Friday, July 22, 2011

Self-Publishing: The New Paradigm--Part Two

Living My Dream

The publishing industry is in a great state of change. There is truly a revolution going on. Not since the invention of the printing press has such vast changes occurred with such far-reaching consequences. When Gutenberg introduced his moveable-type machine, it made books economically available to the masses. Now, I'm sure there were many die-hards lamenting the demise of hand-inscribed tomes. I can hear them grumbling and moaning about how the quality of the machine-printed books were horrible compared to those beautiful expensive books meticulously copied out by the monks in the abbeys. And God forbid, now the great-unwashed hordes would have access to knowledge heretofore available only to the aristocracy. Social order was threatened. The world as they knew it was at an end.

See any similarities to what is happening in the publishing industry today? I say that with tongue in cheek, but in a way, the same thing is happening now.

Self-publishing used to be a BIG NO-NO. There was a stigma attached and still is to some degree. Writers were convinced it could end their careers. Some still do. Recently, in an article in Publisher's Weekly or New York Times, I can't remember, they referred to self-publishing as "previously scorned". Earlier this year, RWA sent out a survey on self-publishing. That was certainly interesting. And even my own HBA RWA Chapter newsletter reports on the progress of the members who have taken the plunge into independent publishing.

In some circles, it's cool to self-publish. OMG! I'm finally one of the cool kids. I've never been one of the cool kids in my entire life. I like it. You might like it, too.

There really is no reason NOT to self-publish. If you've been previously published and have a backlist or books that didn't sell, you could be sitting on a gold mine. If you are seeking a traditional publishing contract, you should go ahead and self-publish and earn money while you wait. It's the new slush pile. Agents and editors search through the Amazon Bestseller Lists looking for new talent. Many Indies have been offered, and some have even accepted, signing deals with big publishing houses.

You need to decide what traditional publishing can do for you. How long will bookstores, as we know them, be in business? Borders is history and the repercussions of its closing will soon be felt.

If you sign a book deal today, your book won't be published for 12-18 months. You could be making money during that time equal to or more than some advances. Besides, most traditional authors are expected to do their own promotion now. Many editors aren't really editing anymore. And I hear midlist authors, right and left, are getting royally screwed.

The readers are the new gatekeepers. NY isn't the only one deciding what gets published any longer or what is worthy to be made available to the masses. The readers decide. And that's how it should be. It's all about the readers.

I'm selling more books each month than I ever dreamed possible. When I was published with a small ePress, I didn't feel like I was a successful author. Sure, they were RWA approved, but I wasn't selling books and I wasn't connecting with readers. I'm doing that now, on my own, and I finally feel successful.

Self-publishing doesn't have to be expensive. I do my own covers, format my manuscripts, write my own blurbs, upload to Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Smashwords distributes to Apple, Kobo, and many other channels.

If you feel you don't have the computer savvy or skill to do it yourself, you can hire out cover art, editing, formatting and uploading. It's not that expensive. But be sure to pay a one-time fee. Do not pay someone a percentage of your sales for eternity for doing something that only takes a couple of hours or at most a couple of days or a week. That is just crazy.

What about validation?

Perhaps you think you will somehow be validated when you land that traditional contract. I don't know; that isn't my dream anymore. For me, selling thousands of books is validation. Knowing thousands of people are reading and enjoying my stories is validation. Fan letters are validation. Four and five star reviews are validation. (On the other hand, one star reviews just plain suck.) Seeing my books on the Bestseller lists on Amazon is validation. The money deposited into my checking account? Priceless.

I've never been a team player. I don't like to write to committee. The freedom to write and publish what I like to read and write is liberating. And I've found readers who actually like what I like. I don't have to bow down and submit to editors and agents, practically begging to be noticed. I don't have to write something dictated by NY. I write for myself first, then share my stories with the readers, with no middle man involved.

What about quality?

Yes, there is a lot of crap out there. But there's a lot of crap put out the traditional way, too.

Secrets to Success:

1.  You must write a good book. These same rules do apply as they do in traditional publishing. You want to grab the reader, suspend their disbelief, pull them into your story and make them care about your characters. Your writing needs to shine. Your text needs to be clean with no typos. You don't want to stop your reader with awkward sentences, plot holes, or weak GMC. You also don't want to stop your reader with sloppy text and formatting.

2.  An eye-catching cover is a must. I believe a picture is worth a thousand words and it needs to pop on the screen. Make sure the font is large and clear in thumbnail view.

3.  Write a blurb that catches the reader's interest. You want to snag their attention and make them want to read your story.

