alternative to traditional publishing

Cool Stuff from Kindle Direct Publishing: Joe Mihalic Self-pubs "No More Harvard Debt"


I run across a lot of bloggers and writers on the Internet and once in a while I spot something different.

It happened when I saw Joe Mihalic’s blog, “No More Harvard Debt.” I liked what I saw so much I wrote a short post, here, last May.

For those who don’t know, Joe is a young professional who has been blogging about how he paid off almost six figures in student loans by using good old fashioned American common sense. Instead of complaining about his situation and looking for a handout, he cleared his own debts by making sacrifices and working hard.

A lot of people…including me…suggested he turn the blog into a non-fiction book and self-publish it on Amazon.

And that’s exactly what he did. He didn’t hire a copy editor or a cover artist. And in this case he didn’t need either one. He’s been blogging this information for a long time. He’s also a Harvard grad and knows how to spell and how to begin and end a paragraph.

I’m glad he left this comment on my blog post yesterday, otherwise it might have taken me longer to find out he’d pubbed the book himself.

Ryan, thank you for the props! Your blog was one of the voices of encouragement that prompted me to do it–no cover artist or editor hired, so $0 investment on my part, other than a TON of my time…

The coolest thing about what Joe did by pubbing this book on Amazon is how many other people he’s going to help. Tony and I were both lucky enough not to have student loans from college, but we do have nieces and nephews with student loans right now. I don’t know one person without someone close to them without student debt right now.

But more than that, Joe did it the old fashioned way, right down to the way he published his book and the way he’s been talking about his experiences. He even says this in his latest blog post:

I’ve made the book available as part of Kindle Direct Publishing Select program which makes it free to Amazon Prime members. Alternatively, if the $3 cost represents a hardship for you, then please email me at nomoreharvarddebt@gmail.com and we can work something out. I extend the same offer to dedicated followers/commentors/encouragers–you know who you are!

The book is 2.99 and you can purchase it here. Last time I checked, it’s on three Amazon bestseller lists in the top 100. Even though I’ve read a lot of his posts I’m going to download a copy just to see what the book is like. I’ve always found the blogging to book concept fascinating. Especially when there’s substance to the book and the blog that no one else has done before.

How to Deal with an Editor who Needs a Kick in the…

I smiled when I wrote the title to this post. And I’d like to state, very clearly, this has nothing to do with either of my favorite editors, Janet and Dalia. I love these people and work well with them. I feel like Janet and I have established more than a working relationship: we’re friends. I’ve watched her go through a lot in the past few years, and she’s come through it like a trooper. Editing books with these two wonderful people is something I look forward to. I wish everyone in publishing could have editors like Janet and Dalia.

The reason I’m posting about this topic is because an author friend of mine had trouble with her editor, and it sounded all too familiar to me. I once had the same trouble with an editor, and it can make the entire publishing experience frustrating and dismal if you don’t know how to deal with it.

The relationship between author and editor can be tricky. Just like in life, you either get along with some people or you don’t. And there’s no rhyme or reason. And if you don’t get along with your editor, it can be extremely difficult. There must be a give and take on both sides at all times, and egos have to be put aside for the sake of the book so nothing is compromised.

In my case, I had an editor who didn’t know how to communicate well electronically. She made notes and comments on the side of the manuscript in capital letters, with exclamation points. And she wasn’t shy about it. She would write: “WRONG,” at the top of the comment, and then go into a pedantic rant about a small detail that wasn’t even important to the story, the love, or the romance. A chapter later, she would write, “WRONG AGAIN!!” and continue on with another rant about some idiotic fact that made no sense to the storyline or the book. I simply removed the issues, and rewrote a sentence or two. That’s all it took to fix. There was no need for a two page pen pal letter from this editor.

