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O Me of Little Faith

Back in January, I mentioned my online friend Tara Leigh Cobble, who is an excellent indie musician and writer and who also is blessed with synesthesia, but whom I’ve never met in real life. She once met Jason Morant and thought he was me, though. Which is awesome.

Like me, she had her first book, Here’s to Hindsight, published by Relevant Books. It’s a really entertaining, honest account of her life as a touring musician, and Tara Leigh is a wonderful storyteller. And like most great storytellers, TLC had more than one book in her. One problem, though. Not long after Hindsight was published, Relevant got out of the business of book publishing. What to do? Most already published authors would start banging out proposals and trying to find an agent and working the email in order to find another publisher. But not Tara Leigh. She’s an indie musician, and a pretty successful one at that. So she decided to be an indie author. In January, she released her second book, Crowded Skies: Letters to Manhattan, and published it herself.

The book describes how she gave up her comfy life in the music-centric city of Nashville to live in the expensive and scary and uncertain culture of Manhattan. And Crowded Skies is just as good as Hindsight. I really enjoyed it.

I’m always a little wary of self-publishing, viewing it as the last refuge of writers who aren’t good enough to get published “for real.” And because I’m probably a publishing snob. But TLC is a good writer. She’s been published “for real.” I’m certain she could have landed this book with a publisher, but she chose not to. And as someone who already has a devoted following, she’s already got a system in place — concerts and appearances and a website — to distribute the book. Self-publishing was right for her. She didn’t resort to it. She chose it.

I know there are a few writers and aspiring writers who read this blog, so I thought I’d interview Tara Leigh and let her share her experiences about the book and the process of writing and publishing it. We’ll do the first part today and finish it up tomorrow.

JB: Crowded Skies is a follow-up to your first book, published by RELEVANT. Did you intend to write a “sequel” when you wrote the first book? If not, what circumstances led to the decision to write the new one?

TLC: Initially, I hadn’t planned to do a follow-up book, but when RELEVANT released Here’s to Hindsight, the response was really encouraging. Writing had been such an incredible experience for me that I was eager to do it again.

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing route? Was that a financial decision, an opportunity decision, an indie-artist-mindset decision?

Being an indie artist for seven years really groomed me to self-publish, and that route fits with my philosophy of art, as well. While I’d love to use a publisher for other books in the future, I really wanted to see what it would be like to forge out on my own with this one.
You’re experienced with the process of self-financing a record. How does that compare with self-financing a book?

Recording an album is a much more expensive process than writing a book. With the book, the major expense was the amount of time I had to go without working so that I could write it. I saved money ahead of time, but staying at home instead of touring really put a dent in my bank account. It’s sort of the same way with an album — I have to take time off the road to write and record it — but a book takes far longer to write.

(Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.)

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