Labor Pains

Lordy, I swear it was easier giving birth to my children than birthing a book. To share my pain:

PhotoFuniaLast September (2013) a whisper inside told me to record an audio of some passages from a family memoir I wrote ten years ago. After one editor, an illustrator, a book cover/website designer, a voice coach, and three months in a recording studio (I went from 40 stories to 20 when I saw how long it was taking and how expensive it was getting)—the twenty stories were completed, mastered, then remastered. A second editor is reformatting the written version in InDesign for publishing, then will do the same for the eBook.

A business coach guided me: I created a website, a blog, and another email address. Next I included my writer profile on LinkedIn, joined Pinterest and Twitter. I needed a handle but “twit” and “twat” were taken so I used my name instead; it’s easy for me to remember. I joined Goodreads and added a profile page. I spent untold hours creating a Google+ Page. Then I figured out I should have created a People Profile instead, then realized I had a Profile from years ago for real estate that I never used. To create a new People Profile, which was no easy task, I had to create yet another email address. That gives me six now, along with six different passcodes. I wanted to delete the Google+ Page as it was redundant, and instead, after hesitating, but not hesitating long enough, I deleted the new People Profile. Then I spent untold hours trying to resurrect it, with no luck. I went to bed at three in the morning, trying hard to be kind to myself, and trying not to hate Google+ from the depths of my soul, but I no longer give a rat’s ass about Google+. They have no phone support and their on-line help takes you in circles. After having me change my password seven times, and still not finding the page to fill out their required information, I gave up. In the meantime I’ve been posting pieces on my blog and Facebook as a way to get my writing exposed (not to mention exposing myself, which is a bit disconcerting).

In the midst of all this I’ve been suffering with: do I hire an agent, do I find a publisher, do I self-publish, blah, blah blah. I attended a talk on just that at the library, hoping for some clarity. I came home even more confused and spent the next four days hiding under the covers. After numerous conversations with myself and others, a marketing coach gave me some advice. It was easier to self-publish, so I started a publishing company (just what I’ve always wanted). I filed a fictitious business name, then filed papers with the State Board of Equalization, obtained a Seller’s permit, an ISBN number, then a block of ten more as I found out each format requires a different number, duh. My second editor finally completed the formatting and I uploaded the baby to Create Space ( They immediately kicked back twenty of the pictures as the resolutions were too low; I found the originals, re-scanned and Photoshopped, and then re-uploaded (five of their tech support are my new best friends). I got my first proof in the mail this week and found thirty errors (it’s astounding what you miss proof reading on-line). Still in the process of correcting (waiting on my second editor who has a bad back and keeps disappearing to the mother ship) so I can re-submit.

To get the word out: I completed an email list through Mail Chimp (1,732 names). I have over 600 Facebook friends, 242 “Likes” on my Facebook Writer’s page, 26 followers on my blog, nine followers on Twitter, and no followers on Pinterest. They are the smartest. With my sense of direction, no one should follow me.

My Still To-Do List:
*Finish edits for paperback, then upload again to Create Space, who is in cahoots with Amazon, and they make it available for sale
(each time someone orders the book through Amazon, they send me a whopping $1.48)
*Reformat for eBook with audio and upload (come to find out, no company does this, but as long as this is taking, someone will have founded one by then)
*Upload to BookBaby, who will then blast it to outer space and beyond
*Publish fictitious name for publishing company in local newspaper
*Have book copyrighted
*Create and print bookmark and business cards
*Create a YouTube
*Send email out to 1,732 names through MailChimp announcing book launch and that I should have my head examined
*Print a run of books in paperback at printing company
*Have book signing at Readers’ Books (my local Sonoma book store)
*Sell 20,270 books to recoup just my sunk costs (hah! I’ll need more than a wing and a prayer on this one)

Actually, I’ll be happy if I sell enough so I’m at least able to carry my costs forward to write off on next year’s taxes. At this point, Uncle Sam considers this a hobby. I consider it temporary insanity. As a businesswoman, I didn’t think this through, but that’s what happens when you listen to the voice in your heart instead of the one in your head. But you know, even if I don’t sell many, I’ll have gotten my money’s worth just in the process. Though next time a little voice tells me something is a good idea, I may hang myself instead.

Catherine Sevenau
March 30, 2014

Postscript: This book has been two weeks away from being done since January. It is now July and I am still two weeks away. I’ve surrendered to the fact that it will be done when it decides to be done. It’s apparently out of my hands.

bookcoverimagePost postscript: It is now September of 2016. This piece was about my first book, Behind These Doors, A Family Memoir. Since then I’ve published a second, Queen Bee, Reflections on Life and Other Rude Awakenings. Sitting on my computer is the original memoir (out of which the first book came). It is edited, but not quite ready to be born. All in good time; next year I imagine, though I am waiting for two more people to die; it will makes things easier. In the meantime I’m blogging, speaking, doing a book event here and there, guest speaking on our local radio show now and then, and have been invited to book clubs on occasion. Facebook, my website and blog are the platforms I use to share what I write. Thanks to you who not only read what I have to say, but who also connect with it. We all have a story, and many of our stories are not so different from one anther’s.



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  1. Hi Catherine! Well you certainly know enough bout courage and not givin’ up. You are the light shining the way. Used to be a little easier maybe before social media came along, but then again, without social media I would be reading this. Congrats on all that you have achieved thus far. I’m happy to know you! I need to get re-inspired!

  2. Cat,
    You sure no how to bust a gut and break open a heart. With all that painstaking hard work, I’m surprised you have any balls left to keep on writing and publishing “bare all to the world” stories.
    As I am awaiting word from an agent as we speak, I’m thinking climbing the Himalayas might have been easier for the two of us!
    But I’m glad you’re writing. You’re good at it too. Deep down you must love to hate to write. I know I do. Love!

    • It’s part of the reason I’ve not published the full memoir. Sometimes I just don’t have it in me to go through it all again. It’s like birthin’ babies. When I made the decision to self-publish, I felt like Prissy, “I don’t know nothin’ bout birthin’ babies, Miss Scarlett.” Now I know too much.
      I’ll pass on the Himalayas. Let me know how it goes with the agent, and good luck!

      • Elke Matzen says:

        Love the Prissy quote! Quite apropo! Ah, labor pains and perhaps, reaping the rewards!? Art and business, two different sides of the brain, but you are brave for tackling the tech!
        Peace, elke

  3. Fun read, Catherine! Yay for you. Good work on the mailing list! Keep a-going, keep a-going.

  4. Joel Blackwell says:

    This light, folksy, engaging, personal style speaks to me in a way that makes me want to read the book. Erma Bombeck comes to mind. See you on NYT Bestseller list!

    • Hi Joel, Thanks for your support. You may have to hold that vision for me. I do this one step at a time and get mired in the details, and certainly haven’t made THAT leap! Appreciate having a big picture guy at my side. Whoo whee!

  5. OMG Catherine! I can’t stop laughing because I have been through some of this with my own books and you always get right to the true heart of the experience. A book of any kind will drive you crazy. Just so many details to worry about. Glad you are “two weeks” from completion. Can’t wait to buy one to help dig you out of the hole. Books are always a money loser but what a ride. Wouldn’t have changed a thing through any of my nightmare experiences with the four genealogy books I did. Fun to hear your reflections.

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