Monday, January 30, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
When I heard the story of Regina Sirois and her newly released novel (very, very new - as in January 2012) On Little Wings, I knew I had to include it in my monthly discussion on self-publishing. In trying to find a way to contact her for an interview, I stumbled upon her blog, and I must say, I think I've developed a tad of a writer's crush on her. Okay, I admit it, I'm smitten.
I'd love to tell you her story, but I think she'll do a much better job, and with greater eloquence.
Meet Regina Sirois.
"I am really happy to get to tell my side of the story because I think there are many misconceptions floating around about me.
Misconception #1: I have made it big in the publishing world. the truth- I haven't. Not even close. I was contacted by two very talented agents in New York this week and I have decided which one I am going to sign with. That means she will try to sell my book to publishers. That does not mean they will buy. She feels good about our prospects, but there are no guarantees in this business.
Misconception #2: I just lucked out.The truth- this is almost entirely true. If you count working on my manuscript for years, sending it to many test readers, enduring harsh critiques, querying everyone and their mother and finally giving up on myself as lucky. Because that is what happened. I worked as hard and tortured myself just as long as other writers. The difference is I believed the silence from the agents and gave up on myself. I put my manuscript in a drawer and refused to talk about it or look at it for over a year. I stopped writing. And I made peace with that. So then how do I explain you knowing about my book? Well, I got a gift. A teenage girl who test read the book for me almost two years ago asked for a copy. I told her "no, don't worry about it. It's not any good." She told me that she loved it and had been thinking of it for months. She asked if she could please read it again. I brushed her off and went back to life. But it got under my skin. I kept hearing her say she missed it. So one day I timidly pulled it up on the screen. It was like making up with a friend after a big fight. It took some time to get comfortable with it again. And I started working. I worked for weeks. I neglected all my chores and wrote. And then, right before Christmas, I finished. There is a great amount of luck involved in any literary success, but it doesn't take unless there's a thousand times more work than luck.
Misconception #3: I had a marketing strategy. Truth- what is a marketing strategy?I decided to give my book away for free to any friends who wanted to peruse it and print up copies for my family as gifts. On January 4th I put a post on my blog and told my handful of followers that I wrote a book. I announced it on facebook. I worried people would think I was bugging them or bragging, but I did it anyway. I decided if I worked that hard I should at least tell the people who cared about me what I did. I did not think I would make a penny. I didn't really want to. That wasn't the point. I'm not sure what the point was, to be honest. I just wanted to stop being afraid to try. I don't know how 14,000 people found me in five days. I really don't.
Any marketing tips or strategies? I refer you to my last answer. :) I believe that free is a great way to plant your book. If it really touches people and lands in fertile ground it might just grow. Just remember that there will be no word of mouth if it doesn't resonate. No one says, "hey I downloaded a mediocre book for free. You should get it." Let your work speak for itself and see if people pass along the word. And say a mediocre book does make it big online. When an agent reads a copy, then what? They will say, 'what the heck is this?' You have to have a product that stands up to the most critical eyes. Self publishing is not a short cut! It is just another path through the jungle. For me it was an accidental path. But trust me, I had tried to get through the jungle before I self published.
How long have I dreamed of being an author? I fought being a writer for a long time. I always said that writing is a crap shoot. It doesn't matter how good you are because even dogs write books nowadays. Dogs! So how do you compete with that. And if you knew me you would know that if I have a competitive bone in my body it is my pinky bone. Or maybe one of those tiny bones in my eardrum. I fight hard with myself but I hate competing with anyone else. When I finally gave in and decided to do this it was because I was sick of telling my husband, "If I ever write that book..." It sounded so lazy and stupid to me. I told myself, "Just write it if you're going to write it, or shut up about it." (See, I told you I can be hard on myself. But in a good way) Every time I wanted to give up (there were many) I told myself to write it to my daughter. I can do for her what I cannot do for myself.
The most exciting part of this experience? The first time a complete stranger blogged about my book. I found it by googling my title. She said I was a master of the English language. Another woman called me a "wordsmith." I looked at my husband and said, "I'm a wordsmith?" Then I covered my mouth and cried in the kitchen. Cried happy, happy tears. Seeing that people who don't know me and are not trying to be nice to me care about what I wrote is the biggest reward."
Okay, this is Mandi speaking again. I know, I'm sorry, I was completely hypnotized by her writer's voice as well, and almost forgot I was supposed to be writing this post. If you haven't read this book yet, don't miss it! If you don't believe me, go check out the 20/22 five star reviews on Amazon! There is a reason this book has gone from zero to sixty in under ten seconds, but I'm not going to tell you what.
I'll let you read it and find out for yourself...
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012
as some of you may know - the indelibles is about 25 indie authors that have banned together. Our goal is to help each other and support the indie community.
I'd love to hear how you all came to the decision to self-pub. Thanks!
