WRITER’S SURVIVAL GUIDE TO LIVING IN SAN FRANCISCO - Look up as you’re walking along Market Street towards Embarcadero. Behold a new multimillion dollar high rise condominium being built on every block. We’ve seen our share of boom times--from the Barbary Coast to Flower Power to the Dot.com bubble to the ‘new’ Tech Boom of 2014. More condos, less affordable rentals, more tech companies, the same amount of space, more evictions and nowhere to go but up--result in artist-writer types being forced out of ‘The City’.
Hence, this is where the ‘Writer’s Survival Guide to Living in San Francisco’ comes in, serving up a fresh batch of ideas, to get your name in print and promote your work. You call yourself a writer so go ahead and act like one! Unless you’re James Patterson--you need to be your own editor, publicist, layout person, cover designer and publisher--something that has to be done on the cheap, or free. At least initially, anyway. Since we’ve already established it takes a lot of cash to live in SF.
You don’t actually have to pay anybody to create your own eBook. Make sure to do your research so the book interior looks professional. You can use digital design to create your own cover or use a free stock image. Adding your name and book title to any JPEG file is easy. Use the outline feature in MS Word to link chapter titles to corresponding pages. Smashwords will automatically assign an ISBN for free.
Amazon Author Central
Use the contact form to have Amazon add your eBooks into your Author Central profile. Once the eBooks are live they will be populated to other sites (Barnes & Noble and Scribd for example). We’re still talking eBooks, if your readers can’t find them, your efforts are for naught. Free is good, making money, even better!
What if I’m a diehard fan of physical books, you might ask? In other words, books in print, such as paperbacks. Don’t (and I repeat, don’t) go anywhere else besides CreateSpace. But, “I hate Amazon”, you might say. I’ve researched many of them (Xlibris, Friesen, Ingram, etc.) and while evil Amazon is dead set on putting everyone else out of business, they are the best and cheapest. I am talking about POD (print on demand). This part isn’t cheap except the result is a polished professional trade paperback book. You are going to need these for readings, book signings and some of the best book reviewers insist on physical books. For novel length works I recommend Perfect Binding (square spine with clear coated cover) and nobody does POD better than CreateSpace.
DIY (Do It Yourself) Paperbacks
Most writers don’t know this. But, it really isn’t that difficult, to print your own book that complies (comes close to?) the publishing industry standard. This won’t work for a full novels (70,000 words), because the spine would be too thick, but it will work for long-ish novellas. Once again you will use a built in feature of MS Word. Format your pages in half-letter (8.5 × 5.5 in) with standard margins (don’t worry about gutters and such). You already have your cover so be sure to have both files ready. Go to a big box office supply store and ask them to print the novella in a pamphlet format. The cover is printed on card stock and the book interior is printed on regular white printer paper. It actually works great if the cover image can be printed in black on a single color card stock cover. The centerfold is stapled and voila! You have a cute little physical book. I’ve played around with various formats tape bound, comb bound. For the price and size, the pamphlet works best, trust me.
There are so many options here that we have to focus. I realize you’re a writer and want to sell books. However, to have any success in social media, you must be interesting. Say “Buy my book!” enough times and your followers will unfriend you and go elsewhere. Start a blog (Blogger or Wordpress) because you can say lots of interesting things about yourself, besides just harping on your book. Go onto Twitter everyday and interact with your followers. This is the beginning of your fan base slash audience. Set up pages on sites specific to book-ish pursuits such as Goodreads and LibraryThing. Do this enough and readers will naturally begin to gravitate to you. Enlist the best of the bunch and ask them to do book reviews. All of this is free!
Remember, this article started on the premise that you’re a writer trying to make it in San Francisco, right? Here’s where that begins to pay off. You have written books you can talk about, you’re interesting even without them AND there are so many opportunities right in your backyard (SF). Join a writer’s group, go to events such as Litquake, Word Week in Noe Valley, hit up bookstores (you’re a local writer, remember?) and don’t forget to populate your books with colorful characters and locales that are uniquely San Francisco. Get out of the house and go to events! Remember to tell people about your book keeping in mind you’re so much more than that. Be interesting and memorable, in real life, as well as in social media. Nobody said this was going to be easy but it’s worth it. James Patterson didn’t start out as James Patterson, he started out as a nobody with a big idea and lots of confidence. Look how that one turned out.
About the Author
Chad Schimke began as a self-published writer in 2012 with novels, including ‘Picker’, and short stories, including ‘Weirder’. He has appeared on several live radio shows discussing his various books and a wide variety of speculative topics. He’s been reviewed, guested and hosted along the way. Visit him on Twitter (@ChadSchimke), Amazon (amazon.com/author/chadschimke), Blogger (chadschimke.blogspot.com) and on the web (chadschimke.com), amongst other places.
In 2014 Artifice Comics released special anthology issues, featuring his work, with ‘Midwinter’ appearing in Christmas and ‘Hallowseve’ appearing in the Halloween issue. Later this year, his crime thriller novel entitled ‘Secrets’ will be released, through Seventh Window Publications.
Don’t miss Chad Schimke, organizer of the Alabama Street Writer’s Group (alabamastreetwritersgroup.wordpress.com), in cooperation with City Art Gallery (828 Valencia Street). Meet him at the intersection of art and literature, at Litcrawl, on Saturday October 18th! This is part of the larger Litquake festival happening annually in San Francisco, Manhattan and Los Angeles. Come out for short readings, unique performances, art happenings, a feast of refreshments and book signings galore. Oh my!