Tag Archives: self-publishing

So You Wanna Write A Book?

Charlie Adler “I Drink on the Job” Author and Speaker

I’ve just completed the final touches on my manuscript for my book “I Drink on the Job: A Refreshing Perspective on Wine” and I’m almost at the finish line. In football parlance, I’m probably at the five yard line just waiting to take the ball and break the plain for touchdown. But just as in football, there are defenders..

The lesson I’ve learned about writing a book and self-publishing is that you learn enough from completing a first book that it would be a big mistake not to write a second! There is a huge load of details you deal with in a first book and now I’m way up on the learning curve with one major hurdle: I don’t know how to sell/market the book! BTW – that’s very important, if you think that people will just “find” your book, well, there are alot of books on the market that sell less than 500 copies, and my breakeven point is about 1,500 copies. I’ve dealt with three edits, three designs, two covers, my publisher merging (that’s actually a good thing – Book Surge merged with Createspace which offers MANY more opportunities for product extensions such as DVDs, audio CD’s and even a new sales outlet), a web design (phase 2 right now for I Drink on the Job Blog – Soon to Be Website) and advice from many knowledgeable and kind human beings.

If you are thinking about writing a book, I think self-publishing is the way to go. If you can get a publisher to really put their marketing muscle behind a book or you’re a best-selling name author, the traditional publishing route might make sense, but if you want control over your destiny, self-publishing is supreme. My goal is promote my book everywhere I go and to ultimately have product extensions like audio CD’s, possibly a tchochke or two! Traditional publishers are having financial problems and are understaffed. They focus on blockbusters and books they can make money on quickly, it’s all about ROI. You might get an advance from a traditional publisher, but you essentially are indebted to them (they’re non-recourse most of the time with some exceptions) until you earn it back through sales. Self-publishing will cost you some money depending on how much you use the service – I’m probably just at $4,000, but I used their editing, cover design, and I will most likely use their PR/marketing as well – but you have no pressure to sell quickly. My thinking is that the book might have a soft launch to test different marketing avenues, and as it progresses, I might discover new potential sales channels. I’m only selling my book online and “in-hand”, but there are some retail outlets that may be interested in having me do book signings. I’m new to the process of book signings, I’ll blog about that when it begins in February!

BTW – I’m scheduled to be on Wine Library TV with Gary Vaynerchuk “Crush It” Book Site on Monday, February 15th, 2010, so peeps, you better be watching! Something like 100,000 people watch Wine Library TV every day, so I’m getting a strong start and who knows – maybe Gary will plug the book even more! He has a 10 book deal himself, so honestly, his book plate is full, so to speak – on the other hand, I may mention to him my wine audio CD’s, hmmm, maybe get a Gary V endorsement, but again, just one more option for promoting the book.

Last thought – people often ask me if I enjoyed the process of writing. My reply is generally, “No”. Putting my thoughts on paper was fun, but editing and trying to get all the pieces of the book together so that each Chapter fit into the big picture, was not an easy task. The longest paper I had ever written in college was maybe 25 pages, but with a multi-chapter 250 page book, it’s significantly more difficult. It’s sort of like college gut-level 101 classes: I always did poorly in general broad coverage courses, but in the 300 level and above I mostly got “A”s. My first book is my Intro book about me and my approach to teaching wine, actually more like “experiencing” wine. Any future books will most likely focus on an aspect such as food and wine pairing or specific ways to broaden wine knowledge. I’ll take one chapter in my current book and make it the premise for a whole book. Then possibly I’ll extend the brand with audio-CD’s and a new website. Another note: I took Gary Vaynerchuk’s suggestion to use my name domain (yes, I own charlieadler.com!) as the gateway domain for all future websites. If I become a “name” in the industry, there’s value to my vanity domain, and potentially alot of cross-pollination of my various endeavors.

OK, back to writing, editing and drinking – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Self-Esteem, Self-Loathing and Self-Publishing

Charlie Adler Schlurping!

