Viewing entries tagged
self publishing

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The Thorny Issue of Pricing

Today, I read an article about small business owners who undervalue their services, because they want to attract new clients. The idea is that they need to build their portfolio of work in the beginning, with the goal of becoming more selective when they have a client base. Unfortunately, the strategy usually backfires. Some clients do not appreciate the value of the work. With other clients, the business owner could compromise his or her vision and work on projects that he or she would normally avoid. The work is not reflective of the owner’s vision.

The article made me think about the price of my own books. I purposely priced the first book, “Through the Mist: Restoration,” at a very affordable 99 cents for the ebook. It was my debut novel. I wanted it to be accessible to a large number of people and felt more people would give it a chance if it was priced low.

When I released the novella, “Through the Mist: Adrift,” I also priced that book at 99 cents. It is much smaller in page count, so I did not feel it was appropriate to charge a “big price.”

Then, when I released the sequel, “Through the Mist: Reunion,” I first priced it at $2.99. The loyal fans of the first book snapped it up. Then, sales slowed. I lowered the price to $1.99, where it remains today. Sales have flat-lined.

I am beginning to wonder if that article applies to me. Do people think the books are not good because of the low price? Well, I just don’t know. You see, that’s the problem with self-publishing. I don’t have anyone looking at focus groups, taking surveys, or producing earnings forecasts who can tell me why sales have dropped. The second novel has not sold anywhere close to the levels I saw with the first book. Why???

I still believe self-publishing is a great vehicle to produce books. By sharing my experiences, I hope to help the next person who is considering this route. Most likely, you will not make enough money to quit your day job. And, it can be frustrating when you do not know WHY that is. You know your book is good - why isn’t anyone buying it??

As I end most posts, I would greatly appreciate feedback - positive or negative.

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Writing When You are Busy

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Writing When You are Busy

In the early days of this blog, I was filled with positive energy. I was so happy to FINALLY publish my first book that the first posts encouraged everyone to carve out whatever time they could to write, to follow whatever dream someone had.

While I still believe in following one’s dreams, my enthusiasm has tempered. I am in the midst of a months-long project at work that will radically change everything at my workplace. It is monumental. With such a daunting task ahead, I am frequently exhausted at the end of the work day. The last thing I want to do is sit down in front of my laptop and write.

I have developed a much more realistic habit that might help you too. For Christmas, a good friend of mine gave me a leather-bound journal. (It was really sweet, because I have wanted one for a long time and never told anyone.) When I fill the pages, I can remove the journal inside and replace it with a fresh one.

The journal is a great size. I keep it in my purse. Whenever I have an idea or story thread for the Through the Mist series, I can jot a note in the journal.

Sometimes, I only have time and energy to write passages in the journal. For now, that’s good enough. I still feel as if I am pursuing my dream of writing, but with a realistic approach. It’s all about finding a way to achieve a dream, while living in the real world of boring jobs, deadlines, and stress.

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The Joys of Self Publishing?

I have written in the past about the highs of self publishing. They are many - no one to tell you what to do, when to do it. No one to tell you what to write. Are you picking up on the theme here? You are the boss, which can be exhilarating.

It can also be frustrating. Without someone to nudge you along, you can take your time with the book. That can be a negative. I doubt anyone reading this blog has the privilege of writing full-time. Most of us juggle our “real” jobs with all the deadlines and stress to go along with it. After a difficult day at work, the last thing you may want to do is work on that book. Without a nudge, it could take YEARS to complete your novel.

And then there’s the issue with promotion. What do you do?? Do you place ads? If so, where? How much do you spend? Do you record a podcast? Should you have a giveaway on a website? Can you get someone to publish a review? If you decide to do any or all of these things, how do you actually DO it?? How, I say? HOW???!!!

I admit that I have little patience. I just want to write my story and have someone else take care of the business side of things. Hmmmm….sounds a bit like a traditional publishing relationship, doesn’t it?

Well, I don’t have any publishers beating down my door, begging to publish my book. And, I just don’t have the desire to send a manuscript to 100 publishers, only to be told “no, thanks” or worse, “you suck, your book sucks, you should stop writing for the good of humanity.” OK - that last bit may be harsh, but who hasn’t felt that way?

