Tag Archives: 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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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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Are You Ready For Indie Publishing? Part I

Most likely, if you’re a writer, or know one, you’ve heard of indie publishing. “Indie” has become the new term for self-publishing, a shortened version of independent publishing.

I remember listening to authors, early into the indie craze, who had published books that had the rights turned back to them from publisher to author. Their comments filled one of my writers group’s email loop with tales of acquiring their covers (some did them themselves), to getting their books out there at a low price. Indie is a game changer when book prices can be at the 99 cent level. It didn’t take these writers long to say they were on the top 10, 25 or 100 lists.

I noticed something different in the October 2012 Romance Writers Report (RWR). In the SOLD! section of the magazine, four out of ten new members were listed as self-published. According to the article, that means that they made enough money to qualify for Published Authors Network (PAN) status.

Am I ready for indie publishing? Well, I didn’t, and still don’t have any back lists to work from. My books are still available, so I figured that if I went indie it’d be sometime in the distant future. Yet, this summer I hit a slump in my writing, mostly because I’d lost my father and it seemed to affect the creative part of my brain. At that time, I took a second look at being an indie writer, for at least one book.

At a book signing, I noticed an author had not only put her back list into indie e-books, but her new writing, too. All, except for a three book series she had out in paperback. I started thinking about a manuscript I’d nearly forgotten about, one that I think I could now (after many years of writing) figure out how to fix it.

As I’m going through my editing process, I’m also reading articles on indie publishing. I’m learning that publishers are starting to jump in on the action, as it seems the way of the future to some degree. Just the other day, I read that Wild Rose Publishing has created a subsidiary to address the needs of those who wish to try self-publishing. They have a price list, with or without a cover, and e-book and print choices. My publisher said that she is considering doing something similar one day, perhaps separate from her RWA approved publishing house.

I’m hearing lately that there are many indie books out there that shouldn’t be. They are not ready to publish, some say. Yet, it sounds like an excellent deal for established authors whose work has already been edited and ready to go with few updates. Further, most publishing houses nowadays don’t even offer much in the way of marketing, wanting the author to do all or more than their fair share. So, if the author is already doing the marketing there’s not much to lose and a few dollars to gain without the middleman.

What about a new writer, you say? Well, us old timers learned to write better by getting rejection letters, and then reworking the book, time and time again. We learned that sometimes we have to set that work down and start something else. Then come back later and see it with fresh eyes.

One very important thing stands out to me and that is to make sure your book is ready. Many times it’s hard for a beginning writer to know just when that manuscript is good enough to go. I know that after finishing my first manuscript, I was so in love with it that I didn’t want to change it. All these years later, I’ll change just about anything and not even flinch. I’ve learned that if you want to be published, you’ll have to make changes.

The way to find out if your manuscript is ready is by utilizing critique partners. When I first started out, I needed a handful of critique pals. You can find your critique partners within a writers group, or an online writers group. Yes, you can forego a writers group and spend money to pay an editor to help you get ready for publication, but you don’t have to do that if you can find someone with the same goals as your own.

Are you ready to go indie?


Posted by on October 11, 2012 in Idaho


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Rejoice by Johanna Harness

Writing is hard. That’s not a whine or a complaint.  It’s a statement of fact.  Writing is hard.

My daughter participated in National History Day again this year—writing a paper—and I watched her go through many of the stages I go through while writing a novel.

Research?  Gleeful.  Narrowing the topic? A little more difficult, but still good.  Writing her first draft—yay!  Polishing? Even more difficult, but she made it the best she could for regionals—and this earned the chance to go to state. Staring at the suggestions of the regional judges, she realized she had more work to do. The paper could be better.  So she revised.  Over and over and over, she revised.

For the first time in four years, all this revision earned her a place at the national competition at The University of Maryland.  It also meant listening to the state judges and revising more.

Since we homeschool and I’m her teacher, I saw all those drafts.  I saw her aim for marks she did not hit and then aim again.  I saw her tears and felt her anguish and I patted her back and I told her, “writing is hard.”  And then she revised again—not because I made her do it, but because it’s what she does.  It’s who she is.

