The Colors of Blue
The Colors of Blue

FARMINGTON — Only a decade ago, authors interested in publishing books had few options.

E-publishing changed that, making it so almost anyone can publish a book.

Lance McCulloch, a Boulder, Colo., resident, took advantage of this ease of publishing when he released his first book "The Colors of Blue" in November 2013.

McCulloch chose this method because of the advantages he saw in self-publishing over traditional publishing.

"You have to think about distribution," McCulloch said.

Within a short matter of time, McCulloch's book was available around the world. He said in a matter of weeks, it had been purchased by people in India, England, Canada and Switzerland.

Another advantage he found was the royalties. "The Colors of Blue" can be purchased on Kindle for $3.99 and 70 percent of the proceeds go to McCulloch. His paperback, which sells for $13.50, allows him to make 80 percent of the profit.

An author who goes through traditional publishing usually receives an advance prior to the book's release. This means all the profits from the book go to the publisher until that advance is paid off. After the advance is paid, the author can expect to receive around 10 percent of the profits.

McCulloch briefly entertained the idea of traditional publishing. He said authors dream of writing a great book, getting a good agent and becoming a best-selling author.

"Some piece of every author has this fantasy," he said.

However, with so many people writing now, McCulloch said the quality of the book often isn't what gets it published. With agents and publishers receiving large quantities of submissions, they can't assess all of the manuscripts. Instead, McCulloch said, sometimes they sometimes choose books to publish based whether or not they recognize the author's name.

McCulloch submitted 15 inquiries to agents before he decided on self-publishing. He looks at self-publishing as a way of proving himself and as an investment. And he has not given up on the dream of eventually getting published by a traditional publisher.

McCulloch entertained thoughts of writing a book while he was in high school. But it wasn't until tragedy hit that he began writing "The Colors of Blue."

His father boarded Egypt Air 990 on Halloween night in 1999. The plane crashed, killing his father. A decade earlier, his mother died.

"It left a void in my immediate family," McCulloch said.

At that time, he was living in California. He moved back to Colorado, where his family owned a 6,000-acre cattle ranch. He started a company to distribute a patent for emergency response gear, but, because of legal issues, the business failed.

"Those were hard times for me," he said.

He decided to do something positive. So, in 2010, he started writing "The Colors of Blue." In less than two years, he finished the first draft.

"It was kind of some misery that brought about some of the joys of writing," he said.

The book was published in November 2013 as an electronic copy, and McCulloch began to focus his energy on selling the book.

"As soon as you have your material out there, you have to start marketing," he said.

He had the advantage of writing a regional book, which takes place in southwestern Colorado, near Durango. To promote his book, he published it in paperback form, too, and contacted local book stores to sell it.

McCulloch said self-publishing has some disadvantages. One is the author has to pay for editing. To avoid this, McCulloch had three different online editing services look over his work.

Another of McCulloch's suggestions is to make sure the story interests readers. He said authors should have friends, book clubs and writing groups look over their work to get a feel of whether their story is good.

After having it looked over, McCulloch converted the manuscript to a format for Amazon.com publishing, the largest and most successful of the self-publishing platforms.

In all, McCulloch spent $2,000 publishing his book, which included cover design and editing costs.

Now, he is writing his second book, which is set in Silverton, Colo. He hopes his first novel has created an audience for his second book.

But "The Colors of Blue" means more to McCulloch than just getting fans. Writing the book helped him process his parents' death.

"You have to recover," he said. "We're evolved so that we will recover."

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.