I’m Going All In

Last night, I made a decision … we’ll lovingly call it the May Day choice.

I’ve decided, starting May 2, 2012 or as soon as the “pending” icon beside The Milestone Tapes vanishes, I’ll be going Select.  100% in it.  100% Amazon.

Two months ago I took a risk, a calculated risk, but still a risk.  I self published.  This book that no agent believed in has since gone on to gather glowing reviews … after 14 on Goodreads I’m still a strong 4.5 stars.  I thought, in the beginning, that market saturation would be the key to this novels success.  That if everyone had the chance to own it, I’d be selling smart.

Two months later, data has proven, my original stance was wrong.  No, market saturation and a bagillion blog tours isn’t making this book rise and shine in the rankings.  Here is the break down.

B&N – 3 copies sold

Smashwords (et all) – 2 gifted, 0 sales.

Amazon on the other hand accounts for almost 100% of the interest in both paperback and eBook.

It wasn’t a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants decision I made when I decided to pull my title from Smashwords and B&N … it was calculated.  It was ultimately based on where I was seeing the book sell and the opportunities the book would have if I gave the rights exclusively to Amazon and Select.

Select will give my title, in a perfect world, more visibility.  The glorious free days will also let readers take the chance on a book they otherwise might not buy.

All of that aside, what ultimately made my mind up (outside of the advice of David Adams, a gifted writer and fellow author friend) is that I shopped at Macy’s.  Just follow my thought here for a moment …

My sister was looking for a dress for an upcoming engagement party and we decided that Macy’s would probably have the right selection for her needs.  As we browsed the racks I noticed a few things … there is such a thing as brand exclusivity.  Macy’s carried Ralph Lauren while Sears does not.  Why?  Because Ralph Lauren probably sells better at Macy’s.  So while RL does have stand-alone stores that I’m guessing do well with the preppy Americana crowd, they also let Macy’s act on their behalf because it works as well at the department store.

Select is not really so different.  Books are a commodity.  Selling them where they actually sell rather than where they don’t is, in a word, smart.

I have to be smart.  I have to take things at face value.  So, ultimately, for the next three months I’m going all in.

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eBook Festival! Mark your calendars, register now!

I am incredibly excited to be able to announce that it’s officially happening.  Courtesy of the wonderful Julie Dawson over at Bards & Sages publishing, we indie authors finally have a festival all our own … and yes, it’s going to be amazing!

What’s better … I’ll be an active panelist on Sunday August 19th at 5:00pm EST for the Social Issues in Fiction event … as well as moonlighting at moderator.  Watch out … I’m practicing my skills of reading snark and using emoticons to cut down the BS.  Just kidding, of course, I think the panel — which is hosted by other authors who tread in the deep waters of emotional turmoil — will bring you thought provoking commentary and address any/all questions!

All and all, it’s a great place for readers and writers a like and I couldn’t possibly encourage you all more to take a seat!

Registration starts now for a weekend of all things eBooks including some pretty sweet swag!

www.efestivalofwords.com

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Official Press Release:

eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards

Bellmawr, NJ: The eFestival of Words Virtual Book Fair announces the nominees for the first Best of the Independent eBook Awards. The complete list of nominees can be found at www.efestivalofwords.com.

The eFestival of Words, scheduled for August 17-19, 2012, is the first virtual book fair designed specifically to highlight the best of the independent digital publishing community. The awards program is one of many events being ran in conjunction with the fair.

According to Event Coordinator Julie Ann Dawson, “The goal of the eFestival of Words Awards is to highlight those independent authors and publishers that have worked to raise the bar in terms of the literary quality and production value and of digital books. Many people still think of ebooks as nothing more than scanned pages of print books. We hope that both the fair and the awards will help readers discover the amazing wealth of original content being produced in digital formats.”

Dawson, who has operated Bards and Sages Publishing since 2002, says that all nominees were nominated by their peers in the industry. Only authors, publishers, and others involved in the production of digital books were invited to submit ballots. Nominations were accepted in over two dozen categories, including genre categories (horror, romance, thrillers, etc), format-specific (short story, novella, novel) and a few just-for-fun categories (such as The “I’ve Been Shyamalaned” Award for Best Twist Ending).

Each category will be narrowed down further seven finalists, which will be announced July 1, 2012. Final voting will be opened to all registered attendees of the eFestival of Words, with winners announced on the last day of the fair. Registration is free and entitles the attendees to not only vote in the final awards, but also participate in panel discussion, author chats, workshops, and more.