For better or worse, I’m the same way.  I write every day not because I’m particularly driven or superstitious or willful, but because it’s what I do.  It’s in the fabric of who I am. A day without writing is not a vacation; it’s a broken day, a muddled day, a day without caffeine, a day without learning anything, a day without <gasp> an internet connection.  Writing is what I do, so I do it.

All the same, as we prepared our trip to Maryland and on into Washington, D.C., I looked forward to scaling back on my writing and enjoying other parts of my identity.  As a teacher and a mom and an explorer of new things, I knew this trip was a Very Big Deal.

Every year more than half a million kids start out in the regional History Day competitions and fewer than 3000 qualify for nationals.  Of those who make it that far, only the top 15% make it to finals.  Kids don’t make it to that level of competition without talent and determination.

And yes, my daughter does tell me the same is true for where I am in the writing process—that I didn’t end up with an agent and good feedback from a first round of editor subs because I’m a mediocre writer. It’s a tough lesson when she pats me on the back and recites my words back to me: “Writing is hard.”

We spent nine days in College Park, Maryland and Washington, D.C., including:

  • two full days of travel, just to get there and back
  • five days of history day activities (watching student performances and documentaries, perusing the exhibits, being judged, going to receptions including the big one at the National Museum of American History)
  • sight-seeing with other Idaho students (meeting our senators in their D.C. offices, touring The Capitol, touring The Library of Congress)
  • sight-seeing in every other spare moment (National Gallery of Art, International Spy Museum, Ford Theater, Georgetown Harbor tour, Chinatown, Union Station, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, Embassy Row, Washington National Cathedral, National Museum of Natural History, National Sculpture Garden, National Air and Space Museum).

There were so many things to do and see.  We couldn’t possibly get through everything–and yet our appetite to see more and do more kept us going.

And oh our poor little feet.  They hurt.  And then they hurt more.  And we said, you know, this is a little like getting through the horrible rewriting phase.  It hurts like crazy, but getting where you’re going is important, so you keep moving forward one step at a time.

The awards ceremony was amazing.  Not only did my sweet girl make it to finals, but her historical essay placed ninth in the nation.  She brought home a medal for the best junior entry from the state of Idaho. My husband watched the webcast from home and we both cried, but my sweet girl held her head high, thrilled with what she’d accomplished, and already thinking about next year.

So, okay.  Fast forward a few days and we’re back in Idaho.  I came home exhausted and I kept dreaming about monuments, trying to remember which was which and what I saw at each.

Eventually I lost my tether and fell into Monet’s Seine, only to be pulled out by a double agent who handed off a micro-dot containing the whereabouts of Amelia Earhart’s final resting place–somewhere near the mummies in the Museum of Natural History.  Oh yeah.  Overload, baby.  My mind was still sorting it out.

But then an interesting thing happened.  The more I worked on my book, the more my characters started cropping up in my D.C. dreams.  As I looked up from the Hope Diamond, one of my shadow characters studied me from the opposite side of the case.  As I examined gowns belonging to the first ladies, I heard a character behind me explaining what each would need for accessories, if they were to fit in at a ball in the world next door.  As I looked down from the sight-seeing bus, there was a whole band of my characters climbing all over the Einstein statue!

I called out to them, but they either couldn’t hear me or they wouldn’t listen.  I suspected the latter, so I called out again—and, in the calling, I half-woke myself.

And I’m sure the sweet euphoria of that moment had something to do with theta or delta or some kind of sleepy-dreamy brain waves, but it was an awesome moment.  I looked out over the entire D.C. trip with one realization:  I could remember everything perfectly, enjoy the ride, and I no longer had to experience the exhaustion of the trip.

And then my characters were there again, waving from the Einstein statue and below them were young readers, holding my finished book.  And, just like that, the pain of writing evaporated.

Walking miles a day, every day, mostly on marble? That’s hard. But owning that experience is painless and wonderful. Writing history is hard, but hearing national judges discuss the value of a suffragette of whom they’d never heard?  Oh wow. That’s a profoundly important moment in a young historian’s life.  And yes, writing a novel is hard, but creating a story that looks and feels and reads like it was easy, that’s an amazing joy.

In John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines, Colin asks, “What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?”

