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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 createspace.com 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 kdp.amazon.com 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.

http://www.maryvine.com

 

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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:
https://gemstatewriters.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/are-you-ready-for-indie-publishing-part-i/

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
Bookstrand
iTunes (iBookstore)
Sony
Kobo
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.

http://www.maryvine.com

 

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Writing Everyday

I was flipping through the June 2013 edition of Woman’s Day magazine the other day and saw a short article called, Team Support by Debbie Dehler. She says, “You don’t go from couch potato to completing a race in a day. It’s regularly setting small, realistic goals that gets you to the finish line.” Sure this is all about diet and exercise, but it also applies to other goals as well. In my case, writing goals.

This month I participated in NEW/100. As far as I know, NEW/100 started in a writing group I belong to. NEW means No Excuses Writing, and the 100 stands for at least 100 new words per day. At the end of the day (or when you can) the word count is posted on the loop with NEW/100 in the subject line so that those who aren’t interested can delete the email if they choose.

Yes, in NEW/100, others are expecting us to get our word count in, which gives us the motivation to get those 100 words done and posted. Being accountable to another has helped me start or continue my writing project and for me it’s starting small and continuing until I reach my goal. For me 100 words a day is doable. 100 words is better than writing nothing at all and the words add up. This month I totaled 7,045 new words.

I know that there are additional online supports out there as well. I’ve seen 100 words in 100 days and you can only miss one day. I’ve seen 200 and 500 words sites as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 1k words a day competition.
One of these challenges just may work for you. Slow and steady wins the race.

http://www.maryvine.com

 

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Ask A Busy Person To Do It

For years I’d dreamed of working part-time so I’d have more time to write. In 2010, I got the chance when I retired from a school district in Oregon, but then decided I wanted to work after I moved to Idaho. I was hired for eighteen hours a week. I worked the eighteen hours in two and a half days. That left two and a half days during the week to write, in addition to the weekend. What could be more perfect than being able to do two things I love?

I could imagine myself up at 6:00 am on my days off, seated at the computer. In reality it meant I could sleep in a little longer and have breakfast at 8:00 or so. Then I’d listen to music, take a leisurely bath, and then fix my hair and face. 10:30 rolls around and I sit down to check my emails, or TV. Lunch time is next, but I tell myself I can write in the afternoon, until I realize I’d better get that shopping done before school starts again.  In the evenings, after dinner, I cuddle up with my husband and watch prime time television.

You know the story, don’t you? If not your week day, then your weekend can look this way. Anyway, I still have a book ready to go every other year, just the same as when I was working full-time. For those of you who want to quit your day job to write, I’m sorry I’m crushing your aspirations.

Jump forward two years or so, and I find that a different school district has an opportunity for me. Five dollars more an hour, you say? More benefits? So I’m back to working full-time until the end of the school year.

After two years off from the fast paced grind, my body is complaining, big time. Backache or arthritis is my constant friend (enemy) as I start the first couple of months. Perhaps I’m getting too old to work, I tell myself. How did I ever get anything done, let alone writing, after working this many hours in the past?

Yet, it is amazing how the body adapts. After two months or so, my back no longer hurts and I find that I can pack my bag a little fuller each day as I lug it from school to school. Further, I’m able to remember what’s needed for the kiddos I work with at all five schools. Now I’m no longer quite so exhausted when I get home and have been busy researching online marketing for my book coming out in June (plug here).

So, as the body adapts to being busier, does it adapt in reverse as well? Or, because we have the extra time, is it a matter of laziness or procrastination? I don’t know, but I’ve learned from a handful of successful authors that writing is a business. Eight to five, butt in chair, or something similar. Probably all of us know successful authors who work full-time, as well.  There is a saying, if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.

For me to crank out a book more often than every other year, I basically need a gun at my back or a time card. But I’ve come to terms with my pace whether full or part-time.  I’m going to worry about something else instead. After all, it’s my journey, and that’s fine with me.

www.maryvine.com

 
 

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Torturing Your Characters

Through my years of writing, I’ve read that it is important for my characters to suffer in some way so that they can grow and become what they need to be in their minds and hearts. I typically do not like to torture my characters too much. I’m as soft in my writing as I am in real life.

