So far, I’ve decided on four types of people I’d like to interview for this project. I require:
- A successful* traditionally-published author.
- A successful self-published author.
- Someone who helps prepare books for publication independently, like a book shepherd.
- Someone good at identifying scam presses.
*One of the other students in my class asked how I’m defining success. After some thought and a little more research, I’ve decided that “success,” at least in terms of this paper, means “creating a book which the author can look back on with pride, not regret.”
These are my first choices. I’ve already contacted them all (or at least, attempted to contact them), but I haven’t heard back yet. It’s only been two days so I’m trying not to panic. At least I have the automated responses to know that they did actually receive the emails.
So, my first pick for a traditionally-published author is John Green. I’ve been a nerdfighter since . . . 2010, I want to say, maybe a little later, so he came immediately to mind. Traditional publishers are generally known for not taking advantage of things like social media and viral marketing, but John’s really good at it, thus New York Times bestseller and movie adaptation. I think he even qualifies as a hybrid writer thanks to Zombiecorns.
Of course, with TFIOS still in theaters I suspect his schedule is going to be really crazy for a while yet, so although I’m hopeful, I think it’ll take a while before I get a response. That and everyone I’ve tried to contact to ask for him is on vacation.
My first pick for a self-published author is a little different, in that the guy in question doesn’t primarily identify as an author, but as an entrepreneur. Of course, that fits with what I’ve learned about self-publishing, because when you do it yourself, you kind of are running a business.
Mark Coker wrote a book with his wife, and even with the help of an objectively awesome literary agent they could not sell it, so they decided to self-publish. He saw an opening in the market to help other authors do the same, and thus the site Smashwords was born. I discovered him through a series of YouTube videos he made about the publishing process, which I found very helpful, and I read some more of his advice and decided I really wanted to talk to this man. I have no idea if I’ll get that chance, but I’m really hoping I can.
In my research, a few names kept cropping up. One was Joel Friedlander, also known as the Book Designer. He’s one of a number of individuals who offer to help authors prepare their books for the marketplace, so I’d like to ask him how that process works, and how much it’s connected to self-publishing. I mean, obviously if you’re going to do the whole book yourself you might want some professional help, but I could see someone wanting to polish up a book and proposal to go for a traditional book deal too.
Lastly, I’m tackling the topic of who to avoid when you’re trying to put out a book, and in that realm there are two main sites: Predators and Editors, and Writers Beware. It didn’t take too long for me to discover the hot mess that is Author’s Solutions, Inc., and through that writer Victoria Strauss. She writes comprehensively and authoritatively, but she’s also very enjoyable to read, and I look forward to (maybe hopefully) interviewing her about what she’s learned and how she learned it.
This should cover all of the main bases of my paper, though I’m also planning a general survey to get majority opinions. I’m following everybody here on Twitter so maybe I’ll start tweeting at them to get responses, but at the same time I’m a little afraid of the idea because I don’t want to look silly or desperate. Also I have trouble with the length limit. How do I encapsulate what I’m working on, what I want to talk to them about and sell it in 130 characters?