Claiming My Space in a New Herd.

BhimRules.I don’t think I’ve ever once checked to see who the actual publisher was of any of the books I’ve read. In the last year, it’s all I do.

In defense of traditional publishers–it’s complicated. I have read lots of very sobering statistics lately. Book sales have dropped every year since 2007 and at the same time, a higher number of books are published each year. Meaning there is a market glut. The average book sells 250 copies–no matter if it’s traditionally published or self-published. That takes eBooks into account; the threat that they would take over the market never materialized. No wonder publishers are conservative. Selling 250 books isn’t enough to break even and people are losing serious money. And when you take Stephen King’s cut out, it’s even worse.

Some of you have suggested self-publishing. I’ve been researching that enough to know there are lots of scams out there. Some commercial self-publishers are called vanity presses because the authors are fine with spending money on a lark and sales don’t matter. The hairy ones who live in my barn like to keep an eye on what I’m doing with the hay money.

Still, early on I had the opportunity to speak with a retired publisher and her advice, surprisingly, was to self-publish. She said I had about the same chance of being picked up by a publisher that way as the submission process. And my story would be being read in the process, which turns out to be harder to accomplish than you’d think.

Self-publishing means there is virtually no chance it would ever be in a bookstore and all the marketing and promotional work would be up to me. They tell you to consider the market. Will you sell enough books to recover the investment? Most people don’t. Self-publishing is an option–all it takes is money and time. And the confidence that your book will find an audience larger than your circle of friends.

Other options: I could attend writer’s conferences and hope to meet someone who knows someone. Some agents advise authors to submit chapters to contests, as short stories meant to spark interest. Memoir isn’t in the top five popular book genres, so re-writing memoirs into fiction is a frequent suggestion. I wonder how many people who manage to get the manuscript written, a gargantuan task in itself, end up blocked by this wall?

Week 16 and not a peep from publishers. I have two other books in the editing process, and three other books outlined. And I’ll be 61 this year. Do the math.

Nadja left this comment last week, “And it’s funny somehow because around horses the first thing one does (at least if one is appealed by horsemanship) is to claim one’s space. I have trouble doing that outside the barn though.”

Me, too, Nadja. And it doesn’t get easier as time passes. There’s a family story that the first sentence I learned to say was, “I’ll do it myself.” It wasn’t relayed as amusing or clever of me; it was brought up as proof that I had always been bull-headed–not a compliment. Even on a farm, it wasn’t a desired quality in a little girl. I’m not sure the world is ready for bull-headed little girls yet.

I had hoped a traditional publisher would stand up for me and my book. I haven’t had much of that kind of support in my life and it would be nice. But if this book thing is like any other herd, then I have to carve a space for myself. Or maybe at this age, I’m just tired of asking permission. I do know this for sure: life is short, I’m still bull-headed, and I’ve got a charge card.

And so, with a drum roll that sounds a little like a tense trot, I announce that Stable Relation will be published by Prairie Moon Press. Me.

But of course, by “me,” I mean us.

I’d be grateful for your continued help. I promise to make plenty of room.


  1. Yeah!!! You just let us know what Prairie Moon Press and you need to get this out there. You have an international circle of friends and acquaintances that are chomping at the bit to read your book. I can see already, (even without reading it yet) there are many people I would like to give it as a gift to… so there you have it! I’m excited and think this will be a good thing. Perhaps you can sell this at stores like Equiline, Big R, or a local store. I’ll help you market them 🙂


    • Giving my rope a shake, Pat. Horses are easier than humans, but you know all about that. Thank you for your friendship, your help with the manuscript, and just being you. 🙂


  2. I examined all of these options when I decided to stop mucking around and DO SOMETHING with all those books I’d written. I went with option three, a small “boutique” press. I have the editing and cover design covered, plus an organization to handle the legal issues such as book theft (a very real problem) When I first started with Black Opal they were very small; the list of authors has grown and we can help promote each other. There are many such non traditional publishers out there
    If you want to stick with the self publishing, there are some stores which do stock self pubs and there are groups dedicated to helping each other self published authors


    • You have a great press. They do a wonderful job and your genre is number one in sales. You are a herd unto yourselves! Yay. I did submit to all of the small presses I could find that accept memoir–it was my first choice also. Alas, that door didn’t open. Or better yet, I’m looking for the back door to get in.


