My Muse lounges on the couch with her feet up and announces, "I feel fecund."
"That's an interesting word," I reply, sitting in my favorite chair across from her.
"It covers it all. Fecund. Creatively fertile and satisfied."
"Me too." We smile at each other, and then she asks, "What have you learned from all this?"
"Yes, silly. Learned about publishing. You've been studying books for a year and finally put it all into action on a real book. Did any of it make sense? Do you think you know what you're doing? Could you do it again?"
I think for a moment and nod slowly. "Yes. I have."
She hands me a note-pad. "Write it down."
Top Ten Lessons I've Learned About Publishing
1) Marketing is not a dirty word. Creating a Marketing plan is not an act of evil. If a publishing company wants to survive it must know and understand the potential market for a manuscript. Target markets are good.
2) A Publishing Company is a small business. Learn what you have to do to run a business as well as a publishing company. If you skip learning how to manage your inventory or forget to get a resale license, you're screwed.
3) There are creative, talented, eager people all around you. Don't be afraid to ask for their help. If you don't know or understand something, ASK. Ignorance will cause you extrutiating headaches as you try to undo the mistakes you've made.
4) Never underestimate the value of a good book designer. If you are lucky enough to have a person in your life who wants to be a part of the press and will work for free, AND is good at designing covers, you are extremely lucky. If you don't have that person, then save up the money to pay someone. Really. It is worth every dime.
5) A good copy editor is just as important as the above mentioned book designer. Pay them, bribe them, lure them with promises of riches or sexual favors, but get someone who can spell to edit the manuscript.
6) The Internet is the greatest tool a small publisher can have. Learn how to use it. Don't be afraid of My Space. Get a blog. Create a good website. Keep it updated. The time you spend surfing is not a waste of time. You can learn a lot from reading other blogs and joining list-serves. Get over the fear of "Big Brother" and embrace the digital age.
7) Join organizations like Publisher's Market Place and take advantage of the information and on-line trainings they provide. There is so much help and advice out there. Talk to other publishers and independent presses. They can guide you in the right direction and save you hours of fruitless effort.
8) Dan Poynter really is the God-father of Independent Publishing. Buy his book first.
9) Buy extra chocolate. You will put in many unpaid hours working on the mansucript through editing, revision, editing again, designing, planning the marketing campaign, making cold calls to get book readings for your author, filling orders, and sometimes staring at the pile of books in your living room wondering what on earth you should do next. Chocolate will get you through.
10) Listen to your Muse. She's smart.