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Day 23: 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway: Christina Katz

Me again! And I’ll be back one more time in the final week.

In my interview responses today, I’ll be talking about my experience choosing to self-publish in addition to continuing to work with traditional publishers.

Build Your Author Platform is a $39.99 value! I’ll give one copy free to one winner!

About Christina Katz

Christina Katz, The Writer Mama, is the author of three books from Writer’s Digest: The Writer’s Workout, Get Known Before the Book Deal, and Writer Mama. Her writing career tips and parenting advice appear regularly in national, regional, and online publications. A “gentle taskmaster” over the past decade to hundreds of writers, Christina’s students go from unpublished to published, build professional writing career skills, and increase their creative confidence over time.

Christina holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia College Chicago and a BA in English from Dartmouth College. A popular speaker on creative career growth, Christina keynotes for writing conferences, literary events, MFA writing programs, and libraries. She lives just across the Willamette River from Wilsonville, Oregon in an old farmhouse with her husband, Jason, her daughter, Samantha, and far too many pets.

Learn more about upcoming classes and training groups with Christina this fall. Scholarships will be available for each session of Writing & Publishing the Short Stuff. The application period is one month prior to the start date of each class right here in this blog.

[Please note: my mailing address is still the same as always: Christina Katz, PO Box 1354, Wilsonville, Oregon  97070]

About Build Your Author Platform

An Eight-chapter Companion Workbook to use in conjunction with Get Known Before The Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths To Grow An Author Platform by Christina Katz from Writer’s Digest Books. Available everywhere books are sold. Learn more here.


  • Uncovering your strengths
  • Finding your niche
  • Making you and your work visible
  • Promoting your work authentically
  • Connecting with readers
  • Creating a lasting, profitable platform
  • Understanding your unique platform dynamic


  • Lessons that summarize key platform strategies
  • Field trips to explore what others are doing
  • Brainstorming exercises to help you consider your options
  • Key considerations that will save you time and money
  • Reading assignments
  • Writing assignments

Finish the workbook in eight weeks, eight days, or eight hours! It’s up to you.

The workbook is meant to be printed and worked on by hand. You can print it and clip it together or print it on three-hole punch paper and put it in a notebook. (It’s about 50 pages and won’t take a lot of ink.)

The Very Short Interview

When did you know for sure that you would self-publish and that self-publishing would be a major energy focus in your life?

I first knew I would self-publish after my first book Writer Mama came out, once I wanted to write about about the journey to publication and the project was not long enough and did not have a large enough audience to justify a traditional book on the topic. Despite these issues, I still found myself wanting to tackle the project. So I did, but as an e-book instead of a traditional book. That e-book was Author Mama.

In five years, you won’t be able to find an author who is not traditionally published and self-published. I’m a little bit ahead of the curve because my work with writers lends itself to crowd-sourcing and the type of reader interaction that leads to self-published projects. I suppose, since I’m a platform development expert, this has also helped me trust that I could jump into the self-publishing waters without disappointing or confusing my readership. Indeed, I now not only self-publish, I also teach self-publishing, mostly to writers who are not yet traditionally published as a way of working their way up to a traditional book deal eventually, if that is still appealing to them by the time they writer their way there.

Who has always been behind your self-publishing and who helped pull you up the ladder of self-publishing success?

Ironically nobody was ever stopping me from self-publishing although I think I had internalized a lot of the stigma that used to come with self-publishing. So instead of answering this question in a straightforward manner, I would say, before I could self-publish I was the one who had to get out of the way. As I recall, it took me a full year, to stop dragging my feet and self-publish Author Mama, simply because I wasn’t aware that I was being held back by the stigma. Once I realized that’s what was holding me back, I got over it. But it was not easy. My husband Jason was an early editor for Author Mama. He kept telling me how bad it was until I’d worked on it hard enough so that I could share the Beta version. Even with Beta readers, I still employed a proofreader because it was very important to me that “self-published” would not mean lower quality than my traditionally published works. Now I am championing my students to create their own high-quality self-published works.

My second “self-published” project is Build Your Author Platform. BYAP is an e-workbook, rather than strictly an e-book. An e-book is like a book, only in digital form. And an e-workbook is like a workbook, only in digital form. What’s also different about Build Your Author Platform, besides the fact that it’s an interactive e-workbook, is that it was professionally edited. Writer’s Digest published it first and then I got the rights back after they sold it for four months. We had worked this out in advance in the contract, and it’s a stronger e-workbook for it. I am still working on a new cover design for the e-workbook, though, which is why you don’t see a cover in this post.

