Finally, Mark Coker produces relevant and interesting industry content on the Smashword.com blog, which can be found here. His most recent posting about the Indie Author Manifesto is brilliant writing. It is loaded with talking points and culminates in 10 self-evident truths. For an example of what I have done, you can find me on Smashwords here:
C.S. Maynard is the author of Blood of the Wolf and she has agreed to share her self-publishing experiences with us today. Thank you so much, Charlotte!
C.S Maynard on Self-Publishing and Editors
I had worked on a couple of books and written a couple of novels before my husband sat me down and said, this next one we’re going to publish. We’re going to go all the way. We did our research, we looked at the numbers, we read about traditionally published authors who were actively choosing self-publishing over traditional and then we decided. We chose the self-publish option.
We won’t go into the stigmas of self-publishing or the quality of it versus traditional. We won’t go into how or why an author should choose that over the other options. That’s another post. I want to talk about editors.
If you go the traditional route and you get a contract, you will have an editor. Sometimes not one, but several, depending on how big the publisher. They understand how important it is to have someone else give it a look over.
My husband and I fought over this concept as we pushed to write this novel that we were insisting that we were going to go all the way to the end. He kept insisting that we didn’t need one, couldn’t afford one, he could help me, we had good beta readers. The list of his explanations and excuses went on and on and it was always something so important that we just couldn’t make it happen.
I finished the book, we started having our beta readers do their work. I have some really good beta readers, some writers themselves and they all found important things. I learned a lot in the process, I’m still learning, and everything I had experienced told me that we needed that final editor, someone with grammar and punctuation skills that could give it that final polish.
Still, my husband fought me, insisting that we could do it on our own. Nothing I could say mattered. Then, he went to the most critical of our beta readers to get her opinion just on the first chapter. She was polite, non-specific, too nice in her opinions and he realized there was more to what she wasn’t saying than what she was.
They talked for awhile and he discovered that she did have issues. All manuscripts have flaws. You can be the most experienced, talented writer and there will always be something that you miss. In fact, there were so many issues that this very experienced reader couldn’t get past that first chapter. She didn’t finish it.
We had a real problem if we were going to take this book to publishing. Finally, I had that second opinion, that firework in the sky to convince him that maybe there was something to what I had been trying to tell him all along. We needed an editor.
I had worked with a free service before and they had some really good options, opening up their editors to doing original fiction. However, these were volunteers and not professionally trained. You roll the dice and hope that you get assigned to someone who not only reads and enjoys your genre, but has the skills and training to accomplish what you want. When I used the service, I found just that. It is possible, but you might have to go through a few to find the one that works best with you.
This is an option if you don’t know anyone. It’s an amazing service and I recommend at least trying it if you choose to self-publish. Especially with your first few books, money is very tight and every little penny counts.
In my case, I have a neighbor who does technical editing for a local University and she was willing to help me out. We paid her a pittance, but it was important to us to give her something for the really amazing job that she did. The difference was outstanding. She didn’t change the story or the characters or mess with my theme in any way. A good editor won’t.
She took what I had, the rough cut, fogged gem and cut away the detritus. After her polishing, my gem wasn’t the dirty, ragged thing I had given her. I won’t say it had become a diamond. It might be more accurately likened to a bit of topaz that you can find out on the ground in the mountains near where my story is set. But it was a far sight more beautiful after her touch than before.
I recommend self-publishing if you can put in the time and effort into promoting it. You will have to deal with the fact that it’s definitely not as fast growing and most don’t sell 100 books in the first month.
If you do choose to self-publish, however, find yourself an editor. You don’t have to pay the $2500 for some that I saw being offered, there are other options. Let the master do the work they love, put the polish on your baby and know that you really did put yourself out there in new and exciting ways that you can really be proud of.
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Every High School has their social outcasts. The band nerds, the math geeks, the chess club, the girl that chews her hair, but at Butler High, even the creepy nose picker in the chess club is more popular than Caleo Anima. No matter what he did, his pale skin, snow white hair, and piercing blue eyes always made him an easy target. He used to think that the only way things could get worse would be if someone found out that he was gay, but that isn’t even the tip of the iceberg of problems after a mysterious stranger shows up and changes Caleo’s life forever.
