Six Weeks To Immortality

Eggceptional…But Worth The Price? 

One of the comments on my last post had to do with the eggs I purchased from the farmer’s market on Saturday. The ones that cost me $6.00 for a dozen. This blogger asked if they were really worth the price, which was funny, because not more than an hour earlier my mom was wondering the same thing (though she took things a step further and berated me for paying so much for eggs, when she just bought them for $1.19 at WinCo…I know, I know, you can find them a hell of a lot cheaper, but I was curious and always wanted to try farm fresh eggs and, by the way, mothers never stop mothering, even when their children are slightly north of 40, do they?).

First off, I have to say, the eggs were delicious. I cooked them over-medium and served them with bacon and toast. I thought the yolks were big and creamy and a beautiful golden color. When I told my dad they were the best eggs I’d ever had, he wondered if I wasn’t just swayed by the perceived quality of the eggs, not to mention the high price I had paid, and suggested a blind taste test might be in order. I’ll admit that he could be right, and that’s not a bad idea. I think we’ll try that one day soon.

Are they worth $6.00, though? It’s hard to believe a dozen eggs would ever be worth six bucks, to be honest. But then I started thinking about economies of scale and how that translates to fifty cents apiece; the breakfast I had yesterday probably cost me $4.00 but would have run double that in a restaurant, and I have to wonder. Maybe it isn’t such a bad price after all, when you look at the big picture.

I’d have a more convincing argument if I weren’t unemployed, of course.

Dreams Do Come True. Even if You Have to Pay for Them. 

When I began this blog, my goal was to chronicle my journey from cubicle-dwelling aspiring novelist to published author. Along the way, some things changed – like, well, the cubicle disappeared, for instance – and I branched out to talk about a wide variety of topics. I like it that way; being able to write about whatever I feel like is liberating. My overall dream, of course, never changed. I always said I’d one day become a published author, or die trying.

A dozen years ago, when I decided to take a serious stab at writing novels, I balked at the notion of self-publishing. It didn’t feel legitimate, I thought, and screamed “vanity project!” more than anything else. I wanted to get published the real way, and went about my due diligence through traditional channels, crafting query letters and sending them off to dozens of literary agents. For every request to see material I had to wade through fifteen or twenty rejections. It’s frustrating to not have anybody even want to read a chapter or two of your work, but that’s the nature of the business. The marketplace is full of agents and publishers who deal with hundreds of queries, proposals and unsolicited manuscripts a week. Breaking through is next to impossible.

Over the past few years, however, the industry has changed. Even many established authors are self-publishing their books and bypassing the traditional publishing houses – it’s the best way to maintain creative control over their visions, I suppose. Self-publishing doesn’t carry the same stigma it did even five years ago, and there are success stories out there, people who have sold a ton of books on their own and then been picked up by a big-name publishing house. Granted, this is the exception to the rule, but it can – and does – happen. Social networking provides authors with so many unique and far-reaching marketing channels that, with a lot of hard work, you can really get your book out there…and hopefully noticed.

Plus, with the rise of POD (Print On Demand) publishers, the expense has gone down drastically. You no longer have to buy a hundred copies of your book and try to sell them; the publishing company will, instead, print each book on demand, as it is ordered. This keeps everybody’s costs down, and makes the whole process affordable.

So, when I secured funds for my life-changing road trip last month, I also put enough aside to self-publish my book. I have been waiting for years to have my book published, and this would be the culmination of all of my hard work and determined effort. It would be a dream come true! Albeit, a dream I was paying to have come true, but at this point – who cares about the how’s.

I’m going to be a published author!

Six Weeks To Immortality

The first step was finding the right company. There are a lot of big names out there – Lulu, Xlibris, AuthorHouse, iUniverse and Amazon’s CreateSpace, to name a few – but I chose a smaller outfit called Booklocker. Why? Not only do they offer competitive pricing and receive high satisfaction ratings, but they have standards: contrary to the practices of many companies, they look for quality books with potential, and don’t publish just anybody’s. They have to approve your manuscript first. They are essentially a mom ‘n pop outfit (something that appeals to my anti-corporate sensibilities) but offer all the same perks as the other guys: 35% royalty on book sales, your own ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and barcode, distribution through Amazon and Ingram, e-book options, cover design services, etc. Last week, I uploaded my manuscript, and nervously awaited their response. I’m so used to rejection, I think I expected it. Finally, they replied.

While I don’t have time to read entire manuscripts, we do have a specific formula for reviewing them. Basically, if we start reading and want to keep reading, that’s great. We also look for errors and try to determine if we feel there is a market for the book.

Your book has been accepted for publication by Booklocker.
Give yourself a pat on the back. We reject the vast majority of incoming proposals. (You would not BELIEVE some of the stuff we see…and, sadly, our competitors are putting this low-quality material on the market).

