Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Plan of Attack for Book Expo.

Early morning tomorrow I leave for LA and my first Book Expo (BEA), which according to the program is the "largest publishing event in the United States."

"With more than 2,000 exhibits, 1,000 authors, over 150 conference sessions as well as a special area for rights business, you'll see all the latest titles across genres, uncover hidden gems, network, and meet the industry contacts to put you instantly on top of what you need to know for your business."

With so much offered, how do I find all those "industry contacts," "hidden gems," and "what I need to know?" A friend told me that BEA is more than simply gigantic, it is several football fields in size and packed with information, booths, exhibits, workshops, readings, lectures, and of course, the all important swag. Another prior attendee warned me to pack snacks because food there is overpriced and limited, so I stocked up on trail mix, tiger-milk bars, and bananas. I've also been warned to wear good, comfortable shoes, so a couple of weeks ago I blew a bunch of cash on a new pair of Keens. My feet are now happy and my tummy feels secure, but my head is swimming. Time to make a plan.

My Muse and I spent the morning scanning the BEA website and the program they sent me in the mail. After reading about several hundred exhibitors, talks, and events, we realized we needed a better plan than just meandering. What did I hope to learn in three days?

First, I'm going to Book Expo to just see the sheer magnitude of it. Book Expo IS the Book Industry, and my little press and temperamental Muse are a part of it. Wandering around soaking up the energy will fulfill that want.

Second, I want to network with other small presses and "talk shop." Being a publisher can be just as lonely as being a writer; we both spend too much time alone tied to our laptops. My Muse found the Small Press Section on the Conference map and we're making that our first stop when we arrive.

Third, I'd like to learn more about the business of running a press, and marketing the books. I signed up for a presentation from Google about their Google Books program since I've recently added Laura's book to their list. I also plan to listen to Jeff Bezos of talk about their plans. Perhaps some of the issues around Create Space will be addressed. And then I'm attending the Book Industry Trends 2008 talk, presented by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). There's a talk called "What Librarians Wish Publishers Knew" which looks good, and one called "The Changing Landscape of Book Distribution."

Fourth, I want to have fun. I'm meeting a fellow publisher Friday night for dinner and I may go ahead and splurge on Lewis Black tickets Saturday night. This is my vacation this year and a time to devote ALL my energy to Medusa's Muse. No child, no hubby, no dog. I might even get a full nights sleep for a change! Heaven!

My Muse is now packing. We're driving down with Jane to LA, then flying home because Jane is heading off for a Grand Canyon Adventure. Keeping in mind we have to carry everything home on a plane, and future swag, we'd better pack light.

"Do you think wearing the Medusa's Muse t-shirt is over the top?" I ask her.

"Not at all. And bring the Medusa's Muse bag. Don't be shy! That's me on your shirt, remember?"

Now I have a plan, new shoes, hearty snacks, a digital camera, a bag for swag, eight books to give away and fifty fliers to hand out, 100 business cards, and three days of clothing. I think I'm ready.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Daughter Turned Thirteen Yesturday

You don't have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone. ~John Ciardi, Simmons Review, Fall 1962

On a personal note, my daughter just turned thirteen. I know some of you aren't reading my blog to learn about my personal life, but this is a momentous occasion and I really need to take a moment to let the fact sink in. My daughter, my little girl, my once-upon-a-time infant, is now a teenager. A TEENAGER.

The Teenager is a Uniquely Human Phenomenon. (from The New Scientist, written by John Pickrell)

Adolescents are known to be moody, insecure, argumentative, angst-ridden, impulsive, impressionable, reckless and rebellious. Teenagers are also characterised by odd sleeping patterns, awkward growth spurts, bullying, acne and slobbish behaviour. So what could be the possible benefit of the teenage phase?

Most other animals - apes and human ancestors included - skip that stage altogether, developing rapidly from infancy to full adulthood. Humans, in contrast, have a very puzzling four-year gap between sexual maturity and prime reproductive age. Anthropologists disagree on when the teenage phase first evolved, but pinpointing that date could help define its purpose.