What is the most frequent comment you hear about your e-books from readers? Tell us a little story about the response to your self-published work.

Well, because my two e-projects are so different, I’ve gotten fairly different responses. Author Mama is somewhat instructional but it’s mostly inspirational. The message is: you can write a traditionally published book if you set yourself up for success, and here’s how to do that.

Build Your Author Platform asks the reader to get to work. You can’t merely read it. I mean, you can. But that’s not what it’s designed for. It’s designed to bring the writer from where they are platform-wise to where they would like to be. Naturally this takes some research, some soul-searching, and some serious effort. You don’t get from where you are not to where you’d like to be by being a spectator or having “conversations.” You get their by digging deep and putting the best of what you have too offer into action.

The most exciting aspect of Build Your Author Platform, for me, was that it was the first time I really got an opportunity to delve into “Platform Dynamic,” which is a term I coined. I had a lot to say about it once I got writing and I’m really happy with the way that portion of the e-workbook turned out. I think that chapter alone makes the product worth the cover price…which, by the way, is discounted for the month of May by ten dollars to $29.99. The price will go back up on June 1st.

And Now, Your Turn

Now it’s your turn. You remember how this works right?

I ask you a question. You answer in the comments for your chance to win a book each day.

Please just respond once, even if you make a typo. ;)

Answer in the comments in 50-200 words (no less and no more to qualify to win one of today’s books). Please read the complete rules at least once!

Thanks for participating in the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway! I hope to see you here every day this month. Bring your friends!

Have you thought about self-publishing? Will you? Why or why not? If yes, what do you think you will self-publish first? If you’ve already self-published, will you do it again? Why or why not? Tell us what you have learned about self-publishing.

Ready, set, comment!

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  • Edith May 22, 2012, 7:36 pm

    Actually self-publishing is what I considered long
    before I even began to dream about traditional publishing! So for example, when
    I first started writing poetry, I developed 2 approaches to sharing my poems
    with a wider audience – chap books and entering competitions. I only produced a
    small number of chap books but the experience left me with a little
    understanding of what self-publishing entails, the biggest realization being
    that unless I print, publish and promote, nobody else will! However I am only
    on the starting end of my learning curve.

    Recently I have been involved with a major British
    tapestry artist working with her on a series of interviews, about her life,
    work and art, due to be published later this year. We also discussed the possibility
    of developing this further into a book, agreeing that self-publishing is the
    way to go. But, and it’s a big but, I know nothing about the intricacies of the
    self-publishing world. Your e-book sounds like it would be a perfect adjunct to
    your books , all of which I recently purchased, guiding me through the process,
    and hopefully leading to the publishing of my first self-published book!

  • ML May 22, 2012, 9:21 pm

    I’ve given self -publishing a lot of thought and it’s the way to go for me. I have a bucket list. If I’m going to complete both the list and the book, self publishing is my best route. I have one book to publish at this time, I plan to start by blogging it and then self publish.

  • Sandi Haustein May 22, 2012, 9:30 pm

    I haven’t learned a lot about self-publishing, although I would consider it.  I am passionate about giving resources to leaders of moms’ groups, but I’m not sure that the audience is big enough for traditional publishing.  If I self-published, I could at least get information into the hands of the women who need it.  The first thing I would self-publish would be either a problem-solving book for moms’ group leaders or a book focused on producing quality programs with lots of topic and speaker ideas.

  • Poppyherrin May 23, 2012, 4:35 am

    Yes, I have thought about self-publishing, and have been thinking about it every day for several months now.  I want to self-publish a book of my poetry, but I just don’t know when yet.  I have to decide if I want it to be a themed collection or a “greatest hits” collection.  Once I figure this out, I will proceed accordingly.  

  • Linda Hofke May 22, 2012, 9:54 pm

    I have thought of self-publishing either my poems, photos, or stories (or a combination thereof) but don’t feel the time is “ripe”. I want it to be my best work and don’t feel I am quite there yet plus my crazy schedule doesn’t allow for me to devote the time needed for such a project.

    I do have friends who have self-published, each through various  organizations, with mixed reviews. If I decide to go this route, I will be able to ask their advice. One area they stress is that you must do all the marketing yourself through blog posts, local advertising, etc. There is much more involved than just designing/printing the book.

