Whatever it is, it’s been three years in incubation. Over the course of these years I’ve often mentioned my book, my interviewees, my agent, my excitement and my depression over the labor of my first non-fiction book, Midlife Mavericks: Women Reinventing Their Lives in Mexico.
I was lucky enough to find a well-reputed agent in New York and she spent a year trying to hook a major publisher. Alas, to no avail. She encouraged me, however, to self-publish based on the positive response she’d had. “They [the editors] liked it,” she said, “but just didn’t think the market was big enough. ‘How many women would really consider moving to Mexico?’ they asked me.”
I told her she should have replied, “And how many men who read “Mt. Everest” plan on climbing it?”
So, I began another new career. Self-publishing. I acquired all the best books, studied the most popular web sites and belonged to the most active self-publishing groups. I never do anything half-assed – unless it’s something I don’t like doing! Come to think of it, a lot of things fall into that category – like house cleaning and gardening, for example.
The book was about half finished at the point I decided to self-publish. So, I restructured it the way I wanted to write it, not the way the agent wanted me to. Such power I felt!
As I began to peel away the layers of onion surrounding the ever-changing landscaping of publishing in general, self-publishing in specific and the subset of publishing on demand, I realized my timing was perfect. The technology had been perfected, the industry was still new so I had some negotiating power and I could easily research all my options from my lovely new home office in Ajijic.
Outside the swallows are building their nests, the butterflies flit from flower to flower and the sound of the waterfall provides a perfect background for the sounds of Mother Nature. My skylight and expanded office space are a joy to work in. My two dogs lie in their doggy beds listening to the sounds of my keyboard as saxophone music wafts into my office from my living room.
And today, July 31, 2000, I sent my manuscript off to the publishers.
Now why, you may be thinking, would all of this be of interest to you, my readers? Because, (in my humble way of thinking), so many of you have asked, “But what do you do with your time when you’re retired?” The answer seems to be “Anything I want to do.”
The Internet is a marvelous, stupendous, superflagalistic invention designed not for business people and schools, but for retirees!
Okay, I exaggerate.
But you get the picture. Pick a subject. Research it. Publish it. All without leaving your office. Yes, I know, some of you want to go outside and enjoy the weather, the golfing, the tennis, and the markets. Go ahead. It’s okay.
I’ve acquired and learned Acrobat in the process of formatting my manuscript so the print-on-demand computers can skip the process of typesetting and layout. Check out your Kinko’s. I understand they already have machines where you can have a book printed on demand, paperback style with a glossy cover, in minutes. (I’ve only heard this. I haven’t actually seen one.)
I found a wonderful designer in the next village to design my cover. That was a great process. She’s become an expert at all the graphics software and watching her start with a concept while we “what if’d?” and ended up with the design I have, seemed like a miracle. You can’t see it until next month though.
Then, ta-da, the unveiling. That’s when I’ll wonder if I’ve had a baby or laid an egg. Can you imagine the tension? Will they like it? Will they buy it? What if it flops?
Aha, there’s the final link. The marketing. Now, while the publisher is getting the proofs ready, I need to change focus and put on my marketing hat. How do I reach people who might be interested in the book? How do I market on the Internet? Well, I’ve already built my web site. No! You can’t see it yet. All the reviews aren’t in. Listen to this. I found a way to build a website without knowing one line of HTML code. I built it for free, in just a few days, and it will be housed for free. Is that the right word? Maybe hosted is better.
Okay, I’ll give that part away now. It’s a site called homestead.com. If you have some free time and want to build your own site, I highly recommend it. No, I get no commission. Just don’t be running any other software when you use it.
I’ve subscribed now to marketing groups, purchased some marketing e-books and am looking towards book shows, opportunities to speak to groups and hundreds of other tried and true and untried ways to market.
Then I go on vacation to England and Germany with one of my best friends during the second half of September for a much-deserved rest. We’ll hit all the beer-drinking tents at the Oktoberfest and perhaps the wine one, too.
Yes, I’m also one of the world’s worst procrastinators, I should have submitted this column a week ago. But because I had to get the manuscript finished, formatted and off by the 31st, my forgiving editor gave me a few days of grace. So, I hope you didn’t mind returning in a few days to read this.
Enough this month about my book , my baby, my passion, perhaps even my purpose? Yikes, I’m so excited I can’t stand it.