Friday, July 8, 2016

How Cars Are Like Books and Why You Need to Know

Nearly three thousand miles, three University visits, four harrowing hours of my teen son driving us on various interstates, one accidental trip to the birthplace of Elvis, my first Segway tour, a 120,000 square foot antique car museum, seeing an electron microscope in action and a tour of the Tuscaloosa Mercedes plant. That was my week in a nutshell and what set me up for this post.

My son likes old cars, in fact he is fixing up a 1972 Ford LTD  and he plans to own his own car company some day. I'm quite proud of him for starting his vision process by getting to know the systems involved in the workings of a car.

I would equate his process of fixing the car himself to the self-publishing of books. In both cases, the 'maker' needs a plan for production. The maker needs to research parts and steps involved, recruit a mentor or expert for advice, and be ready to continue efforts to maintain the product.

If a guy working on his car is like self-publishing, then the Mercedes plant production process is like traditional book publishing.

The thing is, like cars, I don't have any personal experience with either publishing style. I could probably change a tire in an emergency by following the picture steps in the guide in my trunk just like I could probably hit the 'save as epub' button and post the file online. In both cases I would not be doing a quality job-in fact I would become more dangerous to myself. My son already admonished me for having a ten year old hunk of junk spare tire. See, I'm not even sure what tools are needed for cars or self-publishing. 

I figure there is a reason both industries (cars and books) are successful. There are already experts out there to help with both, so why should I muddle around on my own?

Still, it is prudent to know more about the publishing industry I plan to be a part of. I feel I've got the first steps down; write, edit, edit, edit, query, edit, sell to editor/publisher, edit, celebrate. The tour of the Mercedes plant inspired me to find out more about the actual book printing process.

After watching this video-which happily combines one of my favorite books with the production info I'm seeking-I have a greater appreciation for the engineering and ingenuity required for getting a book into the hands of readers.

Why do writers need to know about the various types of publishing? Because you cannot predict the future and you need to know your options.

Depending on how my upcoming query process goes, perhaps I'll change my mind about self-publishing. Maybe this is true for you as well.

It's important for me to remember self-publishing and epub are not one in the same. So, for the future me, I am listing a few resources to refer back to when, or if, the time comes and I need some help.
How have you approached the question of how to publish your work?


  1. I chose to publish my book under my own imprint (even though it was accepted by 2 publishers) for the expedited time frame. When my ms was accepted, I was told by one publisher that it would be 2 years before it was out, and that's about average. The other would have taken 6 months longer, because I had just missed the cutoff for the 2 year mark (some publishers put out new work only twice a year). Doing it myself, the book was out in 3 months: it took a month to go through the editing process, and two more for me to get it properly formatted. Since it is an image-rich book, it took more work than usual to format. I'm happy with how it turned out.

    1. You are a brave lady and I am so happy to see that it can be done! How have you handled promotion for the book?

  2. I started to answer this, but it got so long that I wrote a post on it instead: