How To Self-Publish: pt 2 with Greg Cayea

Here to offer his advice for the second instalment of Publishing Fortnight is Greg Cayea. Now, where to start with Greg? He's a man of many talents and wearer of many hats. He's the founder of LA-based PR company Black Apple International; he runs a super successful blog; in April he broke the Guinness World Record for the 'Longest Journey By Car In A Single Country,' for driving about 36,000 miles across the continental United States over 122 days; and after that he self-published his first book, a memoir titled The Drifter Chronicles, Vol 1: No Direction Home. There's so much more to say about Greg but, for now, we'll focus on that last bit...

Hi Greg! Okay so, why self-publish? 

I’ve never worked with a publisher so I’ve got no beef with ‘em.  If they said to me: if you let us publish your book, you will make much more money than by self-publishing and your life will be far more enjoyable, then sure, why not? I’ve just simply always been too busy writing and marketing myself to stop and try pitching my work to a publisher. It just doesn’t sound as exciting as getting myself to a point where I can check my dashboard and see my growth.  There are obvious perks, such as maintaining control over your title / artwork / overall story, as well as how you market. Not to mention being able to set a system in place so that you capture your reader’s email info and so on that in itself is worth much more than any publishing deal. BUT, like I said, I just don’t have time for that shit. I write a story, publish it. If people buy it, dope. If not...shitty, but then I wake up and head to Bolivia to meet strangers and write about the experience...so yeah. No time to sit down and try to impress publishers.  

How long did the process take from inception to distribution? 

Five years.  But now that I know how to do it, my second book will only take me one year. It should be noted that my books are longer (around 450 – 500 pages 120,000 words más o menos). I also illustrate everything I write soooo that takes time too. I’ve listened to podcasts of authors who write 5-9 books a year, but I just don’t care enough to sit down and write for ten hours a day. That, to me, sounds horrible. 

How did you fund the project? 

I do freelance PR and journalism to fund my publishing expenses. I also draw illustrations for musicians cover art and I’ve drawn portraits for people for money. Basically, I do anything related to writing and drawing that I can sell. And by the way, publishing a book is not pricey. I do my own graphics and then have them looked over by someone with a graphic art eye. I pay my editor, and I pay a few hundred bucks to convert all the e-book formats, but other than that I don’t really spend any money.  I don’t run advertising; advertising does not make sense without at least a few books to sell otherwise your cost per customer acquisition will be more than your profit if you’ve only got one book. I keep my blog flowing, write articles for magazines, do interviews with blogs / TV shows / radio / magazines and yeah - I capture as much attention as I can for free then say LOOK I WROTE A BOOK IT’S AWESOME!

How important was design and formatting to the process? Did you do it yourself, or did you outsource a designer?

You know the saying don’t judge a book by its cover? Well, it probably came into existence because EVERYONE judges a book by its cover. I designed everything myself, and as I’m learning now, DESIGN IS VERY IMPORTANT.  I am re-designing my cover for The Drifter Chronicles, Vol 1: No Direction Home and releasing the new edition when Vol. 2 is published.

How did you market your book?

Uhhh well, I broke the Guinness world record for longest journey by car in a single country… that got me some attention. I am currently circumnavigating South America and writing all about it and doing interviews, so that keeps the momentum up. Basically, I create momentum and never lose it. I also blog like a madman and keep a decent email list.  Oh yeah, I also slang books outta the back of my trunk.  Seriously.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known then? 

How important the cover design is, and how important a ‘proper’ launch is.  Oh yeah… and I can’t go back and fix my typos without losing my reviews, so they’re there to stay :(

Do…

Write every single day, even if it’s only 100 words. Obviously, I don’t write EVERYYYYY day… but I do my best, even if it’s the start of a blog post on my notebook app on my iPhone that I scribble in the corner of some obscure hostel, I write SOMETHING every day.

Don’t…

LISTEN TO PEOPLE LIKE ME CAUSE EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT AND EVERY PROCESS IS UNIQUE!  NEVER LISTEN TO ANYONE. DO WHAT FEELS RIGHT. 

Thanks Greg! 
Buy The Drifter Chronicles, Vol 1: No Direction Home
Check out Greg's blog
Follow him on Twitter

👉 Check out How To Self-Publish: pt 1 with Riaz Phillips