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A journal on China, travel, and the inner life by Tony Brasunas, author of Double Happiness

7 Things To Do if You Publish Your Book Independently

If you want to publish a beautiful and popular book using the powerful publishing tools available to authors today, here are seven things you need to do to succeed.

(This is Part III of an Indie Pub Trilogy.  Part I is an overview of the pros and cons of independent and traditional publishing. Part II recounts my long sweet personal journey to publishing independently rather than via a literary agent.)

  1. Write a great book. First, and most importantly, before we talk about anything else, you need to write absolutely the best book you can. Pour your talent and your time into it. Stop reading this article, and go write your tour de force. Right now.

    Or right after reading this article. You do need to know a few more things.

    The truth is, despite any cynicism you might hear on the interwebs about uneducated readers, dwindling attention spans, or a glut of writers, this is a fabulous time to be a good writer. Both readership and book sales per reader are growing and will continue to grow. Good writing will rise above mediocre writing every time, and exquisite prose that sings like poetry will always rise to the top. Fabulous writing will also make everything about promoting your voice, getting your word out, and selling your book infinitely easier.

    Read, write, revise, repeat. It is the way, it will always be the way. We humans have been telling each other stories at least since there was fire. Storytelling is here to stay. Feel free to get really good at it.

  2. Promote now. That said, start promotion today. Many people told me this, but still I sort of dabbled and waited until I felt done with my book. I finally did start this blog and write occasional articles, but I could’ve and should’ve been doing a lot more via social media and via a newsletter.

    You don’t have to do everything; don’t get overwhelmed and then never start. See #6, “Focus on you,” below.

    But do something to promote your voice or your writing today, and keep it up. Then do something else. Here are some ideas: (more…)

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Posted by Tony Brasunas at 9:09 am on October 25, 2015

‘Delightful’ ‪Double Happiness‬ highlighted in San Francisco Bay Area magazine

Alameda Magazine review

Take a trip to the Middle Kingdom,” opens a short feature review of Double Happiness in the East Bay’s Alameda Magazine.

Go to China “with Tony Brasunas as your guide, in this memoir-travel tome about his experience as a 22-year-old teaching English to ninth-graders at Peizheng High School. Brasunas is there in 1997, before the interconnectedness of the Internet, when ‘the motives of Americans in particular were suspect.'”

“The delightful chapters read like short stories.”

Read the full review: Tony Brasunas Finds Happiness in China

The review closes:

Brasunas pulls it all together for a retrospective that deftly and lovingly depicts the country responsible for his spiritual awakening.

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Posted by Tony Brasunas at 7:59 pm on October 8, 2015

My Long Sweet Journey into Print
 (Part II)

After a long journey during which I considered many options, and not just the main two options we’re discussing here, I realized something: It was going to be hard. It was going to be a lot of work. And I was at a fork in the road.

(This is Part II of my Indie Publishing Trilogy of posts. See Part I  for the pros and cons of independent and traditional publishing. This post covers how I made my choice. Part III lists Seven Things You Need to Do if You Publish Your Book Independently.)

I knew it would be a lot of work either way I went — whether I sold the manuscript to a publishing house, or published my book independently. I was intimidated, but I was optimistic and determined as well. I decided, first, that while writing Double Happiness — during the years of rewrites and revisions — I would also approach literary agents in the hope of landing a publishing deal.

My Long Sweet Journey into Print

I was right. It was a lot of work. I ended up spending almost as much time writing query letters, synopses, proposals, and chapter summaries as I did revising the book. It turns out, you have to know a lot about the industry just to write a decent cover letter.

For all of my work, I did receive significant interest, and many agencies requested partials of my manuscript. Some agencies showed enthusiasm and requested the whole manuscript. Still, all eventually led to rejections.

After nearly a decade of work, as I was completing the final, final revision of Double Happiness, I leapt into exploring the independent route.

What I found was exhilarating and daunting. I still had so much to learn. But I was thrilled and, armed with a manuscript I knew was great, I felt ready to do it. I was ready to publish my book myself.

