Adventures in Self-Publishing
How I Went from Looking for a Traditional Publisher to
I used to practice law in Illinois, but decided to move to Massachusetts. I could not find a job because I either had too many years of experience, no clients to bring with me, or was not originally from Massachusetts. I decided to pursue other avenues for income.
Before and after moving to Massachusetts, I had been working with a divination system called automatic writing. I decided to “come out” as a psychic using this method. I also became certified as a professional coach while living in Massachusetts. I added this to my repertoire.
I was gifted with the idea of creating a set of angel cards by the very intuitive massage therapist that I was seeing at that time. She told me that she thought I was supposed to create a set of angel cards. My initial thought was “Oh, crap. Another thing to do.” My second thought was “I’m going to need an artist.”
I began playing with creating a set of cards. Through the automatic writing and working with a channeled being by the name of O’Brien (channeled by Michael Traub), I determined that they should be meditation cards rather than angel cards. The vision became a set of 28 two-sided cards with the images on each side, with each card being a pair of seeming dualities. I began to receive the sayings that were to be on the cards—56 images with accompanying sayings. I worked with my angels and guides and determined that the images should be of plants, specifically water lilies, chicory, roses, purple loosestrife, and honeysuckle berries. A plant was assigned to each saying at some point in the process.
Early on I managed to get the promise of an endorsement (our first) from James Wanless, creator of the Voyager Tarot and Sustain Your Life card sets. I sent him the set when it was finished, and he kindly kept his promise. (He later agreed to change the word card to image in his endorsement.) James also suggested that we think about changing from the original title of the book, Contemplating Duality, to something else. That’s when we came up with Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be.
I re-met my friend Linda Lewis about 3 months after I was gifted the idea. We met on a trip to Ireland 5 years before this. We almost instantly bonded again. The additional gift of this is that Linda is talented artist who also has marketing and graphic design experience. The universe does indeed sometimes deliver when what you want is in tune with what it wants to happen.
We began working on designing the cards, or rather Linda did the “heavy lifting” of the design work with my input. Due to circumstances, this part of the process began about a year after we met again. I hired the photographer to take the photographs that are the backgrounds of the meditation images.
I don’t remember how many versions of initial images we worked with. We chose font. We chose the color of the borders. I, at some point, showed a set of the cards to a friend who had worked in retail for years creating displays. She noticed that they were all a bit too much the same tonally. A new version was created.
I researched publishers in this field and created a chart of names, addresses, and submission guideline information. I did not put any publishers on the list that accept submissions only from literary agents. I began to draft query letters and the proposal summary using some books that I read as a guide. Linda gave me her input on these. We created a submission package when we were ready. I double checked the information on the chart with the website in case anything had changed.
I quickly realized that you will not hear back from the publisher when the package is received. You will only know if a publisher declines or accepts your submission. I began using a tracking number for each submission. The small fee was worthwhile.
I had no publishers express an interest in the card set. The following are some of my experiences with publishers.
Red Wheel/Weiser/Connari said that it no longer publishes card sets. It would have been helpful if that had been mentioned in its submission guidelines.
Sterling said that it did not publish fiction. My thought was that I would not want it to be my publisher if staff could not send the correct rejection letter.
I believe that it was New World Library that said that it preferred email submissions but could not figure out how to let you know it had received your submission. I wondered why they did not have an auto reply on their submission email address. I ended up having to break my submission into about 5 emails because it was so image heavy.
Most publishers just said no without a reason.
I had not wanted to use an agent because agents receive a percent of the royalties, but eventually turned to that route. This meant more research. The Literary Digest and Writers Market are helpful, but I also found at least one website listing agents. I always double checked the website to make sure the information was correct. Unlike with publishers, I had a modicum of interest, but no agent took the cards on. These are some of the responses:
One agent said she liked it but was concerned that it did not have a big enough platform.
Another agent said she liked it but would not know how to sell it.
I had one agent’s office contact me for more material, but then the answer was no.
I discovered that there is an agent that will comment on your query letter and proposal summary for a fee. I paid her to do this. Revising the query letter was not hard, but I decided that it might be time to move to self-publishing when I saw her comments on the proposal summary. I talked to Linda who agreed with this tack, and I hired her to change the card set and accompanying book into a book. We added the meditation exercises I had been working on for a separate work book.
