Publisher: Lulu Publishing
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published. Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Sam: First and foremost, I’m a family doctor. The writing thing came in recent years my practice and I have matured. As a physician, I meet a lot of people. People who have led interesting lives and have wonderful stories. Their lives are my first inspiration. I frequently tell stories to my patients as a tool for motivation. They, in turn, will share part of their life stories that are sometimes fantastic narratives. While I would never unbidden betray a patient confidence, I certainly get ideas and motivation for fictional fare.
Is this your first book?
Sam: My first book, Jackie, was published in the fall of 2013. It chronicles the life and adventures of a young man who was abused, bullied and judged uneducable in the third grade. He was assigned to homebound education that didn’t work for him. But Jackie develops a very special, almost supernatural talent that when discovered, leads him to an historic destiny.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Sam: My current book, Joe Peas, is self-published by Lulu Publishing Service. I used them for my only other book, so I have no means of comparison. They explained the costs ahead of time produced a product I can be happy with.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey? The pros and cons?
Sam: I spend my days recording clinical notes into an electronic medical record. These are required by law, but likely will rarely be read. No interpretation is used in these notes. As Joe Friday of Dragnet asks. “Just the facts ma’am, just the facts.” Writing is different. The ability to shape a narrative and influence the outcome for a character is powerful. The struggle is having the work acknowledged and read. Marketing is every bit as challenging as writing.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Sam: The publishing industry is changing so quickly that it is full of chaos. My impression is that the traditional paths to publication are largely closed. I suppose that beginning my quest for publication at a rather advanced age makes me more impatient. I’ve finished a project and I want acclaim. I want a band to play and fireworks to celebrate my accomplishment. Instead I have a stack of over one hundred rejection slips from agents and publishers who have yet to request a sample or a synopsis before judging it “Not for us”. I understand the frustration beginning writers feel and the little nagging feeling that even the crappiest novel on the bottom shelf of the major stores is a better read than mine because they found a publisher.
But then… But then remember that writing is an art as well as an occupation. We create our projects like any other artist, to evoke emotion and desire along with a little knowledge and understanding of our world sprinkled in. When someone tells me they enjoyed my book or were emotionally moved, I don’t ask if they paid a retail price or borrowed a friend’s. I still consider that a win. My self-published book has the same text it would have if it had been traditionally created.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Sam: Everyone must weigh the options and make that judgment on their own. I made what I considered to be a credible effort and failed to get either an agent or a publisher. I could have rewritten yet again and resubmitted, but that seemed pointless since professionally written query letters failed to get a nibble. Since I may be more aware of father time than some of my colleagues, I went the self-published route. Would I do it again? I think I received a polished product with my first novel,Jackie, and my new effort, Joe Peas, is every bit as good.
Regarding income from the effort, I’m probably not the one to ask. My only respite is that when my wife complains about the money I spend on my book I can compare it to what I might otherwise be spending on golf.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Sam: I may not the best person to ask. I’m still more into taking advice than giving it. I would say to continually assess why you write, and who is your audience.
That decision will not only affect what you write, but also how and to whom you present it. If your story is time-sensitive and you don’t have an on-going relationship with an agent, self-publishing may be the best bet.
If the story is not time-sensitive and you have youth, time and energy enough to solicit an agent through conferences and other venues, seeking an agent and/or publisher could work.
And remember, advice is like a convenience store carton of milk. It has a very short expiration date.