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Diving Into Indie Publishing

Publishing, What I've Learned

So I write smut under a pen name. It’s a loosely guarded secret. But my secret isn’t why I’m telling you, Lovely Reader.

I want to talk this week about indie publishing. The book I’d published under my pen name was originally done by a medium-sized ebook publisher that has recently closed its doors, so the rights reverted back to me. Rather than looking for another company, I decided to self-publish the old book, along with a new short story and a second book in the series once it’s complete (hopefully, by late May).

As of this blog post, I’ve managed to get the ebook up on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. I’m now working on the print version, which is more challenging than I expected.

Some interesting struggles I’ve had with indie publishing

I uploaded to Amazon manually, because I knew that’s the best way to go about it. But for the other online ebook retailers, I’d decided to go with Draft2Digital, which I’ve heard good things about for years. I didn’t mind giving up a small percentage of my profits for the convenience of having combined accounting for many retailers and for the ability to upload to all the retailers at once.

I broke D2D.

My pen name is a single name (like Madonna or Cher). And apparently the D2D system cannot handle such an irregularity. After wrangling with their customer service for more than a week and explaining to them that, no, this isn’t an issue with the retailers, but with D2D’s systems, I eventually ended up uploading to B&N and Kobo individually – and the single-name pen name proved to be a non-issue. (I haven’t tackled iBooks yet.) I knew for a fact ahead of time that the retailers could handle a single name author because my books had already been up on them via the original publisher.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not dissing D2D. I did use them for other, smaller and overseas retailers once they got their stuff sorted out. And I will most likely use them when I am indie publishing under my real name (likely also end of May, beginning of June) since it’s a traditional first name/last name. I’m just outlining all of this because I want to document the struggles I’ve had with indie publishing, even though I’m still very committed to it.

Once I got the ebook squared away (except iBooks, which I admit to being kinda scared of 😉 ), it’s time to tackle the print version. There are a LOT of pieces to doing a print version.

  1. I had to take out all the handy links that were in the ebook. I kept the URLs, but leaving the links would have caused them to be underlined on the printed page. And I don’t know about you, but I’m a little judgy when I see that. I don’t know why, but it’s bothersome to me, so I don’t want it in my books.
  2. In order to commission the print flat of the cover, you need a page count for the book. Once the cover artist asked me for the page count, I totally understood why it was needed (along with the book size, it dictates the thickness of the spine), but prior to him asking me that, it hadn’t even occurred to me.
  3. What #2 above means is that the book needs to be formatted before commissioning the print flat. Formatting requires changing margins in Word, making sure the “inside” margins are wider than the outside margins to allow for binding. I have no idea how that all works. I gave it to my husband to figure out! Lol
  4. Once the print flat and the manuscript are ready, I’ll be ordering a proof copy.
  5. If the proof copy is good, then the book can go on sale.

I’m still on step 3 currently, though by the time this post goes live, I will likely be on step 4, perhaps even 5.

Photo by Syd Wachs on Unsplash

Here’s the kicker though. I am going to need to go through those steps twice. I will be using Amazon’s new KDP Print service, which is similar to CreateSpace, but I will only be using that for Amazon. For other distribution, I will be using Ingram Spark. I am not one who likes to have all my eggs in one basket, not to mention that Ingram has more distribution channels, particularly into indie bookstores.

So that is what is going on for me. Once I get through this initial book, later books will be easier because I will streamline the indie publishing process for myself. So once get to Soul Cavern, I should be a veteran!

Do you have experience with indie publishing? How has it been for you?

 

 

Unless attributed otherwise, all images are CC0 licensed.
Also, links in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something, I will get a small percentage of it, though it does not increase your cost in any way. I appreciate you using my links 🙂

So You’ve Finished the First Novel of Your Series! Now What?

Craft of Writing, Publishing, Writing

 

I was at Dragon*Con over Labor Day weekend and was on a couple panels. While on an editors’ panel there was a question from the audience about whether someone should mention in a query letter that the novel being submitted is the first of a trilogy (or series) and the next two books are already written.

Now, you’ll get lots of advice on this question, either way. Yes, mention it and no, don’t. That’s not  my topic.

