Learning by Doing

by Markie Paxton
(Phoenix, AZ)

Taylor Must Behave

Taylor Must Behave

I have no idea what I'm doing. Ain't it great!!

You have to take a course in obnoxious.

Hi, it's me. I would love to be able to sit here and spew out the ultimate genius information about self-publishing, but I can't. I've only just done it myself a couple of months ago.

But let me tell you, no matter what happens, this has been a most aggravating and terrific experience so far!!

I have an actual book that I wrote and illustrated and had a wonderful time doing. I have sold 30 copies of my little book, but it feels like a million! I've received compliments and raves I never dreamed of (little kids can be quite touching). I've met terrific people along the way whom I never would have met otherwise. I've learned a LOT of stuff (#1 - any time anything says, "it's so easy," just throw your crayons and computer out the window now, or gird your loins and position yourself for the fight ahead).

And now I have a little book. And people are buying it! And now people are buying my second little book, and it feels just as monumental. I feel like Hemingway!!

BUT - what I DO know is self publishing means you do all the heavy lifting. I used CreateSpace, and they're just terrific and very helpful, but you have to learn how to do all the steps required. And it's frustrating as all get-out. But a man from their community blog (very cool) contacted me via my frustrated posted questions and taught me how to do it.

You draw, you write, you learn about margins, bleed (not actually physically - it's a printing term), sizing, fonts and any other technical thing they can throw at you. You finally finish it, you send it, they return it with corrections, you send it again, they return it again so many times that you think you can actually hear them laughing at your frustration.

But if you want it badly enough, you just keep going until you get it. And then you have your own little book, and it is so cool.

AND THEN you have to get it out there.

I have 2 books on Amazon. So what? All they basically do is print it and put it on their site.

No one is going to beat down your door to buy your book in the beginning. You have to take a course in obnoxious and go out there and beat the streets, show it to friends, neighbors, total strangers, anyone who will listen, to make things happen.

Do readings at libraries, schools, find privately owned small book stores; they love to showcase local artists. I sold 2 copies the other day just walking around WalMart, holding the books with the covers strategically facing out. Find fabulous websites like this one that are encouraging and helpful. Just keep learning and doing and thinking and pushing.

It's like the lottery - you can't win if you don't play!

Taylor Must Behave at CreateSpace.

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Jun 05, 2010
Better belated than never
by: Markie

Well, I see that you have valid points here, and if I did expect the moon to knock on my door over one kid book, I would have to be filed under the category of hopelessly silly. The fact of the matter was that I had everything I do on the old site--kid books, leather bags, painted furniture, greeting cards, and more. After a while of sitting like Stella Dallas's birthday party and no one coming to my site, I started paying up for this promise and paying up for that promise and before you knew it I was between $60-80 a month for nothing to happen. I finally spoke to a man at Yahoo who explained to me that in the olden days if you had a website you could get somewhere rather quickly, but now EVERYONE has a site and the competition is ferocious. BUT not being one to give up, I have found an absolutely FREE and fabulous site you build yourself through Microsoft. It's FREE, and really is easy to use, has an automatic slide show, color selections, a million things from which to choose to make your custom site, and every time I look, I find something else they offer to make it better. They do all the meta tagging and all that other silly stuff you shouldn't have to worry about. They even explain in simple English how to put that stinkin' PayPal button on your page---pie easy. And it's FREE; did I mention that? And here's a word of warning - but I thought this was FANTASTIC - the second you put stuff up there, it's on the web. I wasn't even finished with it before I was getting hits. And you're 10000% right about Google....everything pops right up on it, and then there's Yahoo, which my stuff pops up on sometimes. Don't know what the difference is there, but I'm lovin' Google. And Mr. Gates for doing this. OH--OH YEAH, it's called Microsoft Officelive, you join up and you're off and running!!

So I hope this helps someone out there who is as frustrated as I was with the whole thing but not willing to give up. Just passing on some great information!! Thanks for the opportunity.

May 26, 2010
You crack me up!
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Markie, I had my own Journey Through Stupidville before I built this site. So I agree with you...to a point.

No one can put up a site that's simply about their book (or books) and hope to compete with the big boys. You're absolutely right about that. But...

The reason Google is so popular is because it turned the Web into a meritocracy. It was the first (and some would say only) search engine to spit back results that, more often than not, are almost exactly what the searcher wants.

That means a newbie CAN compete. If you create a great site, Google will send traffic to it, and the next thing you know you'll be passing up those big boys.

I know. It's happened with this site.

The trick is to be about something bigger than yourself and your book(s). Say, for instance, that you created a site focused on books for girls. If you made your site an excellent source of information on that subject, you would likely end up with a fair share of the 90,000 people per month who search books for girls. (And once they've arrived, you could tell them all about YOUR book.)

But if you make a site about only ONE book--say, yours--that happens to be a book for girls, well, Google is going to decide you DON'T merit a fair share of that books for girls traffic.

At least that's what I've come to believe. This page probably does a better job of explaining what I mean than I do.

But yes, if some webmaster or website designer tells a writer they're going to build a site just for your book and attract all sorts of traffic...then congratulations! That writer has actually found a tour guide for a Journey Through Stupidville.

May 26, 2010
What I learned by Markie Paxton
by: Markie

From here on and far into the future, I shall refer to my early experience with my own website as My Journey Through Stupidville. It's sort of the equivalent of "it's so easy"--only the line to fall for this time is "Get your own website; be a millionaire in a week!" That used to be the case, but the fact is that now everyone and their dog (and their dog's dog) has a website, and there's no way anyone is going to find you floating out there on your own little island. Get a Wilson volleyball and light a fire, because it's going to be a lonely and frustrating ride.

Website competition is now beyond astronomical, not to mention the bottom-feeders who will build you "the most phenomenal site for a nominal fee". NEVER EVER PREPAY ANYONE FOR ANYTHING!!!!

Fee payers beware - the vast majority of these cretins will disappear halfway through the building of your site. So while you sit there abandoned, it dawns on you that if THEY learned how to build a site, you can learn, too. Well, you can and you will, and that Einstein feeling will run through your veins and you'll tell all your friends and they'll nod and smile and you'll be sitting there for months with your own little website, your Wilson ball and your fire wondering why the planet isn't beating a path to your door. At this point it should smack you in the head that there are already huge, well-known sites out there that can connect to what you are doing in some way and that it might be a real good idea to join a site the world has already discovered instead of trying to draw the world to discover you. And some of them are FREE!!! Fabulous though you are, wouldn't it just be easier and more productive to join the crowd instead of trying to make your own crowd?

May 23, 2010
Fantastic post
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Markie, I love your enthusiasm and what you have to say. And what an apt line: "take a course in obnoxious"!

The proof of how much you're getting out of what you're doing is that you've already done it a second time.

I can't help noticing that you don't have the usual, by-the-numbers, author website. I'm impressed! I know that those things really don't work, but I know it from experience. How did you figure it out?

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