Tag Archives: publishing

Ask the Author #1 (Self Publishing)

So, welcome to my first “Ask the Author” blog post.  I’ll probably be doing these every other Friday unless something exciting happens (and until I run out of submitted questions).

(Speaking of which, please feel free to comment with questions for future posts.)

This week’s question comes from Kari at Inspiration Cauldron.

“You’re publishing your novel independently, aren’t you? How is that going?”

Yes, I do publish independently.  Both Song and Sword and Sanguine have been self published and the current plan is for future projects to be released the same way. Having never published through a company I can’t really compare the two, but I do know that I get complete control over my work (and therefore have to take complete responsibility for it).

I also hold all rights to it, can price it as I see fit, use it in giveaways, etc.

As to how it’s going…

It would be going better if I didn’t suck at marketing my own stuff.  But then, from what I’ve seen and read and heard through the grapevine, even if you publish via a more traditional route it seems that you have to do a lot of your own marketing, so, yeah, that would be about the same, I think.

Although, if you’re published through an actual publishing house, there’s a layer of… respectability? authenticity?… that seems to be lacking if you’re self-published, so there’s that.

Other than marketing, I think the hardest part (for me) is finding a cover artist to work with.  I did the cover for Sanguine myself (and it shows) but I’m not 100% in love with the one for Song and Sword, either.  I think when I get the sequels (and the prequel) ready for publishing I might get a revamped cover for it.  Ditto for when I do the sequel to Sanguine (which might happen next November).

Okay, I’m not a fan of formatting the book, either. Granted, that’s a step-by-step process and both Amazon and Smashwords have great step-by-step walk throughs, but for some reason it makes me insanely nervous, and I pretty much save the file under a different name for every step of the process.

I don’t enjoy the endless rounds of revisions, either, but I think you’d get that with a traditional publisher too? I know that Daelyn Morgana did when she had a short story submitted to an anthology.

And at least I don’t have deadlines!

On the other hand, deadlines might be a good thing to keep me focused on one project at a time so that I don’t have so many half-finished novels sitting around.

But on the other hand, I get to work on whatever appeals to me at the moment.

So, all in all, I think I’m happy with self-publishing.

Except for that marketing stuff, and there will be more about that in two weeks.

 

 

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Now What?

I have finished the second round of edits on Onyx Sun and it’s now in the hands of some beta readers, so it’s all done and ready to go, right?

Wrong.

There is still a lot of work to be done on it, even before I hear back from them.

For one thing, there’s a cover to commission, which means deciding on a cover artist, which means looking at the work they’ve done and finding someone whose style I like, then hoping they are still doing covers, have the time for a new client, and are within my budget.

Then there’s the front matter.  You know: the copyright notice, work of fiction disclaimer, acknowledgements, special thanks, etc.  That doesn’t really take too long, though – it’s just annoying “busy work.”  (But necessary busy work.)

Then there’s the blurb.

The dreaded blurb.

I’m working on it and so far…

I’m going to be brutally honest here.

It sucks.

The blurb sucks, working on it sucks, revising it sucks.

There are line editors, copy editors, content editors.  There are people who will make covers, who will format the book for you, who will even write reviews if you pay them.

Is there such a thing as a blurb-writer?

If not, could there be?

Yeah, probably not.  Ah, well, it was nice to dream.

So, all of that can be worked on while waiting for feedback from the beta readers.

And once I hear from them it’s good to go, right?

Wrong.

Once I hear from them there will be another round of editing and revising based on their comments.

Then there will be some time for me to sit and stare at it and think about more revisions and tweaks and…

And eventually I’ll have to say “enough is enough” and format it to upload to Amazon and Smashwords.

And if history repeats itself I’ll be feeling miserably tense through the whole process (and backing up each stage in case I screw it up), and my hands will be shaking as I push the upload button.

Someday — maybe by the time I finish the Academy of the Accord series — I won’t be nervous when I send a book out into the world.

Maybe.

 

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Love It Or Hate It

Writers have a love-hate relationship with our stories.

We love the characters we create and we love sharing their stories with the world.

Some of us even love creating entire worlds to share with the world the rest of you live in.

