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Craig Lancaster Guests - Part 3

Be sure to leave a comment to qualify for the third book drawing. We'll announce winners and contact information on Sunday!

By Craig Lancaster

I originally contacted Riverbend Publishing, a regional house in Helena, Montana, in the earliest days of the self-published version of 600 Hours of Edward in the hopes that I might be able to strike a distribution deal. Chris Cauble, the president, gave me the skinny on how such an arrangement might work and asked me to send along a review copy.

As the weeks dragged on and my book started to gain some traction in my market, I followed up with a note to Chris in which I expressed chagrin at my crude early version of the book and told him of the updates and the response to the book. I suggested that I remained interested in a distribution deal but that an even better arrangement might be Riverbend's picking up the book. Cheeky, no?

Weeks later came his initial note of interest, in which he said he would have some more people take a look. Then, on August 3, he wrote to me and asked if I wanted to continue to be the publisher or if I was interested in a contract with Riverbend. I told him that I welcomed being put out of the business of securing ISBNs and contracting with printers and such. A few days after that, we had a deal. My book would get a new cover and a new book block under a new publisher. Basically, a new life.

The book was fast-tracked for the fall list. I had about a week to do one last pass with the manuscript, and I scurried around securing a new round of blurbs. I submitted a marketing plan, and I went through the laborious process of taking the self-published version down -- off Amazon and CreateSpace, off and Jexbo and Smashwords, off my Web site and out of the bookstores here in Billings.

I sometimes wonder if I was too hasty in self-publishing my book, if it would have had a less chaotic trip to a traditional publisher if I had just been patient and ridden out the queries. In the end, though, I don't have many regrets, save for some of the foibles in getting the book to look as professional as I wanted it to. While the low barrier to a printed book these days causes some consternation among pockets of the literati, the flip side is that there’s one more avenue for writers to find their way to readers. Some prefer the independent route and have no desire to be picked up by a bigger house. Others, like me, see it as a means to an end. It's not as if the fundamental facts of being an author have changed for me. My book is still going to rise or fall on its merits and on the basis of how hard I work on its behalf. What I'm getting is a new opportunity to venture out into the world with a book that's become an old friend.

And that is pretty cool.
To enter into a drawing for a copy of the book, go to Craig's website and sign-up for his mailing list.

Or simply buy 600 Hours of Edward on

You can also visit his blog by clicking here.

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  1. Use of the Babylonian Love Chain would have resulted in a contract much more quickly.

  2. Your book is most likely better for what you went through - and you're probably a more savvy writer. Best of luck with it!

    Straight From Hel

  3. @ Helen: Thanks very much. And thanks for dropping by all three days.

    @ vistavision: Yes, but I would have had to wrench it off Lovett's boot. (Apologies, folks, for the inside-baseball reference.)

  4. Going with a publisher can help to solve one problem indie writers face: distribution. You've done it right, Craig. You've proven that "Edward" has an audience that can be expanded through increased distribution, and you've found someone to distribute it for you. Good work!

  5. This has been a great series, Craig, and I wish you all the luck with your book.

    I am a firm believer that no experience is wasted and what you learned in this process will serve you well as you go forward. And sharing what you have learned is going to help other writers as they make decisions about their careers.

  6. Your book obviously had the substance required to make it into the major league. Good luck on the sales - I am just about to order it too.

  7. Thanks for the encouraging words, everybody. As I told Carol offline yesterday, it's such a solitary endeavor that I'm appreciative of the fellowship from people who know the terrain.

    Thanks for letting me hang out here this week. It's been fun.

  8. Fascinating series of posts, Craig. I've self-published two novels, and I'm very happy I did so. Like you, I'm still planning on seeking out bigger markets. But I question what your regional press is doing for you that you couldn't do for yourself. Too many small outfits set themselves up as "publishers" when they're really just printers. I'm just sayin' . . .

  9. A good question, Julie.

    Here in Montana and the Northern Rockies, Riverbend is well-respected and well-connected. They can help give my book a better push than I could have managed on my own, certainly.

    For starters, they have hundreds of accounts. I was able to do trunk-of-car fulfillment for three bookstores in my city. Simply from a brick-and-mortar standpoint, it makes sense.

    At this stage, it's the right setup for me. They're small, so I have to be a full partner in the push. But their reach is better than mine, and their name means something in my region.

  10. I enjoyed reading your publishing success story. It's always a steep learning curve. Congratulations!

  11. A good series, Craig. Thanks for sharing your publishing journey with us.

  12. Thanks Craig for sharing. Cheers, Simon.


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