Monday, March 30, 2009

Hey Look Ma, I'm on Internet TV

The Book Event on March 19th was filmed by Ukiah Valley TV and you can see a segment on their website here. Just scroll to 2:46 to see my 40 seconds of fame.

If you'd like a free copy of the book, be the first person to leave a comment telling me what color scarf I was wearing (sorry Medusa staff, but you can't enter).

Friday, March 27, 2009

My Very First Book Event for My Very First Published Book

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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

After an Exhilirating Evening Launching my Book Comes... The Flu!

Sorry there hasn't been an update about the book reading last Thursday. My daughter was sick all last week and she so kindly gave it to me. Isn't that sweet? As soon as I feel like I can formulate more than three words in a sentence I'll update you on the event. It went very well and the other women presenting with me enjoyed it.

I remember when I was an actress and worked crazy hours during rehearsals, then suddenly the show would end and presto, I'd be sick. So would everyone else. As long as the stress was high and you kept busy, the bug wouldn't get you. The moment you paused to relax... WHAM... 102 fever. That's what happened to me.

I'll write more soon. Got to go blow my nose now.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What You Need to Wear to Be a Pro

Tomorrow is the big book launch, reading, Women in Publishing event, and I am suddenly extremely nervous. It's the first time I'm speaking as the author, rather than hiding behind an author as the publisher. So of course I am now obsessing over WHAT TO WEAR.

My Muse isn't helping. "Wear what you want," she says.

"I don't know what I want to wear."

"Then just wear jeans and a nice sweater."

"But are jeans fancy enough?" I hold up my favorite pair of faded blue-jeans.

"Those aren't. The hem's frayed. Wear this." She pulls a polka dot dress from the closet and holds it out to me.


"Yes. It looks smashing on you."

"But a dress might be too fancy."

"I thought you wanted to be fancy."

"No. I mean yes. I mean... maybe." I sit on my bed and stare at my closet.

My Muse raises an eyebrow as she watches me. "What's the problem?"

"Nothing. I'm just nervous. I want to give the right impression, like I know what I'm doing, but not too stuffy or uptight. I want to look pretty, but not too pretty. I don't want to be thought of as that cute girl who wrote a cute little handbook. I want to be taken seriously, but not too seriously. You know... I just want to be..."


"Respected. But not in an uptight, literary way. I want people to feel that they can talk to me and I will be able to answer their questions correctly and really help them. But I don't want to look school-marmy or overly polished. Just mellow, laid back, down to earth, but not too granola. Does that make sense?"

"Don't wear tie dye and stay away from suits. Got it." She sits beside me and pats my hand. "Remember last time we were upset because no one cared that we were the publishers? Everyone was focused on Laura. I felt like a child sent to bed too early because the grown ups wanted to have a party."

"Now what do you feel like?" I ask.

She smiles. "Like I've just stepped into a spot light and if I don't learn to tap-dance really fast the trap door will open beneath me and I'll fall to my death."

I sigh. "Exactly."

My Muse stands and pats her head of unruly snakes. "I have to go get my hair done. I'll help you figure out what to wear tomorrow."

As she vanishes another terrifying thought pops into my brain: my hair! What am I going to do with my hair?

Why do we do this to ourselves? Any time we step into the spot-light we feel like we have to be clever to earn our keep. Why can't we just enjoy the moment of renown, recognizing that our hard work and creativity are what got us there?

I wrote What You Need to Know to Be a Pro to be of help to others. And I'm not the only one there; four other women are sharing the event with me. I need to let go of my own ego driven nerves and focus on the community spirit of the work.

Yeah, sure. Easier said than done. But not impossible.

I stand and reach into my closet, pulling out the polka dot dress once more. Spanish Gypsies say polka dots are good luck.

"This might work."

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Great Big Thank You to My Contributors

While writing What You Need to Know to Be a Pro, I thought about the people who had helped me learn to create a company and publish books, either through personal contact or via their blogs and websites I subscribed to. I contacted many of those people to ask if they would share some words of wisdom to be included in the book, and happily many said yes. Here are a few of those people:

Sonia Simone. I've included links to her website many times on this blog and I was very pleased when she sent me a short piece about defining your own success. Sonia writes articles and keeps a great blog about people-centered marketing. Too many marketing gurus sound like stereotypical sales-men, but Sonia keeps it real, reminding us that we are communicating with PEOPLE and not just selling something.