For more information on the fair and the awards, visit www.efestivalofwords.com.

Number 68 People, Number 68!

Tonight was one of those over-the-top, absolutely amazing, jump up and down and then scream wildly at the top of my lungs moments.  Only, I didn’t jump or scream, I’m still too sick for that nonsense — instead, I called my husband (who was out celebrating his win with is “old man” hockey team) … I told him to buy everyone a round on me, I was number 68 and I felt like celebrating.

I’m still on antibiotics and can’t drink, so I celebrated with some grape gatorade … whose jealous now?!  Watch out, I’m a real wild one.

Here’s how it happened …

My Goodreads giveaway is ending shortly, only three more days and then it’s done.  It’s been fun to watch the numbers climb, watching the trends and lags … tonight when I checked, I had finally broken the barrier into over a 1000 requests, that was my goal — my “wouldn’t be amazing if” when it came to the whole giveaway thing.

I get that everyone likes free stuff, but that was pretty cool nonetheless considering first time giveaways generally net around (according to the e-mail Goodreads sent me) 500 requests.  They, in all their wisdom, encourage a second giveaway where the average peaks to about 800 requests.  I have clearly smashed both of those numbers with my little book.

Then, I started getting curious … with my “1000+” requests … where did I rank in the “most requested” … so I found my novel, did some simple math and it came out to … the 68th most requested novel.

That’s when I got really excited.

The thing is, being an Indie Author is a lot of small accomplishments.  Quiet accomplishments.  More often than not it’s defined by the things you wanted and never got.  I wanted an agent … nope.  I wanted a publisher … nope.  I wanted to be taken seriously … that was lukewarm.  Until tonight, with my own steam and own work this is what I accomplished.

Right now, there are just shy of 1500 active giveaways … and to be honest, I’ve never ranked anywhere near that high in anything.  Not my high school class ranking, not alphabetically … you get where I’m going with this right?

What this had done is bigger than giving me a moment of sheer joy … it’s been the encouragement I needed to continue writing.  I’m knee deep into In The After … sometimes it’s harder to write than others. I’ve been sick, planning for our upcoming trip, distracted by the promotion for The Milestone Tapes … but I’ve been trying.  Now, I can’t wait to sit down to write and I cannot wait to see what this next book will do.

I cannot begin to put into words the gratitude I feel towards these people willing to take a chance on a first time writer.  Now, I know that the copies are free and there is nothing at stake for the people who signed up … but it matters to me that these independent readers even bothered to click on the cover and read the description.  I guess it’s really because of all those agents who considered this novel unsalable, they’re beginning to be proven wrong … I believed that this book would mean something to someone and I wasn’t wrong pushing forward with the project.  It’s validation … in short … of everything I believed in and everything I worked.

So, I’m climbing off my soapbox now … I just wanted to celebrate for a minute.

THIS Is What’s Wrong With Publishing … And It’s A ‘Shore’ Thing …

And here we can see our best selling author, Snookie, hard at work!

::Insert eye-rolling, grumblings, nausea, and a little bit of wondering what the hell is wrong with this world::

Yesterday … The Kindleboards were down … we’re talking 16.5 hours of silence on the home front.  In between doing some beta reading and review reading (of two fabulous forthcoming releases, by the way, … yea for sneak peaks!) I started mulling around the internet for bookish news I could eventually spin into a blog.

Than I found it, and I almost died … Nicole “Snookie” Polizzi … is … a … best … selling … author … ranked … on … the … New … York … Times … Holy Grail … List.  And, apparently, this is ‘old’ news.  Well people, this is ‘new’ news to me … and I’m just not having it.

Before I launch into a total tailspin and mock the world of publishing at large, let me share with you some choice quotes from our “New York Times” best selling author:

*Word of the day: sympathetic. That’s a big word. (Really, NYT best selling author … sympathetic is a “big word”?)

*I’m not sure what lobsters eat, but I think they eat like insects or something… so I was gonna feed them worms. (Good God, lady)

*[Vinny]’s like my big brother, I love him … but usually you don’t have sex with your big brother. (No, Snookie, you shouldn’t ever have sex with your big brother … and if he just feels like a big brother, you probably shouldn’t have sex with him either.  That’s good advice, girl … you can take it to the bank.)

*I wanna go on a boat, an island.. filled with gorillas. (High aspirations, I see … way to dream big girl, way to dream)

Oh, sweet Jesus.

