Category Archives: Self Publishing

Self-Publishing 4

Do it yourself self-publishing can be a scary thought, but if you can write a book and get it ready to publish, then you do have enough skills to get that book out there. I took the plunge and so can you.

What made me change my attitude from scary to possible? Sure, I talked to others who had done it, but I was still hesitant, until I came across a book by Lucinda Moebius called Write Well Publish Right. First of all, I was interested in reading a book about writing from a high school and college teacher. Her book is what she teaches her students from beginning to the end at publishing. Mainly, I thought maybe I could implement some of her concepts into ideas for teaching language to small groups. Moreover, what I really took away from this book is that it is possible for me to self-publish a book.

Lucinda states that it is easy with the use of the formatting guides available through ePublishing platforms. She hired a formatter for the Kindle version of her science fiction books, but formatted the Smashwords version on her own. Also, she had help with her cover, hired an editor, and went through Amazon CreateSpace as her printer. Many times she states that it is up to you to do your own research and do what is best for you.

Yes, she inspired me, so I went to and got started. There an author can put in the title and paste in your manuscript and cover. Remember you have to have an ISBN number for your e-book, another one for your print book and CreateSpace can provide them for you. I did have to hire help with the e-book, my son did the front cover work, then I hired Fiverr for the spine and back cover for which I paid a little extra. Instead of five dollars with Fiverr, it was ten dollars and I’m very happy with their work.

I learned that the CreateSpace process for me was somewhere between adding art and print to a Vistaprint writing advertisement to doing my own taxes (on an easier year).

Yesterday, I went to hear multi-published author, Joanne Pence, give a talk about self-publishing at my local writers group in the Boise area. After already using CreateSpace, I learned the following information:

For those of you that want to add a publishing name to their self-pubbed books, Joanne says that you can go through SBA.GOV for your assumed business name. Registering a name will cost you $25.00. For my writing business name of Melland Publishing, LLC, I went through the Secretary of Idaho and paid $100.

Joanne also says that off-white or cream is the paper color of most fiction books. The 6 x 9 inch book size is becoming the industry standard and costs less than a book sized 5 ½ x 8 1/2 inches. You can buy a cheaper, older version of Adobe Photoshop on eBay for making your own covers.

Finally, Joanne adds that, especially for multi-published authors, the value of going to and using them exclusively to sell your e-book for your first 90 days can give you five free days on Amazon. It’s a way to get your name out there in hopes of readers choosing to buy and read your other books. After 90 days you can renew with them, or you can put your book into an .epub format and download it to other bookselling sites.

Yet, as Lucinda says, you need to do your own study and then decide what is best for you.


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Self Publishing 3

This summer I had the opportunity to read several books. Some of the e-books I chose to read were free on Kindle, by long published authors and new authors taking advantage of the self publishing boom.

I have an eye for spotting errors in what I read, probably because I have practiced editing and proofreading my manuscripts for many years. I’ve gotten so that I can spot an error in anyone’s book, at least one error, ninety-five percent of the time. I am okay with, or can tolerate, up to four errors per book, but after that I am annoyed and most psychology books will say that being annoyed leads to anger.

Yes, I became angry with a new author, who could write, but had errors in her book. It wasn’t misspelled words that got my attention, but words that didn’t belong in the sentence, like someone used auto correct. Another common error in this book was leaving out a word in a sentence. Writers can leave out a word and miss it in the editing process because our minds know what we meant to say and so we think it’s there. It happens to the best of us, that’s why we need another set of eyes on our manuscript. Actually, more than one pair.

Today the trend is to hire a professional editor to go over a book before self publishing. An editor is someone who prepares the final version of the manuscript, helping the writer determine the length and the order of events and scenes, character development, etc. Yet, I believe the author mentioned above needed a professional proofreader more than an editor. A proofreader goes line by line and marks corrections in grammar, spelling, omitted words, etc.

Presently, some of the best marketing opportunities are asking for books with four and five star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. They want proven books, reviewed by average folks, not your author buddies. So, basically, the writer needs a proofreader and an editor, whether you hire someone or not. Don’t trust your eye as the only proofreader you need because it is quite likely you will miss something. The goal is to present your best work to the world, so don’t be in a hurry and get the help you need.


