Loree Lough

With nearly three million books sold, best-selling author Loree Lough’s titles have earned 4- and 5-star reviews and dozens of awards. Reviewers and readers alike call her “a gifted writer whose stories touch hearts and change lives.” Her 9/11 novel From Ashes to Honor (#1 in First Responders series, Abingdon) hits bookshelves to coordinate with the 10th anniversary of the tragedy. Loree lives near Baltimore and loves spending time at her teeny tiny cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where she loves to show off her talent for correctly identifying critter tracks. Visit Loree at http://wwwloreelough.com.

Loree's Lough Down

You Think I Did What?

Scenario: You’re at a backyard barbecue. Uncle Harry steps up beside you in the hot dog line and whispers, “So, how many books do you have in print now?”

You grind your toe into the lawn. Shrug. Try to pretend he hadn’t put onions—lots of onions—on his last hot dog, and fire off the latest number.

“No kidding? Wow.” He glances at your spouse, winks, and adds “And he [or she] is okay, spending all that money?”

You’re confused. And your furrowed brow seems to confuse him. So Harry says, “Had to cost a small fortune, paying to have all those books printed, shipped to bookstores . . .”

You don’t hear the rest of his list, because you’re too busy trying to figure out where he got the crazy idea that your books were self-published.

You remember others who’ve asked similar questions: “So are you sending the book to Hollywood directors and producers, too?” and “I read that article the local paper did on you; did you shoot for The New York Times, too?” Until this moment, the too never hit you as noteworthy; now you realize it’s significant. Big-time. Because how many others “not in the business” think that you shelled out hard-earned money to be your own publisher?

To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld: Not that there’s anything wrong with self-publishing, but holy moly and pass the catsup, you don’t want ’em thinking you paid to get your book(s) out there!

But why don’t you want them thinking it? Self-publishing is a perfectly acceptable way to get into print. For some authors it was the fork in road that led them to the big New York houses (which led to movie deals, which led to fame and fortune and additional contracts). For others, it scratched that “Gotta Get This Story Told” itch, and for them, it was enough. It was good enough for notables like Twain and Dickens (to name just two).

You? You chose the other fork in the road, and submitted dozens of proposals to editors and agents before That Phone Call changed the course of your career. You went that route because you liked the idea that in addition to a cash advance you’d have access to a whole team of industry pros with a vested interest in the success of your book, from the initial edits to designing an eye-catching cover, from helping you market to linking it to your next book.

They’re savvy businesspeople and wouldn’t invest in a product (i.e. you and your book) unless they thought they’d see a return on their investment.

You’d heard the heartbreaking stories about distributors and bookstores that refused to handle self-published books, about

major writers’ organizations and contest rules that flatly stated that self-published works do not qualify one for membership or entry. Because self-published books look amateurish? Because so many of them contain factual, grammatical, and spelling errors?

We can hypothesize until we’re hoarse, but no one really knows the answers to those questions. To quote my Shawnee ancestors, “Unless we walk a mile in self-published authors’ shoes, we’ll never fully understand all the reasons they didn’t take the ‘traditional’ path, either.”

I can share my motives, however.

At the start of my career, I didn’t have the money to self-publish. And because I was working full time at “a real job” back then, I didn’t have the patience or the time to study the intricacies of self-publishing, like how to get an ISBN, how to file for a copyright, where to find a reputable printer, cover designer, PR/marketing company.

So back to Uncle Harry—and anyone else who wonders about the published authors in their midst—I say this: “I didn’t pay to have the books published, but I paid in a lot of other ways.”

Harry and his ilk will scratch their heads over that one, but those of us who trod that other hard-scrabble path to publishing know that it means scrimping and saving to pay for print ads and Book Trailers, PR and marketing experts who sometimes earn their advances, goodies for book-signing tables, travel to and from conferences, handouts for workshops we lead and classes we teach, and the time and energy required every step of the way.


Honor Redeemed