Then began the work of researching and finding a self-publishing company. I bought a couple of books about self-publishing which included some information about self-publishing companies. I looked at websites. All but one of the companies I looked at limited the number of images to 6 to 10 images. Not including the title page, the book has 112 images.
Linda and I then made an appointment to talk with a staff member at Dog Ear Press, which is the company I finally signed with. We spent probably close to an hour talking to him. I was lucky because Linda understood things like paper weight, formatting and the like.
The Rules I Came Up With During the Process
Here are what I think are some sensible rules:
One, I think, is to love your project deeply and believe that it needs to be out in the world.
Two is to persist in the creation and think about what comes after the creation later.
Three is to have someone or a group of people who can keep you going during the process, especially when you feel as if you have hit a brick wall and cannot continue. Working with Linda on Opening the Heart: Mediations on How to Be kept me going as she kept me laughing through the process and believed so deeply in Opening the Heart that I did not feel that I could abandon it. She keeps me laughing still.
Four is to have someone or some people who will read your book and who will be honest with you about their reactions. Hopefully they will be gentle and compassionate with you about your book. It could be helpful to have at least one person who has a different point of view from yours. My friend who looked at the set and saw they were too close tonally is an example of this.
Five is, even if you think that every grammatical error and typo has been found, find a fresh set of eyes to reread and recheck everything, because there will be typos—even prize winning books have typos. My favorite typographical error is, I believe, from what is called the Wicked Bible. One of the 10 Commandments says “Thou shalt commit adultery.”
I bought a self-published book where the author left the words “blank page” on the pages that were to be left blank.
Six. Spell check is not always your friend. I read a book where in the introduction to a book the author meant to use the word cite but he typed site instead.
Seven is to remember that there is nothing out there that constitutes a perfect book. Your book will be perfect for what it is in the eyes of the universe.
Eight - be bold, ask for favors, ask for help, and be assertive about achieving what you want without being pushy or aggressive. Sometimes the universe provides what you need if you just ask for it and work towards it. Examples of this are my meeting Linda again and receiving the first (and subsequent) endorsements and reviews.
Nine – Research the publishers of books in your field as well as agents and publicity mechanisms. Visit bookstores, research on line, look at books to see what publishing or self-publishing companies were used. Just be aware that traditional publishing houses sometimes don’t update their guidelines as was my experience with Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari. The internet will become a valued ally for your process. You can find publishers, agents and publicity resources.
Ten - Your book will take as long as it takes. Mine took about 6-½ years to get to publication because of my particular journey with it. James Wanless, who gave me the first endorsement for the book, took 20 years to bring his Sustain Your Life card set to publication.
I suppose that if I contemplated things for awhile I could come up with some other rules. Of course, these are my rules and your rules may be different, but I do think that these are useful rules.
Some Things I Learned about Publishing/Self-Publishing
Despite what I said earlier about not think about what comes next while you’re working on your book, here are things that I learned (and possibly in not the most logical order) about the publishing industry:
1. Publishing has its own language
These are some of the things I learned about publishing speak:
Platform: This means a large fan base where all the fans will most likely snap up your book. As I mentioned earlier, one agent said she was concerned that the book didn’t have a big enough platform. I naively thought she meant follow up projects.
I had a conversation at some point with another author who said she realized that, if you have a big enough fan base, you could probably have anything, no matter the quality, published.
Trade Discount: This is the percent of the retail price that book stores and online sellers pay wholesale for the book. If it is set at 40%, you will receive 60%. If it is set at 55%, you will receive 45%.
If you are self-publishing you most likely will have to decide where to set the trade discount. I have learned through my research that if you set it at 40% bookstores probably won’t carry it and may or may not order it. One book I read said that it should be set at 55%, but I was advised by Dog Ear that 50% seemed to be sufficient.
Traditional publishers will set the trade discount, I think. I have discovered that retailers of e-books set the trade discount, not those self-publishing. It may very well be the same with traditional publishing houses.
Author Cost: This is the cost for you, the author, to purchase copies of your book from your publisher, whether a traditional publishing house or a self-publishing company. The cost to ship copies of your book to you is not included in the Author cost. It is added on to the Author Cost.
Royalties v. Profits: Traditional publishers call what you receive royalties, i.e., what you get paid by the publishing house after costs, etc. The self-publishing company I use calls them profits.
Books about publishing/self-publishing can help you through this.
