Friday, March 23, 2012

Old Goals and What the Digital World has Done to Them

Recently I updated my website. It’s something I do periodically, but not as often as I should. It’s a time-consuming task, even though, as a rule, there are just a handful of pages that need a re-write.

I built the thing in 2006, the same year I self-published my first book. I took an online “Creating Web Pages” course from Ed2Go via my local community college. Have I told y’all I love Ed2Go? I next took a course on Paint Shop Pro 8. I still use it for modifying pictures, making my web graphics and creating my covers. Once I’ve sorta mastered something, I cling to it. But I digress.

In the course of this most recent upgrade, and my growing involvement with the digital world, I realized both the marketing plan and business plan I created six--maybe even seven--years ago, are woefully out of date. And the goals and realities I set forth years ago no longer apply--and it dawned on me not only how much had changed in the challenge I set for myself seven years ago when I started this self-publishing venture, but how much my lot had improved relatively recently.

I knew back in 2005 that if I went it alone, I would not have the infrastructure set up that a traditionally published author has. She will, until her name becomes a household word, have to do her own marketing, but in the interim she’ll still have someone to edit her work free of charge, someone competent to typeset her words, someone talented and creative to produce an eye-catching cover. The LCCNs and ISBNs and copyright concerns are all taken care of...

I knew I had taken on a big job. And I knew I was going to have to put out some money, but I also knew there were some things I could learn to do myself. So I learned Quark and I typeset my books. I bought a high-resolution camera, activated my old faithful Paint Shop Pro 8, then combined it with Quark and produce my own covers. I have a good and capable friend who edits my books for grammar and usage (and, yes, for continuity), not for free, I want to keep her, but certainly less than what I’d have to pay a professional editor.

And I paid the printer. Even if I could afford one, which I cannot, I have
no place to put an offset printing press. Have y’all ever seen one of those things? They take up an entire warehouse.

For my first three books, I have paid the off-set printer a substantial sum. I’m years from getting out of debt and the books do not sell as fast as the monthly interest payments roll around on the loan.

All that changed with book four and Lightning Source and ebooks. The digital world, whether for a print on demand (POD) paper book or bits and bytes forming words in an e-reader, has changed my beleaguered future. Yes, a digitally printed book costs more per copy than offset, but I don’t have to print 2,000 of them anymore. I can pay as I go and not blow five cases worth of books on a year’s worth of interest payments. And I do want to continue to produce printed books...but I’ve gone ebook, too.

Over the next few weeks, I want to highlight how these changes are affecting Loblolly Writer’s House, and in some cases, compare my goals of six years ago with my goals today.

And I haven’t even broached distribution yet, but I will.

Thanks for reading,



  1. Lucy, just catching up on your blog and I am VERY happy you went to digital. Of course nothing can replace the beauty of holding a well worn book in my hands, but re-reading your books on my Nook is the only alternative while living outside the US. I am thrilled to have over 100 books all in the palm of my hands no matter where in the world I am. Keep up the good work with your writings, blog and most of all with your growing family!

    1. Thanks Melinda Kay, Always good to hear from you. I'll always try to get a hardcopy to you no matter where you are! Love ya, Lucy


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