Indeed, why do we human beings have to go through this drawn out process of differentiation from our parents? Why do we suddenly go from adorable, happy child, to angry, bitter teen?

My own daughter is still kind, cheerful and friendly, but her mood swings are a bit hard to manage sometimes. She'll be laughing and joking one moment and then throw herself to the floor in tears. I ask, "What's wrong?" She wails, "I don't know!" Then, just as suddenly as the tsunami struck, the tears vanish and she cracks a joke about how the floor smells like farts.

Add to the normal chaos of adolescence, my daughter copes with a disability. As fast as she grows up, she's losing her hearing. She is now labeled "Deaf-Blind." Her peers still like her and call her a friend, but she can't keep up with them anymore. While they are chasing boys and playing sports, my daughter spends recess sitting on the bench, waiting for someone to notice she's alone. It breaks my heart and I have no idea how to solve that problem. I'm afraid I can't do anything at all. This is her challenge, her path, and all I can do is love her and support her while she figures out how to cope with a new, changing body and the same old disability.

Laura Fogg, who is my daughter's teacher as well as a Medusa's Muse author, gave my daughter a beautiful butterfly quilt, complete with red and purple flowers and a large Monarch Butterfly. My daughter spent several minutes exploring the quilt with her fingers, touching the wings of the butterfly and the crinkly petals of the flowers. The quilt reminded me that my daughter has many people who love her and maybe together we can help her get through this tricky time called adolescence.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Can Google Replace the Need for Amazon?

While thinking about the ways helps small publishers sell books and compete with the "big guys," I started to wonder about Google. Who else has a search engine that will efficiently allow customers to find books from small presses and other niche markets? Google is the King of search engines, in my opinion, and I realized they have a Book Search option. I decided to give their program a try.

I went to Google Books and signed up, then uploaded Traveling Blind: Life Lessons from Unlikely Teachers to their server via their own Google Book Uploader. Quick and easy to use.

One of the big concerns about Google Books is how easily people may be able to steal your book's contents off the net. This is what Google says:

Keep Your Content Protected

Users get a taste of your book—but only a taste. We scan the full text of your book because we want people to be able to search all its content. But users can only access a limited number of pages to determine whether they've found what they're looking for.

We understand that your books are valuable, so we treat them with special care. All the books you send us will be hosted on Google servers and protected by the same security as’s search data.

To further protect your book content, printing and image copying functions are disabled on all Google Book Search pages.

It may take a few days for Laura's book to appear through the Google book site, but once it does I'll post the link and update you on anything I learn from using Google. The book is already listed in the Google books catalogue, but there is no cover image or excerpt yet. However, I can already see how many retailers carry the book and at what price, as well as which libraries have a copy. I wonder what more information will be provided once the Medusa's Muse account is activated. Another interesting thing about Google Books is that you can earn revenue from the ads they post along with your book. That's something Amazon doesn't do.

But will Google replace consumer's Amazon habit? How many people know they can find books via Google? I think in time the Google Book Search will become a viable alternative to, but that may take several years.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Book Locker is suing Amazon

This was in the Seattle Times:

Maine publisher sues
BANGOR, Maine —
The operator of a print-on-demand publishing business is suing online giant over its decision to limit business to only one on-demand publisher.

Angela Hoy contends in U.S. District Court that Amazon's decision to exclusively use one on-demand publisher runs afoul of antitrust law.

About half of her Bangor-based's sales are through Amazon and there are about 4,300 potential print-on-demand class members, she said. The lawsuit seeks class-action status, an injunction preventing Amazon from implementing the new policy and monetary damages.

Follow the Above Link for the rest of the story.

There has been a great deal of talk in the industry about whether or not a class action lawsuit against would surface. After the Washington State Attorney General declined to investigate allegations of an Amazon Monopoly, publishers were watching to see who would make the first legal move against Amazon. Book Locker has taken the first step.