In short, we love writing.  If we didn’t, we wouldn’t do it.

And while we’re writing, we are totally in love with the story and the characters and the setting and the plot and subplots and…

And then we finish it and we are so excited about it and want to share it with the world.

But we know better.  We know it has to be edited first and we know that editing as soon as you finish writing is usually a bad idea so we put it away for a while and go back to it a month or more later and reread it.

And we hate it.

The characters are flat or whiny or pointless (or all three) and the plot drags and wanders and ceases to exist and the whole thing is just garbage.

But we loved it once so we can’t just trash it, so we put it away again.

And eventually we pull it out again and read it again and…

Surprise!  It isn’t as bad as we remembered.  (It’s not as good as we’d thought, either, but at least now we think it’s salvageable.)

And then we start to edit.

And rewrite.

And write new stuff to replace the stuff we take out.

And about halfway through we start to hate it again.  And we want to quit because the story sucks and editing sucks and we suck and what’s the point and…

But we keep going because we remember that we loved it and we have hope that we can at least really like it again someday.

And eventually the bright shiny idea we started with and the sparkling pile of excrement we finished with have merged into something that doesn’t reek.

And while maybe it doesn’t sparkle and shine like it did in our memory, it glows.

Because excrement is great fertilizer, so now the little gem is pregnant with possibility.

So we keep polishing.

We edit each page, each line, each word, over and over again in a search for that perfect brilliant shine until we start to worry that in our search for perfection we might be losing the spirit of the story.

So we put it away for a while, then bring it back out, dust it off, maybe tweak it a bit more, and share it with someone else.

Just one or two people.

People who are not us.  People who are not inside our heads and who are looking at the story with virgin eyes and hearts.

People who aren’t already emotionally invested in the story.  People who are not already in love with it and who don’t already hate it.

Beta readers.

We give it to them and we sit on our hands and wait and hope and pray for feedback.

And then we make more changes and eventually we take a deep breath and release our stories into the world, scared to death and loving and hating the whole process.

And then, being masochists, we start all over again on the next story.

Because as much as we hate it, we love it, and we are addicted to it.

I was wrong.

We don’t write because we love it.

We write because we have to.

We have an addiction to feed.

 

 

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Back to Work…

All in all, it’s been a fairly productive three days off.

First of all, I came up with some potential cover images for Sanguine, so please go vote for one if you haven’t already.

I did some editing of Sanguine using Sarah’s comments, and I fixed a name change that I missed. (Thanks, Danielle!)

I’ve been posting chapters to Wattpad, but I still haven’t tackled Goodreads.  (But I’m blaming that on the fact that it suddenly got too hot to think again. Ugh.  I can’t wait for cooler weather!)

I’ve added words to my current WiP (Book Two of The Other Mages trilogy).  Only a couple thousand, and a lot of them are probably going to be cut, but sometimes the important thing is to just keep writing, because sooner or later something that you write is going to show you the way to move forward.  And yesterday something did so I’m excited about the project again.  I’m not sure how to segue to it, but since this is just a first draft I’m perfectly content to write [SEGUE NEEDED] and get on with it.

And I’m working on outlines for November.

Yes, outlines.  Plural.

No, I’m not planning on doing two novels in November – I did that once and swore to never do it again – but I’m having trouble deciding what to write.   Sarah wants a sequel to Sanguine, but Rowland has been patiently waiting for a sequel to Song and Sword.   And then there is Book Twelve of The Academy of the Accord series that needs to be written (along with Books Six, Seven, and Ten, but they’ve been sort of started so they don’t count).  And of course, there are a few other plot bunnies hopping around nibbling at the edges of my mind…  It’s getting crowded in there and will be worse by the end of October.

Oh, and I got the email from HQ that the 2014 Municipal Liaison kits are ready, so if I hadn’t already been thinking about NaNoWriMo I would be now anyhow.  But now I have to plot and ponder how to use this year’s “theme” for my region.  And start putting together a calendar of events.