I have written two and half books in the “Through the Mist” series - “Restoration,” “Adrift” (a novella), and “Reunion.” The first book did well, in my opinion. The novella’s sales were meh. “Reunion” has flatlined, which is a shame. I felt as if I hit my stride with that one. The pace is better, and the ending is really good, in my less than humble opinion.

Let me be clear - I know none of these books will be number one on ANY chart. I want somebody to read them, though. Why else did I take the time to transfer the story from my head to the page? If you are a writer too, you know exactly what I mean.

I feel that I am at a crossroads. I just don’t know what to do to draw readers to my books. And, I have at least two more to write in the series as well as a great idea for a standalone novella. What should I do?

At this point, I have considered hiring a book launch coach. I need someone to pick me up by the bootstraps, so to speak, and tell me what to do. I just don’t know where to start. Let’s see if someone else can help me. As long as the endeavor does not cost a fortune, it might be the kick in the pants that I need. Sometimes, that’s what it takes. Wish me luck!

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So, What's It About??

Whenever someone learns that you wrote a book, the natural question is, “So, what’s it about?” More questions may follow if people are interested.

I try not to ramble on too much. I wouldn’t have written the series if I was not passionate about the topic, but I realize that you can only hold someone’s interest for so long. Here are some common questions and their answers:

Through the Mist is a series. What’s it about?

It begins with the first book, Restoration. Tilly Munro is a modern woman who suddenly finds herself over two hundred years in the past, in Scotland. How did that happen? Who is this mysterious Benjamin Campbell? Will she go back, if she ever finds a way?

Then, I continued the story in a novella, Through the Mist: Adrift. Tilly travelled to Scotland with her best friend, Beth Hunter Madison. After Tilly’s mysterious disappearance, Beth’s life fell apart. In Adrift, we learn more about Beth and see the story come to a startling conclusion.

The recently published sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, continues the story of Benjamin and Tilly. We learn what has happened over the last year since Tilly disappeared. We also learn more about Benjamin’s father Malcolm, and the lengths the man will go, all in an attempt to preserve the estate. We experience a new love story with two characters. How does that one end?

This sounds like a lot of time travel romances that I have read. How’s this one different?

It is true that the “Scottish time travel” romance story has been done many times over. In fact, that was my inspiration. I have read a lot of books in the genre. I never read one where the woman was older and has lived a life before she met our dashing Scot. And, the modern women usually don’t have any problem at all with the changes brought on by time travel.

Well, I need indoor plumbing, access to information, and freedom to speak my mind. I am not a twenty-something and would likely be viewed as a spinster. In short, I would have a serious problem with traveling back in time. That got me thinking - how would someone like me deal with time travel? What things would be different?

That’s how the Through the Mist series was born.

I hate the way Restoration ended. Why did you do that to us readers??

It has been my lifelong dream to write a book. Restoration was my first effort. I admit there are issues in that book with pacing, and yes, the ending could use a little polish. However, the story for me is over at that point. It was always meant to pick up in the next book.

Incidentally, the ending of Reunion is much better, in my opinion. Please give it a chance.

Why don’t you just fix the ending and republish Restoration?

I am a bit of purist. Aside from fixing typos, I don’t believe in changing the book once it has been published. Besides, I am afraid too many edits would spoil the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion.

Why did you write the novella, Adrift?

For awhile, the material in Adrift was the first part of Reunion. I finally decided to cut it from the book. I was afraid no one would hang in there long enough to get to the real heart of the story that happens in Reunion.

I could not bring myself to leave the story unpublished, though. To me, the material in Adrift provides needed backstory into Beth’s life. Expect some callbacks to the novella in the third book in the series.

You have a few historical references in the series. Are they true?

Based upon my research, yes. I read a lot of material about the time period. I study online resources. And, for the next book, I can reference notes and pictures I took on my recent trip to Scotland. It is important to me that you are part of the story. Adding little details about food, customs, or clothing make the experience real to me, and I hope it does the same for you.