Yes.  That.  You try, even when it hurts.  You push through and release the best of your work into the world, making way for the creation of the next possibly-remarkable thing. Whether competing in National History Day or writing a novel, or building The Washington Monument, there will be set-backs.  Persevere to the end.  Endure the pain. Celebrate the completion of your work. Be ever thankful if the fates smile on you. And then? Let it go.  Rejoice and do it again.


Posted by on July 4, 2012 in contests, Idaho, Revising


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Do you know your place?

So, here we are. National Women’s History Month ~ March 2012 ~ proclaimed twenty-five years ago by Congress as an ongoing national celebration of women and their role/future in our country.

As a child, it was hard to conceive of events occurring before my existence. I see this in my children at times . . . shock I’d understand what it felt like to be in love for the first time . . . certainty that I couldn’t possibly empathize with the crush of a breakup.

For many of my students, it seems history began with their birth. When they hear about discrimination, there’s little discussion of male/female, but more of other groups, other people who aren’t full participants in the potential of this country. Oh, one hears about gender issues in the news, but as one young woman said to me ‘girls don’t need to be aggressive and demanding these days. Everything is equal’.


As a newbie political science professor, I remember a student eyeballing me on the first day of class and announcing he wouldn’t put up with a ‘commie pinko liberal’ — and if that wasn’t bad enough, I was probably ‘a feminist’.

1987 is history to my kids. So, too, is the 15th amendment to the U.S. Constitution as it extended the vote to citizens of the United States without regard to race, color, or previous condition of servitude in 1869.  True, the delicate condition of gender still excluded women, but that changed in 1920 when the 19th amendment precluded sex as a basis for denying the vote to a citizen.

Twenty years ago, I was frequently the only woman in my graduate classes, both those I took and those I taught.  Now, women often make of the majority of students in college classes. The 2012 executive proclamation of this month closed with the statement referencing Title 9 of the Higher Education Act Amendments (1977) which prohibited gender discrimination by federally funded institutions.

‘it transformed the educational landscape of the United States within the span of a generation’


My daughters were allowed to wear pants to school, encouraged to take math, and welcomed into sports and other extracurricular activities. And from the standpoint of education as empowerment, things are looking good. Young women are more likely to pursue and attain a college degree (certificate, associate, or bachelors) than men. The majority of young adults enrolling in undergraduate programs are women and nearly 3/5 of graduate students are women. In fact, women are doing so well, pundits now bemoan ‘the feminization of higher education’.


The following excerpt from “The Good Wife’s Guide” published in Housekeeping Monthly on May 13, 1955 was serious advice for women.

…you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by . . . catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction . . . Listen to him . . . let him talk first – remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours . . . Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him . . . A good wife always knows her place.

1955 is history to me. This excerpt is ‘old news’— and yet — a certain message still seems to echo through contemporary discussions. Consider how expanded educational opportunity translates to the marketplace. On average, women’s compensation is a percentage of each dollar earned by a man. We’ve seen improvement, moving from 58.9 cents on each dollar in 1963 to 77.4 cents per dollar in 2012.


I hear explanations for this disparity, but the research demonstrates reality. In 2008, our population distribution reflected 49.3% male and 50.7% female. However, men earn more than women in almost all occupations. Women earn less than men even within the jobs women are most likely to hold. Women earn less than men in the ten highest paying occupations for women. Women earn less than men in the ten lowest paying occupations for women. (; Institute for Women’s Policy Research, Washington DC Apr09)

And why is this relevant for writers?  With each bit of knowledge I pick up on writing and publishing, I learn exactly how great my ignorance is and how much more I need to know.

When I read the “good wife’s guide”, I hear echoes of advice about what women should read and write, what romances should include and what the market will bear in terms of gender, authors, industry norms, and story lines. When I read blogs and industry news, I pick up snippets about contract differences and expectations about genre and pricing.

I can’t help but sense the same message to those who write romance and who wish to reach children and young adults . . . a good writer knows her place.


Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Idaho, publishing, romance, women, writers, writing


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Selling Digital Only

Back in 2005, I had the opportunity to have two of my favorite authors’ sign the books I’d purchased. To be able to stand close to Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Nora Roberts was a dream come true for me. I can picture the scene in my mind’s eye to this day.

Since then, I’ve watched writer friends get “The Call” and then I joined the ranks of the published, too. Being able to hold a book in your hand and actually sign it for a reader is something a writer hopes for, even if my reader isn’t as smitten as I was when I approached Phillips and Roberts.

