raven ranson

master steward
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since Feb 05, 2015
raven likes ...
books chicken fiber arts cooking sheep
An insomniac misanthrope who enjoys cooking, textile arts, farming and eating delicious food.
Left Coast Canada
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Recent posts by raven ranson

salmon and cheese last night - we ate about a tenth of the slab.

What shall I cook with it tonight?
10 hours ago
Have you thought about what you are going to wear?

Growing clothing is as easy as growing food.

21 hours ago
Someone just dropped off a side of salmon that has been cold smoked.  Looks amazing.

I want to eat it for dinner.


any recipe ideas?
1 day ago
It lets you change your pledge level, but I don't think you can pledge two rewards for one account.

But I can add more rewards. 
1 day ago
Books and thanks and seeds are all gone.  Sorry guys.

But lots of books left for everyone! 
1 day ago
total noob question: can people live in a van in the winter?  Are there ways to heat a van that doesn't involve a lot of fuel? 
1 day ago

Sherri Lynn wrote:I would love to hear more about the process of self-publishing.  How do you begin to promote your book?  Who did you send the postcards to?  How do you go about getting an isbn number?  How to work with a local printer?



Oh gosh.  Where to start?

Looking back on the last few months, I can see just how much work publishers do.  Traditionally publishers, not the hybrid ones where you pay them to be published.  Traditional publishers most definitely earn their fee.  I wonder what would have happened if I wasn't so shy and actually went through with the application and pitched my idea to a publisher.  I narrowed it down to two publishers I thought would like my subject and I went to the library and borrowed every single book by those two publishers they had.  I have two other possible publishers and started borrowing those books as well.  The librarian was curious why I was interested in such a wide variety of topics since my normal topics include yarn, farming, and crafts.  Apparently, she bases her reading list on my book choices - which is kind of weird but it got us talking.  I came away from the conversation with a few books on self-publishing and a strange idea that somehow I could publish.

The library is an amazing source of information.  If I ever want to learn something new, I head to the library.  However, when it comes to self-publishing, my library has an epic amount of crappy books on the topic.  And one really good book.  Self Publishing in Canada by Susanne Anderson is so good that I went and bought myself a copy because the library has this nasty habit of wanting their books back after a month.  There are a lot of things about publishing that are very different in Canada.  For starters, the ISBN number is free for us provided a certain percentage of the people involved and the printer is in Canada. 

Going back to the publisher thing.  When I was reading books with an eye of choosing a publisher, I was overwhelmed by two things.  Even publishers have spelling mistakes in their books.  And more importantly, every single author brought their own audience with them.  The publishers choose people who they knew will help sell the book after it is finished.  Here's part of the application for one of the publishers I considered.

What help can you be in the promotion of the book? Organizational connections? Mailing lists? Workshops? Tours? Conferences which you are likely to attend? (We are primarily interested in publishing authors who are prepared to help substantially with the promotion of their own books.)



It's that question that I couldn't answer. 

Would anyone want to read a book that combines gardening with yarn?

I'm still in awe that the answer is yes.  Actually, there are quite a few people in the textile industry who are equally shocked - who tried to comfort me that it was okay if I only got two people pledging, one of them my dad.  Now, after seeing the response on my Kickstarter, these same people are negotiating a deal for distribution rights.  Pretty nifty stuff.

I'm glad I'm self-publishing for the same reason, I'm glad I grew my own barley so I could brew my own homegrown beer.  I'm not sure I'm going to brew any more homegrown beer as it was an... um... acquired taste.  I liked it, but I wouldn't serve my homegrown homebrew to guests.  I wanted to know every aspect of growing, malting, brewing and drinking homegrown beer.  Now I know what it's like, I have a deeper appreciation for my local brewery - who brews a very popular seasonal lager that tastes suspiciously like my homegrown beer only with hops instead of the nettles I used.



How do you begin to promote your book?



I suspect promotion began with the first post of this thread.  The people here helped give me the courage to write and in a way, they became invested in the outcome of the book.  I'm very grateful to them because, without this thread, it would take another 15 years before I wrote anything. 

Who did you send the postcards to?



A few friends.

Mostly I am using them as notepaper and to hand out to strangers and friends.  Someone wanted to know details of a sheep I have for sale, so I wrote them down on the back of the card, and my contact details, then they turned over the card and see the picture and ask about the book.  This has been a tremendous success.

The other day I went to buy some loose leaf tea for Holiday gifts and the woman there commented on my sweater in the way that only a knitter can.  We got talking about yarn and tea.  At the end of my shopping trip, I had given out postcards to 10 different random strangers who expressed interest in my book with another fistful that the sweater commenting lady promised to share with her knitting group.

How do you go about getting an isbn number? 



It depends on what country you're in.  In Canada, the government hands them out like candy at Halloween.  Of course, we have to fill in a form asking permission to get access to the forum to ask for the ISBN number.  This takes up to a couple of weeks.

How to work with a local printer?



I started by fining a list of everyone who printed books in town.  I quickly discovered that there are two types of companies the actual printers and the vanity publishers.  Once I had an idea of page count, size of the book, and colour vs. black and white pages, I contacted every printer I could find and asked them for quotes.  I sorted through not just on price, but more on the level and quality of service.  Were their quotes just text in an email or did they give me numbered sales orders on a PDF?  How much time were they willing to invest in me and my book?  How well did they answer questions?  How fast were their responses?  Were they willing to let me save money by picking up the books from the printer instead of having them shipped to my address?  Were they okay with me using my own ISBN?  Can they create a barcode? Do they provide a proof before the print run? 

Just as important to me, what were their answers to questions about eco-friendly options?  For this one, I phoned and asked "my readers care about the environmental impact of this book.  What can you tell me about your printing that will impress them?"  One of them stumbled and said, "oh, yes, we have LED lights in part of the office.  that's very green".  I didn't choose that one. 
1 day ago
Having something physical to give to people has reached a whole new audience I didn't expect.

I made a postcard ages back - more to motivate myself than anything else.  It announces the deadline to the world and it has pretty pictures in it.  Every picture has about 20 stories attached to it, so I can customize my pitch depending on who I'm talking to.  Most importantly, it's blank on the back, so I can write things on it, like my contact details and details about the sheep I have for sale right now, before I give it to them.  They turn it over, see the pictures, ask questions... it begins.



I left a stack of 10 of these at my local import grocery store (they get a lot of foods from Europe and the Middle East).  Not really the kind of audience I expected to be interested in my book - it's mostly immigrants and refugees from the Middle East, foodies, and people like me who want to eat healthy foods from countries that don't use so much toxic Ick on their crops.  I'm friends with the owner so he encouraged me to place a stack at the till. 

Yesterday I went back and the cashier asked for more postcards.  He said they are incredibly popular and lots of people are talking about it the book.  I had noticed that there has been more traffic to my website from typing in the address.  There have also been more kickstarter pledges coming from my website.  I didn't know where that traffic was coming from, but now I think it's coming from this shop.  From my postcards.

I wish I had used some link that could do tracking instead of just crowinghen.ca
I'm glad I didn't use the kickstarter link because I want these postcards to be perennial - as in useful if I have any left over.

The rate things are going, I'll be out of postcards before the kickstarter ends. 

Mostly I made these because I like sending postcards and I was too lazy to go into town and buy a dozen (which was about the same price as printing 250 when we factor gas and time into the equation).
1 day ago