Now that Friends of Mine: Thirty Years in the Life of a Duran Duran Fan is finally released (and YAY!), I wanted to do something with those cover designs that didn't get chosen. So I had them made into postcards. Lots of postcards.
What to do with all those postcards?
Many of you have already posted photos of your paperback copies, and I love seeing each and every one of them. So, I want to see more. And I've decided to give you something in return.
So, for the next two weeks, post your Friends of Mine photos (Kindle or paperback) on my Facebook author page, and then contact me with your name and address, and I'll send you a signed postcard of your choice (see below).
But that's not all! The BEST photo will win a signed DELUXE COLOR paperback as well!
So, let's see where your copy -- Kindle or paperback -- spends its time (wanna really suck up? Incorporate Duran Duran in your photo too!). All photos will be shared on my author page (and some on Twitter too). Good luck, and happy reading!
As you know, I'm self-publishing my memoir, Friends of Mine. Many of you also know that my debut novel, Faking It, as well as its sequel, Ordinary World, began as self-pubbed novels and earned me a contract with Amazon Publishing (AP) due to its overwhelming success in 2009-2010.
But so much of the self-publishing landscape has changed in the last four years. I'm doing a lot of things differently now, and in some ways I feel as if I'm self-pubbing for the first time.
So what's changed?
Mainly, competition, and the self publishing market. When I first self-published, Amazon's listed number of ebooks (traditionally and self-pubbed combined) was about 250,000. That number has since quadrupled, and growing rapidly. I don't have statistics on what percentage of that total are self-published, but I'm sure that number has also quadrupled in the last four years. The result, of course, is that the stakes have gone up considerably. Because it's that much harder for your book to be recognized, you have to step up your game not only with a great story (fiction or non), but also great writing, and professional editing and design.
When I self-pubbed Faking It and Ordinary World, I couldn't afford to hire editors and designers, so I relied on my own skills. I could never get away with that now. This time I invested in copyeditors and proofreaders, an interior formatter, and a cover designer. The result is a book that, in terms of appearance, will rival my AP novels. And, of course, I did the best I could to tell a good story and tell it well.
What I wish I'd done: I wish I'd alotted money in my budget for a publicist. I'm taking on the responsibility of putting together a press kit, organizing blog and personal appearances, and getting my books into the hands of reviewers. Quite frankly, I suck at organization. And now that I have an established readership and career, it's even more important for me to promote myself professionally.
The other main difference about self-publishing now (and this is a personal difference rather than a business aspect in general) is time management. Four years ago, because I took on all the roles of editor, designer, etc., I worked on my own schedule. Rather than set a launch date in advance, I gave myself as much time as I needed, and got the promotion machine working after the book was published.
This time, I set an exact date for publication: August 10. I set this back in April, and estimated how long it would take for rewrites, edits, formatting, design, and pre-promotion.
What I wish I'd done: Given myself more time. Or, at least, not cut things so closely to the launch date. Time management/planning has always been my other weakness. So although I had good intentions and seemingly allotted myself enough time, I didn't anticipate things like the manuscript needing an additional editing/re-write, coordinating the schedules of editors, photographers, designers, and formatters, or potential legal snafus (specifically, getting permission to use song lyrics). The result is, sadly, that I'll likely have to delay the launch (which also throws off my promotion/marketing plans); I'm especially bummed about this because the August 10th date has a significant connection with the book.
But here's the thing: I'd rather delay the publication of a book and have it be the best it can, than rush to release it knowing that I cut corners.
So, overall, I did a lot of things better than I did four years ago. But, should the opportunity to self-publish yet again present itself, I'll do so having learned new lessons, and hopefully minimizing new mistakes.
I am thrilled to make two announcements connected to my upcoming memoir Friends of Mine: Thirty Years in the Life of a Duran Duran Fan. The first is that friend and fellow Amazon Publishing author RJ Keller will write the Foreward. Not only is she a great writer (check out her novel Waiting For Spring), but also a Gen-Xer and former teenage fedora-clad Duranie (I've seen pictures). I knew early on that she'd offer something of value to the project. She was one of the first to see the manuscript in draft form, and understood where I was coming from not only from experience, but also rhetorically.
The second is even more exciting. One of the advantages of self-publishing is having sole control of the editorial and design process (although, in fairness, I must acknowledge that Amazon Publishing gives me a lot of input when it comes to my novels, and I'm so grateful). When it came to the cover design of this book, only one name came to mind: Patty Palazzo. I first heard her name years ago in conjunction with Duran Duran; she designed the calendars and other merchandise. And then I saw this:
Um, yeah. I know.
While promoting his memoir, John Taylor tweeted a link to a story about Patty and her cover design process. As a lover of all things process, naturally I clicked on the link and commented on it, which, to my pleasant surprise, resulted in a brief but fruitful Twitter conversation with Patty, and mutual follows. (I may have also tweeted something like, "I want to wallpaper my writing studio with that cover. Just sayin'.")
Thus, when it came to my memoir cover, the designer had to be Patty. Not only because I knew she'd rock the design (you can see more of her work here), but also because bringing her on board would make the project even more personal. And it's already quite personal to me. In fact, everyone I've worked with throughout this project has been someone close, someone trusted, someone I knew would take special care. Bringing Patty Palazzo into a Duran Duran-related project is like coming full circle, in a way. I knew she too would take special care.
But would she want to work with little ol' me? Would she be available?
Fortunately for me, YES. And judging by our interaction so far, I know she's going to be a pleasure to work with.
I am more psyched than ever to release this book. I hope you'll be just as psyched to read it.
Most of you know me well enough to know that I'm a Duran Duran fan. I've made no secret of this, have proudly worn my t-shirts and blasted my CDs in my car and searched eBay for memorabilia and tweeted and posted and swooned.
This year marks THIRTY YEARS of my fandom. Considering that the band's first single was released in 1981, some might say I came late to the party. But hey, I didn't have MTV or FM radio until much later.
At the 25-year mark, I had thought about writing a book about this relationship, the longest long-term relationship I've ever had. But I was too immersed in other projects. Last year, however, I knew the time had finally come.
A memoir is never about what you think it's going to be about. You think it's about a particular event or memory or experience; but once you start peeling back the layers, you find it's interwoven with so much more. To write solely about being a Duran Duran fan would've resulted in a personal essay, perhaps. What I discovered as I wrote were patterns -- my relationships with music, musicians, family, and friends. My relationship with me. Writing has been one of the constants of my life. Duran Duran has been the other.
And so, I'm proud (and even a little bit nervous!) to announce that my memoir, Friends of Mine, Thirty Years in the Life of a Duran Duran Fan, will be released on August 10, 2013. (Fellow Duranies will recognize the significance of the date.) One of the reasons this is so exciting/scary is because I'm jumping back into the self-publishing pool for this particular title. Self-publishing has come a long way in four short years. Things I got away with then I could never get away with now. The competition is four times as steep. My past success, my solid readership, my street cred guarantees me nothing. I could sink or swim. But, just as I did with Faking It years ago, I believe in this project, believe there's an audience, and believe the two will find their way to one another. And I've learned a lot over the years. I know way more now than I did four years ago.
This is also the most personal book I'm publishing. I worried about whether I could share so much with total strangers. But after showing the manuscript to a few trusted people, they reminded me of the truth about autobiographical writing. To quote the late Donald Murray: "As we read someone else's story, we read our own." One this book is out of my hands, it will become your story. I suppose the same argument could be made for fiction as well.
I just hope I don't disappoint.
I'm an author of commercial women's fiction and a writing instructor. My claim to fame: I can say the alphabet backwards.