Self-Publishing Journal Entry #6

Dear Diary,

As expected I made every mistake there is to make while self-publishing a novel. After its “Hydra leak” on the 1st of January I went through the Kindle version and found no less than 25 translation, formatting, or just-plain-dunce errors that had to be fixed.

Orange Beast
Orange Beast

The Orange Beast is still laughing at me for that.

However, I do feel better about this because if I hadn’t been so hopped up on cold medication I would have found those errors in the week prior to its official release anyway. This just means that those unfortunates who purchased the leaked novel are going to have a one-of-a-kind “whoopsie” version that no longer exists.

I’ll laugh about it in a couple of years, I’m sure.

In any case, the novel was fixed before its official release. (To include the spacing issue that had the printed version sitting at over 500 pages. That would be one of the just-plain-dunce errors.)

What have I learned from this whole self-publishing adventure?

1) Editors are worth their weight in gold. 

No, seriously. They are. Those 25 errors were mostly formatting and translation problems that happened while I was bouncing between Scrivener and Word.

2) Never work while on cold medication. 

‘Nuff said.

3) Marketing is pretty much the same on your own as with a small press. 

Yeah, there’s really very little difference here. As much as I love my publishers and the validation they gave me for even accepting my work to begin with, a book doesn’t just fly off the virtual shelves on its own.

That said, I’m still not doing much marketing-wise. I’ll submit Tapped to various review sites and all that, but Scornedotherwise I’m not going to stress this point. I made this decision way back when Sedition was first published and while it makes no “business sense” I’m sticking to it.

I want to be a better storyteller. I want to tell stories that move people, even if it’s only a select number of people. I feel totally awesome about the readership I already have. (Hey, Readers! I uber loves you all!)

4) This is fun.

In spite of my fights with Scrivener and my frustration with Word and staring at documents for hours on end while trying to make the formatting right, I had a lot of fun doing this. Don’t ask me why. I think only writers can really understand it.

To sum up, I will probably do this with more than just the Tapped series.

Yes, I understand the stigma that comes with self-published authors but I’m going to lean back on the real tradition here; the tradition of storytellers wandering from place to place, giving their entertainment away for lodging or food. Celebrities for a night or a day, or a holiday week, and then they faded into the background directly after their job was done.

They didn’t have publishers back then, just word of mouth and a distinct love for what they did.

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Official Release – Tapped

I’m starting off the New Year with a bang!

ScornedOr … well … a mistaken “bang” on the 1st because in my NyQuil induced haze I accidentally “leaked” the novel online but we’re moving past that now. This is my first self-published novel and I’m equal parts terrified and pleased by it.

Tapped is a space-traveling adventure that follows the Barlow family as they unwittingly begin an underground railroad for refugees in Consulate space. It’s a story about what makes a family. It’s a story about the consequences of standing up for your convictions and a brothers-in-arms story all wrapped up together.

The original concept for this novel was that I wanted a mother-son story. We have a lot of mother-daughter, father-son novels out there but I haven’t seen as many dealing with the relationship between a mother and her son. And since I happen to be the mother of one incredible little boy it was important to me that the Greeks not get the final word here.

(No, really. The Greeks had the whole Oedipus thing that was really gross and weird. Just … yuck.)

In any case, I’m throwing confetti and will enjoy some wine and a comfortable evening celebrating my first self-published release. It has been an adventure learning how to format and prepare a book for publication and, to be honest, kind of fun.

Tapped Blurb:

Jorry thought winning a galactic war would be enough to buy a peaceful life. She was wrong. Running from the government she fought so hard for, she carves a simple life out for herself and her family. When her family is dragged into a black market deal Jorry finds herself directly in the sights of those she’s been hiding from and must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect the people she loves.

Publishing Debates

In January of 2011 my first book was published by Wings ePress, a small independent publishing house run by some very kind people. They put out a nice, professional book and I was over the moon about it. I liked the size, font, color, formatting, and everything.

I was new to the whole publishing scene and didn’t really know the difference between Traditional and Independents/Small Presses/Whatever. I just knew my book was out there and people were liking it.

Four years later and I am officially a self-published author.

I know the stigma related to self-publishing. I’ve read article upon article upon article about Indie authors versus Traditional authors and the coveted-but-somehow-hated Big 5 and I’ve come to a major decision.

I’m tired of reading about this.

I’m tired of everyone saying that their way to the publishing business is the right way, that the old regime is coming to an end, that self-published novels are nowhere near the quality that traditional novels are, that the Big 5 have the monopoly on shelf-space in the major bookstores, or that people don’t really visit those bookstores anymore …

The list goes on.