  • Dee May 23, 2012, 12:31 am

    Honestly, I haven’t gotten to the point where I could even think about traditional vs self-publishing.  I just want to finish!  My thoughts are fairly mixed.  I purchased a self-published book a few months ago and was mildly disappointed.  I think it could have used the touch of an editor and a publishing house.  I would also be afraid that I wouldn’t have the time (as a working mom) to promote the book the way a publisher could.  All that said, once I finish, I would be open to whatever worked!

  • Rachael Nevins May 23, 2012, 12:59 am

    I have ideas for two self-published e-books, both inspirational/how-to non-fiction. They seem to be a good fit for self-publishing, because I don’t envision either being much longer than fifty pages or so. Also, I like the idea of being able to sell the books directly to my readers. They can sit there on my blog, and I don’t have to worry about booksellers losing interest. I can just promote the books myself!

  • Diane Turner Maller May 23, 2012, 2:48 am

    book for today’s giveaway comes at a perfect time since my curiosity was peaked
    on the topic during our most recent Dream Team conference call. I even thought
    of purchasing the book so that I could put into perspective what is possible to
    achieve as a writer. Even though I am still in the beginning stages and am not
    yet ready to build a platform, I like to be inspired by what others are

  • Lisa May 23, 2012, 3:26 am

    I have thought about self-publishing, but I’m not sure yet if that’s something I will do. I would really like to publish my memoir, but I’m hesitant to do so using my real name because I am a high school teacher. There are some things I wouldn’t want my students to read, yet I’m told that nobody will publish a memoir using a pen name. It’s possible that self-publishing could be a way around this, then again, I do feel that I would like the acknowledgment of being published traditionally, and this might be worth waiting for.

  • Michele Thornton May 23, 2012, 3:57 am

    How timely is this post? Were you writing it as I was emailing you last night about prepping my fiction for self publishing? I’ve been considering it for a long time now, and am finally ready to do this. My first concern is to make sure my work is good enough and polished enough so it doesn’t fall into the “OMG that is SO self published” mud heap. I see self publishing as a format that can ride shotgun alongside traditional methods. 

  • Barb May 23, 2012, 4:46 am

    I just self-published a novel that had lived in a drawer for years.  After classes, newspaper jobs, and workshops for 5 years I thought, I might have finally learned enough to give it a page-one rewrite.  When some of the chapters won contests, , I decided to self-pub it.

    What I learned about self-publishing is that it’s very challenging and not inexpensive.  To turn out a vibrant, attractive product requires professional copyediting, graphics, and an intimate familiarity with formatting.   You can trade fellow writers for some of these services, but often they won’t be performed as well as someone who does it professionally and does hundreds a year.

    Now when asked about self-publishing, I ask: Why do you want this book out there?   It makes people dig through their reasoning.  Let’s say they answer: “Because I want to help others with my story.”

    Then my next question is always:  Then how much are you willing to spend to help others? (or make money, or whatever their primary reason for publishing is).   Because it will cost both time and money.  How much are you willing to invest to satisfy your reason for “telling your story”?

    I didn’t find self-publication a way to get a book out “on-the-cheap”.  It gave me new respect and understanding for traditional publishing houses and the craft of book-making.

    Would I self-pub again. Yes, now that I’ve traversed the steep and ever-changing learning curve.  And then the marketing curve begins…

  • Deanne May 23, 2012, 4:53 am

    I would definitely consider self-publishing, but I’m only in
    the beginning stages of thinking about writing a book. I’m not even exactly
    sure what the topic of my book will be; I just know that I see one in my
    future (hopefully.) When that time comes it’s good to know I can benefit from Christina’s
    expertise through her books and classes – guiding me through the process.

  • Malia Jacobson May 23, 2012, 6:02 am

    I self-published my ebook Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help your Child Sleep, So You Can Sleep Too last year, and I’m ready to give it another go this year. With my schedule, workload, and two young kids clamoring for my attention, a 50-page writing project was a huge hoop to jump through. But, as I’d hoped, it helped me dig deep into my expertise and helped elevate my platform to a new level. The process was empowering and expansive. 