Hidden amongst our society, a secret and magical race of people known as ‘Leeches’, have been engaging in civil war for decades. Both sides are desperately searching for a weapon with unlimited power that will give them the advantage they need to rule their world. This wouldn’t mean anything to Caleo, except for one problem…He is that weapon!
Forget making it through High School. Caleo has bigger problems! As the search for him goes on, the world is quickly crumbling around him. He’s now fighting for his life and the life of what little family he has left. With the help of new friends, he has little time to try and master his newly found powers as he tries to figure out who he can trust, who is trying to use him, and who just wants him dead. One wrong step and being the awkward pale outcast will be the least of his worries.
What if you knew the exact date and time the world will end, what would you do?Sam Tucker was faced with that dilemma when he began getting visions of the Earth’s demise. Luckily for him, he was able to save his family and as many people as he could before the tragic event occurred, and he did so with the help of unknown visitors. With Earth now destroyed, Sam, his family, and thousands of other lucky survivors must live the rest of their lives on a faraway planet in a Dome that simulates life on Earth. But Sam’s mind can’t seem to rest as a few questions arise. Why did the aliens save them? How did they know about Earth’s sure fate? And exactly what are they hiding?
Emma Tucker begged for an escape from her boring life but never in a million years did she think it would come at the destruction of Earth. Living on a new planet and finding it difficult to get rid of her rebellious habits, Emma finds herself making friends with a member of the alien race and it soon develops into an unexplainable love; a love that is more dangerous than she could ever imagine. While her father is searching for his own truths, she has no idea that she is stumbling on a truth of her own.
Told from the point of view of both Sam and Emma, author Nova Sparks takes readers on a journey to discover love, fate, faith, truth, and the mystery of the DOME!
I’m excited to have a guest blogger today. L. Blankenship is the author of Disciple Half-Omnibus, which collects the first three parts of Disciple into one meaty book. If you haven’t read Part I yet, you can try it for free.
And don’t forget to scroll way down at the bottom of this post to enter for a chance to win a free copy of her forthcoming book! And now on to the guest blog…
I’ve been self-publishing for over a year now. A year and three months, to be more exact. I’m still waiting for the Fun Police to kick in my door and stop me.
Because while self-pubbing has been stressful and frightening and at times soul-crushing, it still feels like I’m getting away with something I shouldn’t be able to. I’m part of a group of writers who say a manuscript should be submitted around “until hell won’t have it!” so at first I joked that by self-pubbing I was catapulting my story straight over hell’s walls and they had no option about having it… bypassing publishing’s infamous gatekeepers and all.
The joke wore off as it became obvious that my manuscript was probably sitting on a sidewalk inside hell’s walls, being stepped over and ignored.
Nobody came to stop me, though.
So I loaded up my second manuscript and fired that over the walls too. Then the third one. Each time, I went through the same ritual of betas, revision, and hiring a freelance editor. I plotted long-range character arcs and pondered the changes in narrative voice. I hired cover artists and squeed over what they sent me.
I was sure that would alert the Fun Police, but they still didn’t serve me a cease and desist order.
Self-publishing is not a bed of roses unless you mean a bed of rosebushes rather than one of flower petals. I came into this with 15 years’ experience as a graphic designer, prepress technician, proofreader, and a small-press publisher in the tabletop gaming industry — and I still have my share of thorn scratches.
Each of those is from the silence that follows a promotional post. An offer of free review copies that went unanswered. A Sunday that I went around to my sales sites to collect the “weekly eggs” as I call those strings of zeros.
This is why writers need thick skins. The bed of thorns.
I do catch the scent of roses, though. I still squee when my artist sends me sketches for my next book cover. When someone posts that they liked my sample, it’s a welcome ray of sunshine. Every time I go looking for zeros and find numbers instead, it plasters a smile on my face.
I’m going to keep doing this until the Fun Police kick in my door and haul me away.
