I need some help with self-publishing. And apparently at communicating.
I was working with a local group to publish my new book, Story Built. But they terminated me. That’s not the half of it. I was fired on Basecamp.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Basecamp is for project management, not a platform for meaningful creative conversation about how to best publish the blood, sweat and tears one puts into writing a book. And especially not a place to fire someone.”
You’re also probably wondering what I did to trigger such an inhumane termination of me as their client? Here’s the request that led me to searching for a new self-publisher.
“I love what your copy editor has done with my book, and I have a couple philosophical ideas I’d like to go over with her. Per her editor’s notes, she said to call with any questions. Can I get Laura’s number so we can speak ?” I asked.
“Nope,” came the email reply. “Just post your questions in Basecamp and she’ll respond,” they instructed.
“But this kind of email communication is about as one dimensional as you can get. So much gets lost in translation. Can’t I just speak with her?” I pleaded. “She said I could.”
“Sorry, that’s not how we work.”
“But how do you help me publish a book on brand storytelling and customer engagement through a completely virtual company that will not engage with me other than through Basecamp and email?” I asked.
This, by the way, was on the heals of their art direction for the book cover that was based on this one fundamental criteria: “Your book needs to look like everyone else’s so it blends in.”
I was puzzled. I am one of seven kids born within nine years of each other. I could never afford to “blend in.” I would’ve starved to death. I’ve been in the ad biz for 30 years precisely because we don’t allow ourselves and our clients to “blend in.” It’s simply not in my DNA. Especially when you consider that around 600 books are published every day. I’m probably already nuts to add to that cacophony. But doesn’t it seem counterintuitive to “blend in”? Their creative consult had me picturing my little book galloping on wildebeest legs as it plunged over the abyss with the rest of the heard of new business books.
Believe me, I suffer from a recessive “blending in” gene.
NOW you’re wondering, “Well shit, didn’t Park vet this self-publishing vendor before he hired them?” Good question. And I did. Their testimonials are glowing on their website. And they reminded me of that fact when they fired me on Basecamp. They also told me that they work with 150 happy customers every year, and that I’m just the one that doesn’t share their approach to business.
Feel the glow of their customer service embrace?
Finally, I asked them that since I have already invested so much with their service (even though we had to design our own cover) and that all of the great copyediting will have to be done over again at substantial cost, could we at least see the process through to the final edited manuscript? They wrote sure, but that they couldn’t get to it until the end of May.
Oh, the irony. I’m trying to self-publish a book on how to craft authentic and powerful brand stories through customer engagement with a self-publisher who shuns customer engagement.
The premise is to weave the brand’s narrative into the personal stories of its customers. By crafting stories from the customer’s point-of-view, a brand stands to build phenomenal engagement. But to make it work the brand must place the customer squarely at the center of the story as the hero on their own meaningful journey. The brand is the mentor. However, story only works if you have ample amount of this:
Empathy for your hero and the audience is the vital marrow of all great stories.
The jokes on me. Like the bumbling sorcerer’s apprentice, I was trying to cast a spell and inadvertently turned the magic wand of storytelling on myself. You see, in every epic hero’s journey, per American mythologist Joseph Campbell, right when you think victory is at hand, there’s a plot twist, and the protagonist is tested once again. After months of writing, editing and working with reviewers, I believed I was near to publishing my first book. But somehow I picked the wrong mentors to get me home. Like John Candy said in the movie Volunteers, “Caught by a lion in a lion trap.” My own story caught me. Now I’m reeling and need a hand to pull me out.
Do you have a professional self-publishing mentor you can refer to me so that I can open a new and final chapter on publishing Story Built?
I’ll take your referral by email. I’m getting used to it.