Starting my journey of trying to get my ebook published– including consultation with Skeeter Buck of Night River Press and Inkstacks

I launched my ebook on Amazon ~6 months ago called Everything I learned about sales I learned from my dog (click here to see the book: https://thesidehustlejourney.com/in7d).   I have done a few edits since then and now I feel like it is good enough to start talking to publishers.  Since this is all new to me, I started with my trusted source (Google, of course) on how to do it.

I researched how to find an agent and found these two sites:

https://www.agentquery.com/search.aspx

https://querytracker.net/

I found this one that is specific to business books:

https://writingtipsoasis.com/top-literary-agents-for-business-books/

Everything I read said I needed to write a query letter so I looked up how to write a query letter at these sites:

https://nybookeditors.com/2015/12/how-to-write-a-darn-good-query-letter/

I also found this post I liked on how to get your book published:

While I was doing this online research, I saw an old friend, Skeeter Buck, who started a publishing company, Night River Press, (Bringing Your Story to Life) a few years ago.  She’s also starting another company, Instacks (Inkstacks – a guided experience for writers from inspiration to realization) to help writers take their ideas from inspiration to realization).  Skeeter knows a lot about what I needed to learn but I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable by bugging her about publishing my book but she, gratefully, asked me about it first.  She was amazing and helpful (as old friends usually are) about guiding me through how to start this process and even offered me a free consulting session with her. Cheers to having friends in the right places when you need help.  

Here are my notes from that session.  She said I could share my notes in a blog so I’m giving you advice that I was grateful to get in hopes that it helps others on their journeys.   

We started the session by her asking me what my goals were in writing my book.  I told her my 2019 goal was to learn something new and publish an ebook (which I did).  My 2020 goal is to see if it has any legs as an ebook, possibly start to market the ebook and try to get it published in print.

She gave me some feedback on my book:

  • She thought it was a great book (yeah!).
  • The name of the book is awesome (I love it too!).
  • I have great writing skills- I have my own tone and it is awesome (thanks!).
  • My style is very informal (which is my intent, yeah!).
  • She said as the reader, she felt like I was speaking directly to her and she was the only person in the room, which is great (she said I have the same effect in person, which I take as a major compliment from a dear friend).
  • She asked how I edited it and I said I had a few folks look at it.  My sister is a writer and looked at a lot of it but I did not pay anyone to edit it.
  • She thinks I should pay to get it professionally edited to take it to the next level.
  • She asked about the cover.  I took a picture of my dog, Oliver, and paid someone on Fiverr to make it a graphic and then I created the cover on Kindle Creator.  She thinks I should get the cover professionally done.

Skeeter explained that there are 3 types of editing 

  • Developmental and structural 
    • If you have a story, you have someone to make sure the manuscript has a flow 
  • Basic editing
    • Commas, spelling, etc. 
  • Proof editing
    • Looking for grammatical stuff

Skeeter knows someone who could edit it for ~$500 but she said if I want to make it a learning journey, I might want to shop it on Reedsy (https://reedsy.com/).   I hadn’t heard about Reedsy but when I looked it up, the site says it “can help at every stage of your publishing journey”.  They are an educational website and a one-stop shop for writers. It’s similar to the company that Skeeter is co-funding, Inkstacks, but Inkstacks is still in development so she thought it might be helpful for me to check out Reedsy.  It seems a lot like Fiverr, which I have used to hire people to create logos, make graphic of my dog for the cover, build a website, etc. Check it out at https://theordinarymom.com/fiverr (FYI- this is an affiliate link so I may get paid if you buy something).

Reedsy looks like a great resource.  Since Inkstacks.com is still in development, I was grateful for Skeeter to send me to her competitor.  It’s like when you go to a store looking for a specific item and they say, “we are out of stock of that but if you head over to X store, I think they may have it”.  Because someone actually told you to go to their competitor, it makes you like them even more and you make the effort to go back to that store later to give them your business.  Because of that, I will certainly check out Instacks when it’s done but, of course, I would have anyway because my friend is one of the co-founders but just trying to make a point of how awesome Skeeter was to refer me to her competition.

Skeeter and I spent some time talking about my target market with my book and came up with 3 target markets:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Business

Skeeter very wisely pointed out that I could take the theme of “Everything I learned about sales, I learned from my dog” and instead of sales, I could insert other topics like marketing, business, etc.  I realized I could even move away from business and insert anything else I want to write about i.e. parenting, traveling, side hustling, etc. Who knows, maybe writing more ebooks with that theme will be my next side hustle.  Promise me you won’t steal my idea. 

Skeeter explained that to print a book, you need an ISBN (international standard book number).   Without an ISBN, people don’t think it’s professionally published. Every format will have to be a separate ISBN i.e. ebook, audio, and print.  She suggested that I should just buy a bundle of 10.

She told me a story about one of her authors  who is a retired University professor. The book she wrote is now her introduction when she speaks, attends a conference, etc.  She doesn’t hand out a business card, she gives a book as one way to get both her name and book out there. She even negotiates in her speaking contracts that they have to buy a certain number of books (~15 books) at a discount.  Brilliant!

Skeeter said that if I want to do any public speaking around sales or teach a class (in person or online), having a book is a great way to get my name out there and give me some credibility i.e. sign up for my online sales class for $129 and get the book included. The book could also be the outline for the class if I want it to be. I love this idea of making the book an extension of myself at speaking engagements, online classes, etc.  In this scenario, the book might not actually make me money but it gets me in the door to other things that I might want to do. I hadn’t thought about doing any speaking or creating any online classes about sales so it sparked some more side hustle ideas I may come back to in the future. 

Skeeter asked how I wanted to distribute my book.  “I have no idea” was my answer. As a publisher, she has an account with different aggregators to push out to Barnes and Noble, etc. or print on demand.  That’s the type of thing that a publisher has that I as a writer don’t have access to or, frankly, know anything about. This is one way that a publisher can help.   We didn’t decide if she would publish my book or guide me to other resources of someone who might be interested but she gave me the list of recommendations below and, after I complete my list, we will get back together to discuss the next steps.  

We ended the session with her recommendations for me:

  • Have someone professionally edit it
    • Use Reedsy.com 
  • Think about how I want to use it.  Some examples are:
    • As a marketing tool to use in an online class, speak to Sales, Marketing and Business people
    • As a pitch book to sell other products or services that I have 
  • Change the cover
    • Bring in a different design 
    • You have 8 seconds to grab attention at a bookstore 
    • Shop around with different designers on the site
      • Tell them what you want to see in the cover
      • Use Reedsy.com
        • Can upload for free and shop it around to editors 
  • Get a bundle of 10 ISBNs from Bowker (http://www.bowker.com/)- this is where everyone, including Amazon, gets their ISBNs
  • Enhance the layout and typesetting 
    • Where the chapters break, have a typesetter, put a paw print where there is a page number
    • Each chapter could have something unique to my content like a dog chewing on a bone

Take the epub file from my Kindle Create software as-is:

  • Log onto Reedsy and shop for an editor
  • Make all these changes to my ebook and then I can convert ebook to a print book
    • Draft to digital
    • She works with a company (IngramSpark) that would hold inventory and ship for Amazon orders 

I’m excited to have some direction for my next phase of this project and have someone to hold me accountable.  As always, I don’t know where this journey will lead me but I’m having fun learning, documenting and sharing my experiences along the way. 

If you found this helpful and want to have your own (paid) consultation session with Skeeter, you can email her at skeetieb@me.com. Check her out at https://www.nightriverpress.com/ and watch for her new business in the next few months at https://inkstacks.com/.

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