Now, I will say this - I do not have a team of people behind me. I do the best I can, and it takes me longer to complete my research. I have a day job. If you find a glaring historical error, I always welcome comments. You can DM me on Facebook.

The books are affordably priced, compared to other e-books. Why are they so cheap?

With my first book, Through the Mist: Restoration, you took a chance with me. It seemed rather rude to ask you to spend $10 on a writer’s first book. I priced it at 99 cents so you would give me that chance. If you liked it, you got a deal. If you hated it, well, you only spent 99 cents.

The novella Adrift is also priced at 99 cents. It is not essential to the series, but it is a “nice to have.”

Both Restoration and Adrift are now free to read on Kindle Unlimited, if you have it.

I have struggled with pricing for Through the Mist: Reunion, the sequel. I try to keep the price in an affordable range, yet, to be completely honest, it would be nice to make more than 35 cents on the book. (Yes, literally that amount.) Hey - we all need a side hustle these days, right? At the current price, it is still less expensive than some ebooks out there. I hope the story is enjoyable enough for you to spend your hard-earned money.

When can we expect the next book?

Restoration was published in 2016. Adrift and Reunion were published in 2018. I seem to be on a “every two years” track. The story in the as-yet-untitled third book is much, much larger than the other books in the series. I hope to complete it within two years, but I don’t want to make any promises.

Keep an eye on this blog and Facebook for updates.

Have more questions?

Find me on Facebook or Goodreads. You can leave a comment here. I love feedback and questions. I really want to know what you think of the story, the characters - anything.

As always, happy reading!

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New Releases Coming Soon!

If you don't follow me on Facebook, I invite you. I tend to post the first updates there.

The book writing/editing is coming along well. To catch you up, I decided to split the sequel into two parts - a novella, titled "Through the Mist: Adrift," and the actual sequel, "Through the Mist: Reunion."

The story in the novella needs to be told. I feared, though, that it would bog down the sequel if I used it as the opening part of the book. 

I plan to release the novella at the end of June 2018. Fair warning - it has an abrupt ending. In fact, if I read it, I would probably scream, "What happens next?!!" Don't fear - the sequel will be released in early August 2018, if not sooner. I hate it when books end with a cliffhanger, and the reader must wait for sometimes YEARS before there is a resolution. As a new writer, I understand why that happens. As a reader, it drives me NUTS.

As always, thank you for going on this journey with me. I will keep you posted when the new books come out. Happy reading!

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Read My Book - Pretty Please

For the last two weeks, I have talked about the challenges of self-publishing. I shared that writing the book was actually the easy part. The business side of things opens up a whole new world of challenges. Today, I would like to share my experiences with advertising.

Since I am a frugal person and had no idea if I would sell one copy, I looked at available resources at little to no cost. I have three tips to offer as well as some thoughts about what I will do differently with the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion.

First, pick the right category for the book. In the description on Amazon, I used certain keywords that were relevant to the genre. It is a Scottish historical romance with a time travel twist. Some people love those sorts of books; I do! I looked at bestsellers in the genre. What keywords did they use? How were the descriptions phrased? I then crafted my book’s description so that it would garner attention from other lovers of the genre.

Second, develop a social media profile in advance of the release. I created a website, but I did not have a Facebook profile. That was a mistake. Many readers are accustomed to finding and engaging with their favorite author via social media. While the website was nice, Facebook is better. And, it is free! I post to Facebook when I want to discuss the book, scones, or any random thing. If someone leaves a comment, I respond. I have already learned a great deal about scones from an Australian reader. I never expected that!

Third, set up an author’s dashboard on Goodreads. It is free! I took a webinar about social media resources prior to my book’s release. Goodreads was mentioned in the course. It is a website for book lovers. Readers can start discussions about various books or themes as well as leave reviews of books. They can create their own profiles and list their favorite books. It was simple to add my book to the mix and create a profile. I have had a few questions from readers about my book, which was cool.

What are my plans for the next book? I feel a little more confident about the experience, so I plan to launch the next book on a broader scale. In the coming months, I will research the cost for ads at Amazon, Goodreads, and other relevant places. I want to explore what is necessary for certain sites to review my book as well how to set up giveaways of the new release. Are there other resources that would “get the book out there?” Hopefully, I will learn more about that soon.

