Monday, November 19, 2012

K. Alison Albury* Self-Published Author*


I first met K. Alison Albury on a golf course. Good-natured Alison was extremely kind to tolerate my numerous divots and frequent escapades in multiple sand traps. It’s a wonder that she still talks to me!

While fishing my ball out of a turtle infested pond, Alison nonchalantly mentioned that she was writing a book. Forget the ball! It was I who wanted to write a book. As I accidentally pushed the small white sphere further into the mouth of the pond, Alison told me about her book.

A native Bahamian, Alison is the celebrated self-published author of “Life on a Rock.” Her remarkable story depicts the experiences that both she and her husband shared while living on Highborne Cay, an isolated island in The Bahamas. Well written, as well as compelling, after three years, “Life on a Rock,” is still in demand.

Recently, over a Starbuck’s Skinny Carmel Macchiato, Alison and I talked about our self-publishing experiences. It was my initial intention to take notes for this blog, but as I listened, I offered Alison, "Jeralyn Writes" as a platform in which to share her expertise.
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1) Why did you self-publish as opposed to traditional publishing?
I self-published for a variety of reasons, the main one being that the genre of the book and the fact that it was limited by geographical location, made finding an agent to represent me a very difficult task. I also took into consideration that I might have to spend months, or even years, seeking an agent to represent me in the publishing business (and you MUST have an agent if you wish to be accepted by a publishing house.) For unknown authors, query and cover letters accompanied with a writing sample of the manuscript are required submissions for every prospective agent. This is a grueling project and becomes even more daunting when letters of rejection from agents begin to come in. 

I happened to hear about CreateSpace (then known as Book Surge) in a spam e/mail, and knew that my luck had changed. I checked out their website, and called for more information. CreateSpace offered to print my book, complete with cover and photographs. I no longer needed a publisher. As a new author, I understood that this would be the easiest road, and hoped it would be the best.

2. What made you decide on Createspace?
After researching CreateSpace’s website, I knew this company could help me do the job. They immediately assigned an author’s representative, so I worked with the same person throughout the entire publishing process. This was most helpful because this kept the continuity of the project focused with the same person. I was grateful to have someone on the other end of the phone with whom I could ask technical questions and get excellent advice.

3. How was your experience with CreateSpace; any Difficulties?
I rate my experience with CreateSpace a 9 out of 10. My representative was extremely knowledgeable, knew the publishing business inside and out, and was always there for me. I not only received information and suggestions about publishing my particular book; I also gained much knowledge in what the printing process entails. As the author who is self-publishing learns, one must choose everything from font type to how the chapters are separated. Because of my familiarity with the computer, this was an easy task for me. It may be an issue for someone who is not computer literate.

The only difficulty I had with CreateSpace was in the ordering/shipping process. Because I live in the Bahamas and distribute out of Nassau (to local vendors), I needed to bring my book supply in from the USA by sea. There were customs and shipping issues, and it took several shipments before the books flowed well into this offshore destination. Several times I had challenges obtaining a proper invoice for Bahamas Customs. One time, the quantity of books was incorrect. However, I am happy to say we worked through the issues together, and eventually, the entire process became easier.

4. What was the hardest obstacle in your decision to self-publish?
The decision to self-publish was easy; it avoided any rejection letters. Frankly, it is very difficult to get (immediate) acceptance from an agent. Therefore, my advice for the writer that is contemplating publishing by the traditional method is to be prepared for much negativity.

Also, there was the inventory/consignment issue. Everyone loves to hear that their book has been accepted for sale by a big chain store.….but nobody likes to hear that after a few months, they want to return 2,000 copies. Returned copies sounded like a big problem to me.

5. As a Bahamian author, your book sales are obviously in the Bahamas. Are they also in the US, and if so, how did you arrange this?
My book is for sale throughout the Bahamas and in the USA on Amazon.com. I do all my own inventory, sales and shipping in the Bahamas; I let Amazon.com sell my book in the States. They pay me a fair commission for each book sold, and have a better point of sale in the USA than I could ever establish. I would have liked a large bookseller to take the book, but this wasn't to be.

6. How did you market your book here (and in the US)?
When my book was first published, I did a campaign throughout New Providence/Nassau and the Family Islands. I was on three talk shows; conducted book events in two stores and at two family island locations; and also placed an advertisement in both local papers, informing the public that the book was on the shelves. I kept my wholesale price as low as possible to give the retailers a good mark-up.

Now, three years later, I am still selling the book to most of the original vendors. It has been accepted by the tourist industry as one of the most popular ‘local’ books, so I am confident that sales will continue.

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5 comments:

  1. I am a self-published author and found this information interesting. Thanks for posting.

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  2. Invaluable information! Thanks, Jeralyn - and thanks to Alison too. "Love on a Rock" is a great book. I enjoyed every bit of it, especially as my husband and I worked as property managers for many years! We can really relate to some of Alison's tales!

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  3. I am a self-published author too and this information a very interesting information. Would you like to venture out another self-publishing too?

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  4. Very sensible advice and lots of practical detail. Thank you.

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