Archive for July, 2012

Sandy Grains of Self Publishing Advice

A sandy mix of answers to an ocean of questions.

Most articles I’ve seen don’t answer this question, and I’m not really going to either in this post, but I will describe my costs and earnings in my soon-to-be-available How To Self Publish series

So far, the figure is not zero but it would be if I valued my time at minimum wage. I did earn back my first print costs and more, but I used the earnings to fund another print run, so….

But my point in posing the question is to say that the real answer is based on another question…

“How many books can you sell?”

If you can sell 100,000 books as a self published author, you can make a decent living with even a crappy paying distribution channel.
But most books don’t sell 100,000 copies. Most books don’t sell even 2,000 copies.

As a self published author, you will receive payment on as many books as you sell.
Therefore, how much you can make depends on how many books you sold and how much it cost you to produce them.

The amount of payment you will actually receive depends on how that book sold. Each distribution channel should tell you up front how much it will pay, and it depends on the book’s retail price, and the kind of account you have with the distributor. The payment is often called a royalty. You may not feel like you have a book deal with a publisher, but you do. Your publisher is you, and the royalty deal you got is anywhere from cents per copy to dollars per copy.

But before you “make” any money, your publisher is probably going to require you to pay back the book production cost. Publishers are just weird like that.

So sky’s the limit, right?  As a self publisher, you are free to hit it big or quietly starve. You can make nothing as a self published author most easily. Or less than nothing, because you will incur some costs in getting set up. Or you can make a full time living as a self published author… people are doing it. But there’s a reason for the common term “starving artist” and the new eBook dictionaries are starting to show pictures of self publishers under the same heading.

Just kidding, but still… it was one of those kinds of questions.





Just a couple of chickens wonder where is tour de coops 2012

Tour de Coops 2012? Where is it? Where? It’s on break for 2012? What? What?

Tour de Coops in Portland Oregon is a fantastic self guided tour of backyard chicken coops throughout the city organized by The urban chicken movement is strong in Portland, and urban homesteaders and chicken raising masters in the neighborhoods East of the Willamette River have some of the best backyard coops in the business.

The coops are home made, or manufactured, or customized, or pulled together with frugal ingenuity. They are a parade of homes for backyard hens. Anyone wanting to know how to raise chickens in the city would love this tour. I should have taken a tour like this when I was building coops for my chickens, but instead, I re-invented the concept. The results are some of the ruefunniest parts of “Just a Couple of Chickens”, my book on raising chickens the hard way.

I was all ready to go! The Tour de Coops usually takes place in July, and tickets go on sale a couple of weeks before the event and sell out fast. But then I discovered that the organizers of the fun event decided to take a haitus for 2012 and get their ducks in a row regarding how to do next year’s tour.  So I’ve marked my calendar for 2013 and took a little time to look into the details and history of the event. is an award winning organization that mobilizes voluteers to build local organic raised bed vegetable gardens in low income neighborhoods in Portland, Oregon. They run several outreach programs centered around sustainable food gardens in city environments. They host workshops that help urban homesteaders get started farming in the city.

The 2011 Tour de Coops was the 8th annual and it’s a well-known Portland event. I was particularly looking forward to seeing how people matched their coops to their house architecture. I noticed some very creative coops last year during my walks around town.

I’ll keep watch for the Tour 2013, and maybe by then I’ll have my own coop stashed in my urban farm backyard… not that I’m counting my chicks before they hatch or nuttin’.



Colonel C J Tippett did not fly Air Force One

Air Force One at PDX in Portland, Oregon on July 24th, 2012.

I can ignore one pass of a heavy helicopter over the house… immersed in my blogging as I am, but I cannot ignore three.
So low and so loud that it shakes my pen off my desk… I finally realize that Something Is Going On In Portland.

It is a Coast Guard helicopter and it isn’t landing. It’s circling just beyond the hospital, towards the river, towards the…. Convention Center.

ah, President Obama is visiting Portland, Oregon today. I remember. I made a note to remind myself because traffic was going to be utter hell on that day. But I forgot. And based on the twitter traffic #ObamaPDX, it wouldn’t have mattered if I had remembered. The max trains and the pedestrian walkways and the freeways and the surface streets are all standing still as the motorcade passes. Wow. Thousands of people are going to be late this afternoon, no matter where they were going. Kind of a downside to rating high enough as a voting block to earn a visit from the President of the United States.