In the end, I learned a valuable lesson with everything – formatting, design, and advertising. Writing the book is a difficult task. Once it is done, I need to put away the writer’s brain and think like a business person. I should “farm out” what I can afford and direct my attentions to projects where I can make the most impact. With a little luck, the sequel will reach more readers. For those of you who are on the same journey, good luck – and keep writing!

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Make it Look Purdy

Writing the book seemed like the hardest part of producing Through the Mist: Restoration. Oh, I was so wrong! After I finished the book, I still needed to format it for publishing and design a cover for the book. In this blog post, I’ll share a little bit about my experience and offer some insight into what I plan to do for the sequel.

Let’s tackle formatting first. In a nutshell, your “publisher” will want your book to be submitted in a format that fits their format. I published  eBook and paperback versions of my book. I used Amazon for the eBook. I used CreateSpace for the paperback. Both vendors had different formats, so I had to create two different versions.

In both cases, the vendor provided a template and instructions about their preferences for margins and other things. When you produce your book, ask the vendor if they offer similar information. It will make life easier for you and hopefully allow you to quickly publish the book.

For design, I decided to produce the cover on my own. I think I have fair design skills, so I used Adobe InDesign to create the eBook cover. The knife and tartan blanket are mine. I took the photo on my sofa. I then loaded it into InDesign and did a little work to produce the final image, which I uploaded to Amazon.

The current cover on the paperback was a template available on CreateSpace. I used the previously-mentioned photo and tweaked it a bit for the paperback.

Now, how do I really feel about doing all that work myself? Well, here’s a succinct answer: it sucked! It felt like torture. After spending so much time writing the book, I just wanted to publish it. It was agony to spend endless hours on the format, to submit and resubmit the work again and again. Ugh! Torture!

The cover design was somewhat fun. I enjoy photography and design. I just didn’t like flipping through templates and trying to find “the one.” And, let me say – I am not satisfied with the template for the paperback. There is a major flaw on the spine of the book that annoys me every time I look at it. I will fix it one day, just not now. The memories of that tortuous process are too fresh.

So, why did I do all the work myself? Again, another succinct answer: money. I did not want to sink a lot of money into a book that might not sell a single copy. I am careful with my spending. I could not justify it.

What are my plans for the sequel? I will probably hire someone to do the formatting for me. I feel more confident that the sequel will sell enough copies to justify the cost. With the first book, I devoted entirely too much time on something that did not fulfill me. I could have used those hours to work on the sequel! The trick will be to find the right person at the right price. I am sure you’ll hear all about it on the blog.

For the design, I am still on the fence. I enjoyed working on the process. I could hire someone to create the cover art for me, though I already have the picture in mind. We will see. For me, I see more value in paying someone to format the darn book.

I have said it a million times. You must set a budget for publishing your book, or you will needlessly spend thousands of dollars. Self-publishing is supposed to be fun. It is okay to hire people to handle the aspects you find boring or beyond your technical abilities. Just be prepared to pay for it.

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Budgets: Editing

As I work on the sequel, Through the Mist: Reunion, I am already thinking about marketing the book. The first book was a real eye opener about all the extra work required in self publishing. I thought writing the book was the hard part. Oh, no, the business side is even more difficult.

Writing is such a creative process. I found it a bit difficult to switch off the creative side of the brain and turn on the business part when the time came. I would like to avoid the same mistakes when the sequel is released.

I have talked in the past about the importance of setting a budget. I do not consider myself an expert on the topic, but I can offer some insight into the kinds of things that weigh on my mind right now. For the next three weeks, let’s explore three items that should be considered for your budget: editing; formatting and design; and advertising.

Once the book is complete, you might ask yourself whether or not you should use professional editing services. A person can edit your book for everything from grammatical errors to story problems. It is up to you how far you want that person to go. More importantly, how much are willing to spend for the service?

In my case, I paid $100 to have the first 25,000 words of my book reviewed for content only. I am so glad that I did. She identified a major problem with the opening and suggested a different approach to the prologue. As a result, I completely rewrote the prologue and scraped the first eight chapters of the book. In my opinion, the end result is better than the original.