Fellow Indelible, Karly Kirkpatrick, told me about Konrath just over a year ago. I read up on epublishing and jumped in feet first. Love it!
Susan Kaye Quinn:
I decided to self-pub Open Minds because of: price, creative control, and writing diversification (I was prev. pubbed with a small press). And to get it out quickly!
My books did not easily fit within a genre. Not Christian enough to be christian but more religious than mainstream was comfortable with. Megg Jensen convinced me to self-pub.
in a nutshell - i spent 2 years with agent and submitted the first 2 books I'm publishing now. they got to acquisitions but never were bought. I figured they were good enough and I was tired of having someone else run my destiny.
For me it was a no brainer. I'd already had BOUND under contract with a publisher (who has since gone under). I'd waited long enough and the book was ready. I was ready. So why not send it out into the world to be read and shared?
I had too many traditionally published friends who spent years trying to get agents and when they finally got published, they were unhappy because their books were changed so much by their editors. I wanted to keep control of my own work.
After five years of trying the traditional route, I heard agent April Eberhardt speak on how ebooks had changed the industry. I was researching the subject when I finally got an offer from a
small press. By that time I'd learned enough to know I wanted to do it myself, so I turned them down and went indie. Never regretted it for a second.
Comment From laurapauling
What started me thinking about it was Nathan Bransford's post that said midlisters could make more money self publishing. That and posts by kris Rusch who pointed out that authors were really getting a bum deal with ebook royalties.
Good point Sara! If you are Indie it's so much easier to experiment with genre, cover art, price, everything.
You've mentioned the best part of self-publishing: the control. What is the common consensus on the worst aspect of self-publishing (or is the experience very different for everyone?
not really a worse side but a hard side - doing it all on your own. it gets lonely. sometimes I would love to have someone get y back if something slips.
Great questions Mandi! I think the experience is different for all, but for me the worst part is that it's ALL on my shoulders. I love the control, but sometimes it's just so hard to be responsible for every aspect of it and to know there's nowhere to blame but me if I fail.
@Mandi - it probably is diff for everyone. I am finding that marketing the book has sucked away months of my life. not that it hasn't been fun, but like Shelli says, it's hard work.
Mandi - I do believe it's different for everyone. As an indie, you work your strengths and hopefully have good people help with the weaknesses.
The feeling that you have to market yourself 24/7 or you're going to lose any readers you have. That is the worst. It's a crazy cycle b/c then you don't have time to write!
I'm a writer, not a marketer, not a publisher, not a graphic designer, not a business woman, A WRITER. But with self-pubbing you have to be all of those things and the worst part is that sometimes your writing has to take a back seat.
Susan Kaye Quinn:
@Mandi Worst is having so much on your shoulders - very hard to balance all the promoting with writing (not that I think this is much different for trad pubbed)
Comment From Kris Asselin
I'd love to know the difference between self pub and indie pub. Is there a difference or do you use the terms interchangeably?
technically indie pub is an independent press
Kris, I'm "Indie" pubbed meaning I'm published with a small press. So it's a little different than self-pub. I do have help with edits, cover, some marketing etc
i think trad pubbing is for some and indie is for others - you have to figure out what that is for you. I just dont think one is better than the other.
I think there are a lot of people who shouldn't self-publish. Those with demanding jobs, or who don't like to self-promote, or who only want to write.
Comment From Mandi Thomson
This may be a loaded question, but I'm just curious - if any of you were ever to make it real big, and I mean REALLY big through self-publishing, and got deals from major publishing houses to pick up your books, would you ever consider the switch? Have you ever contemplated this scenario?
Okay. One more. Mandi, it would take a LOT of money to make me go traditional. Bye now.
Monday, January 16, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
I'm very excited today to introduce my first guest author, as promised in my previous post, to talk about the topic of self-publication. Heather Justesen has joined us to answer some of the questions about the self-publication industry that I had mentioned earlier.
You can learn more about Heather by clicking here, which will take you to her blog. Here are two of Heather's self-published works:
Shear Luck, by Heather Justesen :
Chelsea Robison has never forgotten the older boy next door whom she crushed on as a teen, so when she runs into him at the restaurant he’s preparing to open, it’s a delightful shock. And learning he’s available again is more than a little tantalizing.
Vaughn Krenshaw had never seen his neighbor as more than a nice kid—but Chelsea had definitely grown up in the decade since they saw each other last. He’s attracted to the feisty red head, but still struggles over his wife’s death the previous year. And then there’s his five-year-old daughter, Molly, who really liked Chelsea—until she realized the woman was dating her dad.
As Chelsea starts to wonder if their love for each other will be enough to make things work, a specter from Vaughn’s past rises, making her question whether she really knew him at all.
Blank Slate, by Heather Justesen:
Adrianna Mueller may be a world-renowned concert pianist, but when she wakes from her coma after a serious car accident, her ability to perform has disappeared as completely as her lost memory.
