Archive for June, 2012

Rocks of Self Publishing Advice

The rocky road of getting it edited.

The correct self publishing advice regarding editing is:
Hire A Talented Editor To Review Your Manuscript.
No question, it is worth it. Choose carefully, research the going rates properly… and TAKE  their editorial advice.

Two places where hiring services for a self published book is well worth the expense are: An Editorial Review and a Professionally Designed Cover….

With that said, what about using family and friends?

Some of them may be sitting on Bachelors or Masters degrees and they may be avid readers. What about them?

Many writing professionals I have studied have discouraged the use of family and friends as editors “because they won’t tell you the truth about your writing…”
And a paid professional will.

Those writing professionals must have a different breed of family and friends than I have, because my posse tells it to me straight. They are a tough crowd and it takes guts to pass out my Readers Draft to my Peanut Gallery. They are professionals, engineers, executives, managers, business owners, educators, academics and they love to read. They know what they like and they know what they don’t. Nothing gets past them and it takes both SPF 100 plus a Kevlar vest to open up those reviewed copies when I get them back.

But my writing is SO much better when I listen to their advice. I cherish their work. Their help, plus a page crawl through the Chicago Manual of Style, sets me on the road to a readable draft.

Family and Friends are a significantly valuable resource and should be treated accordingly. Acknowledgment in the book is a minimum, but the biggest respect for their effort is to take their advice. If one of my test readers has a problem with something in my book, I do not argue with them. I go back to the keyboard and fix it, even if I really want to defend my prose. Because I am not just the author of the book anymore. It is no longer just my work of art. I am now the publisher… and I need this book to sell. I need word of mouth recommendations, good reviews, kudos, prizes, accolades. I need readers to want to read it…

So, since I became a publisher… I would argue that the term “a well-written book” is truly more accurately “a well-edited book”….


Duck Herding Described in Just a Couple of Chickens

This picture ran on NBC news, and YouTube… but this is not how MY ducks behaved…

This week, the NBC Nightly News ran a video clip of 5,000 ducks being herded down a road in China with only two duck herders in charge.

The ducks carpeted the road, stopping traffic, in an orderly brown flood that was amazing to see. The duck herders looked perfectly relaxed, holding long bamboo poles – casually.

The story reminded me of our own experience herding ducks, which I describe in page 67 of “Just a Couple of Chickens”… my book about our adventures raising poultry in New Mexico.

“(Andrew)…had been studying a picture in our old collection of National Geographic magazines. It showed a child in rural China, about Blue’s age, herding a huge flock of white ducks with nothing more than a long stick…”

It was just the same kind of picture that encouraged me to think that I could herd ducks like a Chinese duck herder. And it did not end well. At all.

“… they stampeded hysterically in every direction. They ran peeping, stumbling, crowding each other, and veering away from us in a panic. Ducks spilled from the doorway and continued, like water, to take the path of least resistance downhill. They poured out of the pen and some went under a tree. The rest headed east very fast, breaking up into smaller duck clots at every bush… “

After that, (and many hours of duck collecting) I came to the conclusion that our ducks were not Chinese ducks. And that Chinese ducks are very different than American ducks. I preferred to think that way rather than conclude that I was not very good at raising ducks.

But as I was marveling over the brown duck flood in China… I found another piece of footage from China.  This one was taken by some American tourists driving in the Chinese countryside. They passed a duck herding event that was closer to what I had experienced… and I watched it over and over again.

Soooo… not every piece of news footage coming out of China is showing the real duck deal!  Maybe my American ducks were not so very different from Chinese ducks after all!

The duck herding chapter in “Just a Couple of Chickens” can save you a lot of time if you ever need to move your ducks.
Because there comes a day when everyone needs to move their ducks. Or at least get them in a row.


A true self publisher owns the ISBN number in their own name. The author has created a business, with a business license, that has a name – like The Westchester Press, and that name is listed as the publisher of record in all of the book information. That is Self Publishing.

If a service or company offers you the ISBN number for free, then they are the publisher of record. An ISBN number cannot be transferred. They will be the publisher listed for all of the book information. This is the heart of Vanity Press or Subsidy Press. You have paid them for their services in helping you produce some part, or all of, your book… and they are therefore the publisher. It’s called vanity press because any author can pay to have their book published. These services have a place in self publishing… but if they provided the ISBN number, then they are the publisher and it isn’t self publishing.

Horned Lizard of Self Publishing Advice

The Horned LIzard of Self Publishing Advice says….