4.  Low price. For an unknown author, this is the best and easiest promotion, IMO.

Only you can decide whether self-publishing is right for you. You might want to ask yourself a few questions:

1.  Is your writing costing you money? IMO, money should always flow to the writer. Entering contests and going to conferences is expensive. Instead of gambling with the money you spend on your writing, invest in yourself.

2.  Is your writing giving you joy or causing you frustration?

3.  Are you content to write for an editor or agent? Or do you want to write for the readers?

4.  Do you want to wait years and years before catching an editor's attention? Then wait for more years to pass before you actually see your book in print? And will there even be any bookstores left when your book finally comes out?


I've spent the past year building my "business." I've laid the foundation and put out nine books. From now on, I will be writing new product and releasing it into the wild. I'm having fun and keeping a light-hearted attitude. I'm trying not to take it so seriously. I hope this shows through to my readers. If I'm having fun, so will they.

I love being self-published. I am living my writer's dream. I'm writing what I want to write. I have readers anxiously awaiting my next book. And I'm making a little dab of money . . . and then some.

In conclusion, all I can say is: It's a wonderful time to be a writer!!!

Happy Publishing!!!

Anne Marie  :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

BICHOK Forever!!!

 I'm having a difficult time getting started this Monday morning. I really need to buckle down and get some writing done on The Viscount's Surprise. I'm heading into the final act and transitions are always hard for me. I know how I want the book to end, it's just the getting there that can freeze me in my tracks.

Here are my weekly writing goals:

*  Get to page 85 on Regency novella.

*  Start Yahoo email loop.

*  Start formatting Mother's sci-fi.

*  Add links and blurbs to my Regencies and resubmit to Kindle, Nook and Smashwords.

*  Look into joining Operation Ebook Drop.

That should keep me busy.  *grin*

Hope everyone has a great week!!!

Happy Writing!!!

AM   :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Self-Publishing: The New Paradigm--Part One

Living My Dream

Every author has a dream. Whether it's getting published by a big NY publisher, landing an agent, seeing your book in Barnes and Noble, holding your book in your hot little hands, writing a NY Times Bestseller or just writing that Great American Novel, all authors have high hopes for their literary masterpieces.

For me, it's basically always boiled down to this:  Write books, publish them, share them with readers and make a little dab of money.

Let me give you a little backstory about my Author's Journey:

My dreams have changed over the years. At first, I wanted my books to look like the Regency novels of the time (which was like 20 years ago or more) and I wanted to see them on bookstore shelves. Then I started targeting Silhouette Desire/Special Edition and in my mind, my books would look like those books. I dreamed of seeing them in Walmart and Kroger and of course, Barnes and Noble.

But after receiving rejection after rejection, I nearly gave up hope and almost quit writing altogether.

Then I noticed some of my HBA chapter mates publishing with small ePresses and they were having SO much fun. When I heard of a gentler, kinder publisher, I decided to send one of my rejected books to The Wild Rose Press. The editor loved the book and bought it. I was finally published and soon became accustomed to being an ebook author. Yes, I had print copies of my books, but they looked kind of funny and didn't sell very well. I'll always be grateful to The Wild Rose Press for giving me the experience of receiving THE CALL or THE EMAIL in my case. They were very good to me and really are a first-rate company.

But when I submitted my little Regency novella to a different editor over there, she wanted to make all kinds of changes. She had a different vision for the book than I had envisioned.

Now, I'm not opposed to changing what doesn't work in a story. And the novella did have a couple of fatal flaws that needed correcting.

It was about this time that I wished I could just write and publish ebooks in PDF format and sell them on my website. It was also about this time an online friend told me how she was self-publishing an anthology with Lulu so she would have another book to sell at book signings. I thought that was a great idea and began looking into that possibility. It was also about this time that I discovered the blogs of JA Konrath and Dean Wesley Smith. I found out about Karen McQuestion and how she was publishing rejected manuscripts on Kindle and making a little money.

Hmm, I thought. I had six manuscripts languishing on my hard drive plus my new Regency novella. I believed they were cute little stories and it would be fun to release them into the wild, share them with readers, and maybe make a little bit of money on the side.

When I started this venture over a year ago, I was half-ashamed to tell anyone what I was planning to do. I thought maybe I'd make some egg and butter money; you know, like farmer's wives used to do. I thought maybe I'd make enough to eat out at a nice restaurant every once in a while. And if I had good luck, I thought maybe I could make 300-400 dollars a month. But secretly in my heart of hearts, I didn't really believe I would do that well.

BOY WAS I WRONG!!! I'm making a little dab of money plus some. With the advent of the Kindle and Direct Publishing, I am living my dream. And now I love being a Kindle author. Independently published. I hope the day comes when I'll be selling 1000 books a day. Will that happen? I don't know, but I can certainly dream.

Happy Writing and Happy Reading!!!

Anne Marie   :)