful  approach to harnessing the resources of the internet to facilitate historical research.
After she retired to Professor Emerita status, she turned her attention to her second love, the history of America's Civil War. In 2007 Dr. Schriber published an ambitious study of the Battle of Secessionville, the first re-examination of the impact of that battle in over a decade. She offered a fresh perspective and a valuable new approach to some of the issues concerning the American Civil War. After extensive research, she successfully blended the personal stories of two opposing soldiers with a detailed account of the battle. With a clear and engaging writing style, A Scratch with the Rebels illuminated the depth and diversity of perspectives from both sides of the conflict. It is an absorbing history for Civil War buffs and historians, as well as a general audience. Now she has written a historical novel that covers the same period. Beyond All Price tells the story of Nellie Chase Leath, who served as matron and nurse in  the Roundhead Regiment from Pennsylvania.
Dr. Schriber lives near Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband Floyd Schriber and four opinionated cats. She is also active in Lions Clubs International and serves on the board of the Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Service, a charitable organization that provides free eye and hearing care to those in need.

Also by This Author

Reviews

Review by: Richard Waller on Aug. 25, 2012 : star star star star
One of the few help books that has usable help in it.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Bonnie Cehovet on Feb. 06, 2012 : (no rating)
Carolyn Schriber is someone whose blog I have been following for some time now, even though her focus is on the history of America’s Civil War, in which I really don’t have much of an interest. The reason that I follow her is that she writes well, includes tid bits about her everyday life, and often gives out tips to authors that are incredibly insightful. Indeed, this book grew out of her blog posts.

I wanted to read this book for many reasons, not the least of which was that I have self-published, want to continue to do so, and want to do a much better job at it! I was impressed from the start with this e-book – it was easy to download, and started out with a short paragraph informing readers not to resell or share this e-book, as it was the work of an author that essentially deserved to be paid for it. (I am paraphrasing here.)

The table of contents was clear and concise, with active links to each chapter, so that they could easily be read out of sequence. When I am looking for information, I want to be able to go straight to that information, so this is a huge plus for me! Chapters include View Publishing As A Business, Build An Online Platform, Sample New Software Choices, Explore Genealogy, Know The Difference Between Fact and Fiction, Choose Quality Over Quantity, Know Where the Story Is Headed, Clarify Points of View and Themes, Listen To Your Inner English Teacher, Listen To What You Say, Hire An Editor, Reject the Get-Rich-Quick Schemes, Market, Market, Market, and Embrace New Technology.

Schriber is a retired tenured professor from Rhodes College, specializing in medieval history. Her most recent books are “A Scratch with the Rebels” and “Beyond All Price”. Both books are set in South Carolina during the northern occupation of the Low Country. Her upcoming book, “The Road To Frogmore”, tells the stories of a slave woman and an abolitionist who face, and conquer, the challenges of emancipation.

The foreword is autobiographical, describing the author’s journey in publishing, beginning with her master’s thesis. Her style is very conversational, and I was a little bobble-head as she talked about things that I too had experienced, such as manual type writers, carbon copies, and placing footnotes. Along came the electric typewriter and the word processor – yay team! Then the computer age arrived (complete with the five inch floppy disks!), and we all breathed a sigh of relief! Then there was the turn of the century – from 1999 to the year 2000. We were all literally in a panic, fearful that computers would crash and lose all of their information, because they would not be able to make the changeover to the dates of the 21st century. As we can see now, we had nothing to worry about! Back then, our fears were very real!

Scriber talks about her initial forays into self-publishing, and what she learned from them. I see some of my own mistakes in her words. Mistakes are how we learn – and we do learn! One point that she makes is that we need to think about how we are going to publish our work while we are writing it – waiting until we are done is not what we want to do! She talks about her approach to finding a publisher, and the results that she got. Quite a journey! Part of that journey includes building a platform for your work, including a website, a blog, a personal page on Face Book, a fan page on Face Book, a Twitter account, and a LinkedIn account. (I was checking things off in my mind as I read here words – did I have this, did I have that? I did!)

Finding their way into the process were the Production Company that the author chose for self-publishing (Create Space), and how that worked for her. She talks about editing, book covers, and all the minutia of self-publishing.

I was impressed with the section on viewing publishing as a business. This is not vanity publishing, people. We want to make a living here! There are reasons for forming your own company, and formulating a business plan. Tax deductions, a home office – it’s all good. Then there are the staff members – and they come from many diverse avenues! Accountants, bankers, promoters … all necessary people! And they aren’t hard to assemble. Remember, Schriber is showing us how to do this through the story of her own life, so we can see how real this all is, and how we can accomplish the same thing. Then there is the little thing about the ability to take orders for your work on your site. All explained in a very matter of fact manner.

The why and where of ISBN numbers, copyright law, building an online platform, blogging, and social media – this is all addressed in a manner that is easy to follow, and easy to comprehend.

Now we move into the really good stuff – software! Scriber talks about what she is familiar with, what she uses, including Scrivener, Dropbox, Evernote, Amazon KDP, Smashwords, BookBuzzr and Good Reads.

There is also a section on genealogy, because this is pertinent to the type of writing that the author does. For most of us, this may be a section that we set aside until we need it in our writing. Important to know here – there are different data bases for different purposes.

Schriber addresses points of view (first person, second person, limited third person, third person omniscient, and mixed), theme, who the story belongs to (which character is predominant), and the challenge of addressing touchy subjects in your story. She also addresses the “how” of writing – the punctuation rules that we all need to keep in mind. Then we come to editing – and how editing for a Kindle edition is different from editing for any other type of publishing.

Now you are off to choose a printing company – which needs to be done with care, and contracting for services such as the book cover and book layout. Now you are ready to market – to get your “elevator speech” ready, and to hold a virtual launch party, a blog tour, and get press releases out.

Bottom line – embrace the new technology (e-books), understand it, work with it, and you can do well.

I found Schriber’s work to be well researched, well written, coherent, and at a level where everyone could understand it. She walks us through the process of writing and publishing a book in a manner that is realistic – because she is telling us her own personal story. We are not all writing Civil War era historical novels, but we can still take the meat of her work and apply it to what we are doing. For anyone serious about publishing their book, this is a must read!

© January 2012 Bonnie Cehovet
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Lynn Olejniczak on Jan. 31, 2012 : star star star star star
What a helpful and fun book to read!

Carolyn Schriber has plotted out every avenue, every divot in the thought, research and writing process in order to guide new and more advanced writers on the road to manifesting a publishable work. The chapters are clear and the steps are thought out. The reader can not come away from a single page without a tid-bit of information. Yet, this does not read like a boring, condescending "how-to." The book is sprinkled with interesting, personal experiences that outline the challenges and successes of topic, research and grammar.

I came away from this read feeling as if Carolyn and I were discussing these topics over coffee. I learned everything from how to "let go" of a complicated story to the potentially troublesome issues of self-publishing and marketing. The great thing is that I feel so much better prepared than I have before. This is a terrific guide told through geat stories that will help make any decent writer good, and any good writer great!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

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