Friday, November 1, 2013

A Small Press is Born

The True Story is - book publicist Jessica Glenn of Mind Buck Media, was the speaker at an event on May 11, 2013 and Therese was the coordinator. Jessica had already checked out this site and as she and Therese met in person that first time, Jessica stated, "If you have a workbook, I have a publisher for you." Ten days later, first contact was made, and someday we'll all be saying... the rest is history. 
It was a busy four months from first contact to published book, so we asked Shelley for her story. Though there's many layers to this story, here's how an elementary school teacher became a small press publisher. 
Shelley Says: My third grade teacher was Mrs. Grant. She made such a positive impression on me that I decided that very year, that I was going to be an elementary school teacher when I grew up.

I earned my bachelor’s degree in education at Oregon State University, and got my first job, as a kindergarten teacher, the year after graduation. I spent the next sixteen years working as a teacher, primarily with fifth grade students. During that time I grew to love children’s picture and fiction books, and started a private library of my own.

When our daughter, Caitlyn, was born, I chose to be an at home mom. From the time she was old enough to walk, my husband, Roy, and I began reading aloud to her every night before bed—and continued to do so through her grade school years.

Once Caitlyn started kindergarten, I began volunteering in her classrooms and that continued through grade school as well. I also substituted at her school and often took my classes to the library for check out, became familiar with what was popular with the kids, and added to our home library each year.

When our little girl moved on to junior high, volunteering opportunities in the classroom were scarce, so I began spending two days a week in the school’s library, shelving books, helping kids find the books they wanted, and doing checkout duties. That was my introduction to young adult novel series. I worked there for three years, and when Caitlyn was a sophomore in high school, I switched over to volunteering in that library.

Shelley C. Moore - Publisher/Editor (and Roy!)
Gazebo Gardens Publishing
It was during her senior year in high school that I made the decision to start a publishing business. A close friend had written several books and wanted to get them published. He didn’t want to self-publish and be a “vanity press”, as he put it, and came to me for help. He knew about my teaching experience, about my private book collection, and about my time volunteering in Caitlyn’s school libraries. He also needed my help with editing—which is something I enjoy. He’d self-published one book through iUniverse, and was not happy with the results. He asked me if I’d be willing to learn how to get a book published through more traditional channels, rather than self-publishing channels.

With Caitlyn growing up and soon to leave the nest for college, I was ready and able to invest the time in a new career. I knew I’d need something constructive to do where I could use my teaching and volunteering skills, and in an area where I’d enjoy my work. My experience teaching, volunteering in libraries for children of all ages, our extensive home library of children’s and young adult books, and my love of reading and editing, all seemed like a good base on which to build an independent publishing company. So, I agreed to give it a try, and help my friend publish his books.

It took me two years to learn the business. I spent a lot of time researching publishing online, reading articles and books on the subject. I joined several organizations, including Book Publishers Northwest, the Independent Book Publishers Association, a national organization, and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. All these organizations have websites with information about publishing and offer resources to independent publishers, and some have meetings and  newsletters. There are also many other sources for publishing information like CreateSpace, BookBaby, and blog sites.

I had to learn about ISBNs, BowkerLink, copywriting, the Library of Congress registration system, and companies like GoDaddy. Then there's the details about how to properly format books for printing, locate printers who could do POD (print on demand) and small runs, research distributors who would except books from small publishers, and how to get a book reviewed. It was a slow, arduous process, and I sought help from experts in sales, marketing, publicity, and printing for advice as well researching online and reading articles. It takes a real time and energy commitment to start a small publishing business.

Today, after a lot of trial and error, many mistakes, a lot of research and expert advice, an extremely challenging learning curve, financial and moral support from Roy, and hours, and hours, and hours of hard work, Gazebo Gardens  Publishing currently has eight authors under contract, and we’re talking with several more about publishing their books. It’s a really wonderful feeling to help new authors get their “babies” published and out into the world—no matter what the genre. Caitlyn is now my partner in our little business, we have three imprints to cover all ages and genres of books, and we’re looking forward to success in the coming years.

Thanks Shelley! This really is a team effort. 
And that team includes authors, publishing professionals, and booksellers. So here's some more tips...

 Don’t undercut or bypass the store. Want to piss off a bookstore owner? Hand out bookmarks that say “available at Amazon.” Tell people they can get your other books at the store down the street. Tell customers to call you direct for more copies instead of coming back to the store. Even worse, sell books out of your trunk right after the signing. The store has worked hard to put this event together, spent money on promotion, and showed their faith in you by providing space in the store. Return the favor and send them business.
If you’re doing a reading, bring a personal copy of your book. Do not take a new book from the bookstore’s stock, crease the pages, and read from it during your talk!

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