Why I decided to self-publish my second book

You know it’s true what they say — the second baby is much more of a blur than the first. My good friend Carol likes to tell the story about giving birth the second time with her cardigan still buttoned up. There she was, in the delivery room, bundled from the waist up. When the baby comes, it comes.

And by baby, I mean book. Yes, my second book took me a little by surprise too. Sure, I had enough time to make a cup of tea and change into slippers (sorry, Carol) but I didn’t have the time for a publisher.

Way back in 2012, I began writing my first book. I had secured what was known as a “book deal” with a small social science publisher that had a good reputation among people I knew professionally. I knew nothing about publishing, of course, except that someone would put my ink on some sort of pages and paste them all together. Or would they sew them together? That’s a thing, isn’t it? Given my total ignorance, I thought it was acceptable to earn only 8% of every book sold. That’s right 8%.

I still earn only 8% on Practical Ethnography.

I fought harder for the 15% I now earn on all Kindle copies of Practical Ethnography but I thought it was worth it to learn how to publish a book. In retrospect, I don’t know if it was. The publisher hired a copyeditor for me, but I found we mostly argued about emdashes and doubt quotes instead of making my actual copy better. The design of the book was…well it was okay. The marketing was abysmal. I had the good sense to buy the domain name myself, and several years after publication, when my little West Coast publisher got purchased by British Behemoth, I told myself I never wanted all that hassle again.

So when my second “baby” was ready to arrive, of course I tuned to my friend Carol for help! Luckily, Carol is also a professional journalist and has a cadre of colleagues who are fantastic freelance copyeditors. Her old buddy Rebecca came on board and managed to midwife this book so quickly that my tea never even got cold. But then what? Do I sew together the pages like before? The prospect of a print book almost sent me to another publisher. Almost.

I bit the bullet and learned how to make a print book.  I got on Reedsy.com. I hired a designer. I hired a web designer. I took the cover photo myself. I released it on Kindle to finance the whole shebang. And now, here we are. Book Number 2 is now available in paperback and Kindle, and it’s a 100% Sam Ladner Production. Special thanks to Carol, Rebecca, book designer Sarah Beaudin and web designer Derek Moore. It really does take a village to raise a child.

I’m a proud momma. Please check out my beautiful baby on her own beautiful web site.

Mixed Methods Guide Web Site Screenshot