My career as a self-publisher did not start with some big ambition to print my own books. As far back as I remember, however, I did want to be a writer.
I definitely wrote things: A first “novel” at nine, essays, poems, the editorial for my high school yearbook, pieces for my college newspaper and literary magazine, syndicated columns in newspapers, book review column for a magazine, freelance articles for magazines and newspapers, query letters galore to editors and, yes, book-length writing as well.
At the level of book-length writing, my first published book was a vegetarian cookbook for Contemporary Books. The experience was bittersweet because the book was remaindered within a few months. And Literary Agent #1 didn’t even bother to tell me in time for me to be able to purchase any of those leftover copies.
Fast forward through a variety of inspired yet discouraging experiences as a writer and yoicks! I started self-publishing.
I Can Read Your Face was the first book that I published on my own. It explained my system of Face Reading Secrets (R).
Eventually, it would sell thousands of copies, then be re-published by Bantam-Doubleday-Dell, and also sell in a Mexican edition. A later version of the same material would become The Power of Face Reading. It’s now in its second edition and has sold a number of foreign editions.
Back in the day, I didn’t know if I’d sell even one copy. Going into business as an entrepreneur wasn’t exactly on my radar. I had no desire to run a business of any kind, thank you. I just wanted to be a writer.
But it had became clear that my realistic choices for I Can Read Your Face were:
- Or nothing
So I timidly tiptoed into the publishing business.
Books by Rose Rosetree you’ll never find
In the past, I had spent years loving writing full-length books that never made it into print, including:
- The Philosopher’s Stone, a novel about Transcendental Meditation
- A How-to about Physical Self-Awareness, featuring exercises to wake up proprioceptive perception.
- Practice Typing/Practice Laughing, a keyboarding method that featured humorous practice pieces
Eventually, each went right into the trash. Other manuscripts had been started and discarded. But this one pulled at me. I felt so strongly that it could help people. I couldn’t just have the fun of writing and then the fun of tossing.
Fast forward to the day my first copies were delivered from the publisher. Oops, from the printer. I was the publisher. (Euwwww, so scary.)
The year was 1998. Mitch Weber (my husband) and I lived in an apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland. We lived on the third floor.
This wasn’t the classiest place from which to build a publishing empire. Our apartment was small and inexpensive. The neighborhood wasn’t great. In fact there was a whorehouse nearby.
Very nearby. The business ran out of a first floor apartment right in my building. I knew because I was friends with the proprietor, “Virginia.” She took some of the classes I gave out of my third-floor apartment.
Once, I remember, Virginia phoned me to ask if I had an extra mattress that I could lend her.
The answer was no. My inclinations have always been toward an extremely boring life.
Launching a publishing house
Launching my own business, even a far milder business than Virginia’s, pushed me far beyond my comfort zone.
On the day that the big truck arrived, carrying boxes of I Can Read Your Face, I made my debut as Shipping Manager. I had already held several positions within my small company:
- Fact checker
- Art director
- Rights manager
- Traffic coordinator
Now, watching the truck pull up with my books, my knees should have been knocking together with terror over the whole busines. Except, frankly, I don’t think I inhabited my body well enough at the time for me to have managed a physical symptom like knee-knocks.
There I stood, awareness slightly outside my body, as usual. Joy and terror were mingled, not unlike how I would feel years later, being given a package to take home from the hospital, a package in the form of a living, breathing (so-far) human child.
Sunk in my very ambivalent publisher’s emotions, suddenly something lifted me up. I noticed a rainbow.
It appeared right as the truck pulled up. And one end of that rainbow pointed right to the roof of my apartment building.
Seeing that rainbow, I didn’t think “Hey, Rose, claim your pot of gold.”
I thought about something even better. That rainbow reminded me that I wrote based on inspiration. I moved forward with this self-publisher thing based on inspiration. And that inspiration would keep faith with me for as long as I kept faith with It.
A more recent sign of encouragement
Big, splashy special effects are not my usual experience. But every once in a while, I am given the kind of experience people call “miracles.”
Except I don’t feel comfortable using that word, since so many people use it in so very many ways. Instead, I call those sweet experiences, “Nice touch, Guys.”
One of them happened in connection with the new book, the one for Empath Empowerment (R).
Become The Most Important Person in the Room: Your 30-Day Plan for Empath Empowerment has a photo right on the cover. It also contains many illustrations to help readers become Skilled Empaths, rather than “merely” talented empaths.
Three illustrations are central to my way to teach Empath Empowerment.
- Part One shows an Unskilled Empath among friends.
- Part Two portrays the transition stage of Becoming a Skilled Empath.
- Part Three pictures a Skilled Empath among friends.
When I met, by phone, with my beloved cover designer, Melanie Matheson, we began to discuss the visuals that we would need. Stock photos would be necessary.
In case you have never been forced to become a self-publisher, here’s the deal with stock photos. To have a picture on the cover of a book, or have a different picture inside photoshopped into three variations, can be a very expensive proposition.
The cover for Empowered by Empathy included a special photo shoot, fees for models, and extra for the graphic designer to develop the photo into a cover illustration.
That super-expensive cover was necessary because I wanted to illustrate that book with my favorite technique for Skilled Empath Merge.
For the new book, I only needed two different photos of a cool and diverse group of people. Melanie directed me to several online sites that sell stock photos. My mission was to find the two photographs. If you can buy stock pictures, not only do you get professional-looking photographs, well lit, and up to the standard for professional publishing. You don’t have to pay royalties or other fees, but instead pay a reasonable flat fee for all future use.
If you have managed to avoid the glamorous publishing field, you may never have experienced what it is like, hunting down photos.
Hours into the process, it became downright discouraging. Photo after photo wasn’t quite right. Or not even slightly, remotely right.
Imagine spending hours on what looks wrong, wrong, wrong.
Eventually I found one photo that would work fine for the cover.
Sometimes if you noodle around at a stock photo website, you will find additional pictures from the same photo shoot. That would have been perfect, but noooooooooo.
So I kept looking. At a completely different site, I found a completely different photo with the same group of people. Bingo!
At this website, there were also no additional photos for sale.
But I could buy that one separately. It looked like this.
Think of the odds on my finding these twins, separated at birth. It was enough to bring a smile to my eyeballs, and the rest of me, too.
If you wind up reading Become The Most Important Person in The Room, I hope you enjoy those pictures too.