Welcome to the family! We’re very happy to have you!!

I was ecstatic upon reading that! I have waited so long for this to happen that, even though I’m paying for it, it still feels like a WIN!

The past few days have been an exciting blur. I’m already marketing my novel – I created a Facebook fan page for No Time For Kings. Feel free to click here and “like” it – I’m posting daily updates on the progress of my novel and sharing fun things like character backgrounds, cover proposals, etc. My friends have spread the word to their friends, and I’m conversing with people I don’t even know, trying to build “buzz.” I’ve always been pretty good at this marketing stuff, and I’m off to a solid start!

I also formatted my novel, going through it once more for any last-minute changes; signed the contract; uploaded the files; created a dedication and an “About The Author” blurb; and, most exciting of all, am working one-on-one with a graphics designer to come up with an original cover. I talked with him today about the ideas I have – dark and brooding, incorporating the environmental/terrorist themes, suggested color schemes, even a few possible images. I can’t wait to see what Todd comes up with! I’ll own the cover artwork when it’s complete, as I’m “buying” it as part of the contract. Oh, and I came up with a tagline that I like, too. Saving The Earth is Bloody Business. It fits.

My friends are being amazingly supportive, and my kids have jumped on board, too. Rusty even designed a promotional poster using a photo of Mount Rushmore I took just a few weeks ago. It’s related to a pivotal scene in the book, and I think it turned out fantastic. Audrey, meanwhile, has decided she’d like to become a writer too, and is working on a book of her own. I’m proud of them both.

This is all very exciting, and I plan to update progress here on my blog, of course. In just six short weeks, my book will be available for sale. I can hardly believe it!

Not the cover (though it would certainly work)! Rusty designed this promotional poster based on an image I took a few weeks ago. It's been doctored a bit - I promise I didn't destroy any national monuments while on my trip.
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49 thoughts on “Six Weeks To Immortality

    1. Doing a 5,000-book print run would be much less expensive per unit, of course. But coming up with the cost to cover those 5,000 books – and getting stuck with them if they don’t sell – is the drawback.

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  1. Okay–I reprimanded Sara for spending $3.50 ish on cage free/ free range/ orgainic eggs the other day, so apparently that was a deal compared to what you spent. I can not let her know your option exists or, I swear, knowing my luck, she’ll start spending that much. Actually, we go to the Farmers’ Market most weekends, but I’ve not seen eggs so far.

    And congrats on the book! That is fabulous news!

    Kathy

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  2. Dammit! I’m only wishing you had already started down this rode when I wrote the Southwest Spirit article. Your title (“Novelist Mark Petruska, author of ‘No Time for Kings’…”) would have made an appearance in every Southwest airplane from coast to coast…coulda helped spread the word, one terrified traveler at a time! ;)

    Congratulations to you, Mark. I have been an Angela Hoy devotee for many years now, and I often consider this route myself. You have the potential to make even more money independently than through a “traditional” publisher based on royalties, and it’s a great platform. Booklocker rocks.

    Consider me a Facebook fan — and a future book buyer!

    :)

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    1. I got my hands on a hard copy of this month’s Spirit Magazine today. So cool to see your article! And grr…you’re right…how much better would that have been?! I guess you’ll just have to use me in another story, Mikalee – once the book comes out! :)

      I’ve been a Writer’s Weekly subscriber for a couple of years and have entered a few of their 24-hour short story contests, which of course is how I found out about Booklocker. Angela seems very down to earth and accessible, and that’s rare these days – I’m glad I’m going with them!

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  3. Booya! This is so exciting Mark and I am so thrilled for you! I’m already a fan on Facebook and will look forward to getting updates.

    Now…about a signed copy!?! Whatcha think??

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    1. Thanks, Tracy! I’ll autograph copies for anybody who’s interested…we’ll figure out the logistics later, but rest assured, your copy will be personally signed! Thanks for liking the page and supporting me all this time. :)

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  4. “the breakfast I had yesterday probably cost me $4.00 but would have run double that in a restaurant, and I have to wonder. Maybe it isn’t such a bad price after all, when you look at the big picture.”

    Exactly! And it’s not like you do this all the time. It was like treat. I treat myself to stuff now and then too, so I’m glad to hear you enjoyed them!

    And good for you about self-publishing, Mark. I use to read a blog where the author gave excellent advice on the PLUS’s of self-publishing. I mean with the Internet so readily available to us, why not?

    Can’t wait to hear about your progress! Six weeks? That’s AWESOME!

    Just in time for the fall season and pre-Christmas gift sales!!

    LOVE the promo poster!

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    1. Ooh, you’re right, Ron – ’tis the season, huh? Great timing! I couldn’t have planned it better if I tried!

      I figure, once in a great while I’ll splurge on the eggs. I agree with your philosophy about treating yourself every so often.

