In The News: Prescott Daily Courier

Local couple dives into online publishing

Special to the Courier

Pam Clark went looking for her father, only to find herself immersed in a different world altogether.

A retired bank fraud investigator, Pam’s search resulted in the writing of her father’s biography, “…but they call me Sonny.”

Not to be outdone, her husband Norm retired from running the couple’s small business and wrote a CIA spy adventure, “Resurrected.”

Writing the books was one thing, getting them published – and sold – was quite another. At first, Pam worked through an online publishing company, spent $2,000 in the process and received no editing help.

Copyright Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Prescott Valley’s Pam and Norm Clark, both retired, are supplementing their income by writing and self-publishing books. They use social media platforms to promote and discuss their books with readers.

Norm went a different route.

“I was watching her travail with the publisher, so I started checking out Amazon. It was free to publish, so I decided the price was right. I was tickled pink… (with Amazon),” Norm said.

According to the Amazon site, “Create a Space,” an author can “upload a copy of their book for free, retain all creative rights, and 70 percent of all royalties.” In a matter of minutes the book will be available to Kindle users.

Amazon offers some promotional help, but the couple realized they needed to do more if their labors were to pay off.

That realization led to their excursion into the world of social media.

“Before I wrote my book I swore I would never be on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I thought it was a waste of time,” Norm said.

“You have to promote it (the book), and that’s where social media comes in,” he said.

The most helpful tool in learning to promote his self-published book was an e-book downloaded from Amazon called, “The First Ten Steps.”

The book gives the first-time published author a map on how to use social media to find readers and get them interested in buying your book.

“The book basically says, ‘Twitter will be your best friend.’ You use Twitter to ask followers to visit your Facebook page, your blog, etcetera,” Norm said.

Social media seems to be a realm for younger generations, and Norm and Pam – like many retirees – entered the fray with a little skepticism and apprehension. However, they found that getting started was simple, and not at all frightening.

“You can sign up for Twitter in four to five minutes,” Norm said. “Older people, if they’re not dialed into social media, most are afraid of it. They don’t need to be. There are some frustrations. The only way to learn is to do it, make some mistakes. It’s trial and error.”

Now, Pam and Norm spend at least four hours a day promoting their books using social media sites such as Shelfari, and Librarything, Twitterfeed, and Authorpress, from their office set up in one half of their double garage.

“It takes five to six months to get comfortable using sites. You have to have followers; you have to be dedicated,” Norm said.

“When you do stuff like this the hours fly by,” Pam said. “You can lose a day. I want to say thank God for Sara Lee and Marie Calendar, otherwise we might not be married.”

Pam and Norm say the income from the amount of books they have sold is a small stream of steady income at this point.

According to an online CNN article,” a 1,007-person survey earlier this year found ‘DIY authors’ make $10,000 a year on average, and half of them make less than $500 a year.”

Pam and Norm say this lifestyle keeps them young and connected. Pam said she has followers from all over the world, “in far flung places such as Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the U.K.,” just to name a few.

They admitted they aren’t getting rich as writers, and don’t plan on moving to the Bahamas anytime soon, but both agree their quality of life is rich.

Kim Galloway
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