Jayne Hitchcock here – I’ve been doing a lot of publicity and book signings for my latest book, True Crime Online: Shocking Stories of Scamming, Stalking, Murder and Mayhem (truecrime-online.com). The questions afterward are the usual: What is my writing schedule? Do I have an agent? How did I get published? The latter one is the most frequent as I have found on recent author panels that the majority of authors are self-published or started their own publishing houses to publish their works.
So, this is how it went for me: When I lived in Okinawa, Japan for three years, I published six books while there. I was writing articles for an off base newspaper called Japan Update and a local bank representative liked my writing style. He contacted me and asked if I could write the English version of Okinawa Tour Guide. Unlike publishing here in the USA, I didn’t work with an agent or publisher, but with the bank. I still got to work with an editor and view a galley before final printing and even had a chance to see the cover art before it went to press. The same bank then published Folktales of Okinawa. I got such a positive response that a retired Marine who had started his own publishing business, Barclay Press, asked if I had anything else I want published. He footed the bill for The Ghosts of Okinawa and we split the profit from the sales. Then came Torment, a novel I co-wrote with a retired Marine and finally Gil The Gecko, a children’s book I’d envisioned.
When I moved back to the states, I knew I had to find a publisher or agent for any books I wanted to write. Then my life did a 180 – to refresh your memory, read my post about how it changed at http://mainecrimewriters.com/uncategorized/hello-from-a-true-crime-writer.
When I got my idea for a book about online crimes, I put together a proposal with a few sample chapters and sent them off to agents. This was back in 2000, when the Internet was still a “baby.” The majority of agents and publishers rejected my proposal because they felt the Internet wouldn’t stay around (um, hello?) or that as soon as a book was published it would be out of date.
I was freelancing for a computer magazine and complained to my editor about the lack of interest in my book, which she thought was a great idea. She asked me if I’d sent the proposal to the parent company of the magazine. No, I hadn’t. There it was, right under my nose all this time.
I sent the proposal out, the parent company, Information Today, Inc. accepted it and in 2002 Net Crimes & Misdemeanors came out. It took yes, two years to get the book from writing to print. It’s a lot of work. After you write it, it goes to editors who vet it. You get asked questions, to add or delete parts and to verify certain things. Then it goes to the galley stage, where a copy of the soon to be final version is gone over by me and my editor for any last minute changes or to catch any mistakes not caught previously.
I had little say on the cover or the subtitle and soon it was out. My publisher promoted it a lot for me, getting me media interviews and the like. I also promoted it at speaking engagements and sent out my own press releases.
In 2006, the 2nd edition of Net Crimes came out and this time my publisher not only hired a publicist, they sent me to Book Expo America in Washington, DC to sign books at their booth and promote it.
My latest book, True Crime Online, has been promoted heavily with another publicist, me sending out my own press releases, setting up book signings and going back to Book Expo American in NYC the end of this month.
Here’s the reality of book publishing: Unless you’re Stephen King or John Grisham, or you get really, really lucky, you won’t make money from it. After my meager advance is paid off (if it is), I make a whopping $1 per book. That’s it.
But you know what, it’s worth it to me. I am a writer at heart and love to write. I make my money by doing speaking engagements and freelancing for a security company, as well as editing books and writing freelance articles and my newest bit is making jewelry with seaglass (see jahitchcock.com/seacoastcreations).
If you’re thinking about writing to become rich and famous, think again. Do it because it’s what you enjoy, not what you think it should be.