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Are You Ready for Indie Publishing, Part II

A Haunting in Trillium Falls_Mary Vine.jpgYou can find Are You Ready For Indie Publishing, Part 1 here:

I’ve written and edited a book, asked other writers to read it and then I made changes. So, now I’m ready to start the steps to indie publishing. Yes, I wallowed with whether I should try to submit this baby to a publisher, but only sent it to one who rejected it. After some disappointment, I reminded myself that with three published books to my credit, this is the one I’d chosen to branch out with.

To be sure, I talked with other authors about the self-pub business. Many found success and encouraged me to do the same. An indie author referred me to Indieromanceink, an email loop for those who are, or plan to be, an indie author. It is a large group of writers that ask questions, or answer them, and there’s quite a bit of knowledge to be gained from this site.

An incredible amount of work to self-publish is necessary and it can be downright scary. First, you need to hire an editor to do a line-by-line edit, especially for a first time author. Some suggest two editors. It takes hours of time to read about marketing to prepare for launching out on your own.

There are two things I just don’t know how to do, and don’t have the time or inclination to learn. Number one is: Cover art. There are many indie writers out there doing it all, including the cover art and some a very eye-catching. I am lucky to have a designer, graphic production, multimedia, digital artist guy in the family to do mine.

Number two is to publish the e-book and send it to various outlets. I chose Wildflowers Books, a division of The Wild Rose Press to self-publish and distribute my book, A Haunting in Trillium Falls. The cost totaled $199 and the package includes a digital ISBN, conversion of the book into various formats, and distribution to the following retailers and partners:
Amazon Kindle
All Romance
iTunes (iBookstore)
Barnes & Noble Nook
Overdrive Content Reserve (distributes to libraries and various retailers)

Whether you are published first or not, marketing your book(s) takes time and scheduling time to write is the one thing most authors struggle with. It’s like going to school to be a special education teacher and when you get the job find out you are overwhelmed with so much paperwork that you have little time to work with the students that fascinate you so much. Yet, going the indie route with an e-mail loop has helped me learn volumes about the book publishing business which seems to change every day. And to top it off, you will earn more money on your own for that book you’ve created after hours of hard work.


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Create Writing Connections

One of the best investments you can make in your own writing career to to attend conferences. Sure, they cost money, and I’m often the first to use no money as an excuse. But it’s money well spent. What business can prosper and survive without investing in it? If you are ready to take your writing seriously enough to invest in yourself, congratulations.

The conference I want to tell you about is our regional SCBWI (that stands for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference in Boise, Idaho, April 27. You can register for it here. And even if you don’t write or illustrate for children, that’s okay. It will be an awesome conference. Here are a few highlights.

Sare Megibow

Sara Megibow, an agent with Nelson Literary in Denver, will be speaking on a number of topics, including Connecting with Ourselves as well as Choices in Publishing. These will cover flip sides of the coin: turning inward to connect with yourself as a writer, and turning outward to seek out the best route to publish your book.

Karl Jones, an assistant editor and jack of all trades with Grosset and Dunlap (a division of Penguin), will wow us with his techniques in how to pitch your story. Karl tells me he does this on a web channel, and it’s very popular, so I asked him to recreate the experience with us. He’s also got some other magic under wraps for the day.


In addition, we have Miriam Forster, whose debut novel, City of a Thousand Dolls, came out this past May. I’ve been in critique groups with Miriam, and she is a talented author and delightfully fun person. She will share two of her favorite topics. First, she’s going to wow us with the wonder of How to Connect to Your Reader with Social Media. Miriam is well acquainted with all kinds of social media, and you should be too. Her other talk will be about World Building. In Miriam’s book, she creates an amazing and realistic fantasy world with such subtle skill you hardly even realize it. Learn how to do this in your own writing.Miriam

Author Anne Osterland will be on hand to help us focus on creating awesome characters, plus she will be talking about the small stuff, the details that bring a story to life.