Pete Masterson. Pete has been in the industry for a very long time (I won't say how long. You'll have to ask him) as a book designer and publisher. His experience and knowledge have proved invaluable time and again as I wrestle with the complicated process of creating books. I have his website bookmarked and it's the first place I check when I'm looking for information or resources.

Amy Wachspress. Amy self-published her children's book, Call to Shakobaz, which has gone on to win two awards. She has a very creative, yet down to earth approach to publishing, even turning down another publishing company who wanted to buy her book and publish the series. Some might say she's crazy, but Amy is dedicated to her craft and knows it well. By doing it on her own, she's earned the respect of many in this industry and is quite successful.

Stephanie Chandler. Stephanie is the person who got me thinking I should write this book. I saw her at a conference where she was presenting on effective Internet marketing and afterwards I asked her if she knew of any business oriented books for publishers. I was struggling with setting up my press and couldn't find a book that covered both PUBLISHING and BUSINESS. She said she didn't know of one. I said, jokingly, "I guess I'll have to write it myself." She replied sincerely, "You should." So here we are, over a year and thousands of pages of revisions and research, and it's all thanks to Stephanie.

Bruce Rutlidge. Bruce's press, Chin Music, was one of the first indy presses I found when I was wandering around the Internet looking at small presses and trying to decide if I should start my own. His blog is informative and really gives a glimpse into the life of a small press. Plus the books are great!

These are just a few of the great contributors to my handbook and I hope you'll find their inspiration and information as helpful as I did. Next time, I'll include the rest of my contributors.

Even though the official launch of What You Need to Know to Be a Pro isn't until this Thursday, the book is already available on And as much as I may grimace at times over Amazon's business practices, I still get all tingly when I see my book on their website.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Laura Fogg Gallery Showing, The Launch of the Next Medusa's Muse Book and Other News

Whew! Things are beyond hectic here at Medusa's Muse with preparations for the new book launching soon (and Grad School isn't helping anything!). I haven't had a lot of time to update the blog, but here are a couple of updates from the press.

Laura Fogg, author of Traveling Blind: Life Lessons from Unlikely Teachers, is also a textile artist and you can see some of her art quilts on display at The Art CenterCorner Gallery and Annex in Ukiah, Ca. (201 S. State Street). You can read an interview with her about her artwork on the website. The exhibit is up through the month of March.

On March 19th, my book, What You Need to Know to Be a Pro: The Start-Up Business Guide for Publishers, is officially launched and to celebrate that, and Small Press Month, Mendocino Book Company is hosting a reading and panel discussion with me and four other local, women writers and publishers. They are Cynthia Frank of Cypress House; Molly Dwyer, author of Requiem of the Author of Frankenstein; Amy Wachspress, author of Call to Shakabaz; and Susan Sparrow of Tenacity Press. Each of us will read a short piece from our work and then talk about our experiences working within a Small Press. There will be plenty of time to for attendees to ask questions about publishing, writing, creativity, and business. That's March 19th, 6:00, at the Mendocino Book Company, 102 S. School St, Ukiah, California.

And here's some exciting news: Medusa's Muse made its first international sale (other than Canada) with copies of Traveling Blind being sold in the United Kingdom. Whoo hoo, we've crossed the Atlantic! If your in the UK and would like a copy of the book, you can get yours via Amazon's UK site.

That's the news, and now I need to get back to work marketing the heck out of my book. If you'd like a copy of What You Need to Know to Be a Pro, and are a reader of this blog, email me and let me know you read my blog for one dollar off list price if ordered directly from me before the end of this month.

Happy Small Press Month, everyone!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Happy Small Press Month!

Not only is it Women's History Month, it is also Small Press Month, that lovely time of year when we turn our gaze from the behemoth that is Random House and instead remember the little presses and independent publishers. The micro-presses, university presses, self-publishers, graphic novelists, and mid-sized independents who create works of art that rival anything Random House or Hatchett creates, but aren't as well known because they lack the marketing power of the big publishers.

In honor of Small Press Month, I am launching my own book, called What You Need to Know to Be a Pro: The Business Start-Up Guide for Publishers, officially debuting March 19th. If you'd like to join the renaissance of independent publishing, then grab my 136 page handbook to help you set up your business RIGHT from the first day. Email me to reserve your copy and be the first on the block to know how to create an independent, book publishing company. Then get a copy of Dan Poynter's book, The Self Publishing Manual. With those two books, you'll be on your way to successful publishing.

And take a look at the list of small presses located on the right hand side of my blog to discover some great independent presses and new authors.

Remember, great stories aren't owned by Random House; great stories are owned by us all, and smaller independents have some amazing stories to tell.