The world of iUniverse, for better or worse

Part 1.

 

In this blog, I won’t be presenting an argument of whether self-publishing or traditional publishing is the way to go; although, more and more authors are finding success publishing their books both ways. I’m here to say that I had chosen to go down the path of self-publishing for a story about a forty something year old machinist who becomes unwillingly involved in espionage.  So I became a forty something year old who willingly got involved in the crazy world of publishing.

 

About eight years ago, as a novice (okay, yes, I’m still a novice) in the ways of writing, I had little to no idea as to where I should go to turn in my manuscript and watch it developed into an actual, real, honest to goodness book. So I went on the internet and asked what the top 10 self-publishing companies were, iUniverse had come in third at the time. As of today they are not mentioned at all in most of the top ten. In one list they ended up 7th.

 

 

Top three now. Lulu; CreateSpace; Kindle Direct publishing. Still, about 5,000 authors annually use iUniverse.

 

I used iUniverse between 2010 and 2015, publishing 3 books total with them.  As I said I was a novice at writing and in 2010 there seemed to be a lot of people helping me every step of the way at iUniverse.  I was assigned a different person for each department, editing, production, graphic design, and one extra person overseeing everything. I have to admit back in 2010, iUniverse was making me feel darn important. And they were making my upcoming book feel like the next great American novel. I remember how happy I was on January 10th 2011 when Lonely Deceptions become “live”.  Back then I didn’t even care that iUniverse determined the book price through a fixed cost process.

 

 

I believe they did a good job on the cover and with basic editing. Of course, if you wanted to pour more money into your book, you could go one or two steps further with your editing, to the point that they can tell you how to revise your manuscript. I believe they call it hand holding you through the process.  I had stayed with basic.

 

After my first book came out, I got the occasional call or email asking if I wanted to spend a little more and try my hand with their many other services, like their PR department, for example. I would politely say no. And that would be that.

 

Then came my second book… to be continued.

How I began

You’ll be a writer one day, son.

 

Real life certainly has its share of twists and turns. Probably more so than even my mystery/suspense stories I write. For example a very long time ago I went to college to become a Certified Public Accountant because growing up a relative of mine was a CPA and he always would tell me how great it was to be one. You know where this is going—I did not become a CPA. Nope, I decided to make chocolate. Most people at this point would say, Sweet!

 

Now those first few years of chocolatiering was a lot of fun.  Running a small shop where everyone who walked in immediately smiled after smelling the aroma of chocolate was very satisfying to say the least. I did not run the shop completely alone though.  I would have seasonal help and my mom would help out at the store as much as she could. To be clear, at this time of my life writing wasn’t even an inkling of a thought in my head. If you had said that somewhere in the future I would have four books published I would have laughed and said, ‘yeah, right! I think you got the wrong David Willis’.

 

So what changed in my life to cause this writerly turn around? Well, not my life, but my mom’s.  It began with the shattering of a drinking glass on the hardwood floor.

 

My mom had starting crying after she knocked my glass over from a TV table in front of me.  I had never seen her burst out into tears like that before. She told me that lately she had been having a problem seeing, that she was scared and trying to hide it. I immediately took her to a First Care which was just a few blocks away. In a very short time we had learned how high her sugar levels were and that it was probably diabetes causing her eyes to fail.  Within a few days an ophthalmologist was able to stabilize the damage using laser treatments. But after all was said and done, my mom, who most of her life had loved to read was not able to do so on her own anymore.

 

I began to read to her a few times a week. One day out of the blue, she talked about how much she loved Star Trek and wouldn’t it be nice if I could write a Star Trek story or two and then read it to her.  I think my knee-jerk reaction must have been…what?  But, I’ve been known to jump into things head first, so I started writing the short stories for her even though I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Still, one short story after another I wrote. One after one I read to her. A funny thing happened along the way…

 

To be continued

How I began

You’ll be a writer one day, son. Part 2

 

So, as I wrote in part one of this blog, after my mom lost most of her sight due to diabetes and after I started reading books to her, she said to me, wouldn’t it be nice if I could write a Star Trek story or two and then read it to her? Again, people who know me the best know I tend to jump into things head first (hmmm, there wasn’t any water in that pool? I guess I should have at least glanced first, huh). Anyway, I started writing the short stories for her even though I had absolutely no idea what I was doing—settings, plot, conflict? What were those things?

 

A funny thing happened along the way…

 

…as I wrote the Star Trek short stories, anywhere between 2,000 and 10,000 words long, I began to quickly realize how much I enjoyed writing. But as time went by, my chocolate store that I owned in New Jersey became busier and busier. Eventually, I stopped writing altogether and went back to simply reading other books to her.

 

A few years passed without writing a single word. That’s a bit crazy for me to think about, because now I do my very best to write every single day, even if its 4am in the morning, which it kinda normally is.

 

One day I saw an ad in the Sunday newspaper, incredibly, looking for Star Trek short stories to be submitted for a fanzine that would eventually be sold at Star Trek conventions. I thought about it for awhile, thinking I’m not a writer by any stretch of the imagination, right?  But after a couple of days I found myself sending a few of my short stories via snail mail (they still mostly did that back then) and I not so patiently waited for a response. Maybe a week or two later my phone rang (yes, it was a landline, not cell. Boy I’m old).  The editor of the magazine was interested in publishing one of my stories, she had said. She was sending it back with some editing suggestions for me to make and then it would be published in her summer edition. I remember thinking editing? That’s probably easy enough to do. Yeah…I had a lot to learn.

 

To be continued.

 

How I began

You’ll be a writer one day, son.  Third and final part.

 

As I had said, the Star Trek fanzine publisher of the magazine was interested in publishing one of my stories I had written for my mom. She was sending it back with some editing suggestions for me to make and then it would be published in her summer edition. I remember thinking editing? That’s probably easy enough to do. Yeah…I had a lot to learn.

 

So…I was naively thinking there would probably only be a few changes that she would have made to my story. Uh huh. When I received the Star Trek story back in the mail it would be my first taste of an editor’s red ink. We went back and forth a couple of times, maybe three, before she was completely satisfied. Very soon afterwards I also had my first taste of seeing my story in print. Now, you would have thought that this excitement of publishing would have spurred me on to write more. But it did not. And if I’m being honest with you, I can’t give you a real good reason, or any reason at all for that matter why I just simply stopped writing. But I did.

 

Fast forward about a decade to January of 2003, a sad time for me, my mom finally succumbed to diabetes. I remember a few months before that I was visiting her and a neighbor was there. She introduced me, quickly adding that one day I would be a writer. I think I shook my head saying, I don’t think so. And she said, I know so.

 

About 3 months after my mom passed away, the story idea that would become Lonely Deceptions came to me and for whatever reason I was compelled to write it, and I haven’t stopped writing since. I guess my mom right, she usually was.

 

By the way, yes I still have those other unedited typed Star Trek short stories. I’ll have to read them again…one day.

 

 

 

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