When I entered the publishing world to join the ranks of esteemed authors, I pictured myself as a New York Best Selling Author! After all, even though I had not published any books before, and was very hesitant to write, I had been persuaded by many who ‘knew’ me, to do so because they felt that what I had to say had value and was helpful and many people were able to connect with my style of writing.
So, I tentatively checked out publishing companies and delved a little deeper into one company that seemed user friendly and checked many boxes for me. I wanted to learn and educate myself about the hows and whys of the self-publishing world.
I liked what I learned but I was not ready to publish yet because the ‘book’ was still a mere idea in my head and I had not really sat down to write seriously. On yes, I had mounds of paper/notebooks with random thoughts and periodically journaled thoughts and feelings over the years. I needed to look at these, organize them and give them structure.
So, I put is all on the back burner because ‘I was too busy’.
I got an email from one of the publishing consultants, asking if I was still interested in learning more about it. Apparently, my tentative enquiry had reached a live person!
As we corresponded, talked, gathered information, I decided to take the plunge. I made a commitment and purchased a basic publishing package. Even though at this point I knew a little more about the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing, and felt comfortable taking the next step, I now realize that I was still hoping that the consultant would guide me and spell it out for me because I really did not know enough about the process.
As I stumbled through the process, I learned more and more about what it entailed.
I worked on my book. The more I did, the easier it flowed. Initially, I felt stumped and stuck, but I kept at it, took breaks, reached out to this consultant for guidance and advise and plodded along – slowly, hesitantly, but prodded nonetheless. I joined an online author group at an extra small cost per month that gave me access to various articles and webinars with insights, tips and tricks to navigate this world.
The consultant’s periodic calls to check on status, as to how I was coming along and gentle nudges to know when I thought I might be ready to submit the manuscript – kept me on track.
Finally, I was ready to submit, what I thought was a pretty good piece of writing.
Wakeup call! It was my baby and I thought it was perfect. However, in the publisher’s world, where they see endless submissions, what they saw was raw with many rough edges that needed to be smoothed out.
Well, as we proceeded to the next steps, one at a time and I learned the process first hand – I learned to be patient while the editors edited, the consultants consulted and I waited.
I also learned about what my expectations were from the package I had purchased versus what it really was. I learned to decipher their language.
With additional investments for additional edits required, unless I did it myself after the initial edit, we reached the point of their team working on the cover design and preparing it for printing.
It was at this point that the marketing department representatives (yes, plural) unleashed their powers of persuasion. I was inundated with calls for marketing my book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, which I thought was part of the original publishing package. Oh, it will be sold on those two platforms, but what they were offering were additional marketing to promote my book to be displayed to a much larger audience. There would be Google ads, ads in New York Times, in Reader’s Digest, companies that published various magazines, internet radio interview, Independent Retail stores, International Book Fairs and so on. Each package was tagged with a hefty price, but the scope of the outreach was explained with mindboggling numbers! It seemed unreal that I could really have that kind of connection to the world!!
I purchased various packages that made sense to me, but then what did I know? The reps promised to send confirmation emails and assured me that I could call them with any question I had.
Unfortunately, as soon as the price was paid and the credit card processed, the reps ‘disappeared’ and became unavailable. No emails answered, no phone calls accepted…voice mail was all I got, no return calls.
Since these were still within the ninety-day, refundable period, I called customer service for a refund, minus the 10% processing fee. Suddenly, there was a lot of activity! Reps called back. It was elevated to the next level when I refused to take back the refund request. The next consultant promised that my account would be turned over to someone who was more responsive and who will keep me posted on the fulfillment of the packages.
Well, things did change. I received updates of what was being done and what had been done. There were reports to show that they had hit the promised numbers of people reached.
After the initial surge, there was again a lot of prodding on my part to get answers and the answers were not really what was represented in the sales pitch. The ROI on my very substantial investment was 0%. The fulfillment reports showed that while millions of impressions were recorded, no sales were generated. Emails implied that it was my responsibility to continue to reach out. They had done their share.
While it is true that a lot of situations were changed due to Covid and in person events became virtual events, I still felt let down. Some companies changed hands, but there was no follow up. I visited a retail store, one of ten that had agreed to display my book. I had called them a few weeks before I visited, so they had ordered a copy of my book. However, they had not heard from or received anything from the company I was told would be sending them the display copy. When I called the fulfillment representative, he was as clueless as I was. He then followed up and called to let me know the original company was no longer working with them. There was a new company and that he would let me know what is going on and how the new company would handle it. No response. Still in limbo.
At this point, do I wish I had followed through with my refund request?
Yes and no! If I had, I would have saved a lot of money but in a way, I am glad I did not do that, because I learned so much.
The publishing package and what they delivered, even with more costs incurred for some additional services, was quite exceptional. The marketing package, which is handled by another subsidiary was absolutely useless and very disappointing.
I have a second publishing package with them and am working on that book now. One thing I know for sure is that I will absolutely not purchase any of the marketing packages because I am wiser now. You fool me once, shame on you. You fool me twice, shame on me!
It is said that when a man with experience meets a man with money, the man with money has the experience and the man with experience has the money.
So, my friends, I now have a lot of experience and feel qualified to share that experience with you!!!!!!!!
My book can be found at www.pamgrewall.com, Barnes & Noble and Amazon
It is available in hard cover, soft cover, eBook and audiobook formats.