Saturday, November 24, 2007

Second editions and the self-published author

A client recently self-published her first book, a short coaching guide that she takes with her to her seminars and workshops. While thrilled to have a book, she wasn't thrilled with her POD company's work. But if you know much about publishing -- POD or otherwise -- you know that once the book is typeset, small changes add up to big bucks. How can you make the most of this expensive process?

There's an important similarity between POD nonfiction books (like self-help, business, and academic books) and, say, the textbook industry. In the textbook industry, authors make their money by writing a book and then revising it every two years and selling the new editions. One book may go through nine editions or more. And the same is true of your POD book.

Something you'd like to change about the cover? Do you have testimonials or new examples you'd like to add, based on reader feedback? Has your subject matter become more newsworthy? Once you've published your first edition, start a file of everything you'd like to add or change. Keep track of who buys your book. Wait 18 months, then revise to your heart's content. Write a new introduction. Tweak the cover design. Now you have a second edition, and probably an even better book -- and because you've kept track of who's buying your book, your new edition has a built-in audience.

And the best news for my client? As a self-published author, she still owns the rights to her work, and can select a different printing or POD company the next time around.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Believable cruelty

Often I encounter writers struggling with how to portray a violent, cruel, abusive, or drug-addicted character in a human and believable way. There are so few messages or stories in mainstream culture that adequately explain why real human beings do bad things.

How do we get to the root of something we may not intuitively understand? We run the risk of judging our characters on one hand, or on the other, exonerating them. A good narrator will do neither -- readers will be suspicious of either an apologist or moralist for a narrator.

The best book I've encountered on the subject so far is FOR YOUR OWN GOOD: Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence, by Alice Miller. The book is, unfortunately, out of print, but there are many copies available through, and Try to find the 3rd edition or later if you can.