The Joy of Authoring & The Death of Big Butch

For a writer, the leap from “I write” to “I’m published” to “I have a new book” has an indescribable pleasure (and a bit of fear).

And I used to think that feeling was amazing and it is.

But now I’m a publisher.

Photo by Larry’s Aunt Jenny

Right now, I am working with Larry Sceurman on his debut novella, The Death of Big Butch, which I hope to launch in early December. Larry has his print proof now, our art director Gayle is gathering the art and preparing the concept for the cover (see the photo of the Edick Auto Paint Shop), I am working on the front and back matter with the help of Larry (and his lovely wife Barbara), and Joan and I have scheduled a shoot for the front cover art on Black Friday. Which reminds me I need to confirm those arrangements with the historic Steve’s Café in Phillipsburg.

We are also starting to hype the release. I attended the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group meeting, of which Larry and I are both members, and Larry sent out his annual Thanksgiving card that included some publicity material on his book. We’re also plotting a potential launch party. Details to come.

Or click here to view on YouTube: Reading Larry’s Thanksgiving Card

Larry and I spent some time together Saturday, discussing the final manuscript and our future plans. We registered his copyright with the Library of Congress, which is another exciting part of authorhood. For me, it adds a layer of legitimacy and legacy that extends beyond the physical book itself.

Then, we traveled to Gayle’s office and scanned Larry’s photograph of the family business that inspires the setting for The Death of Big Butch. Now, I could have saved Larry the trip and promised to care for the treasured family artifact, but Parisian Phoenix prides itself on community and education. We also want to empower our authors to engage in the process. Gayle and I have the skills to make the decisions we made as a team.

Do we want to feature the original or the restored photograph on the cover? Do we want the image to be black-and-white or sepia?

Barbara has taken me aside from time to time to thank me for helping Larry with his publishing journey. And Larry intended this novella to accompany his upcoming short story collection, Coffee in the Morning. But I split his short story collection into three separate publishing projects.

Involving an author with these small decisions about a project, connecting the author to people who have the skill sets to help and guide, and bringing to fruition a project bigger and hopefully better than what the author can achieve on their own is how I view my job as a publisher. I know in traditional mainstream publishing, these decisions fall within the jurisdiction of publishing employees. But, as a craft publisher, Parisian Phoenix strives to maintain author involvement in the process.

And it brings me even more joy to educate and empower other writers as they transition to published authors than it did to release my own novels. Don’t get me wrong. I love writing and I still write, but there’s a different kind of pleasure in helping someone else reach their dreams/goals.

Larry could have chosen to self-publish, and he could have made the decision himself whether to go wide or enter into the Amazon-only publishing model, but he chose to work with me and my staff. And I’m thrilled to be his partner. Parisian Phoenix can’t wait to release The Death of Big Butch. We might even be as excited as he must be.

So, let me just say, and this is my wisdom from listening to interviews and podcasts about publishing and self-publishing for hours every day and my personal experience from my first year in business: the book business is hard. It’s not complicated, and anyone can do it, but it is complicated. Marketing and reaching the right readers and building a name for yourself requires work and dedication.

If you’re confident and you think you have the skills and the tenacity to self-publish your book, I encourage you to go for it. But publishing and marketing can be grueling and lonely, so if you want help and you don’t want to face the vast wonderland that is the modern reading environment, find the right publisher for you or if you have a budget, hire the professionals who can assist you and who value you as a client.

Because life is too short not to chase your dreams and it’s not fun to scale challenges alone.

Published by Angel Ackerman

Writer, Editor, Traveler, Fashionista, Francophile, Student and Mother Publisher at Parisian Phoenix ( Author of the Fashion and Fiends series

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