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Self-publishing 2.0: How I Saved My Book

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Never believe people when they tell you something is impossible, or "that's not the way things work." Make your own success or be doomed to fail.

It was this author's dream. After writing a deeply personal and revealing memoir, The Last Day of My Life, I landed a top agent at the esteemed William Morris Agency (now WME Entertainment). Six months later, I had my first publishing deal and less than a year after that, the book was officially released. Publishing takes a long time, but the wait was worth it. I had hoped that my book would inspire others who were facing troubling times in their lives and I have been humbled by the many emails I have received from strangers who reached out to me since the January publication date.

Then, the unthinkable happened. My publisher abruptly closed its doors at the end of April. The timing could not have been worse. It was just days before the LA Festival of Books, where I had been scheduled to appear. My participation in that event was canceled and it looked like months of effort in landing numerous television and radio appearances and all the print interviews had been for nothing. My old publisher was gracious enough to grant me a reversion of all the rights to my book, along with all the digital files, but what was I to do with them?

"It's over," I was told, by most everyone. But I had heard that before. After writing the manuscript for my book, I was told that getting published today was all but impossible. I refused to listen then and I refused to listen now. As Chief Correspondent for the syndicated television news magazine, Inside Edition and as a regular contributor for CNN and HLN and frequent guest host for Larry King Live, I knew that I could continue to land television appearances. I also believed passionately in the message of my book -- that no matter what challenges come your way, life is worth living and there is plenty for which we need to be grateful. What better time to put that into practice than here and now?

I reached out to the former head of sales at my old publishing house for guidance. He connected me with both the company which had originally printed my book and with the independent sales team that sold it to stores. My former editor instructed me on how to apply for and secure a new serial number (ISNB) and Library of Congress registration. I hired a talented graphic designer to repackage the book and I came up with a name for my own publishing house: Incognito Books. Within two months, I was "ready for my close-up" again. I timed the launch of my new edition to coincide with an appearance on Dr. Phil, which I had taped in April, but was not airing until July 9. My boss at Inside Edition graciously ran a story about that appearance and on my newly launched book as well. The results exceeded even my wildest expectations.

As I tracked both Amazon and Barnes and Noble sales numbers throughout the day, I watched in amazement over what happened as both shows aired in the various time zones across the country. It was remarkable. By Friday evening, I had hit #1 on Amazon's "Movers and Shakers" list with an astounding increase of 309,000% in ranking, from number 80,000 to number 31. I also reached #17 on BN.com. I have already ordered a second printing and I am launching the book in all available digital formats in the next two weeks.

I am still at the beginning of what I hope is a long journey as a writer, both for this title and other books I hope to write. Still, I learned a valuable lesson -- never take "no" for an answer. The old publishing model is no longer the only one available to writers. (The Huffington Post proves that.) Look hard and be creative and you may just discover a new way to get your message out there.