Post #97 – Women’s Memoirs, Book Business – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler
Memoir Author Shares Insights into Decision to Self-Publish
Women’s Memoirs is delighted to welcome Destiny Allison today. We asked her to tell us about her publishing decision. We especially liked that she did her research, weighed the pros and cons, and then made a choice that works for her. If you already have your completed memoir or if you anticipate publishing in the future, then we think you’ll find valuable advice here.
But before I turn this over to Destiny, let me tell you a little about her and her new memoir Shaping Destiny. Destiny Allison is an artist, a business woman and a writer. Her work is collected by public institutions and private individuals internationally. In addition to her numerous awards for excellence in art, she was also named Santa Fe Business Woman of the year for 2011. Although we’re a bit late, congratulations Destiny.
In addition to being a full time artist, she is also a managing partner in La Tienda at Eldorado — a commercial complex, community center, and arts center in Santa Fe, NM. She is represented in prominent galleries across the country and owns her own gallery, Destiny Allison Fine Art, located at La Tienda.
And while art is her profession, Allison tells us that writing was her first love. Her early poems were published while she was a child and she received numerous awards during adolescence. The story of how she became a visual artist is told in her new memoir, Shaping Destiny: A quest for meaning in art and life.
The eloquence of Allison’s language dates back to her childhood when art was constantly discussed and debated by her father, a writer, and her mother, a painter. Born and raised in Santa Fe, N.M., Allison moved to Boston after college where she worked as a freelance journalist while raising her three children. It was there that she discovered her voice through sculpture. Predominantly self-taught, Allison apprenticed at a bronze foundry in Massachusetts, and later taught sculpture at the Attleboro Museum of Art and the Fuller Museum of Art, both in Massachusetts. In 1997, Allison returned to Santa Fe where she currently resides.
“Destiny, can you share with our readers your take on publishing? And, of course, we look forward to welcoming you back next week to discuss the writing of your memoir.”
Why I Chose to Self-Publish
by Destiny Allison
I am so glad you asked this question Matilda. It is a really important topic given the current climate in the book industry and I am grateful for the opportunity to talk about it.
Before I made any decision regarding publication of Shaping Destiny, I did a ton of research. For over 6 months, while the book was in final editing, I read absolutely everything I could about publishing. I looked at traditional publishers who might be a good fit for my book and read every blog post I could find about other author’s experiences.
Finally, when all was said and done, I realized that self-publishing was the right avenue for me. The fact is, traditional publishers will not publish a new author who doesn’t have a platform. They pay a $3,000 to $5,000 advance on royalties and do not pay for marketing. Then, if the book does manage to sell, the royalty rate is between 6% and 15%.
If I chose to try to publish through traditional channels, I would have had to go out of pocket to market the book myself anyway, I would potentially never be fully compensated for my work, and I would give up all rights to my book. That last one was the final straw. If the book were traditionally published and didn’t sell well in the first few months, it would die. I couldn’t let that happen.
Self-publishing via print on demand and digital (ebook) publishing made it affordable for me to get the book into the market. Royalty rates are considerably higher as an Indie author. In addition, by self publishing I can give the book the time it needs to find the right readers and will, eventually, sell enough copies to recoup my investment and start to get paid for my work.
Beyond the purely financial incentives, there were two other equally important factors in my decision. The first was the time consideration. Finding a publisher can take years. Then, assuming a publisher can be found, it takes a book about 2 years to hit the market once a contract has been signed. I simply didn’t want to wait that long.
The other factor was that Shaping Destiny doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre. Realistically, that meant that it might never be picked up by a traditional publisher and I eventually might have had to go the Indie route anyway.
Finally, weighing in changes in the industry as a whole and the respect self-published authors are starting to garner, the fact that many well known authors including Steven King and J.K Rowling are self-publishing now, and the ease of publication companies like CreateSpace are providing, my choice was obvious.
Ultimately, I realized that I could do an equal or better job publishing my book than any traditional publisher. Consequently, I spent time and money hiring editors and a graphic designer so the book would be as good as it could be. I learned a ton about marketing books on the web and put that knowledge to good use. I have a long way to go, and lots of hard work in front of me, but in the end I believe the book will be more successful and get into more readers hands than it would have if I had pursued the traditional publishing route.
It is possible that in the future I will decide to contract with a publisher for this book or another one, but in the meantime not only is my book selling and getting some really great reviews, I am connecting with other women and artists around the world and building a community that is simply wonderful. This community is proving to be as rewarding as the royalty checks that come each month and I suspect, in the long run, it will be more valuable.