As she recovers from her injuries, she struggles with the expectations of everyone—her family, friends, and fiancé, Brock—who all want everything to go back to the way it was. Everyone except Gavin, Adrianna’s brother’s business partner, who finds himself drawn to the woman she is now. But he has his own problems. As he tries to get a handle on a former employee’s embezzlement, he fights his growing feelings for Adrianna. And then a trip to the emergency room shakes everything up, leaving her to stumble as she tries to regain her footing all over again.
Why did you choose to self-publish?
I did submit my book to my publisher first and several other publishers after, and I considered submitting it out to other publishers outside of my usual market, but just felt like self-publishing was the right option for that story (with Blank Slate). As for self publishing a novella, I only intended it to be an ebook, unless I do an anthology later. Though traditional publishers are terrific for getting books into stores, I didn't feel like the advantages of using a publisher for an ebook was stronger than doing it myself--especially since ebooks never die.
Which company/business did you work with?
I printed with CreateSpace, but I did my own cover and typesetting on "Blank Slate," thanks to my background in desktop publishing. I did use a cover designer at create-imaginations.com for "Shear Luck."
Would you recommend them to others? Would you be a return customer?
I'd definitely use CreateSpace again and Paul was a terrific designer to work with who took some information I gave him about the book and came up with a much better cover idea than I had on my own. And he worked his guts out for not much money.
In your opinion, what are the pros to self-publication?
Being in charge of it myself, having creative control and seeing it come together under my own control.
In your opinion, what are the cons to self-publication?
Being in charge of it myself...okay, really trying to get the word out when I couldn't afford much in the way of advertising was a major drawback, and even though authors have to do most of their own publicity regardless of whether they have a publisher or not, there's definitely still extra pressure if you're doing it all yourself.
What’s one piece of advice you’d offer authors considering this option?
If you're doing this wanting to be taken seriously as a professional, then you need to treat it as a professional would. Make sure you have a good cover, that the formatting looks like traditionally published books, and that you've edited the heck out of it. The details are what prove that you're a professional, so pay attention to them.
Thanks to Heather for stopping by and answering some of my questions! I haven't had the privilege of reading her work yet, so I will have to get reading to see the fruits of her hard work. You can find Heather's books on amazon, or at her webpage: www.HeatherJustesen.com.
More authors, with more answers, yet to come: stay tuned!
Saturday, January 7, 2012
I’ve never thought much about the process of self-publication. In fact, if I was quite honest I would admit that I probably have the same misconceptions of the process – and reasons for – pursuing this form of publication. That, and I’ve never reached the stage of submission, so it just never really occupied much space in my mind.
At the end of NaNo in November, one of the prizes listed on the Winners goodies page was six free copies of your manuscript in book form from a company called CreateSpace. Intrigued, I looked through their website, which began to stir a little mini-fascination with this facet of writing I had never explored.
Then I read a couple of articles of several authors in the past decade who shocked the publishing world with their self-published books that sold in the hundreds of thousands, and went on to be picked up by agents and traditional publishers.
After all of my reading and research, there is one thing I’ve come to realize – self-publication doesn’t abide by the same definition that it might have years ago. Now there were new questions and curiosities tumbling through my head, and as much as I tried to Google the answers, I continued to find a lot of conflicting advice – including from some who’d never been self-published. That’s when the answer hit me: I needed to turn to those who have experience.
For the rest of January (and possibly beyond, if there are still some unanswered questions or hot topic debates) I would like to explore this topic of interest, and have reached out to several others who have chosen the route of self-publication for at least one of their novels.
I asked them to answer several questions about why, and how they self-published their books. Because the general consensus among the reading & writing population, from what I can infer, is that those who self publish do so because they can't get accepted by a traditional publishing house. Therefore, the quality of their work is poorer, or their writing talents weaker, or their marketing prowess less developed and therefore they end up with a spare room filled with books that won't sell and that have little but bad reviews.
While that may have been the case a decade or more ago, it seems less likely to be the black and white answer today. In fact, self-published books, in some respects, are doing so well, are so successful, that the major publication companies are actually being given a run for their money. Obviously there are many shades of grey to this story.
I wonder what my readers think? What are some of the opinions, and misconceptions and unknown facts about self-publication? Would you ever consider the possibility?
And a question I have still yet to answer, would I?
p.s. If you are a self-published author and would like to weigh in on this topic of conversation, please drop me a line. You can make a comment and leave your email, or send me an email to maybemandi at gmail dot com. If not, then at least tune in for the answer to some of these questions...
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Malcolm Gladwell. In it, he talks about the 10,000 hour rule — he postulates
that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any field. I think
this is key. You need to learn everything you can about not only writing, but
reading, and everything you can find out about the industry and business. I
would say that 10,000 hours of writing sounds about right. But I think that
there are lots of ways to accomplish those hours. You can self teach. You can
apprentice. You can take classes. You can workshop. You can get a writing
critique partner. You can steal someone else’s brain. ~ Maggie Stiefvater