Zeroing in on Self-Publishing: da bidness!

Holy crap, Ms. Kozak, I wrote 100,000 plus words in a month. Of course, I cheated. I wrote them all in my head a year before and just sat down at the typewriter and typed them. Except, it wasn’t a typewriter but my old crummy and hoary Powerbook G4 15″ laptop. I just pretended I was at my manual Royal pounding out the words. I knocked out my second novel, Inn of the Star Crossed, 80,000 words, in only three months, not including research into the 19th Century. And make no mistake, as they say on the NaNoWriMo website, according to Ms. Kozak, it was a lot of crap. Yes, I wrote a load of crap. It was hacker crap, right from the heart and the bottom of my soul, but still, it needed something. I spent a year editing my first book. I had help from every and anyone.

Ms. Kozak, if you want to beef up the word count, you can always put in a dissertation on whales in the middle of your novel or a ship’s manifest. My favorite is to put in a boatload of “thats.” Indeed, remember that 100,000+ word novel? I’ve reduced it to only 96,000 words though I still call it my 100,000 word novel. I trimmed five thousand “thats” from my novel plus “verys,” “as’s,” “thens” and many more of the so called forbidden words. But that is the business of writers, right? Or is it?

Kim and I already have four businesses we manage. We have the inn and the guests who come to the inn. Take a gander at the Inn N Around blog. We have the painting school! We have the fiber art school! Not to mention the workshops blog. Kim is responsible for these blogs now. I started off doing most of the writing for our workshops blog but she has taken over. And, of course, our sweetest venture, Life By Chocolate. You are already on the LBC blog so no need for me to put a link to it.

We not only handle all the accounting, ordering, cooking and managing of our four businesses but also all the marketing, advertising, making and selling of chocolates, scheduling of teachers and, of course, the famous answering of the phones. Who then, I ask you, was the brilliant wunderkind who decided to add another business to this crazy mix? Whoever he or she is, tell them to stop it. Oh, that’s right, I have added the writing and selling novels to my workload.

“Now hold on there a second pard!” I hear my devoted guests and students saying back to me. “Doesn’t Kim also manage Crazy By Design AND create all the art quilts for it? Isn’t she revitalizing the Esty store? Doesn’t Kim also manage your gallery space? Huh? Huh?” My answer to that is, “Yes.” Yes, Kim is doing quite a bit. And so, instead of hunkering down and concentrating on our 4, no, 5 businesses, I have started another one, Brylcreem not withstanding.

“But now,” you tell me in a firm voice, “now you have decided to self-publish! Are you completely nuts? Looney? Around the bend? A full house short of a deck?” I made that last metaphor up. Nice, huh?

And that, gentle reader, you know who you are, is my problem. How can I possibly justify adding another business. I am definitely a manager and could easily become a writer/manager rather than “a writer, not a manager” of Charles Stross fame because I do have the business savvy. I freely admit that Kim has more business savvy than I do even if she isn’t as tough minded as I am or as some people call me, a hard ass. Though, she is developing that side of her business skills rapidly, much to my chagrin. (No, sweetie, I wont spend more money than the budget allows for fixing the outside lighting. Not without your approval. Never, my love. I promise. Honest.) And as I said in a comment on Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog post The Business Rusch: The Logic Behind Self Publishing “to recommend to anyone, especially painters and writers, not to worry about business is insane.” (If you read the post, please note that I did put in two line-returns at the end of each paragraph and yet the blog software only put in one. Ouch. I wish the comment function of whatever blog software Ms. Rusch is using had a preview function.) Having said and meant that, I am staring at adding not just self-publishing to my writing tasks but a sixth business to our already strained business life, we have no other, and busy marriage. (While I was commenting on Ms. Rusch’s blog, an old French chef and restauranteur, who is a great customer, interrupted me to buy some chocolate, par exemple.)

Many of you are probably thinking the exact thoughts I thought while I wrote this. I have a great life at the inn with my wife, Kim. I have wonderful friends who work with us. Bob helps me in the kitchen and does all the cleaning I don’t have time for. Nancy is my right hand woman. She’s my sous and pastry chef and she is a more than competent stand-in as chocolatier. I’d go one more step and call her the chocolatier, relegating me to helper. I did train her and she has learned more than she knows about chocolate. Our two waitresses, Pippy née Kadi, and Rebecca née Regina, are fantastic, bright, sunny and wonderful. Why would you want to change that? Why add more headache?

