Part Three: So I started my newsletter, got some remarkable feedback from some well-known authors and my confidence was high. I grew my mailing list to 500 for Sycamore Roots. I sort of used the newsletter as a business card really. That is, I presented myself in the writing world with it. It was something I both enjoyed designing and putting together as well as sharing.
I did study some books on “newsletters” and good design, how to build a mailing list and what-not, I went to a printer and figured out half-tones, calculated just how many pages, just how much weight to have in order to keep my shipping costs low. I began to think like a business person–who would like to get a copy? Who was my audience. Even without the internet at the time I figured how addresses, scoured books, environmental groups, send to bookstores, I researched authors in my “niche” and got them copies. People started sending me submissions–did I pay? No. Did I edit submissions poorly, OMG YES!
I’m still surprised no one complained (well someone did once and I’ve slowly learned my lesson). I thought in terms of deadlines, costs, content, and even started getting some “reviews” from small magazines about my publication. I would say that without working on Sycamore Roots I would never have made the jump to being a book publisher. It was the strong mailing list, getting subscriptions sent to me, the feedback and connections with authors whom I respected that led me to believe I was on the right track. That my writing, my tastes, methods, visions were not too whimsical, or far-fetched.
When you’ve been wanting to be a writer most of your life but have ended up at a series of unintended, seemingly pointless jobs as I had, small things truly make all the difference in the world. It dawned on me several years ago that I am not expecting to ever be a “famous” million dollar author, but I still do believe in sharing writing. I believe that reading is a solitary and personal act which publishers play a major role in. I am counting on writing a few more books in my life. I am definitely an established publisher now and mostly it’s from taking the first step and seeing it through. Which is exactly what I used as my mind frame for my next step.
My next step was to join the bigger playing field, the big leagues, so to speak, of actually publishing books. As with the newsletter I have not had a course in business, in leadership, in finances. What I had was my mailing list of about 500 developed readers. But what would I publish first. What were my inspirations? Well, my background in sales and complaints of bad jobs was about to pay off. My desire to keep writing and keep writing was about to make sense to me. For many reasons I decided that to start out I would, horror of horrors, publish a book of my own. I will explain more about this and my opinions about self-publishing in my next article. thanks for reading.