2. There is math involved.
You need to know what all the costs are so that you can know what your profit/royalties are. For example:
book price - trade discount - author cost = profit/royalty
The math becomes essential if you are setting the trade discount. A friend suggested that I should have set the price a lot lower than I did. I would probably have ended up owing Dog Ear money if I had gone that much lower, or at least not earning anything.
If you are self-publishing, the math becomes a bit more complicated in determining profits as you make more from a book sale if it’s purchased directly from the self-publishing company than through a book store or from an online source.
Makes my head spin.
3. When will you get your money?
This is an important question to ask your publishing company whether traditional or self-publishing so that you will know when to expect a check. My self-publishing company sends checks 90 days after the end of the month in which copies are bought directly from Dog Ear. It is 120 days after the end of the month in which copies are purchased through vendors. This makes the math even more complicated—at least to me.
You have a copyright by writing your book or making your piece of art. What most people think of as the copyright is actually the registration of the copyright.
As I understand it, the copyright law states that to be able to sue for infringement, you must register your copyright. To receive all the protections of the copyright law, you must register within 3 months of the publication date. One of the protections is that, if you register within 3 months, you will get automatic damages for infringement. You can still receive damages for infringement if you blow the 3 month date, but you have to prove the economic loss. I’m still not sure whether you still receive attorney’s fees if you blow the 3 month date.
The Copyright Office lists your book in a searchable data base when you register it.
Your publisher will be able to tell you what the publication date is. I do not know if traditional publishers register the copyright for the books they publish. My sense is that many of them must because you can create a registration fee account with the Copyright Office to pay registration fees. It was $35 to register online and $65 to send in a paper form at the time my photographer and I registered our copyrights.
Registration online is fairly simple. You create an account, fill in the proper form, and enter your credit card information. You are immediately sent a mailing form. You will need to send in two copies of the best representation of your book within 30 days. The office does not send out notification of receipt because it receives too much material to do that. I suggest that you pay for a tracking number. I printed off a copy of the tracking information showing OTH was received by the office. It can take a number of months to receive your certificate of registration. I was expecting a rather fancy looking document with a big seal, but it is a fairly plain looking document.
My photographer has the copyright to the photographs by written agreement. When we registered the book online, we put me in first as author and checked off text. Then we added David in the same block on the form and were able to check off photographs. You must have a written agreement allowing the photographer or illustrator to keep the copyright. Otherwise, the author owns the copyright for these.
5. Some of the things that you want from a traditional publisher (If you can get them)
Final approval of content and design:
Yes, a traditional publisher most likely will have an editor who will want changes, but you know your work and the “lingo” of your work. I paid our self-publishing company for copy editing and it was clear that the copy editor did not really understand the language of meditation and the world I work in. It was, however, a useful exercise. In self-publishing you can accept or reject changes. You may have to fight a bit harder with a traditional publishing house; however I don’t know whether this is true or not.
As a note, unfortunately I did not send in part of the text and found a minor typo. We also did not send in the meditation images, so the copy editor was unable to check the references to certain meditation images in the text we did send in. Thus, a pretty important typo was missed. We did have the book and e-book revised for the major typo. Unfortunately, I did not find the minor typo until after the revision. We are just leaving it alone for now.
If rights are sold for foreign publication, you will want the same design and content approval. I know someone who had a problem with what the French publisher did to her book. Both she and her editor at her publishing house thought they just wanted to change the cover. The French publisher added a chapter on tarot to the book. Her book was not about tarot, but rather was on the shell oracle cards she created.
You will want notification from a traditional publisher if it is going to remainder or destroy warehoused copies of books. This could happen if it wants more room in its warehouse and decides the copies of your book are some of the ones to go. You might want to purchase some or all of the warehoused copies at your author cost (See – the math can come in handy) in order to sell them yourself. This is obviously not an issue with print on demand publishing.
6. There is no such thing as self-publishing.
I read in a blog post that at least 18 roles that have to be fulfilled even in self-publishing. There is the writing, editing, book design, cover design, copy editing, and marketing at the very least. You, someone you hire or someone at the self-publishing company will have to fill all the roles. (Unfortunately, this blog has since been taken down so I don’t have the entire list the blog author came up with.)
7. Yes, you can deal directly with a publishing printer or a local printing company, but….
You will most likely have to warehouse anywhere from 500 to possibly 2,000 books depending on what the printer wants to you to buy. This means that you will have to do absolutely everything yourself. Note: some self-publishing companies want you to buy a certain number of copies upfront. This results in the same issue.
