It has been a little over two weeks since my last entry on this subject, and here is what has been happening:
1) The most exciting thing is that, this week, I was FINALLY able to order 100 Advance Review Copies of my book (ignore the back cover; that's still a work in process) to be sent to the Jewish Book Council in advance of the presentations that will be given at the end of May. (I’ve been assigned to May 24, and hope to provide an update that night or the following day about how it went). [Advance Review Copies are what they sound like – books that are distributed to reviewers. They may not have all the obligatory information, such as the Copyright page or an Index, if relevant, and are usually marked as Not Proofread (even if it has been) because it takes multiple rounds of proofreading, by several people, to catch every typo and grammatical error. Plus, I’m reading the book now as a reader rather than the writer, and that is leading me to make a few text changes)]. Although it hadn’t occurred to me before, this is why books, on the day they are released, always have blurbs on the back cover. Ideally, the author can afford to wait 3 months to get reviews before going to press. I hadn’t planned on having that much ‘down time’ before the October release date, but getting ready for the Jewish Book Council presentation really accelerated things. ARCs, as they’re called, are not supposed to be sold, but it’s apparent that reviewers do sell them as we have, on several occasions, bought books online that were review copies.
2) As I will be in Miami (one of my sons lives there) prior to going to NY to speak, I researched what independent bookstores exist there. I’m going to contact the owner or buyer, introduce myself and ask him or her to read my book and consider carrying it in the store. One of our highly regarded local independent bookstores has already agreed to read and consider carrying my book, so I’m going to pursue that strategy in every city in which I find myself, including NY. [NOTE TO SELF: Add to tasks ‘contact independent bookstore owners/managers this week].
3) I am also researching which publications review self-published (or independently published) books. The major publications, like The New York Times Book Review, would not do that, but there are other publications that will, and I need to identify them. Fortunately, I have that 3 month lead time that they say they require.
4) I wasn’t happy with the opening to the book and I rewrote and rewrote and rewrote it. I think what I finally came up with works.
5) I applied for a PCIP code. This stands for Publishers Cataloguing-in-Publication. It’s what you need if you want your book to be available to libraries. Large publishers’ books get CIP (stands for the same thing, minus the P) codes, but small publishers are eligible for this alternative code. Not everyone chooses to get a PCIP (of course, you need to pay for this, too), but I think there’s good reason for my book to be represented in libraries. Sooooooo, on or around October 1, I will request that each of you who read or follow my blog contact your local library and ask if they carry The Accidental Anarchist, and encourage them to get it. This is grass-roots marketing, and even if it doesn’t feel completely ‘clean,’ that’s how it’s done. Close to the time that the book becomes available, I’ll also need to register it with Bowkerlink, which is how books get listed in Books in Print. [NOTE TO SELF: Check on lead time before it appears].
6) I haven’t done a lot of public speaking over the past few years, and I want to do good job at the Jewish Book Council event. ‘A good job’ means that I would get many invitations to participate in the Jewish Book Fairs held in many cities between late October and early December. The Jewish Book Fairs’ attendees are a critical market for me, so it’s important that I do ‘a good job.’ But how good can one be with only two minutes to speak? I wrote out what I wanted to say, the points that I thought were important to highlight, and timed myself. Over 9 minutes. Cut. Down to 7-1/2 minutes. And so on. But I also found a Speech Consultant to help me. (That may seem excessive when it comes to a two-minute speech, but that’s exactly why it’s so important). He restructured (what I thought was) my perfect, two-minute script, but I knew he was right because, when I practiced the speech based on my own script, I had difficulty making certain transitions between points. I still had some difficulty with his script, but a second meeting a week later resulted in something that I felt comfortable with and that met the time constraint (with a little left over). He also gave me a few minutes of coaching on where to pause, which words to accentuate, etc. I thought it was very worthwhile, even though it means I have to do a bit of ‘acting,’ which is not in my nature. But all I have to do is remember why ‘a good job’ is important, and I can do it. I now need to practice the speech every day until May 24 so that it feels natural to me, and so I can do it even when standing nervously in front of 100 people.
I need to stop here for today, even though I’ve only covered the activities of a few days, because I have other work to do! More about the Process of Self-Publishing in a few days.