Sherry Meidell, a picture book book illustrator, will offer her insights about what makes a good picture book. Beginners in the children’s lit world often set their sights on picture books, so we have asked Sherry to help answer all the usual questions about how picture books are made and how you write one. Since she’s an illustrator, she’ll have loads of slides to show. I love going to illustrator talks, because I am not a visual artist, and it always amazes me how they think of story in pictures.


So you have the opportunity, in one day, to learn about:

  • creating intriguing characters
  • building a fantasy world
  • how to use details to bring your writing alive
  • using social media to your advantage to connect with your readers
  • connecting with yourself
  • pitching your ideas
  • making picture books
  • multiple platforms for publishing

And, you’ll meet people with whom you might bounce around ideas or become critique partners. You might talk with Sara at lunch and realize she’s the agent for you. Or you might find out from Karl Jones that his company has work for hire gigs you might like.

For me, one of the best things I get out of conferences, and I’ve been going to them for more than 12 years, is the inspiration. Always, I come away with new ideas, new perspectives, and even new friends. Whether you are a beginning author or and old pro, you never stop needing inspiration and growth. I hope you’ll join us in April.


Writing to Entertain

by guest blogger Lee Lopez

Ever since I was very young I was a natural storyteller. What followed was the desire to see my stories in print. That is where my dream shifted and changed. I had no idea how hard it would be to become published. In my infancy of writing, during those naïve day dreams, I thought I wrote the story, sent it to an agent, they’d love it, (of course) and the deals would come rolling in.

Then reality hit the fan, splattering me with rejection letters. I was pelted with them.

To be honest, there were times in my writing life, when I was close to quitting. I have a file filled with standard rejections, and even one written on the back of my query with a very distinct coffee cup stain. Whatever drove me deep in my oracle genes kept running a full tilt, because I didn’t stop writing.

When the Indie publishing phenomenon hit, it was the place for me. I could control my own career, choose my own covers, titles, without deadlines or someone outside my story ordering me to change this or that to please the public. I released She Cried Wolf in April, to see my dream become the best part of reality.

As an author, I’m not really sure what I expect from my book. It’s selling decently well. I’ve received five star reviews, and I love the cover. I’m a happy girl.

Do I expect to make a fortune? No. As authors our mantra is, “Don’t quit your day job”. When an indie does climb up the list, it’s always a pleasant surprise, because they had to do it all on their own. No publisher to buy a spot on the NYT list. The book had to sell on its own merits.

What I wanted to do with my book was entertain.  When it started to sell I had a Sally Fields moment, “They like me! They really like me!” I was entertaining someone out there in the cyber world.

I think most authors will agree, they are compelled to write. It’s not about fame and fortune, it’s an uncontrollable compulsion. No matter if I’m indie published or someday get a dream contract, I write stories because it’s engrained deep in my DNA. Instead of sitting around a fire exaggerating a hunt into a fable, I sit at a computer and reinterpret life onto the pages of what will become a book.

Are you compelled to write?

Lee Lopez is a retired Sheriff’s Deputy, who lives in San Francisco Bay area with her husband and two black cats. Her debut release is She Cried Wolf.  You can find her on Facebook Lee Lopez-author, Twitter,  and


Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Self Publishing


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Guest Blogger: Kari Lee Townsend

Our guest blogger today is National Bestselling Author, Kari Lee Townsend.

Kari lives in Central New York with her very understanding husband, her three busy boys, and her oh-so-dramatic daughter, who keep her grounded and make everything she does worthwhile…not to mention provide her with loads of material for her books. Kari is a longtime lover of reading and writing, with a masters in English education, who spends her days trying to figure out whodunit. Funny how no one at home will confess any more than the characters in her mysteries!

Kari writes fun and exciting stories for any age, set in small towns, with mystical elements and quirky characters as Kari Lee Townsend. Kari also writes romantic comedies and women’s fiction with the same sense of humor and quirky characters as Kari Lee Harmon.

Welcome to the Gem State Writers, Kari!

Happy New & Exciting Year…Now go Make the Most of it!

Thank you so much for having me here today. These are exciting times we live in. So many new possibilities. With the publishing industry changing so rapidly, our goals and dreams have to change along with them in order to survive.