I just submitted my final edited manuscript to my publisher Book Surgeon Monday, November 23rd, 2009 – a Big Yayyyy (my editor would shoot me if he or she–they is incorrect– as well as these dashes, I think I need an em dash, but that’s a whole other story!)!!! OK, back to the real world.. I spent about two weeks going through the final edited version of my book “I Drink on the Job: A Refreshing Perspective on Wine” which included inserting 36 images of me (that’s Charlie Adler!) in various poses demonstrating different aspects of my teaching style. The book is based on a popular wine class I’ve been organizing and teaching through my company TasteDC TasteDC.com in Washington, D.C. for the past twelve (not 12) years called Wine Basics 101. I still have to finish final design of the cover and interior of the book, but since my publisher’s team of designers handles primarily handles that, I’m just giving them as much direction as I can, and that’s not very much! The following are some observations from what I’ve learned so far about self-publishing:

1) Self-publishing means you need to purchase the various components of your book.

If you get a fancy literary agent, or you’re lucky enough to have a major publisher throw beaucoup dollars at you with an advance, then you actually have money in your pocket when you start the publishing process. I considered sending proposals to publishers and literary agents early in the process until I met with my old neighborhood buddie, Dan Moldea. Dan is an investigative journalist, he’s written eight books that have covered everything from the Mafia to O.J. Simpson (his website is at Dan Moldea’s Website I met him at his hangout in DC, Morty’s Deli back in early 2008 to discuss writing my first book. What Dan told me was fascinating. In his experience, he never felt he was treated very well by the major publishers, in fact, he felt they pretty much forgot each of his books about eight months into the marketing of his book. Yes, he received advances and he also made some good money on the O.J. title which was a timely best-seller, but he guided me away from going to a traditional publisher. He mentioned a company called “BookSurge” which is a self-publishing company owned by Amazon.com.

In a nutshell, Dan told me that self-publishing was the way to go: yes, I would have to purchase all the services from editing to layout, but there were numerous benefits. Some of the benefits he mentioned include the ability to continue marketing and promoting your title for as long as you choose, higher royalty fees, and setting your own deadlines for production. Just so you know, the latter may or not be a benefit, I started my first book almost two years ago, I thought the process would only take six to nine months! There are some negatives as well, such as the fact that I won’t have my book for sale in traditional book sellers, but frankly that’s probably a good thing. Realistically, how long do brick and mortar bookstores have left in the commercial world, and even if they survive the internet, they also hold the right to return unsold books. Add the lower royalty to selling through a traditional bookstore, and it becomes obvious why selling on Amazon.com and other internet retailers makes more sense. It’s all about On-Demand publishing, books are printed as they are ordered on Amazon.com, but that’s a story for another Blog entry.

Almost forgot to mention: The actual cost of self-publishing my first book including interior photographs, publishing services and a dedicated website will be around $10K. Could you do it cheaper? Yes, there are ways to save money, for example, you could create your own website and forego hiring a photographer. Other ways to save money include using Booksurges standard templates for cover and interior, and learning to edit yourself, but I felt these were outside my expertise. Let’s just say, you need a few thousand dollars to self-publish a full book.

2) You must give yourself plenty of time.

As I mentioned in the prior paragraph, my first book has been about a 24 month process – that is IF I finish it by the end of January, 2010, but that seems realistic at this point. If you have a full-time job and a life before you start your book, one of them will have to give way for the book! I know that life isn’t fair, but you can’t have it all, and you need immense concentration and free time to finish a book. You’ll most likely turn into a moody, overly emotional vagabond..well, OK, that’s a bit extreme, but I have definitely developed a personality “edge”, although some people say I’ve always been this way.

My publishers told me that slow and steady is the way to go. They suggested that hurrying a book is not a good idea, most authors only regret it later. I’ve taken plenty of time for each process, I even hired a PR company to handle my book and then decided a few weeks later that they were not right for me. Since I didn’t really need to do much research for my book because I am the subject of the book based on one class that I’ve taught for twelve years, I put my efforts into organizing and re-organizing all the information. I have spent time with a photographer for interior photos, promoting myself to local wine festivals as a speaker, networking at various charity and wine events, and now I’m working on http://www.idrinkonthejob.com as the main book web site and re-designing this Blog. You can’t hurry time, you just learn to deal with delays..