To be able to hold a hand is not as easy as it once was. The midlist is vanishing and it is harder to sell the manuscript you’d worked so hard to produce.  I have been able to have both print and e-book publications with a small press. In this economy, mixed with the demand for e-books, a smaller publishing house may only produce e-books. Further, a larger house may want to turn your manuscript into an e-book only format as well.

Yes, e-books are convenient and the future of publishing, but technology has a hard time satisfying the public’s desire to personally connect with the author. So, the question is: Can a digital only author participate at a book signing and/or connect with their readers?

First of all, there are a few ways to get yourself noticed. For example, sign bookmarks, or rack cards, and leave them at the book store to pass out (you’ll need to check with the book store’s policy). Or, pass them out anywhere you can.

Authors can do readings and Q&A sessions, which can be even more valuable than a book signing. Here you can meet the author, state your appreciation for their book, shake their hand, and take their picture.

When there is a group book signing, think about printing, then displaying, a booklet with a chapter included, or with photos and an interview with the author about how he/she wrote the book, etc. When shoppers pass by your display, you will have something to give them.

I have heard of people getting the back of their e-readers, or iPads signed by an author with Sharpies, and some say this will become more popular. How about signing associated merchandise? See what Vista Print, or your printing house, has to offer.

We should never underestimate technology. I imagine with it will come more and more marketing ideas and a way to connect. Perhaps you’ve heard of companies such as Autography and Kindlegraph that have come up with ways for authors to digitally sign electronic books. In the case of Autography, they’ve actually come up with a way to add a page to your digital book that contains the author’s inscription.

The creator of Kindlegraph, Evan Jacobs, says, “…the connection between authors and readers is the important thing and the signed book is simply a memento of that connection. The move toward digital books doesn’t mean that these connections will no longer exist or no longer be important. On the contrary, I created Kindlegraph as an acknowledgment of the power of personal connections even while people become more anonymous because of technology.”

Here are a few thoughts about selling e-books at a book signing:

If you don’t already know, check to see if your publisher has an author discount, and download them into a CD to sell.

 If there’s an internet connection, bring your laptop and sell to those through your Amazon (Smashwords, B&N, etc.) account. Remember, you would have to have an account at each site.
Follow the author’s link to the book then gift the book to the buyer’s email address. You’d receive a royalty for the sale. This idea is from author, Delle Jacobs.

I’ve heard of a credit card scanner that attaches to your phone. I’m not techno savvy with phones these days, so you’ll need to research to see if you can use PayPal with a phone.

Do you value an author signed book?


Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Blogs, Boise, books, Idaho, publishing, readers, writers, writing


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Satisfy Me by Johanna Harness

I just plunked down $17 for your book.

I’ve suspended disbelief.

I’m hanging on your every word.

I’ve committed time and energy to your work.

I want to like you.

No—you know what?

I want to love you.

I want to love your story.

I want to believe in you.

I want things to work out between us.


Don’t destroy all we have with a cliffhanger ending.



I adore a good series.

I love revisiting

favorite characters.

I love knowing

I can trust an author

to deliver

one satisfying story

after another.


Provide that for me and I will order everything from your backlist.

I will pre-order your next book, no matter how long it takes you to write it.

I will be devoted to you.

I will tell my friends about you.

I will gush and embarrass myself with how much I love you.


Play games with me?



Toy with me?


Withhold until. . .

I feed your publisher another $17. . .

or maybe another $17 after that?


Forget it.


Not only have you lost the sale, you’ve lost the fan.



I have a great deal of sympathy for beginning authors who don’t quite nail the ending.

Some of my favorites wobbled a bit with their first books.

I savored the improvement of their writing

from one novel to the next

until finally

they wrapped their stories

around me

so completely

I reread the ending over and over

and cheered for them.



I’m not talking about the new author who may be a bit clumsy, but endearing.



I’m talking about the skilled professional

who could write a satisfying ending,

but chooses to court the dollar

and frustrate the reader.


I’d rather have the earnest, awkward fumbling

of someone who wants to please me

over and over again.


Now that’s a series.



Posted by on February 29, 2012 in books, plotting, publishing, readers, writing craft


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