Jesse's Tale: A Self-Published Adventure

Lit by Elaine Webster, 08/16/10

My adopted greyhound, Jesse, is a problem child. After eight years of consistent training we overcame an abusive puppy hood. As an avid memoirist, I thought about our connection, and my fingers took to the keyboard. For four days I typed our story. The early years—learning to cope with and control Jesse's fear aggression and separation anxiety. The middle years—honing our skills and learning to behave. I now reflect on how we've grown. Time taught Jesse to trust. It taught me discipline, control, assertiveness, and patience. Well, I still have a hard time with patience, which brings me to my adventure in self-publishing.

With my book finished, edited, and ready to go, I tossed all patience aside. I wanted to see Jesse's Tale in print and for sale. I decided to self-publish. Most writers are aware of Print on Demand (POD). Pick up any writer's trade magazine and you will see ads for several POD companies. Print on Demand was the first revolution in publishing; CreateSpace is the latest one. A service of Amazon, Createspace allows you to get a book into print quickly, painlessly, and—if you have the proper skills—for practically free.

I also have the luxury of an in-house publishing venture between my husband, Blake Webster and my editor, Steve Boga. They have published eight books, including Jesse's Tale in less than a year. Their new book release, How to Self-Publish Your Book the CreateSpace Way, is a guide through the entire creative process, including choosing a topic, writing the manuscript, laying out the pages, designing the covers, submitting files to CreateSpace, and promoting the book. Photoshop screenshots enrich and clarify the text.

I wrote Jesse's tale in a week. Steve and I worked on the edits and re-writes together for another couple of weeks. We delivered a finished manuscript to Blake. Jesse, Blake and I had a photo session in our backyard for the cover design. Blake produced the pages in Photoshop. We pushed a button on the computer and off it went to CreateSpace. Within a week we had a proof in hand for a total cost of less than five dollars. And Jesse's Tale was published four weeks after I hit the first computer key. Talk about instant gratification.

As I write this, Jesse's Tale has been for sale on for ten days and I've sold five copies. With each sale the book rises in the listings on for similar books. As I watch the sales numbers, I am actively promoting the book through traditional means, such as press releases to greyhound adoption groups. In addition I've launched a wordpress website which includes a blog for comments. I will not be surprised to see a book sale per day within the next month.

Blake and Steve's CreateSpace book went on sale after Jesse's Tale and is selling equally well. Their experience with previous releases has shown that a book sale per day is not unusual. The key to success is to find a niche market and then do everything you can to promote your book. In fact, no one will care about your creation more than you. You are your own best advocate and the sales will follow.

Elaine Webster, is a staff writer for the on-line publication, Greener Living Today. She's part of the Memoir Writing group in Sebastopol sponsored by SRJC and Steve Boga is the instructor. She lives in Windsor, CA and her e-mail address is E-Mail Elaine.

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