I first met Victoria Noe in a writer’s mastermind group and was immediately struck by her vision and drive. Viki has a specific group of people she wants to reach: people who have experienced the death of a friend.
While there might be many grief books on the market, few–if any–that talk about grief from the perspective of a friend. Until now.
Viki realized that this niche experiences grief in a unique way and that they need books that talk about grief specific to their experience. While the book industry might have skimmed over this audience–grouping them together under the big grief umbrella–Viki has figured out to reach this specific niche.
As you’ll see from the interview, Viki’s decision to self-publish makes perfect sense. Her experience goes to show that when the self-published author really knows her readers, magic can truly happen.
1) Why did you choose to self-publish your book?
I pitched over 4 dozen agents. About half responded. Almost every response read “this is important but I don’t know how to market it.” I realized that I do, so that’s when I decided to self-publish. I decided to break the book into six small books to create a series. Then I knew for sure that I had to go the self-pub route.
2) Can you give us a snapshot of the self-publishing process? What did the process look like, from idea to actual book-on-the-shelf?
In many ways, it’s no different than the traditional route, particularly at the beginning. I was still going to have to refine my idea, do the research, conduct the interviews, do the writing, build the platform. It became different when I went into production. I hired an editor, formatter and cover designer. That’s when I knew I was truly in control of my career.
The second book went much more quickly than the first because I knew what to expect of me and my team. When I had an actual, physical book in my hand that I could market to book stores and specialty stores/gift shops, then I felt like phase 1 was done. Phase 2 is marketing and that will go on forever!
3) Looking back now, what’s one thing you wish you knew?
How long it takes to do it right. If you make the commitment to producing a high quality book–both in terms of writing and production values–it takes time. The first book took the longest. I was new to the process and made mistakes (none fatal) and was learning by doing. That was okay. The second one went really fast.
4) Tell us about a few self-publishing moments.
What was your favorite moment?
When I got permission to quote lyrics from Les Miserables.
When I submitted a permission request for the 3rd time to the same publisher over a 5 month period. I still haven’t heard back from them, so I had to go without the quotes. That was a shame, because they were really good. I get permissions for everything I quote, even one line. Some have come from authors who have the rights to their books; most have come from publishers. The publishers were the most difficult to work with; most took several months to respond.
Moment you thought you might quit? (And tell us why you didn’t.)
When I realized the cost of production (editing, formatting, cover design). I don’t think I’m paying too much, and I love my team. But doing a series makes the expenses disproportionate. I thought for a while that I’d made a bad decision. But as I see the responses to the first two books, I believe that it was the right decision to serialize.
Moment that surprised you most?
My editor’s response to her first reading of my second book on losing friends to AIDS. She’s younger than I am–doesn’t remember the beginning of the epidemic–and she was stunned by some of what she read. I hadn’t considered the effect it would have on people her age. It made me realize that the book has a wider audience than I imagined.
5) What’s the #1 piece of advice you’d give a writer who’s considering self-publishing?
Make it the most professional book(s) possible. Do your homework about companies and individuals to partner with, and don’t cut corners. It will be obvious if you do. Your book really is you–make it a reflection of your talent.
6) Give us a hint of your next creative project. What’s next?
I’m currently working on the next two books in the series, which will come out this summer: one on the military, the other on 9/11. There will be two more in the series this fall, although I’ve gotten suggestions on additional topics. We’ll see! Next year I’ll start on a full-length book about men grieving their friends. The interviews I’ve done with men have been incredibly powerful, surprising me with their intensity. The guys deserve their own book. In between, I review books on BroadwayWorld.com. That taps into my theatre background and is a good respite from my usual very serious writing.
Thank you Viki for your awesome insights about the self-publishing process!
Victoria Noe began her writing career in 2009 after promising a friend she’d write about people grieving their friends. Her freelance work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Windy City Times, and her website FriendGrief.com was named one of 2012’s Top 10 Grief and Loss Websites. In addition, her book reviews can be seen on BroadwayWorld.com She lives in Chicago with her family. www.friendgrief.com
“It’s not like they’re family.”
Sound familiar? If you’re grieving the death of a friend, you’ve probably heard that from people who just don’t get it. And if it made you angry, well, you’re not alone. In the first of a series on grieving the death of a friend, Friend Grief and Anger: When Your Friend Dies and No One Gives A Damn, you’ll meet people who also struggled with anger after their friend died. And they’ll help you answer the question: “Okay, I’m angry: now what?”
It’s been likened to a plague, but AIDS was never just a health crisis.
The second of a series on grieving the death of a friend, Friend Grief and AIDS: Thirty Years of Burying Our Friends, revisits a time when people with AIDS were also targets of bigotry and discrimination. In stories about Ryan White, ACT UP, the Names Project, red ribbons and more, you’ll learn why friends made all the difference: not just caregiving or memorializing, but changing the way society confronts the medical establishment and government to demand action.