I’ve watched The Jersey Shore … I own the fact that I do like trashy reality television and the train wrecks that join up, ironically, I view it as a break in reality — because no one really acts like that … right?   But, they do, and that’s the hook … kind of like animal’s in a zoo … you watch them from behind glass, because it’s safe there … and you laugh because sometimes they do cutely hysterical things.  But that’s where they belong, along with their antics … safely away from the public at large.

Snookie’s book, A SHORE THING, topped out as a NYT best seller.  It’s a bubble-gum book, totally YA, a beach read that will probably have zero impact on your life:

It’s a summer to remember . . . at the Jersey Shore.

Giovanna “Gia” Spumanti and her cousin Isabella “Bella” Rizzoli are going to have the sexiest summer ever. While they couldn’t be more different—pint-size Gia is a carefree, outspoken party girl and Bella is a tall, slender athlete who always holds her tongue—for the next month they’re ready to pouf up their hair, put on their stilettos, and soak up all that Seaside Heights, New Jersey, has to offer: hot guidos, cool clubs, fried Oreos, and lots of tequila.

So far, Gia’s summer is on fire. Between nearly burning down their rented bungalow, inventing the popular “tan-tags” at the Tantastic Salon where she works, and rescuing a shark on the beach, she becomes a local celebrity overnight. Luckily, she meets the perfect guy to help her keep the flames under control. Firefighter Frank Rossi is exactly her type: big, tan, and Italian. But is he tough enough to handle Gia when things really heat up?

Bella is more than ready for some fun in the sun. Finally free of her bonehead ex-boyfriend, she left home in Brooklyn with one goal in mind: hooking up with a sexy gorilla for a no-strings-attached summer fling. In no time, she lands a job leading “Beat Up the Beat” dance classes at a local gym, and is scooped up by Beemer-driving, preppy Bender Newberry. Only problem: Bella can’t get her romantic and ripped boss Tony “Trouble” Troublino out of her head. He’s relationship material. Suddenly, Bella’s not sure what she wants.

The cousins soon realize that for every friend they make on the boardwalk, there are also rivals, slummers, and frenemies who will do anything to ruin their summer—and try their relationship. Before July ends, the bonds of family and friendship will be stretched to the breaking point. Will the haters prevail, or will Gia and Bella find love at the Shore?

For everyone who loves MTV’s hit reality show, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s sweet, funny, and sexy novel perfectly captures the heat, the energy, the fun, andthe drama of Jersey Shore.

So, our lead Gia Spumanti (or as I affectionately call her — Vanilla, Chocolate, Pistachio) and Bella Rizzoli are essentially fluff … slutty, tanned, men-chasing fluff.  Nice, Simon & Schuster … way to shoot for the stars … way to save yourself with literary integrity.

It’s not Snookie’s wild success with A SHORE THING that kills me … I can find value in all sorts of books, and appreciate their shelf value through the eyes of their individual demographics.  What kills me is this:

I remember the Golden Age of books.  For me, I was a senior in high school taking a self-guided reading class.  For an entire semester, we’d go into class with a journal and a book of our choosing, we’d sit at our tiny desks for the expanse of fifty minutes and read.  I have always been a fast reader, and gravitated towards thick, heavy, very wordy books … I made it my goal to read every book on Oprah’s list that semester.  And, I did.  It was there that my eyes really opened up towards the genre of Literary Fiction.  I was captivated by these stories of all different values — some heartbreaking, others hopeful … but I fell in love with reading in a different way in that class as I was asked to navigate a book and lean on my own interpretations.  It’s a love affair that has continued on since.

It was in that class I discovered Tawni O’Dell and her book BACK ROADS.  It was dark, disturbing, and exceptionally graphic … and I ate it up with a spoon.  I swallowed her words and invested myself in story and have been a huge fan of her writing ever since.  That’s the book I relished when I was “of age” to be consuming YA.

Now … in that class, with the teacher I loved so much for her nurturing the written word and her value of the English language, I can image a girl walking in with a copy of A SHORE THING and it makes me feel sort of sick.  Is that what coming generations are going to see as a good, worthy book?

I get it, kind of, that publishers are aching.  Gone are the big advances given to new writers … they want, ironically enough, the sure (shore) thing.  They know the massive fan power behind Snookie, and many of her NYTBSing counterparts. Popularity, in their mind, will flow-chart down into sales numbers. It has become less about the merit of a book and more about the reputation of it’s writer (though, I’d imagine many are Ghosted).

When people talk about the slaughtering of Traditional Publishing aka The Big Six, they think it will be because of the Indie Revolution taking root and then blooming.  I disagree with that stance, always have.

