September 25, 2010

The strange and twisted tale of my publishing business

Sting...Carl Jung...a failed Canadian publisher...a little guy named Shinny...Star Wars erotica..."Soulful Sex"...what a long, strange journey it has been. Get ready, Blog, for the story of a tiny publishing house called Living Beyond Reality Press.

Sting and Carl Jung. In 1990 I developed a peculiar fascination with Sting.  In my efforts to explore All Things Sting, I came upon his mentor/inspiration: Carl Jung, the inventor of psychoanalysis. Feeling that I myself could use some psychoanalysis, I studied Jung for over a year. In the process I developed a sort of pop, self-help version of some of his theories, which I put in a book called Living Beyond Reality: A Jungian Primer for Enhancing Your Life. I also realized the Jungian implications of my unpublished novel The Resurrection of Captain Eternity, and buffed that up a bit as well.

My Canadian publisher turns out kind of "eh." In the mid-90s I sought a publisher for my two titles, and managed to find one at last. Edmonton-based Commonwealth Publications seemed the answer to my prayers, until shortly before Living Beyond Reality went to press, the company folded. Being a never-say-die sort of chick, I decided to publish both books myself in a short run, and that I did in 1998. Thus was founded Living Beyond Reality Press.

That crazy place called the Internet.I also launched in 1998, the platform by which I would promote, sell and distribute my two titles. Sales were not exactly booming, but the site became a hit nevertheless, especially that little corner of the site dedicated to hockey humor and dubbed "Hockey Snacks." In no time I was publishing a new issue of this little ezine every week. It was hosted by Shinny, my left index finger with a drawn-on face and tiny plastic goalie mask. Told you this story was weird.

My writing takes an interesting new turn. In 2003 I posted something new to a couple pieces of Star Wars fan fiction. One of these was an erotic romance story. Maybe you're aware of the virulent popularity of Star Wars fan fiction, particularly of the erotic variety. I wasn't. But to my shock, I was getting emails from readers all over, raving about this story. I will admit I had been writing erotica privately since high school, but it had never occurred to me to actually publish the stuff. But now that total strangers were suggesting it, I thought the idea might actually be a good one.

Diana Laurence is born. Meanwhile, the web and the publishing industry had been changing like mad. Suddenly there were lots of new ebook and small press publishers seeking new authors, so in late 2003 I submitted my work to a couple of them. Unlike back in the 70s, 80s and 90s when I was freelancing, this time I found a publisher in a couple of weeks. In fact, I found two, and in spring 2004, I released ebooks under my new pseudonym Diane Laurence via these publishers. Alas, one of them proved to be less than honorable about their contracts and I dropped them. But the other, New Age Dimensions, was great to work with and became the home of Diana Laurence's "erotica with soul," including the Soulful Sex anthologies.

It only took me 35 years to become a success. When I was 13, 'Teen magazine published my short story "The Orange Crate with No Second Floor." While I did make some money freelancing during the ensuing 35 years, I never got close to that kind of exposure again. However, the Diana Laurence books took off: they sold like hotcakes, won awards, and I became New Age Dimensions' bestselling author. The internet and other technological changes made all the difference. I had found my audience and life was great!

What is it with me and publishers? Then in early 2006, my publisher New Age Dimensions decided to close business. Being a never-say-die sort of chick, I looked at this as a great opportunity. So in a whirlwind of effort, I took back the rights to my titles and determined my ever-present tiny publishing company, Living Beyond Reality Press, would re-release all of them at once along with the third collection of Soulful Sex stories.

Go, LBR Press, go! In the four years since then, all kinds of crazy things have happened to me and my little company.  I've published a bunch more of my own books of course, both in paperback and ebook formats.  I was approached by a traditional publisher to write the book How to Catch and Keep a Vampire, a terrific experience that nevertheless did not make me as happy (or successful) as publishing my titles myself.  A Chinese company contracted with me for the translation and publication of my two Bloodchained vampire romance novels.  People have done fan art and fan fiction based on my books, and a guy wrote a college paper about one of my stories. 

Embrace the change. And the publishing industry has evolved so fast it's incredible.  I've learned the most efficacious promotion is the stuff that is free or nearly free.  Whereas I once made the most money on my paperbacks, now it is the nook and Kindle books bringing in amazing profits.  Google Books came into being and is a big source of referrals.  Whereas I once felt I had to post constantly to user groups, now I blog and use Facebook.  Barnes & Noble has caught up to Amazon as a revenue source.  I sell ebooks on eBay.  And while traditional publishing is fading fast (as my own experience with it confirmed) to an unsustainable business model, self-publishing is coming into its own, and making people like me money and (even better) lots of new fans.

So I can't tell you what's coming for my little publishing business...but I do know it will be a blast finding out.


  1. One thing I've learned over the years, where there is a will, there is a way. And not always the way you 'think' it should be.

    As a non-published writer, and voracious reader, I've watched the publishing world with mixed feelings. There is nothing more frustrating than hearing from fellow writers when their hard work is ignored by publishers because it isn't the flavor of the month (day, week, minute) and then step into a book store and find flashy promotion of the most amateurish dreck imaginable.

    I can't begin to describe my thoughts when treated to the complaints of said publishing world because their business is falling off.

    Your experience is a prime example of what happens when tools, ingenuity and intelligence are combined with customers who can find something they not only want to consume, but spend money on.

    As my parents taught me, "Can't never did anything, Won't never tried."

    Thanks for the reminder that anything is possible, as long as I'm willing to make the effort. And kudos and a High Five for all your hard work!

  2. Janet, your comment just made my day. Thank you so much! And you're echoing the sentiments of thousands of writers, that's for sure. It's hard for me to be sympathetic to the plight of traditional publishing, when they have the same tools and opportunities that I do, along with much greater resources, and yet refuse to acknowledge the superiority of the new business model for today's world and embrace it themselves. In spite of them, authors like us are putting themselves out there and readers are finding and enjoying us.

    If you are interested in exploring self-publishing in the manner that I did it, I wrote an ebook called "Do-It-YourSelf-Publishing" that sells for under three bucks (

    Thanks again and I wish you every success!