Writers@Work: How to Publish Your Book without Breaking the Bank
August 11, 2020
Note From Rochelle
I’m hard at work revising my upcoming book, so if you email me, and I don’t respond quickly, that’s why!
Today I’m delighted to welcome my dear friend Jane Rubietta to the blog. We met many years ago at a writing conference led by Madeleine L’Engle. Since then, she’s published a gazillion books and spoken around the world. She’s here today to give you a quick overview of how to publish and market your book.
Writers@Work: How to Publish Your Book without Breaking the Bank
An Interview with Jane Rubietta
by Rochelle Melander
Congratulations on your new book. Can you tell us about it?
Brilliance: Finding Light in Dark Places, contains six weeks of readings, with a weekend Segue to deepen the experience and make it practical. It was a super fun project to compile, with the readings offering both consistent formatting and varied approaches. As a writing coach and instructor, I love experimenting with types of openings and closing, and love writing short pieces.
What inspired you to put together this book of devotions?
For one thing, we’ve never needed hope and light more! Honestly, I’ve wanted to write this for a long time, but just couldn’t pull myself together with a very busy speaking and travel calendar. And then, of course, we all stopped traveling, speaking engagements collapsed, and I began to seek how to offer relevant words during such a hard season for so many. Speaking and writing hope is part of my calling and is incredibly life giving to me, and to put this off any longer was deadly. Seriously, part of me was dying on the inside.
The other inspiration was a real deadline: After sweeping cancelations, I had a virtual women’s conference on August 1 and I really wanted to offer the book for that event. As coaches, we know the vital importance of deadlines in terms of motivation. That business of “I work best under pressure” is certainly true for me.
But, in spite of dilly-dallying for months before pushing forward, the timing of everything seems to be perfect. So don’t be discouraged when projects don’t move at a speed that you’d imagined. The world is waiting for your work, and it will be right on time. (Don’t let that excuse you from waiting until “someday” though.)
As a first-time indie publisher, what are some tips you can pass on to our readers?
- Expect a long learning curve. Be nice to yourself. I designed everything, start to finish, and every element took time to figure out.
- Titles: Do your research in terms of title given your genre and subject matter. I asked a select number of word-people to brainstorm titles, and there was zero consensus about the titles on the table. I was not crazy about any of them so I delayed more while I pondered, studied a thesaurus, and worked on other elements of the book. Don’t let codependence get in the way. Listen to experts, but you know what settles well in your soul. Go with the title that best fits YOU and your work. You’re the one who will sell it, and if you don’t like the title, it’s a strike against your motivation. The lack of consensus slowed me down enormously, until I finally resolved this principle in my soul.
- Figure out your monetary and time investment up front, so you can plan. The book conversion software, cover design program, understanding the options for print and distribution: these all took time and relatively modest expense, but add it in. The goal is not to carry debt for very long. You want to earn out your expenses so…
- You need a marketing plan. See tools and techniques below. 🙂
- Some helpful reader will let you know of a glaring error. Shrug, smile, thank them, keep track of them ALL (because there will be more) and fix them next time. There is likely a fee for uploading a revised manuscript, so collect the mistakes and make one upload.
- Most importantly, keep your WHY in front of you at all times: why do you want to do this? This helps push through the obstacles, as well as be sure the focus is on target.
I can see from Amazon that you’ve earned bestseller status. What tools or techniques helped you sell your book?
- Have a plan for launching the book. There are loads of book launch plans available, but essentially, remember the goal is not to publish a book. It’s to get the book into people’s hands. Because why? Because words make a difference, and poets and writers are key instruments of change and hope in the world. Thus, launching and marketing are not self-centered enterprises.
- It goes back to marketing, of course. Traditional publishers want to see your marketing plan. Well, you be that publisher and demand a plan from yourself. What will you do, when?
- I bought into a program (BookBrush.com) that makes cover design very easy. It also has super simple ad creation using the cover you created on their platform. This took some of the burden off creating from scratch.
- Emailing your people remains the best means of selling your book. If you don’t have much of a mailing list, then start offering things on social media that help you gather emails. “Message me your email, I’ll send you a free downloadable something or other.” Obviously there are a lot of email funnel types of regimes that promise effectiveness. I haven’t used those because I don’t like them myself. 🙂
- Other things on your marketing include blog tours, media interviews, and lots of value on social media. (The 80-20 rule, 80% of posts should be helpful, enlightening, etc. 20% sales. If not 90-10! People stop reading your input if you become a hawker.)
- Offer limited-time sales on the online retailer sites. The 99-cent ebook offer put my book in the #1 bestseller slot for new releases numerous times. Give everyone a breather, then come up with another discount for the paper-and-glue version.
This has been a trying year for a lot of people (understatement). How have you managed to keep writing through the challenges?
Indeed. I’ve been at a loss for words to describe the indescribable situations we find ourselves in. Any time I have a reaction I try to write it down, even if it isn’t organized. Take good notes on your soul. My primarily means of navigating challenges is journaling. It isn’t pretty but it is contemporary, front-lines stuff in terms of personal reflection on the larger world as well as on my own small self, and I include as much sensory detail as possible. Re-reading my entries has surprised me. It will you, as well—and you can use it later if not right now.
Also, I keep writing by setting up virtual meetings with my writers’ group of 28 years (I never want to show up empty-handed).
What are you reading now?
Sarah Bessey’s Out of Sorts, Eugene Peterson’s Run with the Horses, Robin Diangelo’s White Fragility, James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, Janet Evanovich’s Twisted 26 (it’s a diverse reading buffet!). Just finished Sarah Jane Stratford, Red Letter Days … among other books.
About the author. Jane Rubietta’s books have been featured in Crossings Book Club, as “Top Picks” in Today’s Christian Woman, and Book of the Week on Midday Connection. Jane is assistant coordinator and faculty member of Write-To-Publish Writer’s Conference, where she finds enormous joy in helping others follow their God-given dreams. Visit her online to learn more about her books and services: https://janerubietta.com/