If we were talking strictly Big Six vs. Indie and the battle to the death, I’d say … whoa, wait, there is room of everyone.  If one dies, we all die.  Keeping everyone in play is in the best interest of books in general and at large.  The readers will be the ones who will suffer if one goes under.

But, I think the momentum of the Indie Revolution has less to do with the popular “us vs. them” mentality and more to do with what is in the market place.

If the Big Six are publishing books like A SHORE THING, then they will polarize an entire nest of readers who don’t find that sort of novel remotely valuable.  Those readers will make the decision NOT to spend $16.00 on a copy.  They’ll find a book they would prefer … or several books … from independent authors for a fraction of the price.  And that will be the ultimate undoing the traditional publishing, in my opinion.  It will ultimately boil down to a lack of viable, salable books which will be rooted in the fear of failure on the part of the Big Six.

Snookie is not to blame for this.  She’s just part of the bigger machine.  My guess would be that the publishers approached her … rather than the traditional, other way around.  My guess is that they offered her a Ghost and an advance and all she had to do was agree to sign her name on the dotted line — I find it hard to believe a writer, of anything, would consider sympathetic a big word.  And for that … I’m sympathetic towards her, because she has caught the brunt of people feeling outraged and disgusted — myself included.

I guess the moral of the story is this …

If you want a deal with the Big Six:  Get a reality show, act like a complete asshole on camera, and then wait for the offers to roll in.

2001

2011

My Little World

This, I love ... my leaded glass book sign ... I feel very much like a bibliophile.

Everyone needs a little inspiration, right?
The computer … complete with Washington State

In my novel, THE MILESTONE TAPES, my protagonist Jenna is a writer.  And part of her world includes the most beautiful office, as she mused … it’s where she constructed worlds to perfect to really exist .

I think, when I writing the book that making Jenna’s world the way I did was almost purposeful since I had literally no dedicated work space myself.  I ultimately was living vicariously through my character.  And, of course, my desire for a space manifested itself into what I would consider the perfect home office for a writer.

I primarily wrote THE MILESTONE TAPES in two places … my bed and my kitchen table, but I also wrote on a plane, by the pool, on the couch and in a hotel room.  Obviously, not ideal.  But hey, whats a girl to do?  Build an office?  No … that’s what husbands are for 🙂

Last fall I left the house, off to another full 10 hour day at my “real-world” job.  It was a national holiday … so though I was working… my husband, Mark, had the day blissfully free.  Little did I know, I’d come home that night to the manifestation of my greatest wish … a real writers workshop in the comfort of a spare room.

So, I think since I’ve shared so much about writing … I should show you were I actually practice what I preach … This is where the magic happens

My little place in the world ... welcome to my writers enclave.

 

Writing, yes … it’s easier when you have a place to do it.  I’m more productive, less haphazard and happier in my office than anywhere else … though, I still find myself crunching out blogs and pages in bed or on the couch or anywhere I can.  But in my office, I can shut the world out for thirty minutes or six hours, I can be lost in the world I’m writing about … alone with my music and my story.

Since I live in Chicago and write about Washington, I’ve made a point of surrounding myself with things that smack of the Olympic Peninsula.  From the wall color down to the accents, it makes sense that even being far away I can feel connected and draw inspiration from what’s around me.

What's a writers office without a library?

This is where I get to tell stories!

 

 

Reward Or Punishment? I Can’t Decide.

The dream of being traditionally published … we all started with it.  It was the place where we saw ourselves, our work … a place on the shelf at Barnes & Nobel, a write-up in a big-time heavy hitting magazine like Publishers Weekly.  An advance, some royalties, maybe a multi-book deal. An agent who adores you, an editor who understands you.  The ability to slough off the workday grind for a slower paces of life, 9-5 spent in your pajamas instead of a suit.  A full-time job telling stories and then talking about those stories.  We, as authors in the prenatal stages of publishing, romance the ideals and rewards of being “traditionally published”.

Don’t think … for one minute … the Big Six and all their minions don’t realize that, even in the face of this digital publishing revolution.  Sure, some Indies become wildly successful … they are the ones we romanticized after the traditional publishing well has dried to nil, they become deities and are idolized for their unconventional, screw-em’ success.  But, even those Indies after selling millions tend to agent up and go trade … not all, but some.

All of this sums up the reason there is an ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award).  It’s the reason why Amazon, the hub for many self-published, hosts a contest through their CreateSpace imprint each year.  10,000 entries whittled down to 2 winners through various milestones, ending with a grand prize of $15,000 (by way of an ‘advance’) and a nonnegotiable contract with Penguin.  Yea … ish.