But, now it’s time to go back to work at my day (well, evening) job, so…

Other than more work on the outlines, which I’ll print (on reused paper) and take to work with me, I doubt I’ll get much done for the next week or so.  I’m working five days in a row, get one off, work one, get one off, and then will be working at least three days.  (I haven’t seen that schedule yet.)  I’m hoping that during my next run of three days off I can get Sanguine formatted, but I know I’ll be too wiped out to do it next week.

I might also start working on a blurb for Sanguine.  If you hear a lot of swearing coming from Western Pennsylvania it will probably be me.  (I hate writing blurbs.  I would rather edit than write blurbs…)

 

 

 

 

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Back At It

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve done my usual posts.  Sorry ‘bout that.  Between my job sucking the life out of me and a concerted effort to make it through the latest round of changes in Sanguine, well… Time sort of got away from me. (Not to mention the fact that I keep losing track of what day of the week it is because my schedule changes all the time.)

Anyhow…

Sanguine is in the hands of a couple brave pre-readers and as soon as I have their feedback (or maybe sooner if I get too antsy) I’ll be formatting it and getting it published.  I suppose I could work on all of the front pages stuff in between now and then.

And, of course, there’s the cover, which is an exercise in indecision.  I’m doing it myself (yeah, yeah, I know – everyone says that’s a bad idea, but money is an issue right now.  Plus, I want something simple – just the title and my name on a star field.  My problem is deciding which star field photo to use.  *sigh*)

Anyhow, I’m now back to working on The Other Mages trilogy.  I’d like to get Book Two finished soon and maybe get Book Three finished before NaNoWriMo.  A lot of Book Three will be copied and pasted from the original, so that should be doable. Then after NaNo (or after I finish the trilogy if it’s not done before then) the editing starts on it and that’s going to be a mess and a half.

And I’ve decided that I need to do more promotion.  I’m a rather low-key kind of person, though, so that’s hard for me to do.   I’m going to start posting excerpts on Wattpad, though, at a friend’s suggestion, so we’ll see how it goes…

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Preparing to Publish Sanguine

Well, it’s time…

My weekend project will be to get Sanguine fixed up so I can get it printed for what I hope will be the final edit.

One beta reader gave me comments on the first chapter or so and I will be taking some of her suggestions, but other than that I’m on my own.  (Unless I can catch a couple of the other beta readers online tomorrow before I go to work and get just a quick overview/general reaction type feedback from them.)

Anyhow, Sanguine is going to be my project through the weekend.  I doubt that I’ll get it printed before Wednesday, though, which means I’m most likely not going to make my goal of having it come out this month, as it will have to be edited, corrected, and formatted.

Oh, and I need to make a cover for it.

And write a blurb. I hate writing blurbs.

And all of the front stuff:  copyright, acknowledgements, disclaimer, etc.  Not hard, just annoying.

*sigh* This is the first time that making a list of stuff I need to do is making it seem worse than it actually is.

It should go a little more smoothly than my formatting for Song and Sword, though.  I hope.

For one thing, I didn’t double space between paragraphs (and I have gone through all of my current projects and fixed the ones where I did) so all I’ll have to do will be insert the indentations and “remove space before paragraphs.”

And I am not going to give myself the headache of chapter links.  They had me tearing my hair out last time and there is one that is still a problem for Smashwords, even though I deleted the chapter links. (I should completely reformat it and start over.  Maybe I’ll do that after I get Sanguine done.)

I wonder if hitting that button to publish the second novel will be as frightening as it was for the first one?  Only one way to find out…

Once Sanguine is published, and Song and Sword is fixed, I can focus on The Other Mages trilogy.  I still have a goal of getting it finished and released this year, although I think that the Academy of the Accord series is going to get pushed back.  Again.

For The Other Mages I’m thinking of flying solo — no beta readers.

But we’ll see.  I’ll probably have a crisis of confidence before it gets finished and published and will be looking for a second opinion again.

Which I probably won’t get and I’ll swear off beta readers again.

Until next time.

 

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Oooohhhh! Shiny! (aka Stick-to-it-iveness)

We all know it happens.  We’re set on a project and are chugging along working on it when something else pops up.  Something pretty and shiny and new and we want to drop the current project and jump on this new one.

Why?

Because the new one is exciting.  It’s different.  It promises all sorts of things.  It is full of potential.  It is a new beginning.

