By Dr. Marianne Kunkel
It’s not every day that our staff gets a visit from a guest speaker. Last Friday, we were lucky enough to meet with Dr. Brain Railsback, a dean and English professor at Western Carolina University, a renowned John Steinbeck scholar, and the author of a new book of fiction, A Going Concern. He began his talk by explaining what motivates many creative writers to pursue the traditional publishing route of writing a book, enlisting an agent to help publicize that book, and securing a prestigious book contract with a university press or New York publisher. His examples of authors who have taken these steps and succeeded include himself, his colleague Ron Rash, and others.
But Railsback didn’t stop there. He also explained to our class why their book manuscripts and book ideas might be better suited for nontraditional publishing, using his own book’s journey through Amazon’s CreateSpace self-publishing module as proof. Railsback shared with us the excitement he felt getting to customize the interior and exterior designs of his book, creating an online profile for his book on Amazon’s website, and getting the help he needed from the CreateSpace staff. Drawbacks, he shared, include being 100% responsible for marketing the book and having to work harder to get book reviews in national magazines and newspapers.
Railsback’s out-of-the-box marketing ideas seem to be working: the evening before he visited our class, he organized a book reading in which the profits from his book sales went to our English department. English faculty and students were delighted to attend the fundraiser for their department, and Railsback drew a lot of positive attention to his new book. If you’re looking for a page-turner, we recommend A Going Concern by Brian Railsback, which you can pick up here!