The Passive Voice, a highly legal-eagle minded blog, broke down the downfalls of this contest in a series of “gotcha moments”, which you can read all about: here

The bottom line, the Achilles heel, of the ABNA is in the prize … leading me wonder, is it a reward or a punishment for writing a good book?

No author should ever be asked or, worse yet, required to sign a stock contract.  Agents will tell you that as gospel all day long, a good agent will fight the terms to land you a much more lucrative, long-term deal.  The first draft of a contract to publish is never, ever favorable to the writer.  Actually, that’s why there this little thing called negotiation. But, if you win, you’re bound to sign on to what terms are handed forth.  There is zero wiggle room … and what that means to the writer… no one knows.  Penguin has not made a sample contract of terms available, so what you agree too by signing up for the contest is cloaked under nondisclosure.  And that could mean is any number of things.  You may not be able to publish another book, either self or otherwise, for years.  You may end up with a nominal royalty rate that will never outsell your advance, essentially capping the potential of your book by terms you can’t control and ending the dream of making a livable wage off of it.  Worst case scenario: Penguin has control of not only over your book … but you as well.  They’re effectively stepping up and into the spot light as your boss.

Let’s address the whole nondisclosure thing for a moment.  It’s not uncommon when you’re working on a deal to have a nondisclosure cap put on the proceedings.  Penguin has stepped this up by saying that … if the author makes it further into the contest, they must remain hush-hush about their advancement.  Why?  The Passive Voice speculates it’s because Penguin doesn’t want to draw attention to the novel or the novelist.  But, WHY? Because, even if you don’t win the contest per say, Penguin reserves the right to acquire your book anyway.  They actually grab FIRST and LAST right to bid on your novel.  If you win the whole, you’re automatically on board … if you don’t, but they liked it anyway, they can approach you and try to woo you independent of ABNA.  But, imagine for a moment that you’re in the acquiring department of Harpers & Collins or Little, Brown … there is this book … and it’s a serious contender for a big award … you’d be stupid to let the chance of a best seller slip through your fingers.  Penguin wants to stunt them where they stand … if they don’t know about you because you’re not talking and Penguin’s not talking and nothing is being broadcast … get where I’m going with this?  It’s another form of holding a writer hostage.

Signing up for ABNA without the proper awareness is a dangerous, slippery slope.  I’m not saying don’t … I’m saying do if it works for you and you have all the pros and cons hammered out.

So … with that said … whose jumping on the ABNA train bound for publication?

 

 

What To Expect When You’re Expecting

 No … silly writers … this isn’t a pregnancy post!  This is a business post.  I want to discuss what you should expect when you’re expecting something book related … anything book related.

As a writer, an independent writer, you’re not just writing books for the sport of it … you’re running a business.  You’re producing a product in your bed or office or at the kitchen table.  It’s a product that will be bought and sold for years to come and it should, in a perfect world, rise up to meet your expectations of it.  And, chances are, you’ll end up outsourcing some of the tasks involved in the production of that product.  It’s the loss of control that’s extremely hard …

For me, this was equal parts of exhausting and rewarding. When you hand over your vision as well as your money, you are taking a chance — no one knows that better than a virgin-writer with no real connections and zero experience. There are no lily-pads in your pond to hop from. As I prepare to get the second book really moving, and align myself for the best success possible in terms of time management and output, I think taking a hard look at what to expect when you’re expecting is a pretty important thing.

I’m pretty much a pacifist.  I’m easy going, I try my hardest to be nice to everyone I meet and I’m fairly level headed in terms of my expectations.  I might go so far as to say I have a perfectionist streak in my ideals … but I’m not impossible please.  Many, many of my business dealings were amazing, having the resources at my finger tips to ask the important questions and establish a bell-curve of expectations was priceless … but it wasn’t flawless.  I was new, green and fumbling as I like to say, and I had to learn a lot of things … hard things … but with any education, there is growth and … believe it or not … I’m actually sort of thankful for the moments that had me pulling my hair out, because they taught me more for the next endeavor.

1. The people you hire actually do work for you!

I can remember one instance where I was working with someone … going back and forth, “yesing” and “noing” a certain thing over and over and over again … it started to feel like a tennis match of sorts, with this certain thing bouncing between us with no points being scored.  The fun of it was lost in the inability to match up our minds and communicate effectively.  In the end, the person I was working with just e-mailed a few options and pretty much threw her hands up in the air.  That was discouraging.