8. Finding a publisher/agent
I went to bookstores and looked in the metaphysical/meditation sections at books to see which companies published them. I went to the library and researched publishers through the Literary Market Place and Writer’s Market in the reference section of the library, although for a fee you can research their online data bases. If my recollection is correct you can research agents as well.
Some publishers require that you have an agent. Others say they prefer to work with one but will take direct submissions. This is when their websites are you friends.
I would check the websites for both publishers and agents as the data bases and books can contain errors about what they publish/represent or addresses may have changed. Publishers may stop publishing a certain type of book. As I noted in the section describing how I went from looking at traditional publishing to self-publishing, I received a rejection letter from Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari saying that they don’t publish card sets anymore back when Opening the Heart was still a card set and book. I could swear that its submission guidelines did not say anything about this.
You can find websites listing agents. I used agentquery.com. The site would say that an agent represented certain kinds of books but it would turn out that perusal of the agent’s website would show this was not true.
To obtain an agent or publisher you will need to submit a query letter at the very least and, in many cases, a proposal summary which includes an overview of the book, a marketing plan, market for the book, list of similar books that have been published etc. This is where the books on publishing are useful as they will tell everything that is included. What they could not do for me was to write one that would start discussions with a publisher or agent. I had just enough to get a few expressions of possible interest from some agents that went nowhere.
Also, publishers vary slightly on what they want. Once again, check the website.
Be aware that you might not ever hear from agents or publishers. I started using tracking numbers to find out if the proposal package was received. If you do hear, it can be 8 weeks or more before you hear something. Publishers’ website usually list a response time while agents’ websites do not. Always include a self-addressed return envelope for return of hard copies of your proposal when submitting a proposal. Otherwise you will not get them back. I believe it is wise to have a tracking number on a paper submission so that you will know it was received. I doubt publishers or agents want calls asking if a package was received.
Be sure to individualize your cover letter or query letter. I’m sure I received interest from one agent as I mentioned that I liked that her cat was one of her staff members. Unfortunately, it went nowhere.
During the search for an agent, I came across the website for June Clark—she’s listed in the resources page. I saw that, for a fee, she will edit your query letter, and for another fee your proposal summary. It was her comments that coalesced things for me about the direction we should go to get the book published—which was self-publishing. I did look into self-publishing Opening the Heart as it was, a book and cards. One site I looked at said that it could not guarantee that the front and back images of the cards would be in registration, i.e. that the images would match exactly. It seemed to me that it would be even harder to put together a package of the cards and book and then sell the package.
That is when I suggested to Linda that we reformat the Opening the Heart to be meditation images in a book rather than a separate set of cards, and that we also include the workbook that I was writing instead of having it as a second book. It ended up saving me a second publication fee by combining everything.
A local New England resource for authors is the Grub Street organization in Boston. It is on the resource list. Grub Street has an annual conference in May that draws agents and publishers. I met someone who found an agent there. It is something to consider. I would not be surprised if there are other local writers' groups similar to Grub Street in other communities.
League of Vermont Writers has conferences, one of which is the annual one to make a pitch to agents. Other states probably have writers’ leagues.
I briefly considered running a Kickstarter and/or an Indiegogo campaign to pay for the upfront self-publishing costs. But the most successful ones on Kickstarter have a video presentation—50% of campaigns with videos are funded rather than 30% without a video, meaning that a lot of campaigns are unsuccessful. One of the tricks with Kickstarter is that, if you do not receive all the requested funding within that stated time period, you receive none of the funding. Indiegogo does let you have whatever your raise in the funding time period. Then there are the rewards that you need to create for the funders. After researching Kickstarter and Indiegogo, I decided that this route was not for me. Apparently the successful campaigns are ones where social media is used to let people know about them – the more social media used, the more funds raised.
Please note, both Kickstarter and Indiegogo will send a 1099 to the government, so be prepared to pay income tax on the money you receive from a campaign.
There is also Gofundme, but I’m not sure if this type of campaign is allowed on Gofundme. You would need to research this.
A Check List of Additional Things to Pay Attention To
One. Compare the packages. Hay House’s self-publishing arm’s (Beacon Press) publishing package that is similar to the one that we used with Dog Ear was about $5,000 more than Dog Ear’s at the time that I researched self-publishing companies.
