Wednesday, March 05, 2008

MY STORY: Kevin D. McCann

1.) Why did you choose to self-publish and what were your expectations?

I enjoy the entire creative process involved with publishing a book, not just the writing itself. It’s fun to walk through a bookstore and look at other book covers and get ideas for your own work. I used to work at Kinko’s Copies when I was in college (about 20 years ago) and a few people brought their own books to have them copied and bound. It was then that I realized I didn’t need to have my books published by a major publishing company to share them with others. I also wanted to have complete control over works with my name on them. A few years later, I published my first perfect bound book entitled Jackson Diamonds and in September 2007, I published my first POD book entitled Hurst’s Wurst.

My expectation was definitely not to become rich and famous. I just to share my knowledge with others, at least break even on my initial investment, and eventually earn a modest profit. I did expect to sell more copies of Jackson Diamonds, however, and as a result I ordered way too many offset printed copies that still sit in my basement! But it was a lesson learned (and I did eventually break even on the printing costs).

2.) Why did you select your specific publisher?

I’ve published my book through Lulu because it offered the least amount of risk and upfront costs. The books (I think) look just as good as ones from major publishing companies. As I’ve read more about self-publishing and POD, I plan to try one or two other companies for future books. But I’ve been very pleased using Lulu so far.

3.) How is it going so far? Are you achieving your goals?

Overall I’m pleased with how Hurst’s Wurst has been received and sales have met my personal expectations. I accepted at the beginning that it was a regional history book with somewhat limited appeal, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by sales I’ve made outside my home region.

4.) What advice would you give a person who has completed their manuscript and is considering self-publishing?

Be honest with yourself and don’t become overly enamored with your book. You may have the next Great American Novel ready to publish (and if you do, more power to you), but don’t inflate your sales expectations and end up with a large inventory sitting in your basement not selling as well as you had hoped. Set modest goals for on-hand inventory to satisfy readers who would like a signed copy, but don’t buy 1,000 copies of a book that may have limited appeal because the printer gives you a good deal.

I’m not one to toot my own horn, but to be a self publisher, you really have to be your best promoter. Write press releases and send them to newspapers in your area. Target groups that would be interested in your subject matter and make contact with them, arranging to speak and sign copies of your book. Be as creative as you can be with promotion!

Kevin D. McCann and Hurst's Wurst

Not every brave son of the South fought against Northern aggression during the Civil War. Some took a different stand and defended the Stars and Stripes rather than take up the Stars and Bars. It meant placing their lives and those of their families in peril and withstanding verbal and physical persecution from their friends and neighbors. Fielding Hurst raised a regiment of fellow Southern Unionists called the Sixth Tennessee Cavalry with men from Decatur, Gibson, Hardin, McNairy, Perry, Wayne, and Weakley counties. It was described by one Confederate soldier as “an ignorant posse of men led by vicious and unprincipled leaders” who were “the scourge and terror of the lower Eastern Counties of West Tennessee, and were as thoroughly detested and hated as any band of marauders who ever disgraced the name of soldiers.” Hurst’s Wurst describes their activities—both official and unofficial—and discusses the positive and negative aspects of their service during the Civil War.

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