Mary Jo Pehl
Author, Employee of the Month and Other Big Deals
Writer, actress, and comedian Mary Jo Pehl has published two books in her career, with very different results. The first, produced by a small specialty publisher, lacked preparation and research and resulted in an amateurish end-product containing typos and a lack of substance. "I was really mortified that I'd blown a wonderful opportunity as an author," she said. "My number one goal with my next publishing venture was to somehow ameliorate my discomfort with my previous book outing!"
A performer on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 cult TV series and its live tour counterpart, Mary Jo was certain there was an audience for her work. She decided to give publishing another shot; this time, she was determined that her new book - Employee of the Month and Other Big Deals - would receive a better fate than her first.
"I spent several years pitching 20-25 agents and a few publishers, and everyone was really interested," she said. "But when push came to shove, no one ever came through. Mostly the response was, 'essay compilations are hard to sell.' So I decided to do it myself. And I have not had a problem selling this book at all!"
Refusing to let her publishing future "hinge on the yay or nay of someone else," Mary Jo became interested in how technology had democratized the industry for independent artists. Now, authors could now reach audiences directly with their work rather than waiting for traditional gatekeepers' permission.
CreateSpace was the publishing solution Mary Jo was looking for. "I wanted wide distribution on Amazon.com and other channels, different book formats, and the ability to connect with someone when I had questions. The variety of publishing options got me really excited about how I could use CreateSpace for the other projects in my pipeline."
Since publishing her book, Mary Jo has been promoting it throughout her live tour with Cinematic Titanic, the live version of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Her stage work has helped her land interviews with media outlets, podcasts, and blogs - including MTV Geek - and she has received positive word-of-mouth publicity via her social media efforts. But Mary Jo considers her interactions with fans about her book to be amongst her biggest successes.
"I was sitting at the autograph table at a show to meet the fans, and I remember clearly the first person who came through the line with my book," she said. "She was really excited, and I was thrilled about that - and awfully moved. It was real."
Mary Jo hopes more and more artists will take their work into their own hands. "I admit I'm still learning about publishing and marketing," she said. "But this I know: in this day and age, there are myriad ways to get your work out there, so don't let it hinge on other people."