When you’re paying someone to do a job, what you get in return for your money should be what you were expecting and nothing less than that.  If you’re sensing a mental break-down, either from you or your contractor, take a break.  Shoot off an e-mail and be nice about it, explain that you’re going to take 12 or 24 or 48 hours to think it over.  In the grand scheme of things, the cooling off period won’t make a difference in the timeline … but it may make all the difference in the end result.

Don’t be afraid to say “that’s not quite right” … it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.  When you’re working over e-mail, things can get lost in the communication process, and that’s not really anyones fault.  If you can disguise a criticism as a kudos … even better.  Pick one thing you love and start with that.  Remember to say thank you … that’s important!

Let your contractor know, upfront, what your expectations are.   Don’t roll in during the 11th hour with X,Y&Z … be concise upfront and hopefully, in return, you’ll get the same.

2. Be kind … but firm …

This is sort of piggybacking off of point number one.  But remember, the people you’re working with have lives too.  Be aware that people get sick … that accidents and emergencies arise.  If something like this happens, because it does happen, be nice about it … but let them know that you’re still expecting the work done by such-and-such a date.

3. Work out a contract … and don’t be afraid to ask for a signature!

As a writer, you’ll be asked to sign contracts all the time.  Have one to offer back in return.  It’s an extra step, I know, but when you’re working online with someone you don’t know and you’re sending them your money and freely discussing a novel that isn’t copyrighted, it’s smart to safe guard yourself.  There are tons of online resources that will help you flesh one out … but use it, and keep them filed away by book (if you have more than one).

The primary thing to remember on this front is that until you have some safe guard, you’re wide open.  If you don’t mind that, don’t worry.  For me, however, I worry and so I mind.  I didn’t have contracts on the first go around, I signed some, but never had one in return.  I’ll be a better business woman the next time around.

Key components to remember if you’re going to draw up a contract are:

1. All business dealings should be kept quiet.  The world is a small place.  One disgruntled contractor could sour your good name.  People do this all the time in the name of privacy … you should too.

2. What does the purchasing said work entitle you too?  For a cover … that’s easy.  You want access to use the cover for any and all book related events and swag.  Don’t be blindsided by limitations.

3. Speaking of covers … companies like Createspace has minimum DPI’s you need have for printing … the magic number is 300.  Make sure your artist is aware of that can can create a cover using that as a launch pad.

4. Confirm the price up front.  Whatever the service, make sure that you have a base line fee that won’t be changed last minute … those sort of surprises are awful, even when it’s not that much money.

5. Have an opt out!  This is an uncomfortable thing to approach … but the truth is, people do misrepresent themselves.  If you have the feeling you’re getting run-around or the excuses are piling on, have a built-in escape hatch.  Spell that out.  A settlement fee a portion of the cost is fair … but don’t feel trapped by someone else … ever!

6. Anything else that creates worry or stress for you.

4. Establish a timeline 

My first time looked a lot like a hot mess.  I was a mess.  No directionality at all.  This time around, my timeline tentatively looks like the below:

-Write (MS finished and self-editted by April)

-In Appointment with Editor NOW — as in January.

-Converse With My Cover Artist Mid-Feb for image for cover

-Book Goes To Editor In April

-Book Returns In May/Make Corrections

-Apply For Copyright

-Book Goes To Formatter In June/Cover Artist Does Spine and Back

-Book Is Published in July

Will those dates change?  OF COURSE THEY WILL.  But, it holds me accountable to a time table.  I obviously don’t have a publisher breathing down my neck for my next book … and to keep it sort of organized, I set the goals and reward myself if I finish on time or better yet, ahead of time.  Expect set backs but learn to be your own boss, hold yourself accountable.

5. Be calm in the face of crisis

When I was writing THE MILESTONE TAPES I realized that I had totally and completely plagiarized an entire chunk of the book.   Sucks to be me.  That was what I consider a crisis.  But, I did the old … keep calm and carry on … thing.  It worked out fine … but just know, shit will happen … be okay with that, be prepared for that.

So … writers … be excited when you’re expecting … but be smart about expecting as well!

P.S: Don’t forget to enter THE MILESTONE TAPES GIVEAWAY!!

 

 

 

 

 

Publicity and All That Jazz

I’ve been a bad blogger lately … and I’m sorry.  This blog has been painfully slow as I try to balance writing my second novel with putting the finishing touches on The Milestone Tapes.  I apologize and I’ll try to be better.

Before we jump into this latest post, I have a little housekeeping to do.