My Muse is pleased. "Really, all your investigating into the costs of using Amazon and your conclusion that it isn't cost prohibitive is annoying! It sounds like your planning to just give in!"

"I'm not planning to give in. I'm simply learning everything I can now so that if the time comes for me to make a decision about Amazon, I can make the best one."

"What's to decide? Why would you even consider working with those Amazon pirates?"

"Remember when we talked about the legal ramifications of using Laura's student's real names in her book?"


"And I explained that I'm not giving in to legal intimidation, I'm simply learning the rules of publishing and doing what I can to protect Medusa's Muse and my authors?"

"Yes. I remember."

"The same principle applies here. If I need to work with Amazon to help my authors, then I will. The most important thing is the books we create, not my own feelings."

She looks at me with one raised eyebrow and taps a finger against her chin. "Makes sense." Then she moves so close to me I can feel the breath of her snakes on my cheek. "But do you remember what I said?"

"If you thought I was giving in due to fear you'd leave me."

She smiles and narrows her eyes. "I'm just making sure you remember."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What does Provide Independent Publishers?

Part Three of the Amazon Questions.

Last week I broke down the cost of using POD printing through to try and decide if I could afford to use two POD printers. The answer was yes. The overall cost would only go up by $50.00 if I used Amazon and continued using LSI. Now the question is, what does Amazon provide Independent Publishers that makes it worth the extra $50.00? helped launch the publishing revolution. With their built-in search engine that allows consumers to find any niche book they can dream of easily and quickly, Amazon helped micro and self-publishers directly compete with bigger publishing houses. Combined with Print-On-Demand technology, a revolution in book publishing was born.

Can a small press survive without the marketing muscle?

Shopping on has become a part of our American culture. You can buy everything from clothes, lawn furniture, electronics, and books. I have been asked many times if our book is available from Amazon, and so far I've been able to say yes. Buyers know they can easily get Laura's book for a good price, delivered quickly to their door. What happens if I say no. Will I lose the sale? Where else will they go for Laura's book?

Consumers want to use Amazon much like Bookstores want to use book distributors. A bookstore only wants ONE catalogue to find books for their shop and doesn't want to wade through the thousands of publishers websites and catalogues to order books. A book buyer would rather search one store,, and find books on their chosen topic rather than wander the internet hunting for that one book that will satisfy their need. And even if Google can provide better book search results for their topic, the consumer would rather pay one shipping fee from one source. Publishers can not compete with the convenience of and it just might be worth that extra $50.00 to continue providing that convenience to our customers.

So why bother using Lightning Source/Ingram at all? Is getting into the Ingram catalogue so important? If you want your book in other bookstores and on other websites, such as, then you need Ingram. This will also help get your book into libraries. Not every book needs to be in the Ingram catalogue so the choice should be made book by book. If you have a very niche book, for example, a book about the different types of aquarium lights, then you might want to skip Ingram completely and focus all of your energy on Amazon. But if your market is wider than just fish tank aficionados, having a broader base from which to sell those books may be important.

To answer the question: Amazon provides marketing muscle I may not be able to duplicate on my own, as well as customer convenience through its order fulfillment process. I think that is worth $50.00.

Next, I'll do more math and tactical planning to see if I could duplicate's marketing and fulfillment. Will it be as hard as I assume?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Taking the Weekend Off

Yes, I know I've been slacking. I haven't posted in a while. But I've decided to join my Muse for the weekend in the back yard and do nothing but drink wine and watch the day's heat shimmer off the leaves. Every now and then we all need a break from our to-do lists and homework. I have a final in business class on wednesday, a project due in xhtml class on friday, a book to write, a full length play and an essay to revise, more Punk edits, bills, housework and a yard trying desperately to survive this drought. But you know, I'm just going to keep sitting here with my Muse and enjoy the color of the red wine as it reflects sunlight. My daughter is visiting her dad, so I'm off mommy duty and I had a full nights sleep for the first time in weeks. I got out of bed at 9:30 this morning a little disoriented, but feeling good. Calm. I realized I don't have to be productive every second of every day. For one quiet weekend, I can close the Medusa office and go to the movies with my hubby (I saw Iron Man. It was excellent. Go see it). I can stay in my pj's and ignore the phone while reading new blog posts by Elijah Brubaker. I don't have to be responsible.

