Self-Publishing to Traditional: One Writer’s Journey

For my writer friends asking how it’s going switching my memoir from being self-published to traditional publishing, I thought I might give some ongoing reports. It’s quite a journey for me, and a lesson in loosing up control. In many ways that part is difficult for me, but in more ways it is a freeing experience.

First, I have to say that the excitement of having my first book published by Seal Press (April 2013) is sometimes overwhelming.  It is the dream I had when I labored over the manuscript for four years. But, that’s not a new story for any writer. Certainly not for an unknown writer like myself. Not to mention that I am 58 years old entering an entirely new phase of my working life.  For 20 years I worked in the insurance industry as a marketing director and copywriter. Wallace Stevens might have argued that it is a working world ripe with possibility, but mostly it was numbing. I am still a marketing professional with my own firm, but now I can carve out time for the writing I love. Writers all know that we do it for love, whatever else we may claim.

So, back to the publishing journey.

It helps immensely to have people to work with that understand your angst. My agent and editor are great at allaying my fears when they see an anxious email message from me, typed furiously at 1 am. If the worry wakes me, I write it down. And, my iPhone next to my pillow becomes a dangerous weapon. I am betting, though, that I am not the only author that has a knot in their innards when their “baby” is having a new cover designed, yet another editor looking it over and photos being chosen.

So, we went back and forth a little on the cover and it is evolving into a beautiful one. There is still some tinkering going on with font style, but mostly it is finalized and I love it! I was grateful that my publisher took my comments into account and worked with me and my agent on the look of the book.  It makes a very big difference in how you feel about your book to be proud of the cover. That’s my advice to you writers—to make your voice heard in that phase if at all possible. Of course, remembering, they bought the book. The last word is the publisher’s. For me, it was gratifying to know that there was a team of professionals who sell books for a living weighing in on how to best position my book for the first impression it makes on sales reps and booksellers.  In the end, I trust their instincts.

To be continued . . .

8 Commentsto Self-Publishing to Traditional: One Writer’s Journey

  1. What a terrific idea to post your experiences with traditional publishing.
    It’s great that you are working with a press that is flexible and open to teamwork.

    I sure wish I’d had this kind of information as a resource when I was working with my publisher.

    What a great resource this blog will be for my “Getting Published” workshop participants!

    Elayne Savage

  2. Nancy says:

    Judy-good stuff. It’s helpful to see what goes on “under the tent” when you get a publishing deal.
    I’d like to know more about editing process once your manuscript is accepted. What happens if you disagree with the changes the editors ask you to make?

  3. Judy, your posts always enlighten with honesty and humor. Publishing is a “different world” today and you are one of the pioneers, proving yourself (your book) first before being taken on by a Traditional publisher. I will follow your journey closely. And will be interested in seeing what it fees like to give up control for what, hopefully, is a greater return in exposure. Replacement Child is a great book and deserves a wide audience.

  4. This is great, Judy! I’m so glad Patrick Redmond pointed me toward your blog, and to this post. All the best as you progress toward your release date!

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