The Internet is filled with people who offer editing services. Do your research carefully. How many books has this person edited? Have you read any of those books? Exactly what services are offered for the fee you will pay? How quickly will the person return the edited work? Do they provide a contract stating that your work is your own? This last question is important. You don’t want someone to steal your idea!

So, what are my plans? Honestly, I am still undecided. I read the first book, Through the Mist: Restoration, and found a few typos. If I had hired an editor, I would like to think that he or she would have found those mistakes. I plan to follow my own advice and see what’s available and how much it costs. Check this blog. I am sure I will write about it when I make the decision.

I plan to devote some amount of my budget to editing. After all, loads of grammatical errors or a sluggish story will disgust readers. I want people to read my book and feel happy, not angry at the mistakes! Consider adopting the same strategy when you publish your first book. Keep writing

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Is it a Hobby? Or, Is It a Business?

We are fortunate to live in an age when you are no longer dependent upon a publishing house to fall in love with your manuscript and publish it. You can use a myriad of online resources to publish your book, in eBook and/or paperback format. It can be an incredibly daunting experience. It is important to decide upfront if the project is a hobby or a business. The answer to the question will lead you down two entirely different paths.

A hobby is something that you do at a leisurely pace. You are not specifically seeking profit. If you do make a little money, that’s great; it just isn’t your goal. You might spend some money to participate in this activity. Depending upon the hobby, you might spend a little – or a lot. Still, it is discretionary spending. If you must decide between your hobby and feeding your family, you would give up the hobby.

A business, on the other hand, requires time, money, and energy. Your goal is profit. You devote hours to create and market a product. You make the investment because you want this endeavor to be a success.

Now, some would say that you can have both when it comes to writing. If that is your passion, yes, in theory. The old adage “find something you love, and you will never work a day in your life” is a wonderful concept. How many people do you know who have actually achieved that goal? Not many.

The brutal truth is that, while you can self publish your own work, you must decide how you will treat the task. There are literally millions of books out there. I compare publishing my first book to casting a pebble in the ocean. I always came to my original question: is it a business or a hobby?

When I published Through the Mist: Restoration, I quickly realized all the work was on me. I didn't have a publishing team behind me that would market the book, schedule interviews, create advertisements, maintain social media outlets, et cetera. I had to decide how much work I was willing to do.

The process was filled with a lot of uncertainty. Through the Mist: Restoration was my first book. I had no idea if it was good or if anyone would even buy it. I did not want to invest a lot of time or money into the “business” side of things. After all, my main purpose was to finally write a book.

I have not sold millions of copies. I haven’t even cracked 10,000 yet. It is a tremendous success to me because I have sold thousands of copies, something I never imagined would happen. I am amazed that even one person bought the book!

I have spent some money to create a website and buy books for research. I devote time to posting to my website and Facebook in addition to the hours spent writing the sequel. I have not spent any money on advertising , though. I have not contacted various parties to write reviews for the book or sought other means of promotion.

Why? Because I am still learning! I am trying to sort out what I did right, and what I could have done differently. I am researching the various outlets for promotion. In short, I am learning the business side of the endeavor. It turns out that writing the book was the easiest part.

So, what is the takeaway from this rambling blog post? If you are a writer who wants to self publish, I suggest you take a hard look at it. You can spend a ton of money and get no results. You should prepare yourself for that possibility. Then, decide how you want to approach this. If it is a hobby, don’t sink thousands of dollars into it unless you can lose that money.

If it is a business, research, research, research. Most of us do not have a marketing background, a wealth of industry contacts, and unlimited funds. Design a plan. Figure out how much time and money will be needed to execute that plan. Then, be prepared for a long road. If you are very lucky, the plan will work brilliantly and quickly. Do not get discouraged, though, if it takes time to gain traction. Remember, your book is one of literally millions out there.

Before I end this post, I do want to mention one thing I did right. I became a Goodreads author. It was free and easy. My sales jumped after I did that. I don’t understand why but am so glad!