Our guests and students are a joy. They come from around the world and all walks of life. We have brilliant students who are all excellent artists in their own right. We are lucky and blessed. And those who know me know I don’t toss around words like “blessed” easily or often. Finally, on Facebook, I have reconnected with many of my high school pals and chums as well as old college buddies and pals. I already mentioned my old cronies from software. When am I going to have time to administer my publishing business, self or not? When am I going to have time to learn how to become an agent, never mind a publisher? When will I have time to writer? Maybe Mr. Stross has a point. This is worse than academics.

“There are three difficulties in authorship: to write anything worth publishing, to find honest men to publish it, and to find sensible men to read it.” –Charles Caleb Colton

Stay tuned next week for the Counter Point.


  • Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is great, as well as the content!

  • Aaron David says:

    I’d always intended to use the trad’ method of publishing; I started writing my tome in ’97, just before the birth of our 3rd child. He’ll be 16 in October!!!
    The word ‘ebook’ was never used then, remember dial-up? I only ventured onto the internet in 2002.As time progressed I could see the book business going the same way as all other media so committed to the ebook revolution. When I finished the book in 2007 I assumed once I had a website my future was secure. Durr!

    I’d be interested to see how yours goes. Lots of people still go on about the feel & even the smell of ‘proper’ books & how they hate the idea of ebooks.

    So anyway these two vampires are snogging when suddenly……

    • Mark LaPolla says:

      Back in the 90s, my wife, Kim was publishing ebooks. A small publisher set up a business publishing self help ebooks in the form of interviews. Or, at least, that’s the way Kim did it. Kim interviewed herself and wrote about it. She didn’t have to do much marketing other than tell her friends to please buy the book.

      As Kris Rusch writes a lot about how to be a writer and about self-publishing. (I love her blog design, btw.) Her business blog is worth reading. I’ve enjoyed her articles. She took Charles Stross to task. I understand where he’s coming from. Read this post (click here) where I go into more detail about Kristine’s and Charles’ point of view on publishing. Anything that cuts into

      Do I really want to manage another business? I have 4 already. (My chocolate factory, our art workshops, and, and our inn, and all their associated blogs, several of which I write for.) Kim, my wife, has and an etsy shop. So, +1 businesses for her. And I am writing 2-4K words a day. Do I want to add another whole business to my list of things to do? Right now, I don’t have to do more than write queries and collect rejection slips, and write blog posts. Do I want to start another business and cut into my writing time? Maybe later. I have too many irons in the fire as it is. If I get traction with a small publisher, would you call indie? Or would you only call self-publishing on Amazon, for example, indie?, then I might self-publish the ones they reject.

      Kris may have grown up in the publishing world of the 80s but I grew up in the publishing world of the 70s and it’s hard to let go. I am well published in nonfiction, mostly research. After all, it was publish or perish for most of my life. (I was a research scientist and later an engineer.) I’ve had fiction published as well at small and literary magazines.

      I have used this blog to blow off a lot of steam and to also try and show other people what I have been going through. I decided not to just writer articles, the way Rusch does, but give a blow by blow. I have started with some soul searching articles early on and then have reported what I’ve been going through writing and sending out my work to publishers. So far I have two novels out to publishers. Keep your fingers crossed. Nancy Cleary tried to convince me to self-publish. She made some great points. I’m still thinking about it. In the meantime, the mussy haired god of writing is still squeezing me like his own personal tube of Brylcream. Ouch.

    • Mark LaPolla says:

      One other point, I have done so many start-ups and created so many companies, I do not have everyone else’s anxiety about trying to start up a business. I already know how much work that is going to be. That’s what’s stopping me. I know it will cut into my writing time. And worse than that, my writing business will drag my sweat wife into it if I decide to self-publish.

  • Aaron David says:

    …..When suddenly a werewolf turns up & falls in love with the girl. Then they gaze out of windows & look miserable for 4 films making a fortune. BASTARDS!

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