It's Been Rewarding and Painful

by Angela Holzer
(Palo Alto, CA, USA)

Gooey Gummy Geese:

Gooey Gummy Geese:

Here’s my story...

I believe I've found a niche that hasn't been published before. (That's what we all hope, anyways.)

Everyone I've talked to says, "You have to write these books!" (I'm sure everyone hears that.)

So, I ventured off a year ago to self-publish my books, because I wanted to get them out there sooner than 3 years (which is what they tell you it'll take once a big publisher accepts your manuscript).

And now, here I sit only one month away from printing 2 of the 6 books in my series. I already have pre-orders in from public libraries, but it's been a new adventure learning that I have to contact everyone directly. I did figure that once I finished the books, and got my website up and running, people would click on the "Purchase Now" link and I'd be able to pay my bills. :-)

Yes, I self-published (which means I started my own publishing company, Good Sound Publishing).

Yes, it's been a longer road then I ever thought it would be. (I was hoping to simply print this summer, but the illustrators needed longer than 3 months to complete the illustrations.)

Yes, I believe I've found 2 amazing illustrators at a reasonable price.

No, I don't know if I would have taken on such a large job if I would have known it would be so much work.

Yes, it's been fulfilling for me throughout the entire process. I really do enjoy learning that in order to be considered "self-published," you need more than your own barcodes.

Yes, it's been frustrating knowing that someone else could have walked me through the process and saved me a lot of trouble.

Feel free to ask me. I'll give you a timeline. :-)

Yes, I'm printing 4,000 books up front.

No, I'm not using an on-line printing press (print on demand). I found a local printer I liked and trusted. That way I have a working relationship with them for the future, and I can tell them how I want the book to look exactly.

Now the marketing....

Every library I've contacted directly has pre-ordered the books, because they tell me there isn't anything out there in a children's book focusing on speech development. So, I continue to contact everyone directly.

I wish I could find a way to get the word out without paying all my income to advertising. And that's the truth of it.

Ultimately, I want to be on Oprah! Anyone have contacts there? :-)

I hope this is helpful for anyone thinking about self-publishing. Honestly though, I have been blessed to financially sustain myself throughout this entire process. I'm not sure I could have gotten this far if I hadn't had the resources to support myself this last year.

Just food for thought.

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Oct 11, 2008
Your first commenter
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Angela, I just wanted to point out that your first commenter, Lp, is someone else combining text and sound. You might want to read about his efforts elsewhere on this site.

Oct 10, 2008
by: Angela


Thank you for taking the time to send me thoughts on how I can improve my website!

I'm still working on it...but I think it's getting better!


Oct 09, 2008
Pre-orders from libraries? Exciting!
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Angela, it sure sounds like you're doing a lot of things right. I especially like that you have a website up and running ahead of your books being printed.

Now I want to tell you why that website isn't going to attract a lot of traffic in its current incarnation. But it has potential!

The good news: You picked a much better domain name than most children's books authors. It's not named after you or one of your books. Rather, it includes the word "books" and the word "speak." (Better if it had been "speech.")

That means you have a chance to be found if a searcher types in something like books to help children speak. But that's a rather "long tail" search (that is, rare). Is there a way to rank highly for a more popular search term, like speech therapy books?

That's not a huge search term, but Google reports about 390 searches a month that include that term. And frankly, as I look at the search results for that term, I don't think you'd have to do too much work to get your site to rank at or near the top!

You could also shoot for the stars and try to get a high ranking for speech development, a phrase that features heavily on your site.

Let's see if we can't come up with a plan to send you higher in the rankings.

1) Give your home page a "meta" title (seen in the blue bar at the top of your browser) other than "home." Make sure it includes the phrase "speech therapy" or "speech development."

2) Let's get some "content" (some TEXT) on your home page. Say some more about your subject. And where it says "Children's Books for Speech Development"? Guess what? That's an IMAGE, an image of words. The search engines can't read it! Let's turn those into words.

3) Change the meta title on your children's books page to Speech Development Children's Books.

4) On your Book Content page, get rid of ALL those images of words and change them to actual text. That's the lingo that knowledgeable searchers will be looking for. Yahoo and Google don't know it's there!

5) Lose your blog! There's nothing timely about the information, so incorporate it into your website. In fact...

6) Keep adding information to your site about speech development/speech therapy. The search engines judge you not on the quality of your book but the quality of your website. Providing helpful free information gives the search engines a good reason to send your target audience to you, and it gives your target audience reason to think your books will be helpful.

How's that for a lot of advice you didn't ask for? Thanks for posting!

Oct 09, 2008
the perfect self publishing storm
by: Lp

Congrats, Angela. You've combined all the key elements of a successful self publishing venture, with unique positioning, attention to detail, an affordable price point, guts and hard work. Given all that, we can all make self-publishing work. You even used a local printer - which is an added selling point in today's "produce local" world. Cheers.

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