Tomorrow I'll be Mommy again and will tackle that homework after I drive my daughter to Stanford for a doctor's appointment. That's tomorrow. Today... well... that's for day dreaming.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Amazon questions, part 2

Last week, I asked questions about using's Booksurge/Create Space for my POD printing rather than only using Lightning Source. Here are those questions again:

1)How much will Amazon's new policy of requiring POD printers to use Booksurge cost?

2)How does that affect my book production budget?

3)What exactly am I getting for my money?

4)What are the marketing benefits of continuing to sell books through Amazon that I will lose if I decide not to use Amazon?

5)How much will those lost marketing benefits cost? How does that affect my book marketing budget?

6)What is the advantage of just using Lightning Source, and therefore Ingram?

After crunching the numbers, I can now answer questions 1 and 2.

1) How much will Amazon’s policy cost?

I contacted Amazon and asked customer service about Booksurge and how much their new policy will cost. The email from the representative directed me to Create Space. Booksurge is only for larger publishers. Create Space is geared toward self-publishers and they offer many services, such as editing and design. Since I don’t need any of that, I went directly to their print pricing list.

Create Space charges .85 per book plus .13 cents per page for a book with more than 108 pages. Laura’s book is 209 pages.

209 x .013 = 2.71 + .85 = $3.56

There is no set-up fee, unless I go with their “Pro-plan” which is $50.00 more. The pro-plan allows me to keep more of the royalties on each sale and the cost per book is cheaper.

Lightning Source, who I am currently using for my POD printer, charges $.90 per book plus .13 cents per page.

209 x .013 = 2.71 + .90 = $3.61 Lightning also charges a 1.50 handling fee on fulfillment orders (orders from stores directly through Ingram).

There was no mention of handling fees or shipping costs on the Create Space site.

Lightning charges a $50.00 set up fee, the same price as the Create Space Pro-plan.

Because I don’t know how much shipping and fulfillment are through Create Space, I don’t have all the information needed to determine the exact cost. However, based on the fact that Lightning and Create Space are almost identically priced, I can make a pretty good guess that they will be similarly priced in shipping and fulfillment as well. However, because books printed by Create Space will be sold directly through Amazon, those “handling costs” may be lower. To know for certain, I need more information about how books sold via Amazon will be handled.

2) How does that affect my overall budget?

Basically, I will need to use TWO printers to get my books in Amazon and the Ingram and Baker and Taylor catalogues. That means two set up fees of $50.00. After that, it’s a per book charge. Both printers are similarly priced, so I don’t see too many extra costs. Since I do my own design and editing, I don’t need the other services Create Space offers. I think my book production budget will only go up by $50.00.

Again, I don't have all the information I need, and a fellow publisher mentioned that Create Space is NOT the right Amazon POD service for me. There still seems to be some confusion about who will use BookSurge and who Create Space. Also, I don't know how the Associates Program fits into all this. For the time being, Amazon is still ordering Laura's book from Ingram, so now isn't the time to make changes.

Next, I'll try to answer question 3; What exactly am I getting for my money (besides POD)?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Panic at the Play

Friday was opening night of the New Works Festival of Plays at Mendocino College. I spent most of the day just trying to figure out what to wear (seems like the more nervous I am, the more outfits I try on). Should I dress as the serious writer, complete with black beret, casual writer in jeans and Keen shoes, or whimsical writer in flowy, blue skirt and scarf? Whimsical writer won, and at last it was time to go to the theatre. As my hand grabbed the door knob, I suddenly felt like I didn't want to go. Nope, I think I'll just stay home and hear about it from the director. Way safer! Coward, my Muse declared, and kicked me out the door.

