Last night I drove a bus. OK it was in my dream, but the anxiety I felt was one hundred percent real. Sitting up there in the driver’s seat, my left foot barely able to reach and depress the clutch, the loose four-on-the-floor gearshift dancing around as I tried to downshift, I felt wildly out of control.
I failed to make the right turn cleanly at the intersection and ran over the grass strip. I sweated at the thought of stalling it at the next stop sign. And all the while my sister was making unhelpful critical comments behind me. I didn’t see her volunteering to take over. Oh how I wanted to be anywhere but there. Please, I prayed, let me be a passenger and not the driver, not the one in charge.
I searched through the previous day’s events to try to discover why my dream self had created such a tortured role for me to play in the night’s drama. The only thing I came up with was the depressing hopeless feeling I have that, after having sent out over a hundred queries for my memoir Bowing to the Emperor and having received a hundred rejections, I have reached the end of the list of agents, university presses, and indies who might be interested in my manuscript.
What now? I could forget the whole thing and stick the manuscript in a drawer, to share the space and dust with Dutch Treat, the romance novel I cut my writing teeth on. Or, horrors, I could self-publish my oeuvre. In other words, force myself to slide behind the wheel of that lumbering behemoth and drive the damn publishing bus myself.
Easily said, not so easily done. Besides sinking your own money into the project, self-publishing means learning a whole new set of skills, a whole new vocabulary.
What are the pluses and minuses of the various companies: Lulu—cute name, is it reliable? CreateSpace—Amazon-related, is that a positive or a negative? Are the dozen others better or worse? What about the cover design and interior design? E-book or printed book? Print on demand? Hard cover or paperback? What trim size? What about illustrations?
And the biggest problem of all—how do you successfully promote, market, and sell the book? Is learning to use social media a must? Really? I have to make like a bird and tweet? Groan.
I’m still twisting and turning, hoping an interested agent will pop out from behind some tree and say, “Here I am. I’ll handle your book.” So far, no trees in sight, though. I guess I’ll go Google “self-publishing” and see what comes up. Do you have a better suggestion?