For more than a decade, since I met Kathleen (Katy) Walls, I’ve seen her move from author to self-publisher to forming a publishing business, Global Authors Publications (GAP). I thought some suggestions from Katy would help writers understand the publishing business from the perspective of an author/publisher.
Katy founded GAP in 2004 to publish her books from her Florida home. She has written the popular books: Georgia’s Ghostly Getaways, Finding Florida’s Phantoms, Last Step, Man Hunt- The Eric Rudolph Story, Kudzu, Tax Sale Tactics, and Hosts With Ghosts: Haunted Historic Hotels in the Southeast.
She is currently at work on a series of books about natural Florida called Wild About Florida. There will be three books, North Florida, South Florida and Central Florida. Her husband, Martin Walls, will do the photography for the series. Wild About Florida was released in June.
Katy has expanded to publish books by other authors as well as her own.
Mary Emma – Why did you decide to self-publish?
Katy- In the beginning, I had my first book published by iUniverse. Naturally because I had to pay so much for my own books and they were not returnable, I could not get them into stores. For the second one, Georgia’s Ghostly Getaways, I found a traditional publisher. They held my book over a year, then they dropped it. I was devastated and MAD.
A friend and I formed a co-op publishing company where each member of the group (ten of us) learned at least one facet of the publishing business. This eventually became difficult logistically, so the members agree to disband.
I took over the name, GAP, and ran the business with the same principals in mind. Let the author have all the royalties and buy at cost. They pay an upfront fee and a small yearly maintenance fee. It has worked well as I now have thirty-one books by fifteen authors available.
Mary Emma – What did you gain from the co-op experience?
Katy – A few of the original group also went on to form publishing companies using a similar plan. For me, if we had not formed the co-op first I might never have gotten the courage or skills to publish as I do now. It is much easier to research and learn a new skill when you have others who are sharing the experience.
Mary Emma – How did you decide what direction to go or what topics to consider when selecting books to publish?
Katy – With fiction, I look for believable characters and an exciting plot. I will publish a book in a genre that is not a personal favorite if I feel it has potential. Since all books I publish go to my editor before printing, a very poorly written book would not get accepted. I turn down pornography and books that encourage hate or racism automatically.
Non-fiction is more subjective. My own books sell well in the regions they are about, but not as well in other areas of the county. Sometimes a book has a niche market.
A book like Wild About Florida, for example, will appeal to a certain type of person. It is a color book and has a lot of wildlife and nature photographs. It is also a guidebook of where to go to find that type of thing in Florida. Naturally, it will not have much appeal for a person who vacations at the Ritz and only visits cultural attraction when they travel. But for a person planning a Florida camping trip, or a canoer or hiker, it is a perfect match.
Mary Emma – What advice do you have for authors who desire to publish their own and other authors’ books?
Katy – I would say learn all you can first. Join publisher forums, Google every aspect of publishing from editing (always have a professional edit) to cover design to interior design. There are good designers out there but if you have to have each aspect of the publishing done by someone else, you just as well to find a company to publish your book.
Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses to see what you want to hire out and what you will do yourself. Check out the available programs and get input from others as to which program works best. You need a good formatting program and an Adobe Acrobat. (There are some other programs to create PDFs but Adobe is the leader.) Also consider the financial end of the business.
Mary Emma – Is there any other information you’d like to share about developing a home based publishing business like Global Authors Publications?
Katy -If working with authors and designing books, both cover and interior, is something you enjoy, then you will love this business. It is hard work but satisfying. You are taking someone’s dream and making it a reality. Be sure you are willing to spend long hours on the computer and can make yourself available almost all the time.
Websites are important, too. Not only should you have a web site for your publishing company, you want at least one personal one and possibly one for your book. Others that promote you and your areas of interest are a good idea, too.
I also use an ezine American Roads (www.americanroads.net/) to post not only my travel articles but other writer’s as well. I have http://www.globalauthorspublications.com/ strictly for my publishing company. I have http://www.katywalls.com/ that promotes all my books then my newest, http://www.wildaboutflorida.us/ for the new books.
It does keep me busy.
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