1. Please, please, please remember to sign up for the The Milestone Tapes Giveaway!  We have just under a month left!  More information can be found here under the “books and events” page!  Thanks for your continued support as we round third towards home.

2. I’ve finally, thank you Jesus, broken the curse of writers block.  Abandoning my initial idea allowed me to tell a story I’ve been haunted by for years.  Like with THE MILESTONE TAPES, IN THE AFTER will hit close to home for me as I explore what it means to really be a friend in the darkest of hours.  IN THE AFTER, unlike with THE MILESTONE TAPES, is a morbid story that will ping directly into current events and hopefully put a looking-glass over the definition of spousal abuse and the ricochet effect it has on relationships.

Okay … now, onto the topic …

Yesterday I posed a question on the Kindleboards about whether a new author would be better served going Select or if they should branch out into the wider distribution of B&N, Smashwords and the like.  I also mentioned that I had hired a publicist to work with me on the launch.

While some people stayed on topic, hashing out the highs and lows of Select … others broke off into the idea of a new author using a publicist to spread the word of their release.

I was told that with one novel my success will be nil and that it’s only with the what I do next that I will see what kind of author I meant to become … of course, I’m paraphrasing, but more or less, that was the gist.  That, rather than investing time and money into my first book, I should be killing myself for the second — dedicating every waking minute available to seeing the second novel through to completion.  Of course, this was from authors will multiple books in their signatures.  I was told that I should just publish, publish, publish … and if, in a year or so, I decide my work reads as “amateurish” … I can always pull particular works down.

…Ummm….

As I’ve said … over and over again … I’m not a seasoned vet, rather, I’m a first timer with no back-list and yes, that puts me a real disadvantage.  Everything I publish will be from the moment, and I will give to it all I can manage.  I won’t ever have the luxury of being a fast and furious author.  If I can publish one a year, I’m doing good.  Each book will come from its own place, literary fiction doesn’t lend itself well to sequels by the nature of it being.  And, the audience of literary fiction is an interesting bunch itself.  There is a set expectation of a book that is written for the genre … and it’s different from YA or SciFi or Romance.

So … let me tell you why I’m still going ahead as planned …

THE MILESTONE TAPES, draft one, was finished in August — or rather — five months ago.  I’ve held on to it now for longer than it took to write.

The editing of THE MILESTONE TAPES was completed November — or rather — nearly three months ago and I’ve still kept it to myself.

The cover, number two that is, was finished in November as well, for three months I’ve stared at it.  But, cover number one was completed in October.

The formatting for THE MILESTONE TAPES was finished earlier this month — I have the proof in hand and it’s flawless, but still, I haven’t clicked “publish”.

Why?

Because it’s not ready. The book in and of itself is as good as it ever will be … and its publishable material.  As I write this entry, the truth is, I could be a published author.  I could have had THE MILESTONE TAPES up for sale for nearly a week now.  Heck, I could have slapped a cover on it and it could have been for sale months ago … but that isn’t my style.  That’s not what I wanted for this story and it won’t be what I want for any story that shall follow… and that’s not how I’m going to step into the publishing world now or ever.

When a Big Six publishes a book there is hoopla.  It gives an author — new or old — a presence.  This mantra of letting the pot boil is one that was honed by trial and error.  They obviously know what works when it comes to launching a book and meeting sales quotas.  I, do not.  But, to my credit, I’m a researcher.  I was a reader long before I was a writer and I that sort of branches out into my quest to get it right.

The irony is, is that when an indie author grumbles about poor sales … the first thing that is often suggested or commented on is promotion.  Why?  Because it’s a way to get the word out, inspire interest, cultivate excitement … as the Big Six regularly do.  In the case of sluggish sales, either the author didn’t do enough or didn’t manage to target the correct areas.  But, in my mind (and to quote Larry the Cable Guy) … that’s like checking on your burgers after they’re burnt.  It’s an after the damage is done kind of thing.  New books have a short shelf life before they become old books.  Strike while the iron is hot is my personal philosophy.  Make as much of that moment as you can, give yourself every opportunity possible and you’ll never wonder what if.

With all of that said, I also know that everyone is on their own journey.  That what works for one may not work for another.  So, rather than make blanket statements about what you must do … I think it’s more pertinent to encourage all options.  Success comes in many forms … and that path too it is often different and designed by an individual.