3) Self-publishing means you need to be self-motivated.

If you’re used to having a boss, a weekly paycheck and you follow orders really well at work, then self-publishing might be self-torture. Since I’m entrepreneurial and I’ve run my own company TasteDC for over twelve years, I’ve learned to stay focused and motivated. I have a personal trainer, I get a “therapeutic” massage every Friday like clockwork, and I generally stay in shape to keep my mind and body sharp. I’ve even added self-hypnosis tapes to increase my concentration, relax better and ultimately I lost forty-seven pounds as well – an important feat because I’m on the cover of my book! I wake up when I need to, I eat when I need to, I write/edit when possible, I run my full-time wine tasting business in-between, and I sleep when I need to. I’ve learned to balance my work and my book, my social life has been reduced significantly. Sometimes I think about all the fun things I could be doing other than writing a book, but I know from experience that the payoff will take time. The first book may not sell well, but that’s irrelevant to me. I’m writing the book for credibility and as a vehicle for self-promotion-OK, there’s a bit of ego involved, but I accept the worst-case scenario of failure and I can live with it. Self-motivated people are used to rejection and negative reactions in general, frankly I find it motivates me to another level. When I’m at the gym with my personal trainer and he tells me to do 50 push-ups, I do 55 if I can. There are no excuses in life–especially when you rely only on yourself!

Cheers everyone and happy Thanksgiving!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

I Drink, Therefore I Am!

Charlie "I Drink on the Job" Adler

I’m taking a slightly new direction on this blog – I’ll continue to update you on my wine and food experiences, but I want to refocus my efforts on my upcoming book “I Drink On the Job” and the process of publishing (self) a book on wine. Since I recently submitted my manuscript of just over 58,000 words for a 2nd edit to my publisher http://www.booksurge.com, I’m expecting a completed work of a bit over 200 pages by the end of 2009 – well, or a few weeks after! No one can properly warn you of the pitfalls of self-publishing, but hopefully in the end I’ll look favorably on the experience.

My current book experience is now is the time to think about cover design and promoting the end product. This is a book about my experiences in wine with a heavy dose of humor as well as interesting anecdotes and practical knowledge shared with the reader. Hopefully, it’s an engaging story – you never know how people perceive one of your own life experiences, but some things just seem too absurd or real not to titillate the reader. I start off early in the book with a short vignette on the woman who was stuck in the bathroom stall at the French Embassy at a wine tasting I was holding there. There are many stories of awkward situations where I’m trying to discuss wine intelligently, but always a complicated situation “arises”. The reality of being a wine professional in the U.S. is that there is so much interest in wine but so much poor or outdated information, that misunderstandings are natural. I take a positive spin on these type of reactions, sometimes people want more out of life but they simply don’t know how to express that. As the song says “whatever gets you through the night, itsalright, its alright..”

I’m meeting with a few “foodie” publicists in the next few days and I’m hoping that one of them takes the lead and sees the value of having a writer who knows something about their subject, is passionate and can handle any Press obligations. My job for twelve years has been as a combination wine professional, foodie, educator and public speaker. I’ve been in front of the TV camera around a dozen times and to me it’s just a natural part of telling my story. In the world of the internet and online marketing, you have to keep your message short, sweet and to the point, and that is how I have always approached my business, it has to be relevant today. Social Media appeared a few years ago and I dove right in – when ask me if I think Facebook or Twitter are for real, I tell them that they are more than just realities, they are part of the world we live in like TV, internet or satellite. I’m a quick learner, and I think Facebook and Twitter in particular have changed the way we communicate, mostly for the better. I want to get “I Drink on the Job’s” message to my target audience of newbie wine drinkers who are looking for a lifestyle change.


Charlie “I Drink On the Job” Adler