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So You Want to Write (or Publish) a Book

Two new one-day classes at the Piedmont Center for the Arts will focus on self-publishing and writing autobiography.

Do you have a personal story to tell? Want to write a book? Wrote a book but haven't found a traditional publisher?

Writing coach, novelist and English professor Erin Quinn O'Briant encourages both aspiring and experienced writers to attend one or both of the new one-day classes she is teaching at the this summer.

First up is "Publish Your Book: Print, E-Book, and Audio Self-Publishing" this Saturday, July 14, featuring an appearance by Robert B. Lowe, Pulitzer prize-winning author and Piedmont resident. Lowe will share his experience of self-publishing earlier this year.

On Saturday, Aug. 4, O'Briant will offer "Write Your Story: Autobiography for Everyone." That class will include some time for creative writing. Her goal, O'Briant said, is for those who attend to leave that afternoon with a plan for their next steps in their writing project.

The self-publishing class is being offered because "everywhere I go, people ask about self-publishing on a regular basis," O'Briant said. She has self-published two books, a novel and a non-fiction guide for tutors.

Self-publishing, once considered a last resort for writers who couldn't sell their books to major publishers, has been embraced in recent years by both established and newer authors. O'Briant said new technology and changes in the publishing industry have contributed to the growth of self-publishing.

Major publishers no longer offer marketing support for many of the books they publish, leaving authors to arrange for publicity and book tours on their own, she said.

Self-publishing makes good economic sense "if your book isn't mass marketed and guaranteed a spot up front in Barnes & Noble," O'Briant said.

"By self-publishing my novel, I keep about $6 for each copy sold, versus 75 cents from a publishing house," she said. "I don't have to sell nearly as many copies to make the same amount of money."

Is self-publishing profitable?

"You can make good money, but you have to be patient — it happens slowly," O'Briant said. "I've made a few thousand dollars on my books. Over the next 20 years, I'll make some substantial money."

Self-publishing also lets an author retain more creative control, she said.

Saturday's class, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and costs $75, will cover self-publishing in print, audio and e-book formats. See .

Autobiography for Everyone

"Even people who think they don't have fascinating stories to tell probably do," said O'Briant. "And more mundane things like surviving a recession or raising children are worth writing about too.'

Sometimes retirement is the impetus that starts people thinking about how to put their own life experiences into written form, she said. Her Aug. 4 workshop, "Write Your Story: Autobiography for Everyone," is designed to get attendees started on their writing projects and to leave with a plan for how to continue.

The class will run from 1 to 4 p.m. and costs $75. See .

O'Briant says anyone interested in either class is welcome to phone her at 415-577-6257 or email her at erin.obriant@gmail.com for more information.

For more information on O'Briant, visit her website at erinquinnobriant.com.

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