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    1. Interesting article. I’d give up meat and cheese one day a week if it would help to save the planet. And your reasons for paying more for eggs are the same as mine, o kindred spirit!

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  5. Hi! Congratulations on taking the next step in your quest to your dream! I think its a great inspiration to others to not wait for someone or something to make something happen. I wish you well and will be following and supporting you every step of the way!

    p.s – I am relatively new to your blog and just getting caught up. I started to “follow” you on your roadtrip. I look forward to getting to know you through your writing.

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    1. Thanks for following, and for stopping in to officially say “hi.” I’ll check out your blog, too! I’m a firm believer in blazing your own path in life. When I’m on my deathbed, I won’t give a damn about the money I spent to make my dreams happen, but I *will* be happy to have a legacy that will exist long after I’m gone! :)

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      1. Haha. Now of course none of this is applicable on Guam, where I really feel I should be getting good eggs from all the chickens everywhere. Turns out they’re really only kept around for cockfighting. Um, speaking of animal welfare…
        But I’m back in the Bay in two weeks!! Hellllllo local farming goodness!

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  6. Mark, I think it’s great that you are getting your book self-published – getting it out there and encouraging the momentum for more sales and more exposure is a very good idea. Congratulations! I read that most traditional publishers get over 90% fiction submissions and only 5% or so non-fiction, which makes non-fiction that much easier to be accepted for publishing. Do you have a non-fiction in you?

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    1. Those are interesting statistics. Who knew! I love creative writing, but I’ve done enough articles to know that I could put together a non-fiction book too, if I found an interesting topic. At one point I was considering doing a book about people in the Portland area whose houses are haunted…that one’s still simmering on the back burner.

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  7. I am just cheap enough that nothing is worth $6 in my book… probably not even my soul. I should make a note to stop being such a penny pincher :)
    Also? WOOOOOOOO TO THE WHOOOOOOOOOOOO about publishing! I would buy your book out of a trunk, but thank God I won’t have to! Off to like your FB page!

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    1. LOL. I’m sure your soul’s worth more than that! And, thank you for the support!! Hmm, maybe I should invest in a trunk and order up a bunch of copies of my book, just in case others like you have the same idea…

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  8. Mark:
    1. the eggs? TOTALLY worth it. When I can, I go to the co-op to buy our eggs there…a dozen cost about $3.50.
    2. it doesn’t matter if you have to pay for your dreams to come true. How different is what you’re doing vs. someone that wants to sky dive or get an awesome tattoo– right? :)

    I am VERY excited for you–what a tremendous journey you have been on!

    blessings
    jane

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    1. Thank you, Jane! You’re always super supportive…I appreciate that. AND you’ve made me feel better about buying expensive eggs (although what you pay is considerably more reasonable!).

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  9. YAY, you!!! I am SO happy for you….nothing like making a dream come true!! Wishing you much luck and success…and I will be liking your page right after this! :)
    PS–$6.00 eggs and indulging yourself is always a good thing….maybe now you can do it more often.

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  10. Wow, Mark, congrats! This is such a big step and such a dream. I’m so excited for you and I can’t wait to support you every step of the way. Enjoy this time – you deserve it!

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    1. I’m enjoying every second, Catherine – this is the calm before the storm, the fun time when my book has been ordered and is in process but hasn’t yet arrived. I can’t wait to hold it in my hands for the first time!

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      1. I’d be happy to help with any advice I can give. Feel free to ask. I know how intimidating some of the steps in the process can be the first time.

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  11. This is great! Who cares if you’re paying. Your dreams are your dreams and you should follow them however possible for you!

    Still laughing about the cost of the eggs ;-) I don’t think that price would work with my small family of 5…

    Great post, and again CONGRATS! and GOOD LUCK!

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  12. OMG Mark! I’m just catching up on everybody’s blogs tonight so I was out of the loop here, congratulations!!! I’m very excited for you and you should be so proud of all the steps you’ve taken to make this dream happen, including putting your name out there in your blog! Keep me posted on the progress of the book, I want a signed copy!

    P.S. Next time I venture to Portland, let me know if you want help sneaking copies into Powells…they’ll never suspect this smiling face. ;)

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    1. LOL. You know, that thought crossed my mind…but then I read that some self-published authors actually do try to sneak copies of their book onto shelves, but this is a big problem because on the off chance that somebody tries to buy it, it won’t register in the bookstore’s computerized system. Oops.

      Maybe I’ll just stand out front with a box full of copies and try to sell them right there. I’m sure Powell’s wouldn’t mind that one bit!

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  13. Congrats on the book Mark. Can’t wait to hold it in my hand to read it. There is nothing that can replace the feel of a book in hand with the coffee or wine nearby for a great read. Jeanne

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  14. Hey, very nice site. I came across this on Google, and I am stoked that I did. I will definately be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just taking in as much info as I can at the moment.

    iso 9000

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