  • Cara Holman May 23, 2012, 6:55 am

    When I first started writing, I
    think I had a bit of an obsession with not just getting published, but getting
    published in paper and ink books. I’m over that now. I guess I felt that if
    something was in print, it was therefore more “permanent”, and also, that more
    people would read it. To be quite honest, I have no idea what the sales figures
    are for any of the print anthologies and journals my work has appeared in. And
    even less of an idea whether owners of said media actually read my essays or

    As a consequence, I am far more
    open to employing a variety of approaches for disseminating my writings,
    including blogging them on my own blog, doing guest posts for others’ blogs, submitting
    to online journals, and using other social media. I am totally open to both self-publishing,
    or traditional publishing, if I should get so lucky, but not until I feel I
    have amassed enough of a polished collection of work (personal essays, haiku, and haibun
    in particular), to make sense to try to publish. I’m getting there!

  • Michelle Koop, M.Ed May 23, 2012, 8:32 am

    I have been following your blog/website for days…waiting for the perfect book to POP up and beckon me to comment.  Today is the day!  I have thought and thought and thought again about self-publishing.  I am sitting on a couple of manuscripts, uncertain of step one.  I can rattle off step 2, 3, 4, and beyond…but step one has mutlitple pathways and each path feels foreign.  I am lost, yet not to far away that I’ve lost hope.  Hope sustains my energy to “figure out” the publishing world.  Hope encourages me to plod around the pathways.  Hope motivates me to comment and hope in the chance to gain new wisdom that will move me beyond my own fear of chosing a step one. 

  • Beth Fornauf May 23, 2012, 9:59 am

    I will probably self publish at least once. I don’t know much about it, but I like the idea of taking a  book from start to finish. I’m currently working on a novel that is scheduled to be completed in August, and I am hoping to do some research on self-publishing over the summer. So many books that I’ve loved are self-published works – it seems like I’d be in great company.

  • Deb May 23, 2012, 10:38 am

    I haven’t thought much about self-publishing, as I’m still getting established with articles and essays, but would certainly consider it down the road. I think it works best for those who are also traditionally published and have built platform. I have a book in my head about a serious topic that I want to write with a little humor so that people might pay more attention, so that’s a possibility for self-publishing. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see that book here in the giveaway in a couple of years!

  • Angie A. May 23, 2012, 1:24 pm

    Great question! I didn’t used to think I would, but now that I see how it’s worked for others and the value of it, I actually would. I confess to wanting to publish a book the old-fashioned way, with editors and all that, but self-publishing is a good alternative, especially if it’s done thoughtfully and carefully (i.e., hire a proofreader and copy editor!)

  • Lorraine Wilde May 23, 2012, 3:44 pm

    I have sort of blocked out learning about self-publishing. Embarrassing, I know. I was interested in traditional publishing of my memoir and rather than getting side tracked and overwhelmed, I’ve kept my eye on the prize instead. As part of my aggressive denial, I also reasoned that I’m not ready to self-publish yet, so I’m not ready to learn about something that is so rapidly evolving. I’ll learn when I’m closer. Of course, the more time goes by, and the closer I come to “ready,” the more likely self-publishing will be a real option for me. Soon I’ll remove the tunnel-vision goggles and jump in…in good time. 🙂 

  • Mar Junge May 23, 2012, 10:47 pm

    I’ll more than likely self-publish before going the traditional publishing route, as I agree with Christina: “In five years, you won’t be able to find an author who is not traditionally published and self-published.” Hopefully, I’ll self-publish the historical fiction novel, but if not, then at least my memoirs and a collection of short stories. Barb’s self-assessment questions are great. Be sure you know WHY you want to make a significant investment of time and money to self-publish, understanding that there will be no or very little financial return on investment. What a difference a couple of years makes. Self publishing used to be the ugly sister. Now it looks like her time to shine at the ball has finally come – as long as we’re willing to pay the piper.

  • Mar Junge May 23, 2012, 10:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Barb. Those questions are sure to make an author think it throught before jumping on the self-publishing bandwagon.

  • christinakatz May 24, 2012, 9:26 am

     I think Barb makes some good points. Essentially self-publishing means you are going into business. If you went into business, you would expect to invest in your business. If you go into publishing, expect to invest in your business, too.

  • christinakatz May 24, 2012, 4:30 pm

     And the winner is…Mar Junge! 🙂

  • Mar Junge May 24, 2012, 10:55 am

    My writer son & daughter and I are all going to work on platform development together this summer while they’re on break from college. Thank you Christina for helping teach another generation of writers how to do it right. You’re the best!   Thank you tnbak you and tiple thank you.

  • Mar Junge May 24, 2012, 5:56 pm

    Excuse the typos at the end. Only 3 lines appear in proofing box and my fingers slipped.