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Temple resident Zan Marie Steadham published her first book, “An Easter Walk,” this fall. The book is a devotional she first created as a pamphlet for her church, the First Baptist Church in Carrollton, in 2007.
“I got a lot of good feedback as in, ‘You need to publish this,’” Steadham said. “That gave me the encouragement to go ahead.”
With the help of her husband and some friends, she edited the work into a book and started to search for a publisher. While trying to find a traditional publisher, she was told time and again that the house didn’t do seasonal items.
So Steadham, decided to try it on her own. She went to API Print Productions, formatted the book according to the company’s template and ordered 100 copies.
“(I) sold the first printing out in 35 days, and I’m now on the second printing,” Steadham said. “I’m thrilled, totally thrilled. I’m excited and working on the Christmas devotional book to be a companion volume.”
Self-publishing is becoming more common as Web sites offer easier and less expensive options to budding writers who want to publish their work.
Dorothy Pittman, owner of Horton’s Books and Gifts on Adamson Square in Carrollton, sees probably three authors a week asking for advice on publishing or help in selling their newly self-published books.
“Initially, it was given a real bad rap, but recently I think the industry is looking at it as, sometimes it’s a way for an unknown writer to get known,” Pittman said.
Pittman has several books on the shelves from authors who have self-published their work. Books by Dr. Steve Davis, Robert Martin, Myron House, Elaine Bailey, Dr. Mac Martin, the Carroll County Historical Society have all found a place on her shelves and have been successful in her store. But the books may never have been published by a large publishing house unwilling to put money into projects by unknown authors or books that are localized in their appeal. Books on local history for instance may be very interesting to people in the area, but it won’t have much appeal to readers in other areas, and that can limit the profitability of a book.
Steadham didn’t set out to make a lot of money. She just wanted to get her work out to the public and hoped to break even in the process. That’s the best attitude for the self-publishing author, Pittman said. The typical self-published author isn’t going to get rich. Even books that are published as they’re sold by publishers such as lulu.com or blurb.com, probably aren’t going to turn into bestsellers unless they’re picked up by a major publishing house with big marketing budgets.
“It’s good, again, for authors who always wanted to get published but they’re really not wanting to make a lot of money,” Pittman said. “They just want to get their work out there and so it’s a way for them to do that.”
Carrollton resident Jay Michael Jones has been writing books for 10 years. She was initially writing just for herself, just showing her work to family and friends. Then she joined the Carrollton Creative Writing Club. With their encouragement, and a series of 26 volumes of sci-fi romance, she started hunting for a publisher.
The books were too non-traditional for a traditional publisher, but Jones was confident people would want to read what she had written. She turned to self-publishing at lulu.com. She hopes the books might be picked up by a publishing house, but right now, she’s just happy to have her work published.
“There’s things I want to say,” Jones said. “I’ve just got my own little voice and I wanted to put in my 2 cents worth into the literary world.”
There are some big expenditures when a book is first published. The cover art for Jones’ book “Flight of the Armada” was one of the most expensive and difficult things about getting it published, she said. Selling the books once they’re published takes a lot of marketing, and that also can be expensive. Jones has taken out advertisements in print and online. She has promoted the books through MeccaFest and is planning a book signing next year. So far, she is breaking even.
Artist Margaret Dyer has also turned to self-publishing. She and her sisters wrote and published a humorous cookbook “You Want Me to Bring a Dish?” in 2007 and have been able to sell a couple thousand copies. This year, she decided to publish some of her art with entries from her blog in book form. The book, “Meanderings and Musings, A Year in a Blog 2009,” was finished this fall.
“I seem to have acquired a following and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll put this into a hardcover book,’” Dyer said. “It’s a beautiful book. I’m very proud of it.”
She had a couple of goals when she created the book. It was a sort of memoir for her children and it also gives her art some exposure to a new audience. As a professional artist, she is used to having her work on display and critiqued by the public, but that can be difficult for a new author. Pittman recommends anyone who has aspirations of publishing their work to write, write, write. She recommends joining a writing group because the group will read the work and offer critiques. That can make the author used to hearing the criticism and also give them constructive feedback to improve the project.
And really, the point of writing something is to have it read, Jones said.
“I think anybody who has any kind of artistic talent or artistic kind of venture, to put on display, they’ve got to run that risk,” she said. “This is just another way of stepping up to the plate.”
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