A Strange Coincidence

Coincidentally, just as I decided to go indie, I was approached by several literary agents who showed real interest. Two agencies went all the way and offered to sign me. It was mystifying. Did they want me now only because I wasn’t seeking them? Had my manuscript improved so much? Were they paying attention to me because I had started blogging?

I had my theories, but I really wasn’t sure. (more…)

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Posted by Tony Brasunas at 1:50 pm on July 28, 2015

Independent Publishing vs. Getting a Traditional Literary Agent
 (Part I)

Are you a writer interested in publishing your first book, your labor of love, your masterpiece, your tour de force? Or are you perhaps a writer who has published with a small or large private press and is curious now about independent publishing?

What once was called “self-publishing” with a dismissive sniff is now known as Independent Publishing and accounts for a rapidly growing share of books published and sold worldwide. There also certainly remain many advantages to getting a literary agent and selling a manuscript to a large corporate publishing house.

Independent Publishing vs Getting a Literary AgentThere’s a lot to explore on this topic. For the sake of brevity, I’m splitting this post into three parts, a “Trilogy of Posts,” if you will. In this first post, I will outline the advantages both of independent publishing and of going the traditional literary-agent route.

Let me know in the comments what I’ve missed.

(Update: I’ve now added Part II of this trilogy of posts, in which I explain which route I chose, and how it’s worked out. Update: And now Part III is done too: It lists Seven Things You Need To Do If You Publish Your Book Independently.)


Advantages of Independent Publishing

This is the new paradigm, the way to “own your content” immediately and forever. We can boil down the advantages of going indie to these three primary benefits: creative control, profit, and speed.

With creative control, you get to create the book you’ve envisioned, the masterpiece that inspired you from the start. No months or years of rejection from gatekeeper agents and condescending editors; no crucial paragraphs, pages, or chapters inexplicably removed by a squeamish or distracted junior editor in a shrinking editorial department; no changes to the book’s cover ordered at the last minute by a clueless faraway advertising department who doesn’t understand your book. You have the creative vision, you have the creative power, you have the creative control.

The profits you can potentially receive as an independent author outstrip what can be made under a traditional publishing contract. (more…)

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Posted by Tony Brasunas at 12:19 pm on June 30, 2015

“Trust Yourself” Tee for Free

Trust Yourself -- Double Happiness Book Tour T-shirts

Click to enlarge

I have a few extra book tour t-shirts on hand right now. The shirts are soft, high quality American Apparel cotton in a hot happy red. On the back are the dates and places of the book tour.

I’ll be throwing in one shirt for each signed book you order while supplies last. So if you would like to wear trust over your heart, order a signed copy of the book now.

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Posted by Tony Brasunas at 12:02 pm on June 7, 2015

San Jose Mercury-News Feature Interview

Newspaper Feature on Double Happiness

Maggie Sharpe, a journalist for the Bay Area News Group, interviewed me for a feature piece in the San Jose Mercury-News. After asking me a dozen rather harrowing and open-ended questions, she told me to be patient.

A week later, I discovered that she put together a marvelous piece. I don’t know quite what to say. I have to admit it’s the article I imagined someone would write about the book someday.

Read it here: Author to talk about life-changing time in China

The piece appeared shortly before my event at the Alameda library, and I believe it brought out quite a few extra readers, travelers, and curious armchair adventurers.

Ms. Sharpe begins the piece:

When Tony Brasunas left U.S. soil for the first time to teach English in China, he had no idea what a life-altering experience it would be — nor that 15 years later, he would write a book about his teaching, traveling and the transformation he experienced.

She describes the time I fell miserably ill, exploring the niceties of that near-death experience, and digs deeper into what illness meant for my time in China.

Brasunas said that even negative experiences such as getting sick, getting ripped off at the markets and even being ignored or ridiculed by some of his students only increased his learning.

“I followed the thread of my instincts to what I wanted and to who I am,” said Brasunas. “This led me often to experience even ostensibly negative things in a positive light — that the negative moments and the positive moments were both a part of the magic of learning and of life.”

My gratitude to the newspapers that ran this piece (the Contra Costa Times and Alameda Journal also ran the feature), and, above all, to Maggie Sharpe for her excellent questions and even better writing.

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Posted by Tony Brasunas at 8:12 pm on June 4, 2015