But I am focused on getting my grandfather’s aviation history biography ready for release and I cannot be distracted for long by such things as current events… until I realize that if President Obama is at the Convention Center, then…….
Air Force One must be double-parked at PDX!!

And sure ‘nuf, yes it is. Now that catches my attention.

Because the very first Air Force One was a Douglas C-54 Skymaster, and that was one of the 98+ aircraft that my grandfather flew!  Not while it was actually designated Air Force One, and not the actual plane that was the first Air Force One, but a plane that was the same kind of plane. Maybe a bit of a reach, but heck, I’m stuck where I am right now because traffic is totally frozen – including foot traffic – so I might as well let my mind soar.

“Air Force One” is actually only an air traffic control sign given to whatever aircraft is carrying the president. Maybe that makes his big black limo “Street Force One” right now. Today’s big bird out at PDX is a Boeing VC-25, the military version of the Boeing 747, only with more missiles than commercial craft usually carry.

But back in 1945, Air Force One referred to a Douglas C-54 Skymaster, and Tip piloted that model aircraft for 8:05 hrs and 7:55 hrs in August, 1958 in and out of Limatambo Airport in Lima, Peru.

Now, I figure that practically makes me best friends with the president and I’m wondering why I wasn’t one of the invitation-only people attending his speech, and being served voodoo doughnuts bacon-and-maple bars.

Seriously, twitter must be the secret service’s worst nightmare.



I’ve been plugging the same question into google for hours now, and I keep getting the same answer.

“How often should I post on my blog?” I ask…
“Every day” blogging experts answer…

But I don’t like that answer, so I try again.
Google has the infinite patience of a robot.

An Ocean of Self Publishing Advice

Days, like breakers, roll up on my beach endlessly when I contemplate posting every day.

“Every day if you want to build traffic…”
“Every day if you want to attract new readers…”
“Every day if you want to keep loyal readers…”
“Every day if you want to rank higher on keyword searches, which brings you more traffic…”

I switch up my question, still hoping for an answer I will like better.
Google has the flexibility of a robot – it gives me the same answer while it varies the sources.

I choose some of my favorite blogs… how often are they posting?
Every day.
Hmm, sometimes they skip a day.
Oh, no they don’t.
Those are weekend days.


Well, for now I will stick with posting at least three times a week.
But the answer to the question is that posting every day builds traffic. And for those of you bloggers who are valiantly posting every day… I raise my glass to you!




Self Publishing Advice can be Yucca

Spiky Issues for Self Publishers

I’ve heard passionate debate in the book industry about whether self publishing ruins an author’s chance of getting a book deal with a traditional publisher.

Some well-respected experts swear that it is the kiss of death for an author to self publish. Others, equally well-respected, say that one day soon, all authors will have to first self publish and self market to prove that their work can sell before a larger publishing house will pick them up.

The irony of the whole discussion is that self publishing turns authors into publishers, who then have the same concerns as publishers (without the staff, budget, connections or market reach.. !)

As a publisher, I need my book to sell. If my book is selling, and selling well, then I believe that my author (that’s me) will be able to talk to traditional publishers for either a larger market for that book… or for a future book.

Every year brings a new story of a self published author who had success with a project and then either got picked up by a traditional publisher, or decided to continue to go it alone due to the success.

The most bitter statements I’ve heard all have to do with the quality of self published books. The idea behind that is based on the assumption that traditional publishing curated a standard for literary excellence… and it is therefore the temerity of the line-jumping author that so badly offends, because the self publishing author could be putting out a product so vile it should never have touched a binding machine.

But if a self publisher puts out a bad book, it won’t sell. It won’t get good reviews. Store managers and distribution agents will not carry it.

And if a self publisher puts out a fantastic book… and if a self publisher markets the heck out of that fantastic book… then it will sell. And if it sells enough, traditional publishers will want to look at it.

So no, if you self publish your book, traditional publishers will not blacklist you. They don’t have the time or the energy.