At the theatre, I waited in the auditorium and watched it fill up with people. My brother and nephew were coming, but were unfortunately late. That gave me plenty of time to sit alone and fight the butterflies in my stomach while my palms got sweaty.

My Muse leaned over from the seat behind me and asked, "What are you so worried about?"

"I have no idea. But right now, I really want to leave."

She gripped my shoulder. "You're not going anywhere. Besides, no one came to see you, remember. You're just the play write. They came to see the actors perform the work. No one knows who you are."

"Right." I took a deep breath. Then the director of the festival took the stage and welcomed everyone while the staff closed the theatre doors. Oh just great, I thought. Now my brother can't get in!

The director talked about the festival and the selection of plays, then asked each director and play write to stand as he called our names. What! Ack! Now they'll know who I am. My Muse laughed.

"The writer of Choices, Terena Scott." I slowly stood, holding down my "whimsical" skirt so it wouldn't be lifted by the seat chair flipping up. Then I slowly sat, smoothed my skirt around me, and tried not to pass out.

The house lights dimmed just as my brother and nephew walked in, so they were stuck on the opposite side of the theatre and I was left alone in the dark with my sadistic Muse, surrounded by 100 spectators who I was convinced were all watching me twitch.

After the second play, I got up and dragged my brother and nephew to the seats I'd aggressively saved for them. Now that they were near, I felt a little better. No longer alone. But as soon as the fourth play began, my play, the butterflies in my stomach got so frantic I felt like throwing up. My heart pounded. I clenched my jaw, gripped the arms of the seat, and hyperventilated. I focused on the actors and willed myself not to pass out. I could see the headline in our local paper: Play write collapses at Festival of Plays. Doctor's say it was Stage-Fright.

My play was beautiful. The set was an exterior garden complete with greenery and tivoli lights. The opening music was Time After Time by Cindy Lauper. The actors were strong and their performance riveting. The audience laughed in unexpected spots. I tried to enjoy the moment, but I still had the feeling that they were actually watching me from the invisible eyeballs in the back of their heads. When my play ended, I wanted to cry.

Three more plays followed mine and at last the festival ended. My brother was impressed and even my 15 year old nephew "wasn't too bored." People congratulated my work. Friends gave me hugs and cheered for me.

My Muse asked, "How do you feel now?"

"I want to cry."

I went home and tried to figure out what had happened. I've acted in plays, stage-managed even more, and directed a few, but never have I suffered from such severe stage-fright, and I wasn't even on stage! The one thing all of my prior theatre experience have in common is the barrier of the stage. I was either on it, or behind it. I've never sat in the audience of any production I've been a part of. I could never hear the shuffling, sighing, squeaking of seats, and whispering sounds of an audience so close to me. The lack of the stage barrier was terrifying.

Understanding where my panic came from made the second night better. I was nervous, but not so panicked. Plus, this time my hubby came with me and I didn't spend any time by myself thinking about all those people staring at me. Yes, I know they aren't. As soon as I sat back down people forgot me and turned their attention to the stage. It's much like when I go to an author reading and once I'm introduced they forget I'm the publisher. I realize I like that anonymity.

I hope to write more plays and share them with audiences and actors. One of the directors of a play in the festival asked me if I write full length plays. Why yes, I'm currently revising a full length play now. Good, he said, and encouraged me to submit it to our local theatre company. The only thing I wonder about is how much worse will my vicarious stage fright be when the ENTIRE PRODUCTION is written by ME.

This is another torture my Muse will insist upon!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

An interview with me on KMEC about raising a child with a disability.

Last week, Laura was schedule to be interviewed by Jin Gwong, a Buddhist Nun at City of Ten Thousand Buddhas on her KMEC radio program called "Compassion." That morning, Laura called me to ask if I could fill in. Her daughter had just gone into labor with Laura's first grand-child and Laura wanted to be there. Of course, I said, and sent Laura on her way. But then I realized that I had to do a one hour interview in two hours with no idea of what we would talk about!