The interesting thing that one of the panelists brought up had to do with whether to write a trilogy or series as an unpublished author. The gist wasn’t to discourage the planning of a series, but to point out that, financially and creatively, it doesn’t make sense to start the second book of your series before the first book is sold. The panelist said, “Finish your book, polish it, sent it out, then start on something new.”

I hadn’t really thought of it in such bald terms, but I agree with this sentiment. The first book I wrote has a sequel, but I haven’t started writing it (much to my little sister’s chagrin). I didn’t really think about why, except that I needed to concentrate on getting the first book sold.

From a strictly numerical odds standpoint, it makes no sense to start on the second book. If you fail to sell the first, then complete the second, you have two complete books (yay!), but only one salable book. If you had started on a brand new book (even if it’s for another series), then you have two completed books and two books you can send out to agents.

For so many of us, the ideas lend themselves to trilogies or series. And once we’re ensconced in a world, it is hard to let it go, but if you’re an unpublished author with your first book complete, consider moving on to an entirely different project as you shop that first book around. If you sell that book, great! You can switch over to the series at any time. If you don’t sell the first book, when you get the other book done, you have something else to shop around. Two completed books, two salable projects.

Work smarter, not harder. 🙂

EPICon!

Conferences, Publishing, Teaching, Writing

EPICon starts tonight with a mixer and booze! For those of you who don’t know, EPICon is the official conference of the Electronically Published Internet Coalition (EPIC). Every year, EPIC takes nominations and members vote on the best eBooks of the year over multiple categories. The EPIC eBook Awards banquet is Saturday night and I am excited to share that one  of my authors at Loose Id, Jessica Freely, has been nominated for her eBook Rust Belt! This was the first book I worked on with Jessica and it’s still one of my favorites! If you haven’t read it, check at out at the Rust Belt Loose Id page!

I am also teaching two classes, one on Friday called Pulling More than Punches: Writing Great Action Scenes. I think the title needs to be redone though. Though it’s a very snappy title, really we don’t want to pull punches. We want to punch the reader in the head with the action. So maybe I’ll be changing this title to something like: Not Pulling Punches. Or something. I suck at titles. Except this one, which is my other class:

Manuscript Corsetry: Tighten Up That Story! Yep, it’s a revision class. I hit on lots of things to watch out for in your ms, but also different methods of approaching revisions. I think it will be a fun class!

I think I’m also taking pitches for Loose Id, but I’m still a little hazy on those details. So that’s my agenda for this weekend. I’ll be tweeting periodically (which reminds me that I need to put my Twitter feed back on my blog).

Anyone else out here in rainy Williamsburg, VA?

Rejection! But I still #amwriting…

Publishing, Writing

 

I received a rejection the other day to my story “Warm Cookies.” I’ve got a few more markets I’m going to send it out to, but if I don’t get it placed, you lovely readers (all three of you!) will get to snack on it.

Rejection is an unfortunate but apparently necessary part of any writer’s career path. I say apparently because we don’t really want it to be. It just is.

Being rejected sucks. There’s no two ways about it. It just blows chunks. It makes me feel like my writing isn’t worthwhile. It makes me feel as if I’m just spinning my wheels. It makes me feel as if every writer out there is SO much better than me and why do I even bother because I obviously suck and can’t string three words together that anyone wants to read.

And that’s okay. I don’t mind feeling those things. But when we feel those things, we have to realize it’s just our disappointment. None of those statements is true. Wallow in it. Feel sorry for yourself. Tell yourself how horrible your writing is or how short-sighted the editor is or how no one appreciates your art EVAR! And then? Get over it. Put your butt back in the chair, send that story/novel/proposal out again, then pull out your current WIP and get on it.

Getting hurt is never fun, but we keep going. We keep putting our work out there to either be stomped on or held up and revered. We hope for the latter, but we have to go through a whole crapload of the former to get there. It’s a journey.

So, I got rejected this week, but I still #amwriting. What? You say you don’t know what that means with the funny pound sign in front? It’s a hashtag we use on Twitter to share triumphs and pain, to keep motivated and motivate others (and yes, sometimes to guilt others too). But it’s what we do. We’re writers. I’m a writing. Therefore, I #amwriting.