  3. Let us know when we can pre-order – can’t wait to read it. And, you are’t bull-headed, you’re mare-ish. Mares rule!


  4. The average book sells 250 copies, meaning the great majority of books sell 5-10 copies, but several sell substantially more. Nearly twenty years ago, I helped my mother edit, self-publish, and market her memoir about growing up on a farm in the Great Depression. She sold over 10,000 copies over a span of 8 years before she died. I didn’t do a fourth printing because I was busy with other things, but we could have sold more. I’m just telling you this to encourage you – you are a good writer and if you target the horse-lover/animal-lover market, you’ll do fine. If you need any help, just email me.


    • Look, another success story. Thank you so much. 20 years ago- you and your mother were pioneers in self-publishing. (Actually, it was always an option but technology has really changed.) Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate you chiming in. The hard part for me has been sitting on my hands, waiting to hear back. This move-ahead part feels great. Again, thanks.


  5. Hon, I’m in a published book (guest author), and it was self-published by a friend of mine, who simply made up his own publishing company, and hired a printer. It was something like his 16th book done this way, and he has been supporting himself very lucratively like this for over 20 years. Most of his books have had 2nd and 3rd editions. Self-publishing does not mean it won’t be in stores. Our book was in stores, just not in stores like Barnes and Noble (although it could have been if we had marketed to them). Your book can be carried by all the online and mail order catalog book sellers (very simple to do), and once it is out there, you have a good chance of a publisher picking it up based on popularity. Another good friend of mine (different one) is now doing a 2nd printing of her (self-published) book except this time it has now been picked up by a large and reputable publisher. All she had to do was change the title and cover art for them. I think (sorry, just my opinion, I don’t know you – I just think) that you are over thinking this and making it harder on yourself than it needs to be. There are so many ways to easily market a book that it’s not even funny. You can list it on Amazon for free, and have your friends read it and leave good reviews to get things started. It will show up under those “people who liked this book also liked…” sidebar or bottom bar ads. It will work. I promise. If it doesn’t, no big loss and you can just wait till it does. It’s not like you have to sell 200 of them by tomorrow. Just figure out how many pages you have for what sized book format you want, then start calling around. Printing and binding are usually cheaper if you do a whole bunch at once (my friend always ran batches of 10,000, but then his books are popular) but you don’t HAVE to do it that way. Heck, you could even do a 99 cent e-book to get started. Sell 25 or 50 that way to get some great reviews, and then set the price up or go to hard copy. You can do this in steps. Baby steps. My advice is just do it. Wanting it to be “just right” is going to keep you frozen and frustrated. Make 10 copies for friends. Do something. Just get started. The first step is the hardest part. Oh, and also, don’t scare yourself with dim statistics. If it’s a good book it will sell. If it doesn’t sell today, it might sell in a few years. Just get it out there and quit tormenting yourself! 😀 (said with all the best intentions and a loving tone of voice, just in case any of this came out harsh).


  6. Oh, and PS: I think you’re a great writer with great things to say. I really don’t think you can fail. I really want you to succeed beyond your wildest dreams, and I believe that is possible. Others here believe it, too!


    • Thanks, Kris. I appreciate hearing these good things. I know how easy it is to get the book around once it’s formatted, etc. I love to hear success stories. Thanks for the encouragement. I’m looking forward to having it out by mid summer. Again, thank you for the kind words.


  7. Yee Haw! Can’t wait to read your book(s). I read almost exclusively non-fiction. I appreciate your horse-woman sensibility and barn yard wisdom – it’s right in my wheelhouse. We have a lot in common: horse-crazy, writer, and about the same vintage 🙂


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