So … now it’s question time … as a new author, what did you do to spread the word?  🙂

 

 

 

“In Two Months You Will Reach Your Goal”

That was what my fortune cookie said this evening … but, let’s go back to start …

Nine months ago I sat down at my computer to write a book.  Today, on my doorstep, the official proof arrived.  No more spiral bound Kinko’s mock-up, no more hypothetical printed pages scaled down on my computer for review … no, it was really real with a pretty gloss cover and hundreds of creme pages with my name on the cover.  It was really wild moment, opening the brown cardboard box and unearthing the finished product.  A surreal moment … one I’ve waited for a long time.  And yet, it was strangely bazaar … as I held it in my hand for the first time, I was overcome with this feeling of being introduced to something you’ll love for the first time.  You see, I know my book, I just didn’t know it like this.  This is different … and it’s spectacular to me.

And then it was as if my hands grew vines around the book.  I wandered from room to room in my home with it, I couldn’t put it down.

We celebrated the way one does on an icy winter night with the first real snow of the season blowing hard outside … we ordered in.  Chinese food.  Mark walked out with the two fortune cookies and told me to pick … and tonight, instead of playing our ritual game of “in bed” we’d play “with my or your book”.

I suddenly felt like I was making a huge decision … way more serious than dessert should ever be.  But, I played along, mulling over my choices for a solid minute before picking one of the plastic wrapped cookies.

I broke it open … and inside it said … in two months you will reach your goal.

Prolific, right?

Because in two months my book will be published.  I’ve said March all along.  I wanted to give myself the balance of a year to be really ready … to be secure and ready.

Today was a beautiful day … and I look forward to two months time.

 

 

 

Streetlight Graphics … An Enlightening Experience

One of my favorite things about being a writer while simultaneously running a blog is being able to connect others like myself with really amazing industry professionals.  If I had been a true DIY author I wouldn’t have had the time to blog nearly as often as I do … or, worse yet, start this blog at all.  It’s been a true win/win for me … and now, I get the chance to offer up another amazing recommendation.

Formatting is for some (maybe most) the hardest part of the process.   When you consider how many separate formats you need for each individual platform, plus the specifications of a print book … it’s no wonder this no-small-feat has had some pulling their hair out by the root.  And I was almost that girl …

Then, I met Glendon Haddix.

Mr. Haddix came with glowing recommendations from other authors, those that worked with him in the past and those who had yet to use him — his reputation in the writer community is stellar.  He is a trusted, respected resource — one that every indie should know.

Haddix owns Streetlight Graphics  a true soup-to-nuts shop for the indie author looking to simplify the process of publishing a book.  In his own words,“Our primary mission is to provide an affordable, customer service oriented, one stop shop for authors to get all the independent publishing services they need so they can spend their time doing what they love…WRITE!” 

How nice is that?  The ability to just write?  After all, that’s what we want to do … but it’s all the other things that simply get in the way of that craft.

Streetlight Graphics was born from a true need … the ability to be a trusted partner in the process of publishing for the fledgling or seasoned writer.  With the company, an author can commission not only formatting services for print and multiple eBook platforms, but cover art, banner ads, logos … just about anything your little indie heart could desire.

My personal experience goes like this …

I knew nothing about formatting, only that I couldn’t do it myself.  Having considered using a big box company like CreateSpace, I was pushed (and not so gently) towards Streetlight Graphics. “Get a quote!” some authors said … while others couldn’t believe I’d spend $300+ when I could easily accomplish the same thing with a private small business for a lower price.

It was on their advice, I reached out.  From the first e-mail exchange Glendon was wonderful.  His kindness and patience were evident from the amount of time he took to answer my questions and address my concerns.  But, it went far further than the commissioned work of formatting, he became a sounding board of sorts for other matters that arose.  If I forgot something … he’d remind me.  He went over my manuscript again as as sort of “oops detector” and sent it back to me with a few small changes.  Every step of the process was painless and professional and easy … working with him was truly a pleasure.

Then panic struck.  I had an issue with my cover … not only did Glendon take his time, without asking for a single cent more, to create a new templet for my cover artist … he patiently walked me through understanding the process so that I could not only forward the information on, I could resource it myself.  That, right there, is the measure of someone who views your success as his own.  That is someone willing to go the extra mile for a client … and that is why I’m sure we’ll work together again in the future.

It may sound simple-minded, but it’s true … the people you surround yourself with matter.  Your options, as an independent, are as deep as they are wide.  There are times when it seems like everyone and their brother are peddling promises and services.  But to find that one person who really understands you and the process in the same breath, it matters and it’s rare.

So, I’m shamelessly plugging Streetlight Graphics … If you’re looking for a cover artist, or a formatter or maybe you need a banner or logo … reach out Glendon, I promise, you won’t be disappointed.