Last Thursday, March 19th, was the official launch of my book, What You Need to Know to Be a Pro; The Business Start-Up Guide for Publishers. The book has been available since the beginning of March on Amazon and Powell's Books, but this was the first time I officially introduced it to the public. To say I was nervous was an understatement.
Rather than throw a typical book reading, I decided to make it an event by tying my book's launch with Small Press and Women's History Month. I invited four women publishers/writers to join me and share their work and insights into the world of small, indy presses. All of these women are highly educated and highly intelligent and I was feeling a bit intimidated by their experience. Suddenly my little handbook about starting a press felt horribly presumptive. Who I am to offer any advice to people in the industry? But I pushed that feeling aside as I shared the spotlight with these women and quickly found that I do indeed have something to contribute. I realized that my experience and knowledge is beneficial and it's time to push my fragile ego aside.
About 15 people attended, mostly my friends, which is a great turn out for a book reading. There were people there that I haven't seen in a long time; Nellie and her family, my former boss, a former co-worker, a friend who drove up from Healdsburg and another who came all the way from Reno with her husband and baby. And then, just as we were packing up, my friend Barbara walked in after fighting traffic all the way from San Francisco. I felt really loved and supported as I looked out at the audience while listening to the other presenters talk about their work. I have great friends!
I wasn't planning to read from my book because I thought it would be boring. Gather round children and I'll read to you how to work out an author contract and figure royalties . But I decided to read a bit from the intro that explained why I decided to become a publisher, which my friends seemed to enjoy listening to.
The best part of the night for me was the discussion. I started us off by asking the other presenters what their definition of success is (defining your own success is a favorite topic of mine.) They all had very insightful answers. After that we took questions from the audience and we talked about issues such as the difference between Print on Demand and Publish on Demand, whether or not to use X-Libros, what a vanity press is, how do you know when a project is "done," and what makes a good cover design. The conversation was so lively that I had to step in and stop it because the bookstore needed to close up.
By the end of the evening, I felt calmly excited. The book that would never be done was done, AT LAST. It was well written and well designed and filled a need in the industry. I was proud of my hard work and my little handbook, so stuffed with info I'm surprised it's only 136 pages. So much work in such a small book. I could breath a sigh of relief and move on to the next book... a punk rock anthology that has been in development for far too long.
Of course, I'll still be marketing the heck out of my book (like putting a page on my website about it! um... yeah, that's kind of a bad thing to not do). Amy Wachspress asked me to join her at the Mendocino College LitFest in May for a presentation, and then I'll be at the Mendocino Coast Writer's Conference speaking on a panel about publishing. I'd love to do another event like the book reading in the Fall, perhaps in Healdsburg, and perhaps teach a workshop. Mostly, I'll keep answering questions about starting and managing a press while I chronicle how I manage Medusa's Muse. This is way too much fun to stop.