Friday, December 5, 2014

Breaking through the barriers of Standardization. Part II - Going the Indie Way ….

I knew was of course this was going to cost me money. I also knew that the message of the novel, the tragic reality of Gypsies behind the prejudice, needed to get out there. Gypsies/Romawere once again being persecuted across Europe, reminiscent of the holocaust.  With that in mind I had been putting money aside for years before I started the endeavor.

  1. The novel was finally in the shape I had worked hard to achieve. This is not possible, to my mind, without the help of equally dedicated editors – my first, essential expense.
  2.  I then went the traditional rout - Query letters to Agents, receiving in return some encouraging, some standard pre-printed replies, i.e. landing on the slush pile, probably unread, i.e. waste of time, but I did my duty.
  3. The choice now was between self-publishing and Independent Press. Here I had learned from writer friends that, at that time, self-publishing closed many doors, reviews in major literary magazines, selling to major bookstores, etc. So I opted for Independent Presses. Here the search livened up. More dialogue, more interest, more people truly dedicated to literature, willing to take a risk. Then I came across the best match for me - Wilderness House Press. Its owner and manager, Steve Glines, a writer, designer/computer wiz, above all a man truly dedicated to literature as an art form. We hit it off. He loved the novel, I loved his work and dedication. We have had close collaboration ever since.
  4. Marketing. Essential of course. As I was told by several successful writers, as much work as writing the novel. But, a writer can’t be a fox that hides in a hole. I then, in 2010 at the vigorous age of 65 started Facebook, Twitter, Linked in with great success, mostly because I actually enjoyed it. I also came across a huge food chain of people trying to make a living off us struggling writers. I don’t blame them, and I don’t knock them. They have a lot of knowledge to impart. On the other hand, I needed actual results, sales, for the writer, in this case, me. Again, after intensive search, I came across the perfect professional for me - Denise Cassino. Denise specializes in turning your book into an Amazon Bestseller. Again, she loved my book, and so she did. Thanks to her, a European agent approached me, again a wonderful professional. Pauline Villain. Unfortunately, she tragically died suddenly. Last but not least, a word about Amazon. I did deal with one major book chain, Barnes and Nobles. They did sell all the copies, but did not ask for more. Whereas Amazon was and is there for me. Right now, for the struggling writer, I feel it is our best ally.
  5. Back to what now I consider my home turf – Wilderness House Press/Steve Glines, my publisher, Denise Cassino, my marketing expert, between the three of us helping each other, collaborating, starting a marketing/selling campaign. I did sell over 2,000 copies. Not bad for an unknown, and a first novel. Friends, another essential, helped finding places for book signings; I did a number of radio interviews, helped by an outfit that specializes in that. Last but not least, Independent Book Stores. Here I want to mention a spectacular one in Vermont, the Northshire Book Store. As a whole, these stores are struggling side by side with us writers, and should be supported by both readers and writers.

I am now working on a sequel to Dosha, flight of the RussianGypsies. So, unfortunately I have to cut back on my marketing efforts for novel no.1.  I will, however keep in close contact and continue to work with Steve Glines, my publisher, and Denise Cassino, my marketing person – my home turf, to me so reminiscent of how publishing in this country used to be. 

To those of you interested, I am open to further questions.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Breaking through the barriers of Standardization. Part I – The Facts.

Yesterday I went to see the movie ‘The Theory of Everything’. I was intrigued days before as I watched unusual amounts of advertising on TV. Then the movie was first shown in theaters far from the center of town movie houses. It was and is of course an art film trying to fight the odds of getting sufficient viewership to make a profit. Without money and support, art in whichever form, cannot survive. This one will make it - an excellent movie, great marketing. It also, like many works of art, had a long run-up time.

What intrigues me the most is of course the similar obstacles faced by Indie Movies and by Independent Presses. During America’s great literary past, success depended on the cooperation of publisher, editor and writer, plus small enthusiastic bookstores. All of them were passionate literati. They were willing to take risks, and they did, and they were successful.

Since then, publishing was taken over by corporations. Agents became their gatekeepers. The main goal was follow the market, diminish risk as much as possible, bookstores turned into chains. It leaves the artistic writer facing an impenetrable wall with no visible traditional doors. The author has to go it alone, looking for new ways, and if he has no money to spend he is basically stranded.

That was the reality when I finished my novel Dosha, flight of the Russian Gypsies, a novel with a strong message and insight into one of the most persecuted Western minorities, I looked at the market place and decided I must find a different route.