Well, here's the interview (click on 5/3 show).I'm happy to report I actually sound articulate! A big thank you to Jin Gwong for handling the last minute change so professionally and making me feel comfortable. She's an excellent interviewer.

And a hearty congratulations to Grandma Laura and to her family, who welcomed a daughter into the world!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

How much will it cost me to continue working with Amazon?

I'm late posting to my blog because I've been spending time trying to figure out how much extra it will cost my press if I add Booksurge to my printing bill. I'd like to continue working with Amazon, but can I afford it? After several days of hunting, I still don't know.

I'm trying to discover:

1)How much will Amazon's new policy of requiring POD printers to use Booksurge cost?

2)How does that affect my book production budget?

3)What am I getting exactly for my money?

4)What are the marketing benefits of continuing to sell books through Amazon that I will lose if I decide not to use Amazon?

5)How much will those lost marketing benefits cost? How does that affect my book marketing budget?

6)What is the advantage of just using Lightning Source, and therefore Ingram?

I'm trying to look at the Amazon/Booksurge issue with clear, hard, business eyes, setting aside whatever emotional response I have to the perceived strong-armed tactics of Amazon. This isn't easy, because if I feel that I'm being bullied, I get terrifically stubborn and fight back. You think you can push me around? Hah! I'll show you just how tough this short-chick can be!

Not always the right response when you're running a business. Sometimes making decisions for your small business based on emotions, without clear facts to back up those emotions, can get your business into financial trouble. You have to ask yourself, what is the ultimate goal?

So, back to my list of questions. How much will Amazon's new policy cost? This question has been surprisingly difficult to answer.

I went to the Booksurge website and found information for publishers:

Maximize Sales Potential

Titles available as “in stock” on
Extend book lifecycle indefinitely
Publish more books with lower risk

Reduce Costs and Increase Profit

No inventory or small-order risk
No shipping or logistics overhead
Decrease excess costs in your supply chain
Low setup fees and printing rates

However, there was zero information about the ACTUAL cost of printing. For that info, you have to "contact publisher's services for information." That irks me. I had to do that too at Lightning Source, but then they quickly sent me the info I needed regarding pricing and set up costs without being hounded by a sales-rep. Maybe Booksurge will do the same? Usually when I contact a company for more information, they give me the "sales-pitch" rather than answering my questions. Just give me the cost, please, and leave the rap out of it. I can make up my own mind. But this is another one of those moments when I need to hold back my immediate emotional response (just tell me how much it costs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and go through the process to collect the best information I can.

The one thing on that above list that stands out to me is Titles available as “in stock” on . That is disconcerting. I have seen publisher's buy-buttons vanish. So far, my buy button is still there, but for how long?

I also went to the Amazon Advantage website to learn more about that program. It states, "The annual fee for Advantage is $29.95, regardless of the number of titles you enroll." Okay, not bad. $29.95 for your press, not per each book. I read more: "There is an annual fee of $29.95 to be a member of Advantage. Your fee includes unlimited title enrollment. Advantage is a consignment inventory strategy. The standard commission rate is 55% - you keep 45% of the List Price."

"The standard 55% commission rate means that is entitled to 55% of the List Price for each unit that sells. You, the vendor, receive 45% of the List Price. You set the List Price, also known as Suggested Retail Price, of your products, and all payments made to you are calculated based on the List Price. If decides to further reduce the sales price to the customer below the List Price, the customer discount comes out of's percentage. For example, if the List Price is $39.95, you will make $17.98 from each copy sold, even if the Customer Price or Our Price on is discounted from the List Price."

55% is the standard in the industry, meaning Amazon's cut on the sale is the same as Barnes and Noble or any other bookstore. It's the percentage I gave Ingram when I signed my contract with Lightning Source. Lightning Source lets you set the percentage at anything (I know many small publishers who do only 40%) and I decided for the broadest potential sales I should follow the industry standard. Amazon has set the percentage.