This doesn’t always mean that they are collecting royalties on your book. Although I used my own ISBN number when I used Createspace, for the print-on-demand and Amazon listing of my book, Just a Couple of Chickens, they do offer the ISBN number in one of their service packages. And then they are listed as the publisher. But you still get a royalty based on each sale.

Subsidy Press is pretty much the same thing as Vanity Press… again it comes down to who provides the ISBN number.

You could provide your own ISBN number and still use the services of these companies – from editing to book design to cover to publishing channel. There is every possibility of hiring out every stage of the process. You should choose where to do it yourself and where to hire out, depending on your time, budget, interest, skill, and computer equipment – connections – software.

 But the bottom line is the ISBN number. Own it yourself and you retain your rights. Accept it from someone else and you’ve got a publisher and a possible rights problem.

More on ISBN soon… but if you are self publishing, go to and get a set of 10.

I choose to make it simple…. Own your own ISBN.


Col. C. J. Tippett at the White House for Dinner

The Col. and Mrs Tippett were invited to the 1988 White House Dinner for Hosni Mubarak, President of Egypt

For the longest time, I could link myself to any major world leader in 3 of the Six Degrees of Separation. My grandfather, Col. C. J. Tippett was 1. And he knew Hosni Mubarak, which was 2. And Hosni Mubarak shook hands (or refused to shake hands) with almost every modern or recent world leader, so that’s 3!

Here’s how:

Hosni Mubarak was a pilot before he was the President of Egypt.

He served in the Egyptian Air Force and trained in the Soviet Union. In the early 1970s, he began to serve in the Egyptian government. In 1981, Hosni Mubarak became the President of Egypt when the other President of Egypt was shot to death as he sat next to Mubarak onstage.

My grandfather, Col. C. J. Tippett served in the Army Air Corps and trained in the Civil Aviation Administration. In the early 1970s, he left his civil aviation work, and retired from his work as a USAF Intelligence Officer and began to work to “open channels of communication and levels of understanding…” among Air Attaches of foreign governments. The Colonel and Mrs Tippett did this by hosting some of the most sought after parties in diplomatic circles of their day.

They invited Mr. Hosni Mubarak due to his aviation background and he came. And they partied. And in 1988, when President Ronald Regan invited President Hosni Mubarak to the White House for dinner, the Colonel and Mrs Tippett were on the guest list. So they partied some more, over Tenderloin of Veal Wellington and Port Salut cheese.

I don’t know anything about Hosni Mubarak’s politics or conduct as the longest standing President of Egypt. I don’t know anything about the US Government’s interest and support or non-support of the Mubarak regime, or the consequences of the recent political changes in Egypt.

I do know that my grandfather considered Hosni Mubarak a friend, and enjoyed his company those times they were able to spend time together, back in the 70s and 80s.

With all these world changes, and the fall of Mubarak, I feel I am losing my ability to touch our world leadership in 3 steps. I’m either going to have to become more active in community, state, or federal politics – or switch over to playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Either way, time is eroding my ability to get there in less than 4. Probably my time would be better spent investigating the good things Kevin Bacon has done with his degrees.

My story about Col. C. J. Tippett is almost ready for publication… let me know if you want to be on the release announcement list!


Barrels of Self Publishing Advice

Barrels of Self Publishing Advice Coming Up!

Upcoming posts will cover each of these steps in depths… definitions, tips, overviews, underscores…

Write It:
Before we publish ourselves, we have to have something to publish. Self publishing discussions usually start after this is done, but it’s a journey worth talking about.

Edit It:
The biggest critics of self publishing fault this step the most, and as publishers – we have to be good editors, or find good editors, or pay for good editors.

Re-Write It:
Because only ancient composers wrote complete perfection the first time around… and that’s probably a myth as well.

Re-Edit It:
Seriously. Editing is important.

Design It:
Book Design and Cover…How you do this depends on what you have installed. If you already have Adobe InDesign – great!  If not, don’t despair. There are plenty of tools out there.

Set Up Your Publishing Business For It:
That’s the irony of self publishing. You become a publisher. Business license and all. I’m writing (and self publishing) a book to help, step by step. But in the meantime… watch the posts!

Proof It:
This is another way to say that editing is really important. Let’s put out high quality books and deprive the self publishing critics of things to be critical about.

Publish It:
About the ISBN, the LCCN, Books In Print, Copyright, Distribution… you CAN do all of this yourself.

