I’ll tell you what it’s like to publish a book. You write it, you read and study The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter, you hire a printer, you publish your book under your company name, and then you wonder why you did all this. You have 1,000 books in print on how to survive epilepsy and brain surgery, but who cares? How will you get people to read your book when you’re doing all you can to forget about it?
When I was first diagnosed with epilepsy, I didn’t want to believe it! I was also having grand mal seizures in my sleep about every couple of weeks. I’d wake up with blood on my pillow from biting my tongue, a really bad headache, a short-term memory that didn’t work very well, and some really sore muscles. They were seizures all right, and they were as real as they get. But I didn’t want to be categorized as a disabled person. At the time, it seemed like a social stigma that I didn’t want to be associated with.
I had brain surgery five and a half years ago to get my life back. And it worked! After surgery, I decided to write and publish my book because I felt there was a need for it. I just knew people would come flocking out of the woodwork to hear about this exciting miracle. How could I be well? How could I be alive? Didn’t the world want to know?
The answer is “yes” and “no.” Everyone has their own mountains to climb and their own reasons for climbing. When you keep this in mind, it will make marketing your book a much easier process. Always remember that the rest of the world revolves around itself, that “we see the world as we are, not as it is.”
The minute I got my book in hand, I wrote letters to the headquarters of Borders, Barnes & Noble, and the Epilepsy Foundation. Barnes & Noble sent me their list of requirements, as well as their wholesaler list. I chose Ingram since they were the largest. I’ve always been a believer in choosing the biggest and best first. If you get turned down, it won’t be such a disappointment. After all, did you really expect to be accepted in the first place? Start big, then work your way down. It’s the only way to go. So I did!
B&N accepted me in just two months, while Borders turned me down altogether. The Epilepsy Foundation sent my book through all kinds of scrutinizing before finally coming to a decision and ordering 100 copies. It took them seven months to finally say “yes.” Amazon said “yes” right away. I think they like to accept as many books as possible… then they can brag about being the largest bookstore in the world.
I became a member of the Publishers Marketing Association and started doing all kinds of ads with the organization. I also ran ads in local papers and in some of Ingram’s magazines. At one point, I contacted a news reporter who I knew in Austin and asked if he’d be interested in my story. He was! I used to cut his hair, so he did a really great interview and report.
After nine months, I was a success! Then I had to decide how I would continue with this story. I had sold out of the first 1,000 books and couldn’t believe it! But that nine months took forever. Every day, all I thought about was how to get to the next step. That nine months seemed to last about as long as the seizures! Well, OK, it wasn’t quite that bad. I guess it just seemed like a long time, because I was constantly worried about the reception I would receive or perhaps not receive. I’m happy to say that now that fear, for the most part, is over! I’ve gone ahead and published a second edition with more confidence. And there’s new information in it that I want to get out to the world.
Looking back, I realize that when I wrote Seizure Free, I just wanted one person to tell me that my book had helped. I guess I was really lucky. Now I’d also like to know that my endeavors will inspire other people to follow their dreams, no matter what they are. The important thing is that you have dreams, and that you make a difference because of them.
Leanne Chilton is President of English Press Publications and the author of “Seizure Free: From Epilepsy to Brain Surgery, I Survived, and You Can, Too!” Chilton can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her Web site at www.englishpress.com/.