Two. Traditional publishing houses may have a self-publishing arm, but they have most likely contracted with an existing self-publishing firm to handle that piece of the business. It is important to research whatever self-publishing firm that you think you want to use. Some are less than ethical. Check the ratings in books. Google reviews of the firms.
Three. Talk to someone at the self-publishing firm. Ask in-depth questions. Linda and I are lucky because the actual price of the package was reduced because Linda was able to create a print ready press file and design the covers. We saved money because I did not have them design a website for me. This is a note to decide on your must haves. I have a website, e.g., and do not want to have to manage 2 websites. So, I opted out of Dog Ear creating a website for the book.
Four. Take a careful look at the number of images a self-publishing company allows with its packages, generally 6 to 10. Dog Ear allowed more.
Five. Be aware that if you choose the cheapest package you may be doing a lot more work such as not only registering your copyright, but also obtaining the Library of Congress number and the ISBN. And, you might have to try to list your book in Bowker’s Books in Print, and on and on. So you might pay more up front to have the company do this for you, but you will be receiving more for your money.
Six. Ask whether your self-publishing package will list your book in Ingram. This is one of the big book distributors. I was told at bookstore that it is a big deal that the book is listed in Ingram. I was also told it is a big deal that we have an ISBN – apparently some self-publishing authors skip this. Having both of these apparently make it easier for bookstores to order your books.
Also find out where your company will list your book online. Will there be an annual fee to list it? If it doesn’t list the book because you chose a cheaper package, you will need to do this yourself.
Seven. Pay attention to the contract with the firm. It should be easy to find on the website and easy to understand. Dog Ear’s is about 2-1/2 pages and clear. I heard about a self-publishing company that has a clause in its contract that raises the fee if your manuscript is more than 100,000 words. I believe that this company’s contract is closer to 10 pages.
Eight. Look at the cost per page to print the book. (Remember the part where I said that there is math involved?) Are there additional fees? Dog Ear charges the cost per page, plus $2 per book. The cost per page differs depending on whether we wanted the standard or the premium printing. Another company charges more up front and not the $2 per book, but at about $2000 more up front, I would have to know that I was going to sell a huge number of books to make the additional cost upfront worthwhile. This is also the firm that has the additional cost for manuscripts above 100,000 words. We were asked whether we wanted a glossy or matte cover. My question was whether there is a price difference. The answer was no.
Nine. Find out what the author cost is once you have a firm page number. This will help you set the retail price of your book. Back to that pesky old math again.
Ten. Ask what happens if you need or want to do a revised version of your book. Will there be a fee, is so what? And, if you're doing an e-book version as well, what is the cost to revise that version?
Eleven. What weight paper do they use? Do you want all glossy pages or matte pages? Can they do a combination of the 2?
Twelve. Will the company reduce the price of a package if you only want some pieces of that package? If not, it may not be the company for you.
Thirteen. How willing are they to spend time talking with you and emailing to answer questions? If not very willing, they might not be the company for you.
Fourteen. Some self-publishing firms require a minimum order of anywhere from 500 books and up by the author. I believe I recall seeing a minimum purchase of 2,000 books. This means you will have to figure out how to warehouse and distribute them. There is a cost for this, of course. Other companies do print on demand only.
Fifteen. Choose your trade discount carefully. If you choose only 35%-40%, your book can be listed on line but most likely will not be carried in bookstores. They might special order it, but carry it? No. And, maybe not even order it. Stacie Vander Pol (her book is listed in the resources) says that you have to go to 55% to be carried in bookstores. I have been advised that 50% will be adequate. You will need to make up your own mind.
Sixteen. I have learned that, at one time (and still may be), there was a bit of a “war” going on between Amazon, which owns Create Space, and Barnes and Noble, independent bookstores and Ingram book distributor which is also owner of Lightening Source, a self-publishing company. Barnes and Noble will apparently not list books published by Create Space, and neither it nor independent bookstores would carry them, partly because they are at a 40% trade discount only, but mostly because Create Space is owned by Amazon. Amazon will apparently not list books published by Lightening Source. I know someone who ended up publishing her book on both Create Space and Lightening Source after she discovered the local Barnes and Noble would not stock her book because it was published by Create Space.
Seventeen. Find out how much control you have over the book design and how many times you can change the design if control of the design is important to you.
