A First-Time Authorís Experience with Self-Publishing

Mary Anne McMahon had nothing but good things to say about the CreateSpace self-publishing platform, which allowed her to see The Motor City and Me through to completion with flexibility and professionalism. With an author friend who has struggled with bigger publishing companies in the past, McMahon was pleased with the amount of control that CreateSpace put at her fingertips. Editors executed a complete proofread of her text, fixing a typo here or making suggestions for additional elaboration there, but always hewing as close to McMahon’s initial authorial vision as possible.

“I thought they were very helpful,” McMahon said. “I was at a loss for how to go about this, and I found CreateSpace by studying different self-publishing platforms. There very cooperative and very helpful. They jumped in, did a comprehensive edit of the story, and gave me some ideas that I thought were very insightful. They let me do it just the way I wanted, and I liked that approach.”

For McMahon, the hardest part was the distribution and marketing angle. Since the best publicity opportunities for this particular title exist in the city of Detroit, over a thousand miles from McMahon’s home in Houston, she had to take full advantage of the internet. That meant moving her campaign online, to social media networks like LinkedIn and Facebook. For the latter, she is even active on four different Detroit pages.

Still, despite the extra marketing work, McMahon is pleased that she went the self-publishing route.

“Of course, I’ve had to do the pay-as-you-go thing with CreateSpace, but I think it’s been well worth it,” she said. “They’ve really come through for me.


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Indie Groundbreaking Book

Indie Groundbreaking Book: The Motor City and Me

Independent Author Hopes for Detroit Revitalization by Reflecting on the Cityís Former Greatness

“I live in Houston, but Detroit Lives in me. I witnessed Detroit’s grandeur as a child. In adulthood I observed the city’s racial division, government bureaucracy, shift to foreign markets and debts slowly transform Detroit into a bankrupt, vacant land. Volumes have been written about the city’s much-discussed collapse. Many think the city is beyond repair—and can provide plenty of blame for its destruction. To those who ask, ‘What changed everything?’ My answer is, ‘We changed everything.’”

So writes first-time author Mary Anne McMahon in the preface of The Motor City and Me, a piece of social commentary masquerading as a memoir, and our independent groundbreaking book for the month of October. Throughout the book, McMahon writes from a first-person perspective, but the story always remains two-pronged. On one hand, McMahon is using the once-thriving metropolis of Detroit to tell her own story and the story of her family. She moved away from the city in 1976, taking up residence—as she says in her book’s preface—in Texas, but like so many of us who have left behind the place where we grew up and became who we are today, Detroit remains her only true “home.”

On another hand, McMahon uses her own story to look back at the many things that once made Detroit a place worthy of the old-fangled tagline, “In Detroit, life’s worth living,” which the city used as a brochure slogan nearly a century ago. She reflects on the moments from her childhood and her younger days that made her call the city “home” in the first place, and discusses the many innovations that made Detroit a prosperous city, not just in the automotive industry, but in other realms of manufacturing as well.

Prior to The Motor City and Me, McMahon had never written a book before, though her mother had been a passionate writer, scrawling out short stories in her spare time. McMahon took inspiration from her mother’s writings, inspiration that eventually took the form of a burgeoning manuscript for her own memoir. As she wrote, however, McMahon became more and more enthralled with the city that had played host to the early part of her life—and to the lives of three generations of family before her. By balancing her nostalgic memories of a city at its prime with the overpowering sadness she felt while watching negative TV reports of the shell of a city that Detroit has become today, McMahon was able to morph her biographical musings into a sweeping portrait of the rise and fall of a city that is capable of far more than it has shown in many years.

“I thought, there’s a whole lot more about this city than people are seeing on TV, and I really wanted to tell the other side of the story,” McMahon explained. “I wanted to paint a picture of what this city meant to my great grandfathers, my grandfathers, my parents, and even to me as a child. I loved it. It was a booming place, and it was the place to be, and I still think there is a lot of potential in Detroit, so I wanted to talk about that. I thought, maybe in some way this could be an inspiration for people today to bring the city back.”

While many have come to see Detroit—with its bankrupt automotive companies and its horrific unemployment and poverty levels—as a symbol of the so-called “Great Recession,” McMahon remembers a time when Detroit was “the wealthiest city in America in per capita income.” Today, Detroit is every bit the depressed city it is painted as by the media. A study by Celebrity Net Worth found Detroit as the poorest city in America just last month, with a jaw-dropping 36.2 percent of its residents living below the poverty line. It’s no surprise that many have fled the city in search of greener pastures.

Still, despite its dire state, McMahon believes Detroit has the potential to make a real rise from the ashes. During a recent visit to Detroit for a family reunion and a few scattered book promotion opportunities, McMahon toured the city extensively, and was happy to see signs of revitalization already taking root in the downtown area. However, the people of Detroit have been hit harder by this recession than arguably any other city in the country, and any semblance of recovery is going to take time, hard work, and plenty of what built Detroit to its grandiose heights last time around: groundbreaking innovation.

Will Detroit be able to make a comeback? McMahon is a firm believer that it can, if only because of the will of the people who live there and of the people, like herself, who still hold the city as a home within their hearts.

“I think there is a lot of enthusiasm,” she said. “Every time I talk to someone—I just talked to somebody yesterday at a car dealership, and he was from Detroit—and you always hear that spirit in somebody: they want it to come back. They have that love. Every book I’ve ever read, or any person I’ve ever talked to, I hear that: they feel very sad about what Detroit has become.”

“I hope in some way, my book could be an inspiration for everybody to get together and get Detroit back on its feet,” McMahon added.

The Motor City and Me can be purchased on Amazon.com in both digital and physical formats, from Mary Anne McMahon’s website, or from the CreateSpace eBookstore.


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Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In addition to writing for Independent Publisher, he maintains a pair of entertainment blogs, interns at the Traverse City Business News, and writes for Rockfreaks.net and his college newspaper. He welcomes comments or questions concerning his articles via email, at manningcr953@gmail.com.