When I got serious about my writing sixteen years ago, my dream was to walk into a bookstore and see my books on the shelves. These days, with bookstores closing, there are fewer opportunities for that to happen. Not to mention the way it affects traditional publishers. They are pickier than ever on picking up anyone, let alone a new author. And even if you do get picked up, the print runs are much smaller and advances have gone way down.

Indie publishing and self-publishing have opened up a whole new world for most of us. I still want to be in the traditional world of publishing, but I also want to be in this new and exciting world of self-publishing. I think authors need to evolve and change and be in both worlds in order to survive and achieve longevity. Your dreams don’t have to die, they just need to evolve.

I have so many readers who ask when my next book is coming out. Traditional publishing involves a lot of steps before a book is ready to hit the shelves: deadline, cover art, edits (sometimes a couple of rounds), copy edits, page proofs, ARC’s, author copies, and then finally the release date. Publishers like around nine months for that to happen. That’s a long time for readers to wait for the next book in a series. That’s the beauty of being in both worlds.

I love that fact that I can put up my backlist or even books that never sold. Just because a book didn’t sell, does not mean it wasn’t any good. It sometimes means the publisher did not have a need for a book like that on their current list. They might have loved it, but if they didn’t have a hole that needed to be filled, then they weren’t allowed to pick up the manuscript. With self-publishing, we are the ones who decide what we want to put out, and we can leave our books out for years. There is no shelf life. 🙂

I write in several genres, which brings up another thing to consider when venturing into publishing of any kind. What name you will use. My middle grade books as well as my cozy mysteries were already published under Kari Lee Townsend. Those series don’t have swearing or violence or sex. The last thing I want is to shock my readers if they pick up one of my romantic comedies or women’s fiction. My sense of humor and quirky characters are still there, so if readers don’t mind the “romance” angle, then they will love those. But if certain readers don’t want anything to do with romance, then they need to be given all the facts up front. They will respect you for that, rather than choose never to read anything by you again. Now, mind you, all of my books are pretty tame, but still. You have to be clear with your readers exactly what they are getting from you. Yet I’ve spent a long time building my original name, so I don’t want to lose that, either. I decided to use Kari Lee Harmon for my romantic comedies and women’s fiction. That way my readers will know exactly what type of book they can expect, yet they will still know it’s me.

Whatever you decide to do in this new and exciting year of 2012, don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone and try something new. Published or unpublished, it doesn’t really matter. The point is there are so many exciting new opportunities in these changing times. Be an optimist, not a pessimist, and go for it! Yes, the industry is changing, but it’s not ending. The stigma that e-books, indie books and self-pubbed books had years ago is fading away. Everyone is doing it these days, and with the way the world is changing in general, I think you’re crazy not to jump on board and enjoy the ride.

Good luck to all of you, and I hope to see you on the shelves someday…cyber, traditional, and everywhere in between J

To find out more about me you can check out my website at , sign up for my newsletter at like me on Facebook at follow me on Twitter at and finally, check out my group blog

Best Amateur Sleuth of 2011 RT Nominee–Now available in all formats
CORPSE IN THE CRYSTAL BALL – June 2012 (preorder now)
DESTINY WEARS SPURS (by Kari Lee Harmon)–Now available on Kindle and Nook


Thanks, Mary, and Gem State Writers for inviting me. Mary asked if I would talk about my involvement in the new world of the independent published author.

I started with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (I don’t remember what they called it then) in January 2010, by re-releasing four previously published books, and with Smashwords shortly afterward. Sales were modest at first, yet they were better than they had been with the previous publisher, and they slowly grew, but not anything to get excited about. I told myself at least they bought the groceries every month. Then in October, they went crazy. Unbeknownst to me, two of my books had been picked for Kindle Free Reads, and in five days they each downloaded over 10,000 copies (for which I was paid). All of my books jumped in sales, and surprisingly they kept on selling for the next month. That got me going and I realized just how big the market was for ebooks, if the readers could find the books and be persuaded to buy them. But they were dwindling, so I decided to do a 99 cent sale to see if I could boost them high enough to catch the after-Christmas rush. I expected a rush but I had no idea how big it would be. My sales suddenly rose to several hundred books an hour, and stayed at least fairly high for months.