If you query them on that self published book, they will probably ignore you the same way they were ignoring you before you self published…. unless you sell a LOT of books!

It certainly does get wicked in some of these high-tension discussions. This is a time of big change in the publishing industry and it is creating big emotions. From personal experience, I can say that getting a re-order request from a store carrying my book felt a lot better than getting a rejection letter from a publisher on the same book. But I love those rejections because they are so much better than silence, so I still submit.

Because I believe there is room for both market models.



Just a couple of rose comb chickens

Just A Couple of Chickens is about the work that went into creating

When I wrote “Just A Couple of Chickens” about raising poultry and a family, I wasn’t thinking about genre and whether it was a memoir, or an autobiography.

If I was thinking anything, it was that this was a how-NOT-to book on chicken raising. It was only when the “raising poultry and a family in hard times” part began that I realized that it might be one of those genres. But I didn’t really understand the difference. And based on the number of arguments in writing forums, writing groups, writing classes, at writing workshops, and on writing panels, I am not the only confused person.

Memoir is fantastically popular right now. Biography is less popular, but still a steady page-turner. But if biography is the story of person’s life – and expected to be more than just the chronological facts… and if autobiography is the story of a person’s life told by the person… then what is memoir?

Memoir is the personal memory, and self interpreted impact or meaning, of a person’s own life. The definition is contained in the word, memoir. It’s about our memories, and how we feel about what we’ve remembered. Memoirs used to be about what the author remembered about other people’s lives, but now it is almost exclusively what the authors remember about their own lives – plus how they feel about those memories.

Complicating the whole issue is the modern audience’s lurking potential for harsh critique should the memoir be revealed to contain inaccuracies. Lies. Fabrications. But since memories are notoriously fallible, that makes it complicated. I understand the upset when a memoir turns out to have been falsified. I don’t share the upset when a memoir has minor inaccuracies. Not that I had either of those problems with my chicken raising memoir. I remembered, and wrote, it in all its accurate and glorious homeliness.

Today’s memoir demands a greater revelation of the meaning and emotion carried by the memories. This is the most consistent comment I’ve had from readers over “Just a Couple of Chickens”… that they want to hear more about what I felt about what I was doing. And what I’m doing now… which is writing a sequel, in which I have the challenge to share how I feel about what I’m doing now…

But I’m not supposed to swear… hmmmm, challenging.


Self Publishing Advice Sky's the Limit

Getting a business license can seem like stormclouds at night, but it is simple and easy, other than choosing what to name it!

 Yes!  You do need a business license to self publish your book. But it’s easy!

Because you become a publisher in order to self publish. And to become a publisher, you choose a business name and then register it by getting a business license through your state or county.

In Oregon, the process can be done online and costs @ $50 for a simple business (more for a Corporation or Limited Liability Company). To find out how to do it, I googled “How do I start a business in Oregon” and then followed the links, which rapidly led me to the website for the Oregon Secretary of State.

  •  You will need to have some business name ideas on hand, because in most states, you can’t have an identical business name to someone else. I suggest you don’t name your publishing business after yourself or based on your writing genre, because then you will have more flexibility to write in different genres and under pen names if you choose.


  • You need an address for your business, so if you aren’t going to list your home address (and I strongly recommend that you do not use your home address because it will therefore become public record and searchable all over the internet forever)… then you should get a mailbox set up before registering.


  • You will need a way to pay for the license online. Since you can’t set up a bank account for your publishing business until you have a business license to show the bank, you’ll have to use your personal debit or credit card or checking account… but as soon as you have a business license, you should set up a bank account for the business. Your business start up funds still come from yourself, but the separation is important.


  • You generally give your own social security number as your business tax ID number if you are going to be a sole proprietor.

In some states, you will also have to set up a sales tax account. You can find out more by calling the information number listed on the website where you filed for your business license.

Once you have your business license, you can get started buying your ISBN numbers and getting your book ready to publish.

And yes, once you have your business license and your pack of 10 ISBN numbers, you can choose to be a publisher for someone else’s book… but then you are no longer just a self publisher. You are an independent publisher, or small press.

Getting a business license is not difficult and worth doing. It sets you up to do business properly, publish completely, and do your taxes correctly.
The hardest part is figuring out the name!



Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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