So, a little more about the Self-Publishing process (which some call 'vertically integrated publishing,' since the publisher/author does it all, from the creative work, to the marketing and financial aspects of selling a book).
I had always thought that the Jewish Book Fairs that are held around the U.S. between late October and early December would be a critical market for me. What I hadn't known was that they were all coordinated through a single entity - - the Jewish Book Council. That was good news, because it meant that I didn't have to contact the coordinators in each city individually, but there was also bad news: I learned this only ten days before the application to the JBC was due (in March)! It wasn't that the application was so tough, but at that time I hadn't yet decided on a cover or title.
In order to be eligible, I needed to guarantee that I would provide 100 copies of the book to the JBC; they are due in NY by May 1. Yikes! I was still writing and editing! Fortunately, the editor/proofreader I hired (in Australia) prioritized my job, understanding the urgency of the need, and the graphic artist (in Russia) assured me that he could do his part in a few days. So for the past month or longer, I worked 12 hours a day to finish the book and get it in good shape. My hours were nothing like those of my grandfather and fellow bakers in Warsaw, but it has been awfully hard on my back to sit for that long for so many weeks (and I'm definitely paying for it).
Just the other day, I was finally able to send the text files to the designer so he could do his part. I selected a printing company (had to research several of them thoroughly, as cost couldn't be the most important factor -- quality and distribution are) and finished setting up my account with them so that in less than 48 hours I could, theoretically, begin printing (assuming I have the digital/PSF files in hand). Printing takes 3-5 business days (or, if I pay a rush fee, 2-3 business days).
Then there is an alphabet soup of other steps (and costs): Choosing and registering a business name, running ads for four consecutive weeks notifying the public I will be Doing Business As (DBA) "Crosswalk Press;" buying codes -- those things we're used to seeing on the back of books but completely ignore: ISBNs, EANs, bar codes, LCCN, etc., which make it possible for bookstores, libraries, and customers shopping at Amazon to order the book. You can't get all the codes you need in one place (unless you hire a company to do it for you, but then you also get to pay their markup). And they don't all happen on the spot. I applied for my ISBNs a week ago and just got them. Now I can get a bar code, but I have to decide on the price, first. And after I have those, I can start applying for the other codes, but nothing happens before the ISBNs. I also have to file an application with the Library of Congress in order to get an LCCN, and go through another organization to get a PCIP.
But the step forward I referred to in the title is that I've been invited to speak at the Jewish Book Fair's "Meet the Author" event, which will be held in late May in New York. That means I get to 'audition' in front of 100 Jewish book fair coordinators, reviewers, etc.I get two minutes to talk about the book, and between what I say, how I say it, and how well I speak, the individual Jewish Book Fair coordinators will decide whether to invite me to the Jewish Book Fairs being held in their cities.
So I'm signing off today in order to write my speech, and buy my codes, and get a San Diego Business License, and file (but first read) my paperwork with the company that will print my book.
In the coming days and weeks, I'll print some more excerpts from the book that I am not including in the text. Keep checking back.