I’m approaching my 2 year mark in self-publishing now, and I’ve had six books hit the Amazon Top Seller lists, some going to the top of the Romances list and others moving high into the Amazon Top 100 list. Some times my sales are huge. Other times they suck. But this year has been an enormous upswing that has taught me to value my own work, but at the same time it’s done a good job of keeping me humble.

Everybody wants to know how I did it. They seem to feel I have some special secret, and if they just find it, they too can make a lot of money self-publishing. There’s no big secret, really, unless it’s engaging in relentless effort to keep the wheel going round and round. In fact, one of the biggest suggestions is one that really isn’t possible anymore: Get in on the ground floor. It’s too late for that now, so anyone who moves into self-publishing now needs to plan on having lots of competition in a field where visibility is the main key to success. It gets harder every day.

Self-publishing apparently looks easy to those who haven’t tried it. Well, it’s not. It’s very different from the traditional publishing path. I’m always surprised at the people who want me to tell them how to do it, but then second-guess everything I tell them. And then they feel betrayed because they weren’t the instant success they expected. Heck, they weren’t going to be an instant success even if they did listen to me. I read stats recently that said the average self-pubbing author takes about six months to catch on. I wish that’s all it took me.

What do you need?

1. A very good book. Polished within a comma of perfection. Edited, preferably by someone other than yourself, then polished again. If it’s a previously published book, don’t just assume it’s well enough edited. Go through it again.

2. A very good cover. Find out what makes a good ebook cover- it’s not the same as a paper book. Get a good artist if you can’t do it yourself. Never accept a bland cover. Make it eye-catching.

3. Learn how to format a book correctly for the distributor you’ve chosen. Smashwords and Kindle both have excellent manuals on publishing with them. So does Pubit! Don’t assume you can use the same formatting for all of them.

4. Set up the front pages and last pages of the books much the same way traditional publishers do. Don’t skimp here because you want to lead the readers to your next book.

5. Read the contracts. They aren’t what you think they are sometimes.

6. Read the directions when submitting the book for publishing. Smashwords wants only a Word document. Kindle, on the other hand, asks for Word, but has fewer formatting quirks if html is used.

7. Write a great blurb. Some authors just don’t grasp how vital this is. But when a reader can’t pick up the book in her hands, she needs to at least be able to read what’s exciting about it.

8. By this time, I hope you’ve also built up a network for promotion, with a good Face Book base, lots of Twitter followers, and so on. But you’ll also have to find other ways to get visibility because your book is going to enter onto the Kindle lists with a ranking around 1 million. How will people find your book in that enormous jungle? Try contests. Try offering gift certificates. Try lower prices. Run special promotions. Get book reviewers to try your book.  Join with like-minded friends and read and review each other’s books. Most readers assume the first ten reviews are done by your friends anyway, so get them to say what’s good about your book. And don’t get so wound up in how much profit you’re making that you lose sight of the truth that you’re building a career. Sometimes you just can’t look at profit because you have to be constantly re-investing in your career. Aim for finding readers and pleasing them, and eventually the money will come.

9. And while you’re doing all that, I hope you’re also busy writing the next book. The one thing that sells books is selling books. If you only have one book available and a hundred people read it, where do they go next? They don’t. But if you have six books available and they read one and loved it, they’ll go looking for your other books too. So you haven’t sold a hundred books, you might have sold six hundred. And those people also tell other people. 

Easy? No. If you can’t do something, be prepared to hire it out. And if you panic easily, take a pill or something. Because there’s no way you can count on success, any more than you ever could in publishing before. You just have to really believe in yourself and keep going, and never stop learning. One good thing, though: You can always pull an ebook and fix things in it. You can change the cover, re-write the blurb, change the title- it’s all fluid now. You’ll make mistakes. But now you can fix them. So no, not everyone can be published now. They could, maybe, but it isn’t for everyone. You’ve got to have relentless guts and determination, and lots of faith in yourself.

If I have anything to suggest, it’s that an author needs to learn what they’ll have to do before beginning.


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