When you’re dealing with people through e-mail or electronic communication, you have to choose the way you speak with care. Capital letters can mean anything from arrogance to insult. I take it as a direct message whenever someone uses all caps with me. It’s like shouting through cyberspace, and I don’t like it when it’s directed at me without just cause. I have a long fuse, and I’m not confrontational. But if someone were to shout at me in person, they’d better stand back, grab something, and be prepared for a response that might floor them…something they won’t forget any time soon. This is just instinct for me; I think most people react the same way.

But when an editor does this on a word document, while you’re working on a manuscript you care about, it’s not easy to deal with. Your first instinct is to shout right back, in all caps. But the best thing to do is sit back, take a break, and calm down. Going back with snide remarks and swipes isn’t going to make the book any better and you’re not going to feel any better. I’ve learned this through experience, trust me.

I’ve also learned not to take everything an editor says or suggests seriously. Sometimes they are right. I’ve conceded many times because editors have been right. But they aren’t always right, and you have to know when to stand up for what you believe is right for the book. You know your book better than anyone; you know your readers better than anyone. But you also have to learn how to react to an editor in a nice, professional manner, because you might be working with this editor again down the line. You’re never going to like this person, you’re always going to think this person is an idiot, but you’re going to have to figure out a way to get along with this person.

I think the worst editorial experience I ever suffered through was with a copyeditor who had a loud, condescending tone/voice. I’m not sure if she really was condescending or not (why you have to be careful with e-mail and electronic communication). But she sure sounded that way, and I don’t take well to pushy people. If someone pushes me too far, I’ll either push back or pull. Either way, they are going to be sorry (smile). This editor used words like “parse” whenever she didn’t like the way two characters were interacting…”This doesn’t parse well…” I would look at the comments and think, “WTF?” Who the hell uses the word “parse?” And she loved to change character dialogue. Yup. She did that. And she was only a copyeditor, not a managing editor. Her job was to fix spelling and correct grammatical errors, not add input to the storyline.

And there’s only one way to deal with condescending people who think they know it all: total dismissal. You’re never going to win with people like this. And there’s no point in complaining to the publisher. It only adds fuel to an already smoldering fire. Unless you truly believe that what the editor is doing will hurt the integrity of the book, the small changes don’t really matter and sometimes it’s just easier all the way around to let them have their way.

So if you ever come across an editor who knows it all, rants about things that don’t matter to the book, and you get the feeling she doesn’t really understand what you’re trying to do with the book, handle it with care. And always keep the integrity of the book as the main focus, not the editor who needs a good swift kick in the ass. A week later, none of it will really matter.

All About E-publishing!!

Today I did a guest blogging stint over at Rebecca Leigh, here. I wrote a post that I hope answered a few questions about e-publishers. (Huge thanks to Rebecca Leigh!)

But after reading two agent blog posts this evening, I’d like to follow up on my guest blogger post right now.

These agents went into detail describing the differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing. But they failed to mention one important factor that all authors and potential authors should know about. And that’s e-publishers. They made it sound as though the only alternative to traditional publishing is self-publishing and they totally left out e-publishers.

But there is an alternative to traditional publishing and self-publishing. And that’s submitting your work to an e-publisher. I come from a background of working with traditional publishers, and when I decided to make the switch to e-publishing I wasn’t sure what to expect. But what I found was not all that different from traditional publishers. It’s just as professional, if not more because authors are treated very, very well.

I’m contracted to do a certain amount of books, just like with a traditional publisher. When I submit the finished books, they then go to an editor, and then to a copy editor, and I don’t pay for these services either. When the books are released, my e-publishers work hard to distribute and market, always helping me along the way, all over the world. I get letters from readers in places I’ve never even heard of.

So e-publishing isn’t all that different from traditional publishing. And self-publishing is not the only alternative to getting your book published when traditional publishers turn you away based on purely subjective reasons.

I thought it was important to post about this, especially while the publishing industry is going through so many changes and no one knows what to expect next. And trust me, those who are hanging on to traditional ways, aren’t going to tell you what I just did. For some reason, whenever they talk about e-publishers the words seem to stick in their throats and they start choking (huge smile).