Market It:
A website to support it, Reviews, Interviews, Release List, Getting it in stores, Pitching it…

Stock it:
Print on Demand, Short Run Printing, Inventory – or not.

Support It:
Blogging, for instance. Keep the readers reading. Speaking, teaching, writing How To.

Do It All Over Again…
Because as Self Publishers we ARE publishers, and if you build a marketing stream you should use it again – efficient!

So please stay tuned… literally if you add my RSS to your feed reader, or by subscribing to the blog via email (three posts a week on average) or by checking back frequently or through the social networking I’m building. So many ways… so little time….. !

Juno and a Polish Chicken in Just a couple of chickens

Raising poultry and a family had some really good times.

The second most common question I got from family and friends when I was living the story of “Just a Couple of Chickens” was…

“What’s it like to be living the Laura Ingalls Wilder life?”

(the first most common question I got was:  “Are you insane?”)

I gave the Laura Ingalls Wilder question a lot of thought
… as I pulled my boots on at 3 am in a snow storm,
… or stuffed sodden partridge down my shirt in a flash flood,
… or tried, yet again, to make something tasty out of a rooster.

I thought about how the Ingalls Family didn’t have all my modern conveniences,
…like a garden hose for instance.

But they did have a lot more knowledge and experience,
… so they probably would have known to drain that garden hose before the first freeze.

They did have debt and money worries, and they did have weather issues, and political complications, and they did face health problems.
So I did feel a close affinity… in the romance of the beginning.

But as time went on, I realized that I really wasn’t living true to Laura’s world.
And I never would be unless I made profound changes.

The Ingalls Family, and most of the people involved in that pioneering time, were doing it with total attention and with no back up plan. It was their whole life, and the whole family was involved in every aspect of it. Every minute of every day was spent doing something related to their home, or basic needs, or food maintenance.

They were not trying to work a full time job on the side. They were not coming into it as a hobby.
As deep as we got into our story… we still had to have at least one adult pulling a full time living in our contemporary world to support our adventure.

And so that truth colors my answer to the second most common question I got from family and friends…
but even so, I wonder if my answer is nonetheless accurate.

“What’s it like to be living the Laura Ingalls Wilder life?”
“It is the same for me as it was for them. Extremely difficult, often uncomfortable, and totally – wonderfully – fulfilling.”

And I then also point out that our story ended up the same as Laura’s story.
We lost the farm and had to go make a living some other way…
She eventually became a highly renowned author…


Finishing a book is an enormous accomplishment.

Self Publishing Mountains

Mountains to climb in the process of self publishing.

I was so psyched to have actually finished that it felt like I had achieved the top of Everest.
And like the top of Everest… after a couple of hours of admiring the view, I began to think about what came next.
Because finishing the book was half the journey.

I began to submit my manuscript to traditional publishers and immediately realized that… even if I was one of the very few authors who got a book deal with my first book, it was going to be a long time before my book was on the shelf… and my book was a timely story about economic collapse, family, and chickens. I wanted to get it into stores NOW.

So I began to think about self publishing and immediately realized that… producing my own book was going to require an enormous amount of my own time and a steep learning curve.

So I looked into the services of companies offering to give me an ISBN number for free and manage most of the work for several hundred dollars and not-so-immediately realized that… I had to make smart decisions to protect the rights of my book.

One step at a time, I put in the time and climbed the steep learning curve and self published my book, and it did sell. I consider it a continuing success. Now I’m rolling out my second book… and here is my answer to the question of whether an author should self publish a book.

Do you have basic or intermediate computer skills and equipment – and a willingness to learn new computer skills?
If you do, consider self publishing.
If you do not, consider submitting to traditional publishers or subsidy presses.

Do you intend to write more books and eventually make as much of a living as a writer as you can ?
If you do not, then the effort and time required to produce one book might not be worth it.
If you do, once you’ve set yourself up to self publish one book, doing more books is very efficient.

Do you have a use for the skills you will learn in addition to producing your own books?
If you don’t intend to use these skills for publishing more of your own books, or publishing other people’s books, or hiring yourself out for employment, or using these new skills for current employment, then it might not be worth the investment of time and learning. Your time might be better spent writing writing writing, and paying for the publication services.

If you’ve got only one book in your heart and you just want copies to pass around to family and friends, then go through a vanity press.

If you’ve got the next Harry Potter in your heart and you can wait and you know your time is better spent writing, submit to traditional publishers and never give up.


If your readership is a niche market and you know your book will sell and you are up for the climb (including the climb down) then roll up your sleeves and self publish.



Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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