And because I have decided that I am tired of reading these debates (the most recent one being how self-publishing is no longer a viable means to “hybrid author status”) I will politely pass them by.

Knowing these things will not make me a better writer. Partaking of the debate might obliquely influence my sales, but it will not make my storytelling any better than it is today. And honestly, I don’t have the time or the energy for anything that does not add to my “writer’s toolbox” and help me master my craft.

Harsh?

Maybe.

And I’m not saying all this as a condemnation to those who are actively engaged in the debate. If focusing on things in that light is what helps them put pen to paper at the end of the day then more power to them.

I’m saying it doesn’t help me. It makes me indecisive. It makes me second-guess the risks I might otherwise take in my fiction. And fiction without risks is dull.

Tapped is risky.

I know it is.

It’s the underground railroad in space. There are religious refugees and political issues and a mess ofScorned family secrets to wade through and if I had listened to certain blog sites and articles about what not to write or what to avoid I would never have finished the book.

So this is me drawing a line in the sand.

Maybe my books won’t sell as much as a traditional author. That’s fine. I’ll read their work and see if I can improve my own craft because in the end, that’s the only thing that really matters.

Self-Publishing Journal Entry #4 (I think?) — AKA, “DANGIT, HYDRA!”

Dear Diary,

I spent New Years Eve sick on my couch. I did not have the joy of watching the infamous “potato drop” in my home town. I could not smell the glorious turkey breast as it was cooking in my crockpot (Thank you to my Grandmother and to my Aunt Debbie for passing along that recipe, it was good even though I couldn’t taste everything.) And in my NyQuil induced haze I decided it would be a perfect moment to get some final tweaks done to Tapped before my January 13th deadline …

The Big Orange Beast warned me not to do this. He meowed and jumped onto the back of my chair andIMG_0238 bopped my head a few times and I, still in a medicated stupor, did not pay him any mind. I imagine he would be snickering at me but he’s too annoyed that the child has a friend over and is currently hiding under my desk.

I know because he keeps chewing on my toes.

After many a night pondering and working and trying things out I opted to use CreateSpace to help launch Tapped into the world. It was very easy to use.

Too easy to use.

I went through the Proof Copy, understanding that this was the phase my publishers would have called the “Galley Proof” but not understanding that once I approved said copy it would be IMMEDIATELY published to the CreateSpace store and … several hours later … to Amazon.

I was 99% certain I had given a publication date of January 13th earlier in the process but it seems I missed something. I’m blaming the NyQuil on that one.

After much scrambling and panicking and trying to figure out how to take down the novels suddenly out for sale I finally decided to roll with it.

So this is me mimicking Marvel after the Avenger’s trailer was released … “Dangit, Hydra!”

Tapped is on Amazon. You can find it in two different paperback sizes, the 6×9 (which is cheaper and Scornedlarger) or the 5.2×8 (which is two bucks more and smaller because I wanted something purse-size because I am totally the book-in-the-purse type … when I carry a purse.)

And, of course, you can find it for Kindle.

I recognize that this has the potential to hurt sales. Everything I’ve read about publishing and such says that the week before the book goes up (which should have been next week) I’m supposed to be running about cheerfully telling people about the upcoming release and building all the happy-vibes so that people will buy it and stuff.

“Dangit, Hydra!”

Now I’m on to Battle Plan Bravo.

Why no, I did not have a plan B in place for this. But I’m like MacGyver and can figure a way through almost anything if I have a paperclip and a gum wrapper. (I really don’t care if I just dated myself either. MacGyver was totally my hero growing up and I maintain that he’s swoon-able.)

Excuse me while I go make Battle Plan Bravo for next week. In the meantime, my very first ever self-published novel is up for sale. I’m sure I made every mistake known to the publishing world in it and apologize in advance.

Book Cover Reveal – Tapped

So the artist that I normally bat my eyelashes at for cover art is currently closed to commissions. Which is fine, he’s super talented and has a lot of his own stuff to do. (That’s Chris Howard, author and artist for the Saltwater Witch stuff, which if you haven’t read you really should read because the art is gorgeous and the story is compelling and … yeah … you can find him here.)

Of course, this left me hunting frantically for a cover for Tapped since I put the release date at January 13, 2015. Hard to release a book without a cover. I mean, I could do it, but nobody would buy it and … well, I would hate myself forever.

(FYI – a smart, sassy agent lady let me know that speculative fiction is best sold around the August/September mark but I’ve already made this deadline public so I’m sticking to it. I figure by the time August rolls around I can put the book on a cheap sale or something.)

