Self-Publising: How One Author is Doing it Her Way

Kate O'Hegarty, author of Mieradome
Photo- 2010 Vania Stoyanova

From conception to birth, novels are a definite labor of love. Writing the actual story is just half the battle; if following the traditional path, the author then has to find a reputable agent, pray for the interest of a publishing house, and then battle it out with editors to get the novel printed, marketed, and sold. In recent years, the economy has not helped this industry at all, causing companies to tighten their purse-strings and sign fewer new novelists.

This isn't stopping some up and comers, though, such as Kate O'Hegarty, a fellow Modesto High graduate (go panthers!). Starting her fantasy young-adult novel almost eight years ago, O'Hegarty is now in the absolute final stages of production, ready to bring her readers into the adventurous world of Mieradome very soon. O'Hegarty first tried the ordinary route, sending queries to agents and publishers, only to hear that they liked her book, but were concerned it didn't quite match their current catalogs.

Most of us would have stopped there- not this girl. O'Hegarty decided to investigate the self-publishing route, reading every guide and article out there to learn the process. Slowly, things started coming together- her sister, a graphic-designer, created the beautiful cover and various designs throughout the book, and Jeff Brian Fischer was hired to do the illustrations for the website. While working out the details of the novel's production, including finding a company to print the text, O'Hegarty also took on marketing and publicity, taking advantage of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, book bloggers, and online reviewers.

O'Hegarty was very upfront about the advantages and disadvantages of this huge endeavor that is self-publishing. She
welcomes having "full control" over the editing process, artistic touches, and promotional aspects, yet does acknowledge that the marketing component of an indie project can be difficult. When self-publishing, the author must also supply the upfront costs for hiring the necessary creative talents, the marketing campaign, and the printing of the book (fingers crossed she makes it all back).

Next up, Kate will continue to promote her book while working on a sequel to Mieradome, which is available for purchase at Borders, Barnes and Noble, on Amazon, or by request at your favorite independent bookstore. For more information on her book (or even just to see a really awesome book website), visit

Butterfly in the Skyyyyyyy

I admit to a major soft spot for Reading Rainbow. Shocking, I'm sure. As a kid, I thought it was awesome- a whole show devoted to my favorite hobby. I do remember getting pretty pissed that they would never tell you what happened at the end of the books they read, though, and then those books never being at our public library.

Anyway, I just ran across an article online from May that reported LeVar Burton alluded to Reading Rainbow 2.0 in a Twitter Post. My heart skipped a beat. Sadly, that's the only real update, but what else is LeVar doing these days? Perhaps a petition should be started.

Reading is Sexy, Godammit!

My first few days of teaching various language arts related courses at the high school level has made me sadly aware that today's youth thinks the same way as yesterday's- reading is for nerds. When asking the students to share the topics they chose for a movie or book summary I asked them to write, none of the students shared about a book. Interestingly, when I later flipped through their papers, some of them actually did read books over the summer (gasp). Granted, their choices did make me cringe, but I'll give them credit for reading (I give kids a much bigger break on their selection choices). They didn't want to admit to it, though, in front of their peers, for fear of being labeled a dork or nerd. Perhaps if I taught AP or IB classes it would be different, but these kids, unfortunately, represent the opinions of the general public.

So, what is it with society? Why does is there such a stigma attached to reading? Yeah, people cut you a break if you're dabbling in something light, such as Twilight, or the latest celebrity biography, but the rest of us get labeled as dorks when seen willingly reading Philip Roth ("are you taking a class?"). Let's face it, as a whole, society doesn't like to learn. People don't really care about increasing their intelligence if it requires effort. The masses are lazy and would rather watch Jersey Shore than pick up that rectangular thing with all those fucking words. They're intimidated by people who want to become more knowledgeable, because, seriously, let's face it- we could take over the world.

Being ignorant isn't sexy. Being willing to acquire knowledge, challenge yourself, and realize there are different perspectives in this world is. This can be done without reading. But, for those of with lives and budgets, opening that rectangular thing with all those fucking words is an easy way to evolve.

Working the System

I'm a busy person (yes, you can be busy without having kids). I always take on too much at work, I'm training like a crazy person for two half marathons this year, I always some sort of project I'm working on, and I have this strange need to see my husband and hang out with friends. This doesn't always leave much time to read novels.

