Sometimes circumstances conspire, or coincidences contrive. Personally I have a firm belief in “God-ordained coincidences,” but mine aren’t so exciting or world-changing as the ones in Exodus – plagues don’t follow the laws of nature (luckily, God has even spared me, so far, from catching the ‘flu); mountains don’t erupt into columns of fire and smoke (I shall be extremely disturbed if Mount Hood begins to rumble); and nobody’s giving me directions carved in stone, though perhaps that would help. No, my coincidences are small: the much-maligned doors that won’t open till you push them (but why do two open at once? Did I push the wrong one?); the possibility that raises possibilities that raise unwarranted terror and freeze me to the spot; the quiet balm of a friend who whispers (can emails whisper?) “I’m praying for you.” All of which leave me wishing I were someone I’m not — well-published, well-read, much-admired-and-requested for speaking engagements, an author who can truly answer the “Will I have read anything of yours” question with “Sure!”
All of which leaves me… with the how, why, when, where and what to do about publishing (or republishing) my books. So here’s my dilemma: The publisher of the Five-Minute Bible Story series is preparing to close. There are twelve books so far in the series, book thirteen currently being written, and surely eleven more still waiting in my head. How, why, when, where and what shall I do with them?
- How? I can self-publish: I’ve done it before, with Bible picture books, spiritual speculative novellas, a poetry book, and several anthologies for our local writing group.
- Why? I’m good at it; I would have total control of my books.
- Why not? Without a publisher saying they were worth investing in, why would a purchaser choose to invest in them?
- When? It takes time, and I’ve lots of other demands on my time, including writing (do I have enough years left in me to write those eleven?). But I’d have to self-publish quickly or I’ll lose my reviews when the original versions disappear from Amazon.
- Where? All my experience is with Amazon – KDP and Createspace both. Neither of these is a good option for getting books into bookstores because… well, if you were a bookstore, would you want to pay Amazon every time you sold a book? So…
- Where else? Ingram Spark is the recommended option. It looks very tempting except it costs money (which might be avoided by joining the right societies, using the right coupons, timing things right etc… but see “When?”). Also, I’d have to buy my own ISBNs instead of using Amazon’s free ones… and individuals buying ISBNs get to pay rather significant fees while huge organizations can get them for a dollar apiece (which is why Amazon gives them away free I guess).
- Why? Better sales opportunities with Ingram Spark — more professional.
- Why not? Greater expense. Bigger initial financial and personal commitment. If I’m going to do, I have to plan to stick with it.
- What? Should I publish the books exactly as is? The publisher is willing to give me the files and the covers; as long as I can remove the original imprint I could use them as they are. Or I could re-edit while re-issuing; I could extend those ones that are really more like three-minute stories and make them five. I could add anything new I’ve learned from more recent research (I love making the stories scientifically and historically accurate as well as Biblically inspired). I could combine volumes (thus reducing the number of ISBNs needed). I could… Oh, so many decisions. Or…
- Going back to the How — I’m also trying to find an agent or a publisher
- Why? Because an agent would have access to more publishers (lots don’t take unsolicited manuscripts) and a publisher might already have a market of customers who like their books.
- Why not? Finding an agent willing to take on 12 books at once… I’m told they like series, but one shouldn’t be surprised to learn they prefer shorter ones.
- When? Send a query letter: Wait a couple of months: See if you get a reply… Actually, the agent I tried first said no in one day, which was good I suppose (a very personal rejection, to be celebrated with red wine and chocolate). But lots of agents only want personal recommendations. Lots don’t want children’s books. Lots aren’t taking submissions at the moment… and if I wait too long I’ll lose those reviews: Should I self-publish while waiting… or not? Query letters take lots of time and energy too.
- Where? I have lists of agents – I check them one by one on the computer. I have lists of publishers too. I have lists that have only just come out, just as my problem arose — coincidence or guidance? My lists have lists… And my friends might have connections, maybe, sometime, perhaps…
- So what… what shall I do?
A few days ago I imagined I might have to decide straight away. A wonderful (but limited-time) coupon appeared for self-publishing deals. I calculated where I’d get the money to finance the ISBNs. Then a friend delighted in the possibility of finding a publisher — maybe a real connection coming soon? Did I push the wrong door? Next, I learned I could get another less time-limiting coupon for self-publishing, so I can wait, at least a little while (still worried about those book reviews going away). I can wait. I will wait. And I will pray…
Because, if I’m not actively asking and watching and waiting, how will I know when God sends me an answer to prayer. No plagues, no volcanoes, no stone tablets please, but if you believe, please would you pray for me.