But sooner or later that brand spanking new idea is going to stop being fun and is going to become just as much work as your current project.

Think of your novel as a relationship – a long term relationship.  You fall in love with the idea of it, you spend time getting to know it (plotting), and you commit yourself to it, to seeing it through, “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, until ‘The End’ do us part.” 

(Does anyone really type “The End” when they finish their novel?)

So, you’re in this committed relationship with a novel.  Or series.  Or trilogy.   And along comes this new little plot bunny and it is ooooh so sexy!  And it smiles and winks at you, and whispers sweet promises in your ear. 

And you’re tired of the current project.  It’s hit some snags.  You’re always fighting with it.

And this new thing is so sweet and nice and agreeable and doesn’t place any demands on you.

Except it does.  It demands your attention, your time, your energy.  And because it is new and sweet and exciting, you give them to it.  Happily, you let it distract you from the project you are committed to, let it lead you astray.

And sooner or later you abandon your current project and move in with this new one and set up housekeeping with it.

Or maybe you stay with your current project out of guilt and just keep seeing this one on the side.

But sooner or later the new wears off and it’s not as shiny as it was, and you’re right where you were when it wandered into your life, slogging along, trying to push through the rough patches, trying to stay together despite the fights…

And then another shiny bunny winks at you and blows you a kiss or maybe even buys you a drink.

And another commitment blows away in the wind.

And before you know it you have a string of failed marriages and relationships novels behind you.

And, yes, I’m as guilty of this as the next person.  I have a huge batch of WiP (Works in Progress) files.  I have an even huger (heh, what do you know? Word says that’s a word!) pile of plot bunnies with more being born as we speak.  (And having just gone through my Plot Bunny bag all I can say is they really need to start practicing birth control other than the Hoping Method.)

But I am working on clearing some of the backlog.

I did get one finished and self-published. (Song and Sword.)

And I am committed to getting rough drafts finished of all the books in the Academy of the Accord series by the end of the year, even though I’m in a rough sloggy bit in one of them right now that is throwing me behind schedule.

Then I’m going to finish and publish The Other Mages trilogy next year and then start the endless slogging through editing the Academy of the Accord books.

And I’m not starting anything new except during NaNoWriMo in November.  I’ll use the Camp sessions to finish rough drafts of things already started.

Why?

Because you can’t publish what isn’t finished.

And that is the ultimate shiny.

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Decisions, Decisions

“In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”
(T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”)

I spent most of yesterday going through the tutorial in Scrivener again, since I hadn’t looked at it since just after downloading it last winter.  It made a little more sense this time and the information overload headache didn’t start until Part Two – another seventeen rounds or so and I should have it pretty well in hand.

Or I can dive in and do hands-on learning.

Learning by doing is what works best for me, so I’m starting to (very nervously) load the books from The Academy of the Accord series into it.  (I’m afraid it will eat them and I won’t be able to get them back.  I’m paranoid that way.)

I’m really excited by the thought that this program can help me organize the series, but a little overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the project and the amount of work that is going to be involved just in getting the books into it and divided into chapters.  (Not to mention still overwhelmed by all the things that Scrivener can do.)  I don’t even want to think about the editing, re-writing, and internal coherence issues.  Or  the fact that some of the books have three or more alternate versions of certain scenes.  I’m pretty sure I’m looking at a year-long project with this, after it’s all in Scrivener.

But I can do this!  And I will, because I love writing, I love these characters, I love the whole thing.

The plan was to finish the three books that I know I still need to write (and untangle the mess in the middle of the series) by the end of the year.   (Yes, I know it’s only May.  But you have no idea what I’m facing in that middle section!)

But… I keep thinking about turning my attention to The Other Mages trilogy.  According to “The Plan” I’m not supposed to work on it until after the first of the year, but… It won’t take nearly as long to finish and edit for e-publication as The Academy of the Accord will, so, while it’s not exactly instant gratification it’s certainly more immediate gratification.

But it will break me out of the flow of The Academy of the Accord, and I’m not sure I want to lose my connection to these characters until I’m done with their stories.  (I also don’t want to lose track of the story arc and relations and the “this, that, and the other” that flows through what is looking to be around a dozen books.)