Now then …

I searched and searched and searched for a cover for this book. Given my tight budget (single parent, working full-time, avocado-induced emergency room bills) I knew I had to go for a pre-made cover if I could. And let me tell you, there are LOTS of sites out there.

Furthermore, there are some sites out there that recycle covers or something like that, so it’s important to research the artist too. So if you’re self-publishing or thinking about self-publishing, try to keep that in mind and make sure you’re paying attention.

I found Rocking Book Covers and really liked the style and feel of the art so I hunted through its pages and found my cover! It’s simple and eye-catching and the artist had the work done very, very quickly.

And so … here is the official cover for Tapped

Scorned

Self-Publishing Journal Entry #3

Dear Diary,

Scrivener hates me.

I find this quite sad because I really like Scrivener and its little note-card preview and clean setup. And really, I’ve done nothing to deserve its hatred. We only just met a month or so ago.

How do I know it hates me?

Because it refuses to be rid of the subtitles in my work. I’ve tried seven different times now and it always brings up a subtitle after the word “Chapter” … even if the area is left blank. Even if I click on the “please don’t do this crap” button that it told me to click on in the instructions.

The manuscript looks very nice apart from that. It just has “Chapter One” and then “Untitled” right underneath it.

Orange Beast
Orange Beast

The Big Orange Beast has declared that Scrivener is on strike until I bring home soft food again. After all, he did not agree to this diet and he has every right to soft food regardless of the fact that he is beginning to look like a lumpy potato.

He is also quite displeased that I left for Thanksgiving. He did not rage-vomit on my floor while I was gone though, so I believe he is accepting the fact that I like to visit my mother every couple of months.

I’ve decided that all of my editing must be done by the end of this week. My Beta Readers have all checked in (for the most part) and I know what needs doing. In fact, I managed to get most of their comments already implemented into the book, now I just need to tweak wording and make sure everything flows right.

I’ve also decided that Tapped is going to be YA, which is terribly frightening. The age is right. The main character is right. I was just being stubborn about the whole idea due to … you know … never having written YA before.

What can I say? I’m living dangerously. First time self-publishing, first time writing YA. It’s an adventure.

Which reminds me, I really ought to pin down a cover for this thing.

Self-Publishing

After much deliberation, research, waffling, and picking the brains of several writers I know I have decided to try this self-publishing thing. This is not meant in any way to snub or look poorly upon the small presses who have so graciously published me over the last few years. Wings ePress and Double Dragon Publishing have both treated me very well and I’ve learned a lot about publishing as a business through them.

And in fact, any and all works that I feel fit those two houses I will submit accordingly. (Yes, Trenna fans, this means Usurper will more than likely be coming out through Wings ePress next year. I have it scheduled for a clean-sweep editing pass and then Wings can decide whether or not they want to continue the series.)

Why am I self-publishing my next novel?

Several reasons.

1) Creative Control

Basically, I want control of this book and all its sequels. I want to be able to make novella’s on a whim — because I have several mapped out in this universe — and to let the series stretch from four books to seven. (Maybe, I’m still on the fence about that.)

2) Price Control

Because … sweet holy bananas on toast, people! Nearly twenty bucks for a print copy of my stuff? Even I don’t want to pay that.

Plus, you know, this way I can do the sorts of things I’ve wanted to do since first getting published. Things like — Hey! For the month of November all proceeds go to the Office of Letters and Light!

Which is something I currently can’t do.

3) Schedule Control

… Cause it’s nice to know exactly when I can do a cover reveal or book release party. Since I’ll be in charge of the galleys and what have you, I’ll be able to send out ARC copies with little to no fuss.

(You know, this post is beginning to make me look like a control freak.)

4) Audio Stuff

Right now I don’t have the right to produce any of my books in audio form, but I’ve always wanted to. This way I can. (Likely several months after the print copies come out cause … you know … WORK.)

5) Because It Scares Me

When push comes to shove, I don’t like it when something scares me. In fact, I tend to get all sassy and confront said fear with bare fists and teeth.

Which I suppose is exactly what I’m doing.

So!

Tapped is currently out on submission with an agency — has been for several weeks now, but it hasn’t passed the point of no return for a response yet. While I wait for its rejection letter — let’s be realistic here — I will be formatting and cleaning up the manuscript (yet again) to make the ARC copies.

I have chosen Tuesday, January 13th as the tentative release date of this novel.

… and now that I’ve written that down I might be panicking a little.