Q: Why should I consider self-publishing?
A: Self-publishing is
an alternative to the highly competitive world of trade publishing.
Most self-publishing authors have written a book that serves
a small or underserved market that they have identified and researched.
Some examples of successful self-published books are how-to,
inspirational, organizational or geographical histories, and
sometimes even novels intended for a particular niche market.
Some self-published books have gone on to do exceptionally well:
the original Chicken Soup for the Soul book was financed
by its author. By self-publishing, an author takes invests the
amount of money and time necessary to ensure a quality product
that is an extension of his or her own knowledge, experience,
and/or storytelling skill.
Q: What are the risks of self-publishing?
A: With the advent of digital printing, authors no longer
have to order hundreds of books; they can order as many or as
few as they want, and if they run out, more can be ordered with
a mouseclick. Still, there is some start-up expense involved,
but not like it was when Tattersall was just starting out. Another
risk authors face is the fact that self-published books now saturate
the marketplace, and to a great degree are still regarded as
"vanity publishing." It is difficult to catch the attention
of a reviewer in the major media with a self-published book.
Difficult, but not impossible: the chances of success improve
with the willingness of the author to 1) provide a quality product
and 2) to be its entire marketing, publicity, and fulfillment
department. Writing the book and getting it printed is the easy
part...the real work comes in getting it into readers' hands.
Q: What are the benefits of self-publishing?
A: With self-publishing, you have complete control over the
design and presentation of the book. You can write it the way
you want it and be assured that, apart from the spelling-and-grammar-checking
that comes with the layout, it won't be changed in any way or
spun to suit the whims of a trade publisher. If you
know your market and how to reach it, there's no hand in your
pocket taking a cut for themselves; it's all yours.
Q: How much will it cost?
A: Depending on your supplier, the cost of your books will vary by the number and size of pages,
whether they are black-and-white or full color, and by the binding
and finish. It will also depend on how many other services you request. CreateSpace by Amazon is a good value, but be careful, as the service fees can add up quickly.
Q: But I don't want to pay to get published. How do you get
a book contract from a publisher who will pay me?
A: That's fine! It's still the best way to go. In fact, in
most cases, I advise authors to make a fair run at getting published
the old-fashioned way. It's difficult and not for the faint of
heart when it comes to rejection. Some of the world's best known
authors were rejected time and again by publisher after publisher
until they made contact with the right editor at the right time
(see Rowling, J. K.). If you want to try it, here is what you
need to do.
1. Recognize that trade publishers want to make money. Your book
is a commodity that they sell to make money, so to begin, you
have to choose the publishers that you think will be most interested
in taking your book into their inventory. Find books at the store
or at the library that are similar in content to yours and make
those publishers your first contacts. Go online to their sites
to find out what their submission requirements are, and follow
2. When you make your first contact with an editor, remember
that you are, in effect, applying for the job of author at their
publishing company. Your initial query or proposal should show
up in its Sunday best with its hair combed. By that, I mean that
your first impression is the only one you will get a chance to
make. Whether you send your query by snailmail or email, it must
look nice, be polite, and get quickly to the point in such a
way that an editor knows he or she can do profitable business
with you and consider a good product for their line.
3. Your query should state the title of your book and an elevator-speech
summary of the contents. You may also list a couple of successful
books that are similar to yours, but then you say why yours is
different, bigger, better, and more current. But don't brag,
lie, whine, flirt, or be a jerk while you're making the case.
You may think you have written the very best book in the
world, but believe me, the editor can tell an amateur from a
pro at 1000 miles.
4. You don't have to limit yourself to submitting to one publisher
at a time. That was the old school of thought. Now it's acceptable
to submit to multiple publishers...just space out your submissions
so you will have something to do while you wait for the first
responses to come in. And then you wait, hope, and keep writing
new stuff while your current stuff is out there being evaluated.
Q: How did you choose the name Tattersall Publishing, and
how did you come up with the cool logo?
A: About the time I was dreaming up a company to publish
my first book, there was an article in the Dallas Observer
about another small press, Baskerville Press in Dallas, which
had just released a very successful book. When asked the same
question, the Baskerville founder said that they chose the name
because it had an English, rather sophisticated sound. A lifelong
Anglophile myself, I followed that lead and chose "Tattersall"
from the historic Tattersall's Horse Market in London.
The sound of the word "Tattersall" is reminiscent of
"parasol," and the original logo idea was simply a
plaid-patterned (Tattersall plaid) umbrella. But it looked too
much like the Travelers Insurance company logo. Then I saw a
calendar picture of a cat lounging underneath an open umbrella,
and the Tattersall Cat is now part of publishing history...since
Q: Why have you gotten out of the book business? What are you going to do now?
A: As the years have worn on, I have developed a very short attention span and a very low stress threshold. It was becoming more and more difficult to play the long game on a book project. When a recent project took more than a year to complete (and I bless the patient author for hanging in with me), I knew it was time to shift focus. Now I will work exclusively with the commercial printing trade as a production artist, a job that I'm still very good at, and hope to continue until I do hang it up for good.
I'm also going to spend more time working on my home. George and I are no longer spring chickens and we would like to enjoy our "golden years" in a house that gets vacuumed once in awhile. ;) Basically, I know I will never be able to fully retire, so this will be a good alternative. Thanks for asking!