Currently, Advantage is for publishers who are not listing their books with Ingram. I couldn't find any specific information about the relationship between the Advantage program and Booksurge. I thought there was one, but maybe I'm wrong?

I will contact Booksurge and request info. Once I have pricing information, I can compare that to what I know Lightning Source charges. Then I can answer the next question, how does that affect my book production budget? Can I afford to use both Booksurge and Lightning Source? Can I afford not to?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Etymologists Corner

There's another Etymologists Corner post at Blood and Ink from Andrew David King (this time I got the name right!).

The word is Tatterdemalion

If you're a word nerd like me, or just need something interesting to read while you wait for your work day to end, head over to Blood and Ink to read about this "tattered" word.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why Don't I Publish My Own Books?

My Muse is happy right now, a state that is hard to achieve and impossible to maintain. She's pleased with the progress of Medusa's Muse Press, and very excited to be working with a new author. She's also impressed by the growth of Laura's book. And she'll give me points for actually writing a full length play in one month. All bases are covered in my Muse's view. I am being productive AND creative. However...

"Why aren't you publishing you're own work?" she asked, flipping through my play for the hundredth time looking for things to revise.

"Um... I don't have anything ready yet."

"But you have a project in the works, right?"

"Yeah. It's not ready."

"It will be in a few months, IF you get working on it again." She stared at me so hard the end of my nose got cold.

"I will. Don't worry. I haven't dropped the project. If you haven't notice, I've been a little busy lately." I nodded toward the play in her hands. She smiled.

"Yes. I know. And I'm happy you finished something for a change." She set the play aside and leaned toward me. "But I think you're scared to publish you're own book and you'll keep hunting for things to keep you busy so you won't be able to finish it."

"I am not!" I folded my arms and tried to look confident. "Right now I prefer to work with other writers, not just myself."

"Sure you do." She twirled a snake around one finger thoughtfully and waited. I hate it when she does that.

"I like working with other people," I continued. "I'd much rather do that than have to do it ALL. I can't imagine trying to write a book AND make all the desicions about its design and cover AND try to market it. Publishing other people's work helps me gain perspective. I'm not so attached to every word on the page. I can make the tough choices. I'm not so sure I can wear both hats; author and publisher."

"Sounds rational." She kept twirling that snake until I feared its poor little head would pop off.

"The press is very important to me, more important than my own books. I love writing and I'll always do it, but I don't know if I'm ready to publish my own work."

"I think you're scared."

"Of course I am. That's not a surprise."

"I think you're also afraid of the stigma."

"What stigma?"

"That you can only get published by yourself."

There was a long awkward silence while we stared at each other; me trying to think of something intelligent to say and she trying not to grin. She knew she was right but I was darn sure not going to validate that.

I took a deep breath and said, "Don't be ridiculous. I have no bias against self-publishers."

"Yes you do."

"No I don't! I have a bias against bad writing, whether it's self-published or not. If the writing is good, then who cares who published it? In fact, people who can write well and self-publish are brilliant in my book. I sure can't do it."

She let go of the snake which sprung back against her head and gasped for breath, then she pointed her bony finger at me. "Exactly."

"Exactly what?"

"You're afraid. You think your writing might be so bad people will scoff and think you're one of the unprofessional publishers, incapable of seeing the problems with your own work."

All I could do was fold my arms around myself tighter and say, "I am not."

She stood and moved closer, resting her hand on my head. "It's okay. You can be afraid. You were afraid to start Medusa's Muse and now look at you. A full fledged publisher with one succesful book and two more on the way. So in time, you'll stop being afraid about publishing your own book."

"I never stopped being afraid you know."

"I know. But you did it anyway. Just like one of these days, you'll publish you're own book."

I knew she'd make me do it one of these days, whether I want to or not. She's that kind of muse.