Thinking about self-publishing? It’s got some benefits, but there’s a lot of extra footwork involved, too. We sat down with Laura Drew Farraher, who, together with her sister, Tammy, make up a pair that you might know on Figment as The Drew Sisters, to talk about their recently self-published book, My Mother is a Rock Star. The novel, about teenage Clementine Calloway, daughter of a world-famous rock star, landing herself on a small Maine island for ten days and dealing with some intense culture shock, is published by Amazon’s CreateSpace.
How did you decide to write a book?
Tammy and I taught in Beverly Hills for over seven years. Our experience there was amazing, and we learned so much from our students and school community. When we returned to New England, and began telling our L.A. stories to our friends and family, so many of them said, “You two have to write a book.” Years later, that’s what we did. One of my favorite writing teachers once told me that writers write because they have to–it’s almost not a choice. A story is in his or her mind, and it just has to come out eventually. I think that’s exactly what happened with our story.
When did you begin to look for feedback from Figmenters, and how did it help? How did you go about soliciting feedback?
We were fortunate when we posted a portion of our book on Figment. We received so many positive comments and “hearts”–we knew we were headed in the right direction. But as teachers (myself being an English teacher), I have to tell you that it was very humbling for me to receive constructive criticism from young teenagers. But when it came to finding errors–spelling or grammatical–our Figment followers were amazing. When you’re writing long pieces, like a novel, you tend to mentally correct the mistakes as you read. So I thank our Figment followers for being our first set of editing eyes.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
We had a go with writing query letters, and even meeting with a few publishing houses. Some just denied us straight out, and some were more receptive. One was willing to publish but wanted to “shelve” it for three years. We knew that we couldn’t wait that long, and certain things we referenced in the book might be dated by then. Several people suggested self-publishing, and the idea became more and more enticing. We knew we would be able to market the book ourselves, and we really just wanted our readers to have it. That was our main goal. Private sponsors gave us the means to do that, so we went with it.
What is the self-publishing process like?
The self-publishing process is a lot of work. I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who has limited time to devote to the process. Writing a book takes time, but self-publishing and the marketing process that follows takes a lot of time and energy too. The people who help you through the process are helpful, but they show little interest in the content of your work. They just help you check the boxes through to completion. It’s long and tedious, but at the end of it all you get to hold your book in your hands . . . and you are your own boss.
How do you think self-publishing is different from traditional publishing?
It’s hard to say because we have never traditionally published, but I would say that if you have a publishing house working with/for you, you have more of a hand to hold throughout the process. With self-publishing, you’re on your own. And once the book is published, you need to be ready to market your work. It’s a learning process, but we’ve found it fun and rewarding. I would definitely recommend it to a writer who loves his or her book, wants others to have it, and is not necessarily looking to make millions. Given the feedback that we’ve received from our readers who have bought the book, we are thrilled. And we have no regrets.