Toronto author reveals tips on how to publish your own book
The ‘write’ stuff
It’s only been six months since her book came out, and already Toronto author Claudette McGowan has sold more than 4,000 copies. What’s equally impressive is that she accomplished all this on her own.
Diane Slawych, Special to QMI Agency
Author Claudette McGowan credits her self-publishing success to starting the publicity process early and utilizing social networking tools such as Facebook and YouTube.
Unlike most authors, McGowan never considered approaching publishers with her idea. “The book process is something I wanted to do from beginning to end. I never ever considered not doing it on my own,” she says.
Of course having a good topic helps, and McGowan had that. Her book, Da Ultimate Hookup: Free Things for all Canadians, is a 144-page guide to more than 100 freebies in 19 categories ranging from entertainment and health, to business and education.
McGowan also credits her success to starting the publicity process early in the game, and utilizing social networking tools such as Facebook and YouTube, which she says were “very important.”
It took McGowan a few years to gather all the freebie ideas for her book through friends, family and research. She decided to turn the information into a book when she went on maternity leave from her job as a bank manager.
First, she collected, updated and organized the material into chapters.
Next, her sister, an editor, made changes where needed. After that, almost everything went electronic. McGowan put out a bid at guru.com to have the book professionally laid out (the winning bid came from New Zealand).
Six months before it was published, galleys were sent to various relevant media. This garnered a few positive reviews — including on entrepreneur.com and in the Midwest Book Review. The book was then printed by Webcom, a full-service book manufacturer and finally published under McGowan’s own company Excelovate, which she set up in 2008. The books are being sold through amazon.com, smaller book stores and through McGowan’s website.
A proactive publicity campaign (which included sending letters) generated sales from a variety of unexpected sources including members of the YWCA, the Ojibway and Cree Cultural Centre, and even a boilermakers association!
Some orders have come from as far away as Fort Smith, N.W.T., and Frankfurt, Germany.
Here are McGowan’s tips for going it alone:
• Keep at it. “I met Jack Canfield (co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series) and he said he’d been turned down by 133 publishers,” McGowan says.
• Start the publicity campaign early. Don’t wait until the book is published before you come up with a strategy to promote it.
• Consider where you would sell your book and who would benefit from it. Then reach out to those people, groups or companies.
• Don’t try to do everything yourself. Play to your strengths and outsource the rest to others.
• Every day, try to do at least one thing to publicize your book. Get out there. Appear at relevant trade shows and book fairs, and send out news releases.
• Use social networking tools such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to publicize your book.
Among the entries in Da Ultimate Hookup: Free Things for all Canadians, are contacts for free legal help, tax preparation and restaurants where kids eat free. McGowan says some of her favourite freebies include scholarships for students (high marks not required) who are involved in their communities; computers for kids from low-income families; the services of a life coach; and a basket of goodies for new mothers.
McGowan even offers a freebie of her own. Every week she gives out $100 to a lucky person who registers on her website. The give-away continues throughout 2010. “We’re investing the profits of the book to keep the notion of free things alive,” the author says. For details, visit daultimatehookup.com.