Why did you choose self-publishing?
I chose self-publishing because I wanted to have a strong influence on the illustrations and design of the Quincy the Horse books. I was new to the publishing process and attended a group sponsored by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. There I was coached that in traditional publishing the writer submits the manuscript and the publishing house takes it from there. I had an illustrator that did beautiful work and was supportive of self-publishing, so I decided to go with self-publishing.
Why did you select your specific self-publishing company?
I chose the company from the internet because they offered a cafeteria of options that seemed competitively priced and met with them. I was very happy as things progressed on my first book with their design department, website set up, etc. Artistically they had a commitment to the quality I wanted and I was very satisfied with the printer they suggested. On my second book, there were some problems that caused delays and the company did not stand by mistakes they made due to lack of communication between their departments. The book had to be reprinted and this was both stressful and costly. I am no longer working with the company.
As far as the first goal of continuing to complete the Quincy the Horse series, I love the creative side of writing, book design and self-publishing and my connection with readers of the books. I have a good collaborator in illustrator, Michelle Black. The initial goal of bringing the series to life and getting it known has been very exciting. Of course there are always new readers to reach.
In terms of promotion and sales I would say that promoting a series is more of a marathon than a sprint. The first book was mainly promoted in the equestrian niche through attending equestrian events on the national, regional and local level. This has made the goal of building our brand reachable because Michelle and I are both life long equestrians. We do at least 50% of our sales at equestrian events.
The second book has been promoted to the traditional book trade and that has been a learning curve, especially since the traditional book trade is undergoing so much change. Getting the book out into bookstores has been more of a challenge than I expected even when they want to order it. I had never realized how much this process has been automated and how much of a roadblock that can be to small independent publishers.
I am doing more and more direct to reader promotion through the internet, Amazon and social media like Facebook and Twitter. It all seemed a little overwhelming at first but we seem to be getting the word out about the books to more and more readers. I have come to really enjoy the social media and especially my blog, Pathfinder Pursuits. I have made a lot of wonderful contacts through my social media activities.
A special goal for me is to build a new generation of young horse lovers and I find it rewarding to meet so many people and organizations that share a love of horses and are interested in the well being of horses. Horses are amazing animals and we need to raise awareness about exciting new things like equine assisted therapies and equine rescue that are good for humans and horses.
Tell us a bit about your latest release and what have you been doing to promote it?
We have a lot going on in terms of new release projects. Quincy Moves to the Desert was chosen for PW Select’s Spring Issue. That is the Independent Publishing publication of Publisher’s Weekly and I did a book signing at Book Expo America, June 6 at the Mom’s Choice Booth.
Our biggest promotion efforts for the summer are centered on the iBooks release of Quincy Moves to the Desert for iPad the end of June. Quincy Finds A New Home will be available for iPad as well. We have various ads coming up in national equestrian expo programs, a Facebook campaign to celebrate the iPad release and author events at national equestrian expos.
What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?
Things are so changeable in the publishing and bookselling world that I have a hard time giving advice. Reviews are still important. Even if it means a longer period before release, it is worth trying to obtain reviews ahead of time. Also the promotional programs offered by the Independent Book Publishers Association are invaluable and cost effective.
I have never regretted self-publishing but I see the options changing a lot. Big companies like Amazon and Apple getting involved and there are fewer small independent companies offering self-publishing services. Another development is that many people are publishing their work in eBook form first. I would advise people to be very careful of using the programs at Amazon and Apple because while it might seem like it will make things more simple, some of the agreements may limit your ability to take your work elsewhere once it is published. Check out companies that are independent and do not want involvement in rights to your work or distribution.
Contact Info for Camille Matthews