My Scribd Experience
Scribd changed my life. I first learned of it while attending a seminar in November 2009 at Litquake in San Francisco. A woman from Scribd told authors hoping to get published for the first time that they had to go "vertical" with their platform. I signed up and began building my Scribd page as a portfolio of my New York Times work and other essays I'd written. Then I began interacting with authors by commenting on their work and responding to their critiques of mine. Every day I made it a point to follow five new writers. Before long I had thousands of followers and reads of my work. Today that figure is over 175,000.
How has your book project turned out?
I've hit it out of the park with Finding Clarity: A Mom, A Dwarf and a Posh Private School in the People's Republic of Berkeley. The first chapters I posted on Scribd garnered great reviews and a large audience. I had built a huge platform, but even with my history as a New York Times reporter, no agent would or could get off the dime for me. In the end I queried fewer than a dozen agents.
The market was changing rapidly and I didn't want to hear any more of their sob stories about how they weren't selling books. Besides, I was turning 50 and I owed it to myself to catch the wave on Amazon with its Kindle Direct Publishing and Select programs. So, I took my future into my own hands, and boy am I glad I did. That's not to say that there were no bumps in the road. There were. But I wasn't waiting for anyone (like the world famous agent who strung me along for 8 months, demanding rewrites and edits, only to dump me in an email at 4:55 one Friday afternoon, after I'd changed the book to her specifications) to control my destiny. I designed the cover I wanted on the story that I wanted to tell. And in the end sold more books than I ever would have with a standard publishing contract.
- I have no regrets, but I have learned a lot. The editor I hired turned out to be a complete fraud and a pathological liar who bilked me of money. Clearly I did not vet her well enough. Then, even after a second copy edit and many pairs of eyes, errors turned up. The great thing about the digital age is that I was able to correct mistakes and re-upload the manuscript. But some people don't read the book they've downloaded for months. Then they write a review pointing out every spelling error, when in fact I corrected those months ago! Live and learn, and let go, that's my new motto!