Ophelia London has been kind enough to write a guest blog for today. She was born and raised among the redwood trees in beautiful northern California. Once she was fully educated, she decided to settle in Florida, but her car broke down in Texas and she’s lived in Dallas ever since. A cupcake and treadmill aficionado (obviously those things are connected), she spends her time watching arthouse movies and impossibly trashy TV, while living vicariously through the characters in the books she writes.
Ophelia is the author of DEFINITELY, MAYBE IN LOVE, ABBY ROAD, and the Perfect Kisses series including: PLAYING AT LOVE, SPEAKING OF LOVE, and FALLING FOR HER SOLDIER (Jan 2014).
Hi there! Ophelia, here. I’m so happy to hop on your blog and give a little behind the scenes peek into the creation of Falling for her Solder, the third (and final—sob!) novel in my Perfect Kisses series.
When I decided to write another smexy category romance, I knew I wanted music to play a huge part in the story, almost like it was its own character. Since I’d already written a book about a rock star chick (Abby Road) and a high school show choir teacher (Playing at Love – book one in Perfect Kisses), I knew I needed to come up with something just as musically fun.
Anyway, back to the music…
Thanks to my father, I’m a huge Frank Sinatra fan. But Sinatra’s not very relevant with today’s romance readers. That’s when I settled on the smooth, croony sounds of Michael Bublé to be the backdrop of the dancing scenes in Falling for her Soldier. However, since Charlie is having a hell of a time getting his macho marching feet to move properly, he often gets frustrated and annoyed with Bublé voice and kind of blames him every time he missteps. A muttered “Bublé” becomes Charlie’s favorite curse word.
As I was writing all those frustrating/romantic dance lesson scenes, the “method writer” in me also began to get irritated whenever a MichaelBublé song would come up on the playlist. “Grr, I hate that Bublé,” I would often mutter as I skipped ahead to the next track. Not that I have anything personal against Michael Bublé. In fact, I pretty much love him and his dreamy blue eyes. (Swoon!)
In the final, big dancing scene, Charlie and Ellie don’t dance to Bublé, but to another dreamy crooner, although I won’t give it away here… You’ll be happy to know, however, that Charlie does end up with a soft spot in his heart for Bublé, knowing that whenever a Bublé song plays, that means he gets to dance with Ellie…which is always worth it.
On a personal note, I was at a wedding reception and my not-yet-but-soon-to-be-boyfriend asked me to dance to John Denver’s “Annie’s Song.” It was probably the most romantic dance floor moment in my life. Do you have a favorite song you like to dance to? Tell me!
Katie Hayoz was born in Racine, WI, the youngest of six kids. Originally, she wanted to become pope (for the awesome hat and fancy robes), but quickly realized reading was her true religion. Writing was always a hobby, but she decided to go at it seriously when she ended up in Geneva, Switzerland. Now she’s constantly at her laptop in the small apartment she shares with her husband, two daughters, and two fuzzy cats. She devours YA novels like she does popcorn and black licorice: quickly and in large quantities.
Her latest offering, Untethered, is about sixteen-year-old Sylvie. Sylivie isn’t comfortable in her own skin. In fact, there are times she can’t even manage to stay inside it. But if there is one thing she’s sure of, it’s her love for Kevin Phillips. She’s willing to stake everything on it –her family, her friends, and possibly her soul.
Sylvie has been best friends with Cassie forever. But everything is turned around when the boy Sylvie’s loved since fifth grade falls for Cassie. Devastated, Sylvie intends to get Kevin by any means possible, even if it involves treachery, deceit, and the dark side of astral projection. She is positive her plans will give her what she wants, but she doesn’t count on it all spiraling out of control.
Katie has allowed me to share the following excerpt from Untethered:
I’m stuck in this body. And I can’t get out.
I stare at my arms. These arms. They’re not mine, but I’m wearing them. They’re thick and muscular and covered in hair. The veins run like rope down the insides.
I squeeze my eyes shut for the hundredth time, hoping that when I open them, I’ll look down and see my own thin arms. My own delicate veins.
Oh, God, do I need help. I need help. Now.
I stand and my head spins. Grabbing onto the desk, I wait for the dizziness to pass. Wait for my head to clear. It doesn’t happen.