In order to keep everything straight, I'm a to-do list fanatic. I have an ap on my phone that I'm constantly updating and simultaneously loathing. Once it's on the list it stays on the list until it gets done. Recently, I figured why not add reading to it? If the list says I have to read for fifteen or thirty minutes that day, then I have no choice. I am the slave, and the list is my master. Orders are orders.

And that is how I work my own to-do list system.

Chic Lit : Literature :: Cheerleading : Sports

Here's an SAT analogy- chic lit:literature :: cheerleading:sports. Depending on who you are dictates what this means to you. Personally, I see cheerleading as more of an activity than a true blue sport, just as I see chic lit as a sort of a fun writing activity than actual literature. May some people find it enjoyable? Sure. Are there words on paper? Yup. Is there a plot and some characters? Technically, yes. But is it a genre that deserves bonafide accolades? At this point in it's scope, I think not.

I'll admit- I was in my late teens when the whole chic lit saturation began. I read Bridget Jone's Diary, The Nanny Diaries, Sex and the City, and The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing (rest assured I was also highbrowing it with Dostoyevski, Fitzgerald, and Austen). These chic lit pioneers had some definite chutzpah, though, finally talking about sex, body image, and the whole professional glass ceiling issue in ways that hadn't yet been done. But then, people caught on to the marketability and everything went to hell. Jennifer Weiner named one of her books Good in Bed, for Christ's sake. While being a great lay is nothing to be ashamed of, using it as the title of your novel doesn't exactly scream, "Nominate me for a Pulitzer!" All of a sudden your novel could be at the top of the bestseller's list if you wrote about a twenty-something year old woman who was desperately trying to stay thin, find a husband, and take the corporate world be storm. Depth, character development, and originality? Nah, unnecessary when you have Prada, bitchy colleagues, and the hot guy down the hall.

Chic lit lost every ounce of credibility when its semi-original founders started turning out absolute crap. Helen Fielding's follow ups Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination were simply recycled ideas. Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin churned out several barely mediocre chic lit books, hitting absolute rock bottom with their sequel to the Nanny Diaries last year (I only read it because it was free to reviewers on Amazon Vine). Chic Lit is a dying horse that desperately needs to be put out of its misery.

Not convinced? One of those who "read for fun?" Fine, fine, fine. Try one of these instead:

Where Have All the Novels Gone?

For those that don't know, this year I will be leaving the land of tattling, Focus Walls, and hand-drawn pictures for high school, where I will teach sophomore English and yearbook (dun dun dun). Today when I picked up my teacher's edition of The Language of Literacy, the textbook our district has adopted, my suspicions were confirmed- the readings are comprised of short stories, essays, poems and non-fiction excerpts. From what I can tell after a quick thumbing-through of the TE there are no novels. Sigh.

I was lucky enough to have completed the International Baccalaureate Program when in high school, a rigorous program that frequently makes its students want to die (if the school is teaching it right, anyway). We read novel after novel, including two or three during the summer. Sophomore year I remember reading texts such as All Quiet on the Western Front, House of the Spirits, and Of Mice and Men, if memory serves correctly. We read the entire book, not just a snippet here of there, and then analyzed the hell out of it. I left the program with a deep appreciation of literature.

Being my first year as a high school teacher, I can't say what the students do their junior and senior years- maybe they read novels. So, what, we wait until our students are on their way out the door to have them read full texts? I felt this similar frustration while teaching fourth and fifth grade and refused to let the year end without at least two or three novels being read, wherever I could fit them. I don't care what the grade level, once a kid can read, they can read a novel. The standards, skills, and concepts can be taught through longer texts if the legwork is done by a publishing company, district, or a teacher.

By preventing the exposure to novels students are being deprived of so much. They aren't learning how to look at a large body of work and apply literacy skills, nor are they prepared for dense reading lists in college. Just as important, students aren't able to experience the satisfaction that comes with finishing, and truly understanding, a novel.

This year my students will read a novel, at some point. I don't care if it takes us two months or if it's at the end of the year when testing is done, my students will read a damn book.