I suppose I could try to divide my time between the two, but I’m not quite sure how well that would work.

If anyone reading this has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

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Well, I did it!

Too late to back out now.  Song and Sword  is available on Kindle.  And I am… relieved.  Still a little nervous, but mostly relieved.  And tired.

Formatting isn’t hard – but it sure is time-consuming and monotonous. I was going to use Scrivener  to do it, but I haven’t played with it yet other than the tutorial when I first downloaded it last fall, so I wanted to have my copy of Scrivener for Dummies on hand, but I can’t find it.  Fortunately their “how to” book is great.

I know I had it in January for the “show and tell” meeting of the local writers’ group.  The other book I took to the meeting is on the shelf where it belongs, but not that one.  The next logical place for it to be would be near my computer, so I dove into the piles of papers and notebooks and miscellaneous items too bizarre to mention and came up empty.

(On a brighter note I can now see roughly half of the stand next to my computer, and the floor beside it is a little more user-friendly.  And I found a scene I’d written for one of the Academy of the Accord books.  (I was beginning to think that I’d dreamed writing it.)  I also located a bunch of cross stitch charts (that need to be entered into the inventory file) and I tamed a couple piles of scrap paper that I keep for my printer.)

So, anyhow, what’s next?   Getting Song and Sword out for Nook, for one thing.  And available as a hard copy.

And more writing, of course!  (And a continued search for Scrivener for Dummies.)

The plan (Ha!) is to finish rough (very rough!) first drafts of all of the books in the Academy of the Accord series by the end of the year.  (Except for the mess in the middle — that might take longer to sort out.)

After the first of the year I want to return to The Other Mages trilogy that came out of my first ever NaNoWriMo.  Book One is almost done — I just have to figure out how to get them out of the mess I left them in.  Book Two… I think I’m about halfway through it, but I’m not too sure about it.  It’s over 50,000 words and still seems to be in search of a plot, so I need to sit down and make an outline for it.  And I need to do the same with Book Three, since it needs a complete rewrite.  The goal is to get them published by the end of next year.   Of course, that means that they are going to need real titles, and I hate naming things.   (I’m thinking that books two and three might be Camp NaNoWriMo projects next year.)

Then… something completely new for November 2014 NaNoWriMo.

And in 2015 the focus will be on The Academy of the Accord series.  Getting that patched up and edited and turned into a cohesive whole will be a massive undertaking, but it’s a project that I’m looking forward to completing.

But for now I’m still caught in a feeling of unreality regarding Song and Sword.  I can’t believe that it’s over.  Done.  Not something I have to work on anymore.  And that I’ll never write those characters again.  (Unless I do a couple side stories or a sequel.)

I think I feel… a little sad.

Excited and thrilled, but sad.

I wonder if this is how mothers feel when their children go off to kindergarten, or college, or… wherever.

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Valium, Valium, Who’s Got the Valium?

With any luck, Song and Sword will be available for Kindle on Monday, May 20th.  (Just in time for writers’ group that night.)  It has a cover, all the front stuff, a blurb, and a bio.  It is as edited as I can get it (but I’m sure there are still things I’ve missed.)  All it needs is to be properly formatted.  (That is going to be today’s project.  Please ignore screams of frustration emanating from a small town in Western Pennsylvania. I may be bald by the time it’s all said (screamed?) and done, but it will happen.)

Am I excited?  You bet!

I’m also scared and nervous.  What if it really sucks?

My mother (who owned a Kindle long before I did) says she’s read a lot of self-published books on it and she assures me that mine is better than most and as good as the others.  But part of me can’t shake the feeling that… Well, she’s my mother.  She’s supposed to say that.  It’s in the Mom Handbook, along with things like “Your face will freeze that way,” and “When you fall and break your leg don’t come running to me.”

So how do you find the courage to go through with it?  I don’t know. Really I don’t.  I hope that I’ve told enough people that I won’t chicken out, but if anyone has any other advice I’d love to hear it.

Meanwhile, please pass the Valium…

(P.S. Yes, it will be available on Nook, but one crisis at a time. LOL)

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