Good luck to everyone out there. Remember, writing is meant to be fun!

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Budgeting: Your Money

Unless you are wildly wealthy, you probably have some experience with budgeting. Not all of us can be “Oprah rich.” In the world of self publishing, it is easy to spend a fortune. Before you publish your book, I encourage you to create a budget. If you wait until the book is published, you run the risk of getting caught up in the excitement of the moment and spending more money than you should. I am no expert on this subject, mainly because each book has a different audience. However, I would like to share my own experience.

First, I opted to have an eBook as well as paperback version of my book. While I fully expect that most people will buy the cheaper, more convenient eBook, I wanted a traditional option. And, quite frankly, I wanted to buy something I could hold in my hands and say, “I made this.” CreateSpace, the vendor I used, allows authors to buy their paperbacks at a reduced price. I really appreciated this discount. Still, I set a budget for how many books I initially wanted to buy. I knew it would be easy to get carried away and buy loads of copies that would collect dust on a bookshelf somewhere.

Second, you need some type of online presence. Social media sites like FaceBook are free, but you must do all the work with setup. You can create your own website in lieu of or in addition to a social media site; a custom website might have fees, though. Do your homework. Compare all the potential costs. Will you have a custom domain name (i.e. creneefreeman.com)? How much will registration cost? How many pages are included on your website? (A page is each section. For example, on my website, the “Where to Buy” section is one page, “The Blog” is one page, et cetera.) Do you have to design every piece of the website, or do they provide design templates? Once you know what you get for your money, you can determine which vendor works best for you. Then, you have your “online presence” budget.

Third, what about advertising? Everyone wants you to place an ad on a website. They entice you by saying the ads are only $5/month or some fee that sounds nominal. The costs can accumulate quickly.

I confess that I am on the fence about advertising. At this stage, I would like to see what happens by simply having an online presence and selling on Amazon. I am sure I will do some form of advertisement in the coming months, once the newness of my book wears off, and sales are slow. I will write a post when I make that decision.

Over the last few posts, you have learned by now that the marketing side of things can be a struggle. You have a lot of decisions and work ahead of you after you write your book. Apply the same careful planning to this process as you do with other aspects of your life. Take a deep breath. Create a budget. And, try to have fun! The sooner you can get through the marketing phase, the sooner you can start writing the next book!

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Marketing: It's All You!

As a writer who chose the self-publishing route, you will quickly find that you must do a lot of work yourself. You may think that the difficult work is behind you after you write the book. Oh, no – it has just begun!

I mentioned in previous posts that you can find people to do some of the work for you. These services usually are not free, though. And, whether or not you pay someone else, you make the final decision about everything from formatting of your book to artwork to website design.

I have found this part of the process to be a bit annoying. While I enjoyed some aspects like website creation, other tasks have been daunting. Take Facebook, for example. Until I published this book, I did not have a Facebook page. I am one of those rare individuals who have been “in the dark.” My reason is simple – if you are my friend, we already talk, text, and email. I don’t need to “like” you on the Internet. I already like you in real life!

Unfortunately, when you are trying to market a book, you cannot have that viewpoint. Your readers need a way to get in touch with you and follow what’s going on. A website and blog are nice, but not everyone goes there. Like it or not, people prefer searching on FB.

I have spent hours trying to get an author page setup on FB. I am not technically illiterate. I know that a “thin client” is not a person who won the battle with his/her weight. I have setup complex software and created new processes and procedures. Why is FB so damn confusing?? Maybe part of the fault is mine. While I am on FB, I cannot help but think that it is a HUGE waste of time.

So, the moral of the story is you may find yourself taking on tasks that have nothing to do with writing a book. What do you do? You have a couple of options.

If you do it yourself, the Internet is a good resource for learning more about marketing. Find out what venue works best for what you are trying to market. For example, readers who like Steam Punk might not be interested in a book about 17th-century musical instruments. Also, think about what your technical abilities and interests are. Do you have friends who could help? Are you willing to take classes to improve your skills?

