What would you do if you were turing 40? Author Karen Chase went to Paris for 40 days of adventure!
*Come back tomorrow to read my review of Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log (40 years, 40 days, 40 seconds) and have a chance to win a 5×7 print of one of Karen’s professional pictures of Paris from her book!
Karen A. Chase decided to turn her 40th birthday into a month long adventure in Paris. While she immersed herself into a the City of Lights, she chronicled her adventures and vivid photography. Karen is here today to share us her story!
1) Tell me how your trip to Paris went from an adventure blog to a book?
I kept the forty-day blog for friends and family so they could experience my trip, through one simple post and photograph each day. The short blog posts allowed me to get out and really experience Paris. Five or ten days into the trip I realized that the posts were helping me to see Paris through all of their eyes too. The impact the trip and blogging was having on me, made it clear that it had to be a book. My original blogs were short–something that could be read in about forty seconds–and some events and moments required more detail. So when I got home I added in longer “reflection” pieces that delve into travel, photography, writing, turning 40, and more. Once I had added those, it truly felt like a book I could share with others. I especially wanted other women to read it. I was turning forty, having an adventure, and hoped more women could feel so fabulous at forty.
2) That sounds wonderful! How did you self-publish your book?
This has been a very educational, sometimes daunting, but mostly enjoyable experience. I did a lot of research about self-publishing, but also about what traditional publishers did. I asked a lot of questions through various writing groups on LinkedIn, and other online resources of the best way to self-publish and not look unprofessional or scream self-published. Then I made a logical, scheduled plan that used my skill sets, and allowed me to gather vendors for portions I didn’t feel I could do on my own.
I’m a professional designer, so I did the marketing materials, and the cover design. I designed my book and author websites and worked with programmers to develop them. Creating a professional book, regardless of self-publishing or not, means working with great editors. Kristen Weber developmentally edited the book for content, and April Michelle Davis worked on the final draft to edit for grammatical, spelling and other glaring errors. I found a company to do the e-book conversions for me, as I wanted the files to flawlessly work on multiple e-readers and for $150 they were done beautifully. I’ve personally handled the e-publishing to Amazon, and Barnes & Noble and iTunes that are soon to launch as well. I also hired BookSparks PR. They have the publicity experience and contacts to help me publicize the book in the right places. A traditional publisher would do what they are doing, but instead of paying royalties to cover those costs, we have a fee-based contract. Most importantly, I feel like they works as a team with me, and they are my go-to gals for ideas, plan development and social media support, too.
3) Golden tips! What else would you suggest to writers looking to self-publish?
Take the time to research the process, and develop a comprehensive marketing plan. If you don’t know how to do that, hire freelance publicists that can help oversee your project and brand. The author and book platforms need to reflect a consistent brand and reflect the quality of the author’s writing. A poor book cover will indicate that the writing is mediocre, and a good design will capture readers before they turn a page. Lastly, make a budget based upon what you can do versus what you will have to hire out. Commit to the idea there is going to be an up-front investment. If I was going to be a lawyer, I’d have to pay to go back to school. I’m working toward being a full-time writer, not just publishing this one book, so I’m making the investment into this process. I think it’s also important to find other writers, and other self-published authors who can share their experiences, mistakes or successes about the self-published world.
4) Wonderful. You also have a fabulous book trailer. How did you develop it?
I’ve helped clients build TV spots, and so I built the script, designed the backgrounds, and found stock video and stock music to use. I built a storyboard template and worked with an experienced production editor to help me cut it, and get the timing, sound mixes and other components to work well. He is wonderful, and I’m very lucky in my self-publishing process that I have resources I can go to. I recommend to authors to take the time and money to build these types of trailers. Video helps readers become placed in the emotion of your story very quickly.
5) C’est parfait! Why did you decide to have an adventure in Paris?
I had longed to visit Paris again since I first saw it fifteen years ago. I was there for a short time back then, and I’ve wanted desperately to return for a longer visit. Turning forty seemed like the right time to go. My business and my life could afford to have me take off a month to make the trip. What I had hoped to accomplish was to get some time to write on another book I’m still developing, explore Paris, and most importantly get the sense of living in the city of lights. I couldn’t do that in a week. A month seemed to be enough time. (It wasn’t by the way. There is so much to do and see in Paris, it’s mind-boggling.)
There are a few. Riding bikes along the Seine. Walking endlessly from early morning until sundown from the Eiffel Tower on the west all the way to my apartment near the Bastille in the east. The moment my partner, Ted, came to join me on day twenty-eight was pretty spectacular, and it changed the trip. I went from having one pair of eyes to having two.
But honestly, it was the feeling of living in Paris that is most memorable. I turned forty, lived for a month in the city of lights and love, and felt rejuvenated and ready to fully leap into this writing career upon my return. I also made a couple nice friends and we still stay in touch. Every woman should travel alone and really take the time to explore a new place and herself at the same time. For me, I’ll always have Paris in my heart.
It sounds magical!
*Come back tomorrow to read my review and have a chance to win a 5×7 print of one of Karen’s professional pictures of Paris from her book!