Saturday, August 28, 2010

We learn the book business the hard way!

Although I've never self-published a book, I think I have a pretty good idea what it must be like. When the publisher sent us our first copies of PLEASE STAND BY -- YOUR MOTHER'S MISSING we were so disappointed! It was nothing like we had imagined it would be. The story, although dealing with some serious issues, was written in a fun, self-effacing, lighthearted manner. Nancy and I thought the book jacket should reflect this style. Instead, the publisher went with a black and white cover depicting Nanc and I as negative images, to represent the fact that in the story we both go missing. We understood what he was aiming at, but the final result was just way too depressing. At this stage of the game the publisher wasn't about to go to the expense of redesigning the book jacket just to pacify two disgruntled authors. So, if we wanted to see the cover changed badly enough, clearly we would have to do it ourselves!

Naturally we hadn't the first idea where to begin. But as they say, "Fools rush in..." We spent several days playing around with different ideas, finally settling on a picture of a clothesline, with the clothespins spelling out each letter of the book title: P--L--E--A--S--E.....S--T--A--N--D.....B--Y...--...Y--O--U--R.....M--O--T--H--E--R'--S.....M--I--S--S--I--N... The letter "G" from the last word "missing" has fallen to the ground next to a spilled clothes basket, as if whoever was hanging out the wash had suddenly disappeared. This was all done in bright colors, just the way we'd imagined it. I still think it was a pretty good idea. I just wish we'd had the money and the know-how to make it look more professional!

Since it was obvious the publisher wasn't going to do much by way of distribution, we asked him to send us about 500 books and set out to place it in bookstores ourselves. Hauling around a car full of kids, we hit every store we could in San Francisco, Oakland, and the Bay Area. The biggest thing in our favor, I'm convinced, is that it was about a month before Mother's Day. Because of this, we were able to get the book into far more stores than we might otherwise have expected. What a thrill to see copies of our "baby" gracing bookshelves and, in several cases, prominently displayed in store windows and even by the cash register. Nancy and I were ecstatic. We were finally real, honest to God authors!

(Next: No fame or fortune but Nanc and I are stoked to try again!)


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