The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese: How To Avoid the Traps of Self-Publishing
Author: Carolyn P. Schriber
Publisher: Katzenhaus Books (2012)
Binding: Paperback, 188 pages
You've heard the expression, "The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese." Which would you prefer? You are probably not terribly fond of worms. You don't even want to think about what the first mouse gets.
What does this have to do with self-publishing? Quite a lot, actually. The publishing industry has undergone something of a seismic shift in the past year. If you follow internet discussions about traditional publishing, you'll find authors being urged to make the shift to ebooks and self-publishing, because that's where the "cheese" is.
Perhaps so, but the shift is not an easy one. The self-publishing option is full of traps for unwary little mice who jump into the fray without the necessary understanding of what all is involved. Carolyn Schriber’s first self-published historical novel, Beyond All Price, was on life support for nearly a year. Then it made a spectacular recovery, winning two book awards and remaining on some of Amazon Kindle's "Top 100 Bestseller " lists for nearly two months. That was her piece of the cheese.
Now she is willing to share her story. She blogged about her experiences, starting with the first decision about self-publication. She kept track of her success and failures. She offered snippets of advice to other would-be writers. Now all those crumbs of information come together in an anecdotal account of what she learned and what you, too, need to know in order to get your piece of the cheese.
I'm not a fan of "how to" books. That's not to say I don't buy them and read them, but there are very few in my library that were really worth the price. So I looked at this title and thought, "Another tome on self-publishing? What more is there to say? I've been working this row going on 10 years now. It's about carrying through on things I already know, not about learning something new."
As it turns out, The Second Mouse had a lot to teach this old rat. It's terrific for newbies too, but don't think that because you've been around the hamster wheel a few times, you know all the bases. As they have been saying for at least a half a century now, "The times, they are a changing." It's a new game and a new field.
First, Ms. Schriber goes into the evaporating snobbery about self-publishing. Blanket statements about book delivery options are more and more founded in ignorance of the emerging markets. The industry is moving so quickly that a clever independent author who knows what she or he is doing can keep up much faster than one contractually committed to hard-to-turn titanic organizations.
Ms. Schriber sets out to share her experience in creating a quality book in a reasonable timeframe and effectively marketing it on the internet as well as in traditional markets. She covers many helpful topics in a very few pages – from grammar to business bank accounts.
The subject that I found most helpful was about a tool I had long considered unavailable – an authoring package for MAC computers called "Scrivener." As I am a PC person, dealing with PC people, I just pushed my nose against the glass for a brief moment and then went back to my whirling wheel.
There's a saying that I hate. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It was the bane of my life as an engineer. The fact is, experience can work against you. If you try something and it doesn't work or isn't available, you tend to accept existing tools as your lot in life. However, after reading The Second Mouse and Ms. Schriber's glowing comments about Scrivener, I rethought my tool kit and checked out my options. There's been lots of new authoring tools for PC in the last couple of years. I browsed through them for five hours last night. None excited me and then, on a whim, I checked out Scrivener. To my delight I discovered that there is now a PC version. Hallelujah!
I know this may seem like a strange review for The Second Mouse, but there is truly something for everyone in this clever little book. If you plan on buying just one – this is it.
Reviewed by: Joyce Faulkner (2012)