So follow me on Twitter and write with me!

Not one woman? Really?

Publishing, Writing

 

So Publisher’s Weekly has announced their Top Titles of 2009 and I can’t help but notice that there isn’t one female author on the list. Not one.

In their press release, they say, “We wanted to pick the best 10 and we came ready to mix it up, and although we were surprised that, when the dust settled, it wasn’t the most politically correct list – there are no women authors, for example – the balance of our top 100 reflects a remarkable diversity.”

Now, I admit I haven’t read most of these, but with names like Richard Holmes, Blake Bailey, Neil Sheehan, Geoff Dyer, David Grann, Matthew B. Crawford and David Small, I’m having trouble seeing the diversity here. I’m sure these are all amazing books – they’ve been picked from tens of thousands published this year – but diverse? There’s one African American and one Pakistani. The others are all, essentially, white American or European men.

Now I’m certainly not saying that a lesser book by anyone, regardless of gender or national origin, should be in a top ten if it doesn’t belong, but I have a lot of trouble swallowing the idea that Euro-centric men are the most exceptional writers.

I’d be interested to see a gender/nationality breakdown of the PW starred reviews for the year. I would lay odds that a large percentage were written by women, yet 0% of the top ten are by female authors.

PW’s Top 100 comes out on November 2.

SCWW Writers’ Conference!

Conferences, Publishing, Writing

I just returned from the SCWW 2009 Writers' Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. The full conference is somewhat pricey, but well worth it, especially if you're just starting out or in the middle stages, as far as classes. There were several agents and editors in attendence for those with finished works to pitch.

Keynote speaker was thriller writer Steve Berry. He was very entertaining and personable, as well as inspirational for all of us who are still slogging away, trying to get published. I was also able to attend a class he taught on suspense, which I found interesting. He shared his approach to writing and his style in creating suspense within a ms. If you get an opportunity to see him speak, I'd recommend it!

Two agents are interested in seeing partials of my manuscript so that's fantastic! I got to hang out with Joanna Stampfel-Volpe again, which is always awesomeness personified.I met her last June at a conference and totally got to schmooze with her. I was excited to see she was coming to the SCWW con. She was very busy all weekend, unfortunately, and we didn't get to goof off together as much as at the other, but it was great seeing her again.

I was also able to meet and speak with Holly Root, of the Waxman Agency, and Jim McCarthy of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. Both of these agents are personable and fun to speak with, as well as being very passionate about what they do. The conference had what they called "slushfests." These were group sessions where folks would bring in a 2-page transparency which was either a synopsis or the first two pages of their novels. So I was part of the SF/Fantasy slushfest and offered the first two pages of my novel. Unfortunately, somehow the decision was made to only do the first page of them. A few of the issues they had with the first page would have been addressed had the second page been read. However, there were a couple things they identified that will really help strengthen that scene, so I'm very grateful! Afterwards, I went up to each and asked if they'd be interested in seeing a partial. Both said yes (yay!) and Holly even asked for a few more pages than she normally requests (she made a point of this). As I said, they're both pretty damn cool! (And not just because they asked for my pages! 😉 )

There were a number of other agents there, but those are the ones I actually interacted with.

I also want to toss a shout-out to Echelon Press. I hung out a lot with one of their editors and an author and man, are they great people! 

I took not one, but two classes on synopsis writing! So expect a WIL post soon!

Okay, so bear with me as I get my footing on the blogging again! 

Realms of Fantasy Saved!

Magazines, Markets, Publishing, Writing

For those who don’t know, the magazine Realms of Fantasy, which has been in print for fourteen years, announced a couple months ago that the last issue would be April’s, due to rising cost and less income. They just couldn’t afford to keep the doors open.

The SF/F community rose to the occasion. “Save Realms of Fantasy” petitions, Yahoo groups and Facebook groups popped up all over the net. Folks raised money and wrote friends to spread the word.

And now, that hard work has paid off! Realms of Fantasy has been bought by Tir Na Nog Press and will continue to provide the fantasy and literary community with fabulous stories and artwork under the editorial direction of Shawna McCarthy.

For more information, see the post on SFScope. Happy day!