Tag 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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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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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: Florence Fois

 Our guest today is Florence Fois.She is Florence fOIS In The City … a full-time writer of mysteries in several sub-genres, with romantic comedies for the spice of life. Her stories are about NYC women on the edge of discovery, danger and fun. She blogs each Wednesday at: Friend her on Facebook at Florence Fois.

 The Writer’s Life … Revolution

Revolution … a rebellion, revolt, uprising, upheaval or insurgent insurrection. Otherwise defined as a transformation … one altercation becoming the critical focal point in the development of true change. Oh, Webster would be so proud!

I speak not of hand to hand combat or ballistic missiles flying through space, but of the recent revolution in publishing. I am a writer and all roads lead to the writerly life, to the conundrum, challenge and the daunting quest to tell a story.

In June of 2007, I joined a local writer’s group. After the first three weeks, and having read my first two snippets for their edification and enjoyment, I announced with glee that my “plan” was to self-publish my first amazing novel.

My first book was the “prequel” to my mystery trilogy and I was convinced a major New York agent would read it and jump at the chance to publish everything I wrote for the rest of my natural life.

I began flying through cyber space to discover other writers who might have made similar plans for fame and fortune.

What I found was a series of articles and blog posts that had nothing good to say about self-publishing. To the last all the experts agreed … self-publishing was a joke.

I was crestfallen and bewildered. Now what do I do?

Sometimes you know what the right thing is for you. You know those dreamy eyes are the ones you want to see long after they lose their luster. You know the minute you walk through a door that you have found home. No one has to tell you.

You don’t have to be told when that time presents itself. Don’t rush to get between the boards if your work is not ready. Don’t rush to listen to advice that seeks only to benefit another’s need to self-aggrandize or to profit from your inexperience.

Whether you think others have been luckier finding an agent and a publisher … don’t kid yourself into believing the hype that only self-published books can be poorly written. While I am a traditionalist, I do not believe anyone is above making mistakes. Random house has published some really awful stuff over the years. Conversely, many very good books have been self-published.

Had I acted on my first impulse I would have made one of the worst mistakes of my career. I would have self-published a book that I now see was not ready. Circumstances and nagging doubt forced me to be patient, to work harder, to never lose sight of what I want. Not merely to publish a book … but to publish a good book.

Somewhere in the vast configuration of the universe, the modern writer has been given an incredible gift, and with this comes a grave responsibility to cherish that gift.

The e-reader has revolutionized the way people will read for generations to come, and the explosion of indie authors and their ability to by-pass traditional publishers has given the power of what and who to read back to those who spend the bucks … the reader.

It has given the writer the ability to tear down the barriers between themselves and those readers. However, above the din of voices that threaten to deafen us, our greatest challenge is to write a good book.

Read, listen and learn. When the time is right you will arrive at your destination ready for what the new world offers.

On which side of the battle lines in this revolution do you see your future?

fOIS In The City


Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Idaho


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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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