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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A SELF-PUBLISHING STORY AND SALE: Bobby Talks About His Experience Self-Publishing AND Tries To Sell Some Books!

Front Cover of a self-published collection of plays
Greetings ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Theater is a Sport, where I talk about all things theater!

Over a year ago, I decided to self-publish a VERY limited edition of a collection of some of my plays.  I did this for a number of reasons:

1.  I wanted to stick my toe into the world of self-publishing and print on demand.  It is a huge market for writers now who have not exactly had success through traditional publishing means.  And, while I have been fortunate to be published by a few different play houses, and am very grateful for that, I wanted to just check it out in a small way, to see if it would be something I would like to dive into head-on into the future.

2.  I wanted to have a book of my own plays to make available to friends, family, and anyone who might be interested.

3.   I thought this would be a good opportunity to check out the quality of a print-on-demand publisher.

4.  While I write a great deal of plays for children and high school students, I do still write a good number of plays that are geared toward a more "grown-up" market.  The three plays in this collection are a good example.  I am proud of each of these plays (I will discuss them more a bit later on), and wanted to see if it were possible to reach a wider audience.

So, with these very modest goals, I explored.  I chose to use lulu.com, because it required absolutely no upfront costs just to prepare the manuscript and have them sell it on their website.  The website is very simple to navigate, and I give them full props for the ease in actually creating a book to be printed.  Now, there are some services to help with your book and its marketing, getting it on Amazon, etc., for a fee, but, again, since my goals were modest, I did not explore any of that, so I can't comment one way or another for you folks looking to try it.  What I can tell you is that the website is easy, making the book was easy, and their is a huge forum on their website where you can find an answer to any technical problem you might have.  I literally started the process and had my book advertised on their site within a couple of days... (granted, I had already proofed everything and one all of my re-writes, etc.)  It is even simple to have a print version and an e-book of what you're looking for.  I will tell you, that it is best to have a PayPal account to receive your royalties, and you will get your money every month instead of waiting for a check that will come every quarter (unless they've changed this).  

I was happy with the printed product from Lulu.  My own personal photos were used to make a cover.  Lulu provides many different templates to choose from, so, again, simple. 

Based on what your goals are, I do recommend Lulu from my (admittedly) limited experience.  If you are looking to make a decent-looking paperback book, they did the job for me.  And, if you invest more time and energy than I did in making the product, I'm sure you can make something even better than mine.  So, yeah, if you're interested (and I am in no way a spokesperson and am in no way affiliated with them), check out www.lulu.com.  Of course, there are a ton of other ones, so, please, don't take my word as gospel, I just had a positive experience with them.

Okay, onto my product:

Here's the deal... I printed up some copies and sold some around.  The manufacturing costs vary, and Lulu did seem to have a number of promotions to save money on getting your own book printed. 

Now, one of the plays (I can't say which one, as all of this is forthcoming), has landed a deal with a traditional publisher, and, even has some people interested in making an independent film from it.  For this reason, I had to take my self-published book off the market.  Thus, there are a VERY LIMITED number of the books in print in existence.  (If I ever am famous, this will be a very rare thing to own... I am saying this with a smile, because, although I would love to achieve some fame, who knows?  It's not impossible, but I'm not necessarily holding my breath, either). 

So, right now, there under 50 copies of my book in existence, and it is already off of Lulu.  I have, in my possession, the last 15 copies.  Now, I never really worked all that hard at trying to promote the book or sell it, so, there you go.

However...

I would love to sell these last 15 copies or so.  Any money I get from it would go right into helping me produce and promote my own work. 

Let me tell you a little about the plays.  Here's the back cover synopsis:

"A grown-up fairytale about a Mother risking her own life to save her son from Death's grasp.  Two old fishermen, talking about life, sex, nature and their own relevance as the Lady of the Lake steers them toward tolerance.  Family and friends remember Jeremy, a gay teen who took his own life because he was bullied constantly at school and learned to hate who he was.  The three plays in this volume cover a vast arena, from fairy tales to comedy to tragedy.  Award-winning playwright Bobby Keniston presents three of his most powerful plays in this limited edition paperback."

The three plays:

A MOTHER'S WISH:  I originally wrote this long one-act when I was at Bennington College, where it was kind of a hit when I did a reading of it.  A few years back, still proud of the concept, I re-wrote it, making it a bit more theatrical and accessible.  It is a play that I am very proud of.

THE LADY OF THE LAKE PRESENTS:  THE F-G VARIATIONS:  Another play I wrote originally in college.  I am a big believer in tolerance.  I hate the word "f-g" or "fa--ot" or any other awful name used for homosexuals.  This play is about two old Maine fisherman, who, over a course of small vignette scenes, are steered toward tolerance by the Lady of the Lake, who they never see.  This play was taken to the MEAct festival, where it did very well.  It was directed by the brilliant Tracy Michaud-Stutzman (who also played the Lady of the Lake).  A year later, it was invited to represent the state of Maine in the New England Regional Festival.  It was well-received by the judges, and I won an award for Best Emerging Playwright.

THE RE-PROGRAMMING OF JEREMY: I self-produced this play myself at a few different locations.  It was a huge it and got great press in my home state of Maine.  This is a documentary style play, where characters, though a series of monologues, discuss Jeremy, a gay teen who has ended his own life.  A friend of mine told me, "I don't know how a straight guy can write so well about the gay experience... thank you for writing this."   I can't stand intolerance.  I just can't.  And when I think about all these kids who have killed themselves because of bullying, it breaks my heart.  That's why I was so gung ho to produce this play.  Producing it myself and performing it with so many wonderful and talented people was a tremendous joy for me.

So...

If you're interested in having one of the last copies of this collection in existence, you can e-mail me at theater.is.a.sport@gmail.com and let me know.  Please put the following in the subject line:  I WANT TO BUY YOUR BOOK.  I am only charging $12 plus shipping and handling fee (if I have to mail it to you) of an extra $4 ($7 if you live out of the US).  Since my book is no longer available, I no longer have a PayPal account, so you'd have to send me a check or money order, and I'd then send you the book. 

I hate doing a commercial for this, but, I really would like to sell these last copies out there, and, if there are people interested who read my blog, why not see if any of you would like one?  Plus, $12 is actually a reduced rate-- they used to $15.  AND, of course I will SIGN your copy, if that's worth anything to you.  :-)

So, yeah, if you like, drop me a line at theater.is.a.sport@gmail.com and I will let you know how to pay me and get a book.  Again, whatever I get from this will just help me keep doing what I do.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  Hope you all have a wonderful day, and, remember, theater is a sport.

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