Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?
Back in 2000, I was the assistant manager of Bookstar in Memphis, one of those tiny book retailers that B&N snatched up in the 80s. It’s in an old retro movie theater, where Elvis’s movies used to premiere, with leopard print carpet and neon lights. It was the ideal career setting for a book lover like me, but I soon found out I knew nothing about books, at least not about the industry itself. I’d never even heard of J.K. Rowling; I thought she was a man!
A local author by the name of Corey Taylor came in one day promoting his 178 page novel, The Dinner Club . With its plain white cover and black letters, it wasn’t much to look at, but it didn’t matter. I was talking to a real live author! We booked Corey for an author signing/discussion and about 40 people showed up, standing in line to get a signed copy and asking questions about the book. Corey said it was the best feeling in the world. I wanted to feel that too, to have someone buy and read my book. I’d been penning short stories and poems since grade school, and just dreamed of being a famous author some day.
After the event, I asked Corey how he got published. He told me. And two years later, when I’d finished a manuscript, I was giving Xlibris my credit card number.
My expectations? To be a published author and walk back into Bookstar and see my book on the shelf some day. Oh, and to be interviewed by Barbara Walters. I at least got half of that.
Why did you select your specific publisher?
In 2003, I paid for that publishing package through Xlibris. Like many, I knew nothing about self-publishing at the time. I’d written a book and wanted to see it in print as quickly as possible. By 2006, I was following the Lulu trend. I liked their free services and quick and easy set-up. In 2008, I started my own imprint with another fellow author. We use CreateSpace and have our own ISBNs, and hope to eventually tap into using Lightning Source one day.
I like CS’s easy functionality. I’ve had no problems with their customer service. Their printing and shipping is quick. Even without their Pro-Plan option, their pricing structure allows your book to remain affordable and for you to be profitable.
How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?
After I learned the ropes of self-publishing and knew I wasn’t going to get rich at it, I went back to my first goal of just wanting to get readers to buy my book. Goal accomplished! As for Barbara, I’m still waiting on her call. But I love hearing from “blind” readers out there that I’ve never met before and learning what they thought of my work. As an author, it truly is the best feeling in the world.
What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?
Don’t expect that just because you publish a book, everyone will want to read it. And don’t expect those who would want to read your book to be able to find it without your assistance.
Even when working in a bookstore, we never had the book the customer was looking for all of the time. These days, thanks to the web, there’s no reason you can’t find your audience. Never give up looking for them.
BIO: Shannon Yarbrough is the author of The Other Side of What first published with Xlibris in 2003, and re-released under his own imprint this year. His second book, Stealing Wishes was first published with Lulu in 2008, and re-released under his own imprint in 2009. His third book, Are You Sitting Down?, is due out later this year. Visit him online at http://www.shannonyarbrough.com/
If you would like to participate in the My Story Column, please send your responses to the questions above to podpeep at gmail dot com with the subject line of My Story. Please include a short bio, a link to your website and/or blog, and a link to whatever book you happen to be promoting at the moment along with a good quality cover jpeg. You may be as brief or as long-winded as you like.