Eighteen. Then comes the marketing campaign. I have a sense that traditional publishing houses do at least some marketing for all the books they publish, but I am sure that the authors still have to create some of the marketing plan themselves, show up at interviews and book talks. I just don’t know how much the authors have to do. I also don’t know how much traditional houses do to promote all the books. Self-publishing certainly requires a lot more of the author.
Self-publishing companies will do a certain amount, some of which depends on what you paid for in your package with the company.
Opening the Heart is listed with Ingram, the big book distributor, as well as in Books in Print. I would not be surprised if many self-publishing companies have a blog in which they talk about their newest publications. I could have paid to have Dog Ear produce a video trailer, but Linda and I decided that we would think about trying to do one on our own, which we have not done this as of yet. If we do create one, we can send it to Dog Ear for review, and if they like it the will put it up on their You Tube channel. And, we can, of course, post it online ourselves. We are currently in the process of creating sample meditation videos to post on my website and on social media.
I chose the publication package that included the company obtaining the Library of Congress Catalog Number, the ISBN bar code, QR code and the like. I decided it was worth the money to save me the effort having to figure out how to do all this. Then I would have had to figure out timing to get these to Dog Ear so they could drop them into the templates for Linda to use in the design process. I also paid them to design business cards, post cards and posters. Linda and I have the pdfs so that we can print more of these as we need them. Or Linda can change the design because she has them.
I would no longer do a QR code as I haven’t seen any other books with one. And, if you change your website address it can be a problem depending on what page the QR code links to.
Another important question to ask a self-publishing company is can you track the sales of the book through its website. If not, I would look for another company.
Nineteen. Connections can mean a heck of a lot. I have spent time thinking about connections and realized at some point that a lot of this is all about connections. The first, and surely the best connection—or I suppose you could say reconnection—was with Linda Lewis, the book designer and co-creator of Opening the Heart. My connection with her brought not only the blossoming and finally the manifestation of the book; it also brought about the gorgeous photographs taken by David Steiner and friendship with him, as well as friendship with her family.
One of the blessings of Opening the Heart was connection with James Wanless, consultant, futurist, keynote speaker, and creator of both the Voyager Tarot and the Sustain Your Life card sets. He has said this about Opening the Heart:
"Opening the Heart meditation images give you the direct way to think with your heart, which is where all great and meaningful messages reside. These 56 flower images put you in the flow of your own apotheosis to the blossoming of who you are meant to be! Flowers speak; listen."
This is a note: getting endorsements is really helpful. I am continuing to work on this by trading books, and asking for reviews and endorsements. Here it is again, be bold and ask.
I read about something called a virtual blog tour on Grub Street’s blog. Some marketing/publicity companies will put them together for you. I suppose it is possible to put one together yourself. I put a request out on Facebook and LinkedIn for bloggers who would be willing to receive a review copy and blog about the book. I had 2 responses, which is more than I would have had without asking. One resulted in an interview. The other—who knows what happened?
And, there are radio and TV shows to look into. One listener of a show wrote into the chat room that she was putting Opening the Heart on her Amazon wish list.
Let us not forget book signings and putting books on consignment with stores that might carry it that way as opposed to buying it through a distributor. Consignment, however, is a bit of a pain as it requires you to keep in contact with the store, find out if it has sold any, and whether the store owes you money. The final problem is that the books can end up being damaged to some degree and you can’t sell them when the store turns them back to you. Try to get the store to buy them outright. Another option is to ask the bookstore to list the book on its website and to contact you to provide a copy if someone orders it.
Think of all the magazines that are in the area of your book. Opening the Heart was listed in the Spring Reading Section of the April/May, 2014 issue of Earth Star Magazine. Well Being Journal quoted from the book in the July/August 2014 issue.
Trying to list directly with book distributors handling your type of book can be mind numbing and expensive. One distributor had so many fees that I felt I would end up losing money to list my book rather than making money through listing with it.
Find out from your self-publisher how stores can order directly from them.
Think outside the box. Talk to area gift stores if appropriate.
I wish you much luck on your venture into publishing. I wish I had more direct experience with traditional publishers to share with you, but as I ended up with self-publishing, most of my advice deals with that. I also don’t really have any advice to give about trade publishers. That will take more research on your part. They are apparently somewhere between a traditional publishing house and a self-publishing company.
I am not advising you on which path to choose, self-publishing or traditional publishing, but rather just advising you to do your homework. It is up to you to decide what route to choose.
Much luck on your publishing venture, whichever path you choose.
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