You can opt to have other people build this stuff for you. That will likely cost money. You should set a budget for the project, just as you would anything else. It is easy to spend thousands of dollars that you may never recoup from your book’s sales. A quick Google search can help you locate people who could help. I prefer using trusted sources, though. Try to find websites that tailor to your genre and see what other authors use. I am a big fan of the folks at storywonk.com.

Regardless who does the work (you or someone else), you must do some sort of marketing work. You took the time to write the book. People who are not your friends or family should read it, right? That’s the point of marketing. You want readers!

Good luck!

P.S.

I still haven't figured out how to set up that *&^% Facebook page. Not an account, a Page. I can create it, yet the URL does not work. Grrrrrr....see what I mean about the problems of "do it yourself?" 

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Self Publishing is Soooo Easy

I was blissfully naïve when I decided that self-publishing my book would be easy. It is a lot of work.

In some aspects, the publishing process is better than it was 10, 20 years ago. You don’t need a literary agent or fat publishing contract to print your book. Several vendors are happy to assist you with getting your book printed in eBook and/or paperback form.

I ultimately choose Amazon and their parent company, CreateSpace, because their service is free on the front end. Amazon provides you with tools and other resources to create and publish eBooks. CreateSpace, which will produce your work in paperback form, has similar tools that help you create the cover, market the book, and handle loads of other questions. Both venues take a hefty cut of the total price. I was deeply saddened to see that my dreams of making writing a full-time career likely will not come true. Unless I sell millions of copies, my proceeds won’t even pay for that glass of champagne I featured in the first blog post.

So, yes, anyone can publish a book. That’s also the bad part. When my book is published, it is akin to tossing a pebble in the ocean. Literally hundreds of thousands of books are out there. How can I get people to notice my humble work?

I suppose that’s where the literary agent and traditional publishing house comes into play. All the work I must do on my own would be done by them. I created my own web page. I took the photo that appears on the cover of my book and designed the cover itself. I formatted the book for publishing on both Amazon’s eBook and CreateSpace’s paperback sites, which were two completely different formats. For the most part, I edited the book on my own.

You can find people out there who would be happy to perform a lot of these services for you. Someone would have been happy to design the website, edit the book, et cetera. All of those things cost money, though. When it is your first work, it is hard to justify the expense. It is especially difficult when you have no idea whether or not you have a prayer of making money on the venture.

For that reason, I have done a lot of the work myself. Some snarky folks will say it shows; well, help me for free then. Tell me what I should have done differently – in a nice way.

I would be remiss if I did not mention a very valuable resource that I used. As a fan of Outlander, I discovered a podcast called “The Scot and the Sassenach.” The couple who produced the podcast reviewed each episode of the series. It is a brilliant podcast conducted by two writing professionals. They provide an interesting prospective.

They also offer loads of writing classes (both free and paid) on their website, storywonk.com. They will perform all sorts of other services for you – help you with editing, design, et cetera. I found an offer where they would take the first 25,000 words of your novel and provide a critique. It was not terribly expensive, just $100 at the time. I considered the price to be very fair, especially when I received the feedback.

The review was admittedly disappointing at first, because I thought I was finished. However, the criticism was constructive. She helped me to see problems I had with various aspects of the book. In fact, I eliminated the first few chapters and started over. She is not a fan of prologues and wanted me to scrap it, but if I was “stubborn,” she suggested that I write it from a different character’s point of view (POV). I did, just to see how it would read – and the prologue in the book today is the result. It is far richer and ties the story together much better than the original.

If you are thinking about the self-publishing route, be prepared to do a lot of work. Set a budget for what you are willing to invest. Know that you may never, ever recoup that cost. Then, you can decide how much you can do yourself and how much you must pay someone else to do.

Do I wish I had a literary agent and big, fat publishing contract? I really don’t know. I imagine you must relinquish a certain amount of creative control. That’s really the big reason to go with self publishing – it is all you. No one imposes a deadline. No one tells you that you cannot say something. Some people may find that overwhelming. Some may find it liberating.

No matter which way you go, though, the key is to start writing! I do not believe this will be the venture that will rescue me from my job. I probably have a better chance of winning the lotto. However, that is not my primary reason for writing. I have a story to tell-and now I am finally able to tell it.

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