I look from the desk to the bed to the floor to the walls and see where I am. Clarity won’t come. Can’t come. Because I’m not where I’m supposed to be.
My eyes travel to the mirror and the face staring back in terror. “Please,” I say. The face says it back, but sloppily. Like a drunk. “Please,” I beg again. “Where are you?” This time the words feel formed. This time my lips, his lips, work the way I expect them to. Or close to it.
But there’s no response.
I lift a hand. Take a step. My movements are staccato. Jerky. Clumsy. Like electrodes are flexing these muscles. Not me. Everything about this body is heavy and long. I take another step forward and it’s smoother, but I’m not used to the bulk of this body.
And I don’t want to get used to it.
I want out. Of him. Of here.
“Rise and shine, Sylvie,” Dr. Hong says, his voice full of forced cheer. “PSG’s done. You have a couple hours of free time before the MSLT. Go crazy.” I open my eyes and the first thing I see is the bramble of silver hairs sticking out of his nose. Note to self: Buy Dr. Hong nose hair clippers for Christmas.
He helps me sit up and I look down at myself, feeling like something out of a horror movie. Sticky pads with wires dot my legs and chest. I can’t see the ones above shoulder height, but their glue makes my chin, forehead and the areas around my ears and eyes itch. A heavy ponytail of wires cascades down my back and leads to a machine on my left. Probes tickle my nostrils.
Doc rearranges things and unhooks me so I’m able to walk around. I almost thank him, but catch myself before I do. I’m here because he doesn’t believe me. He’s brought me here to prove himself right. As with all the other tests I’ve taken.
But so far, he hasn’t proven anything. It drives him nuts.
It drives me nuts, too.
I go to the window and open the blinds. Outside, the sun is bright. Another stifling summer day in Wisconsin. Outside, I know the air sticks to your skin like Saran-Wrap and feels thick as cotton wool. I can almost smell the fresh-cut grass, the acrid scent of blacktop burning.
But here, in the lab, it stinks like antiseptic. And it’s dry and cool. The perfect sleeping temperature. That’s what I’m here to do: sleep. It’s the last weekend before school starts, and while everyone else is tanning on the sand, I’m snoozing in a sleep lab.
Talk about social suicide.
Dr. Hong writes something on my chart. “I’m turning you over to the team,” he says. “I think these tests will help us figure it out, Sylvie.” When I don’t respond, he goes on. “You know, the cataplexy – that’s where you have the sudden loss of muscle tone. Then the sleep paralysis… ” Here he looks up from the chart and directly into my eyes. “And, of course, the hallucinations.”
Of course. The hallucinations. I stare back at him without blinking. He breaks the gaze first and I feel a ridiculous sense of victory.
They’re not hallucinations. That’s what bothers me the most, what scares me and pisses me off: Dr. Hong insists it’s all make-believe.
“Your mother’s worried about you.” Dr. Hong’s voice is accusing. Like I’ve been giving my mom problems on purpose. If there’s one thing I don’t want, it’s to make my mom worry more.
“There haven’t been any more incidents,” I say.
Dr. Hong narrows his dark eyes at me. I know he doesn’t believe me. He never believes me. I might actually be offended – if I were telling the truth.
“Well, that’s wonderful, then. But with all that’s going on–”
“I’m doing fine. Really.” No need for him to play shrink any longer.
He’s silent a moment. Then he says, “Okay, Sylvie.”
“Everything’s set for school?” It’s a yearly ritual. Tests, tests, and more tests. Then the paper that declares me fit to fester in the classrooms of my high school.
“Sure. We don’t need these results to know that. I’ll contact St. Anthony’s and let them know everything’s in order for your –” he picks up my chart and looks at it again “—junior year.” He sticks out his hand and I shake it unenthusiastically.
“I’m sure school will be a lot of fun. You must have the boys lined up.” His eyes crinkle as he tries a smile.
“The only boys lining up are those who are trying to get away,” I say.
It wasn’t a joke, but Dr. Hong looks at me and laughs loudly. He throws his head back and I get a direct view up his nostrils.
Note to self: Forget the nose hair clippers. Buy the guy a weed whacker.
You can find me in the usual place.