Along my journey, I came up with a heroine that was put into an American classroom as a child and spoke nothing but Russian. Moving at a young age had a big impact on how she grew up and moved into the American culture, forgetting her Russian past, despite her parent’s disappointment. To prove her merit, she had to face danger and keep it to herself.

My first sell had a hero with panic attacks, due to an attempt on his life. My second sell had a hero, a rancher that struggled with the wolf entering the county and eating livestock. My third sale had a hero that came back from being a surgeon in the Civil War, recovering and searching for purpose in life.

I had a heroine that lost her family and suffered over selling the family’s vacation home, the emotions on her sleeve affected every move she made. I had a heroine that placed herself in danger in the 1860s because she naively thought she could survive in a man’s world.

But how much is too much? How much can a reader take without being lifted from the page and out of the story? I was told by an editor not to put my heroine on an anti-anxiety pill, even for a short time. Then I had a villain who was mentally ill. He was a bad guy, which seems to be more acceptable, I guess.

I began writing a story about a heroine that had a father with multiple sclerosis and a brother with low functioning autism. Hey, between my family and my job, I know these topics well, but I didn’t enjoy writing about it. Even though it’s said to write what you know, some things can be too close to home.

Lately I’ve been thinking about “torturing” my characters, because I started thinking of an acquaintance I met when I was in college who suffers with bulimia. I thought maybe a supporting character could have bulimia, but when I researched the subject, it was like opening a Pandora’s Box.  For that matter multiple sclerosis can be the same way. Yet, I know there is at least one heroine in a romance novel who has suffered with breast cancer, but I heard it was hard getting the book out there in the first place.

Okay, your turn. How much is too much?

http://www.maryvine.com

 

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What Chasing Squirrels Taught Me About Genre

I’ve heard other writers say that getting started is the hardest part. Not for me. It’s the middle and ending that are elusive. New story lines are to me what a squirrel is to a dog. Not only am I easily distracted and constantly chasing new ideas but I also engage in some serious genre jumping.

The first story beginning that I shared with my critique group could best be classified as a young-adult paranormal dystopian mystery romance. Did I lose you? Let’s call it a yaparadysmystro to make things easier. No? I quickly learned that each genre had specific guidelines that drove them and that it would probably be best if I chose one to focus on. It wasn’t long before my critique partners forbade me from showing them any new beginnings (and rightly so I might add). Thus, I began working diligently on my more genre-focused paranormal romance. About three quarters of the way through the rough draft I ran into a rather large problem. I like to refer to it as “the great computer crash of 2012.” Despite having an external hard drive for backup, as of this moment, I still have not been able to retrieve my work from the writing program I had been using.

After a few days of self-pity and a lot of chocolate, I decided to ditch the paranormal and start working on a contemporary romance story that I had been mulling over for a while. I was surprised to find the writing process so much more enjoyable this time. It was a relief to be free of the complexities involved in the type of worldbuilding that requires you to redefine universal laws. There was no more pondering whether vampires danced in the sun, shriveled up like a raisin or even sparkled because vampires didn’t exist! It turned out to be just what my overloaded newbie brain needed. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still incredibly hard work. It’s just that it feels like a better fit for me right now. I guess you could say that I’m not feeling as prone to chasing squirrels at the moment.

I’m curious to know what other writer’s experiences have been with genre. Were you always drawn to one? Or did you try out several before finding your niche?

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Idaho, romance

 

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A Curse and a Blessing

I’ve been on a mini-vacation of sorts. Not a traditional vacation, mind you. You see, my computer kept working slower and slower until I had no choice but to take it to a repair shop. Now, the last time I had a computer in for fixing, I felt like I’d dropped off my child for two days. What would I do without my computer? What would I do during my down time now?  It’s amazing to me. How did I become so dependent on something I didn’t even grow up with?

Before taking my computer in, I’d been revising a manuscript and was at a good place to stop. I saved everything important and was ready to wait for the repair to take place. While I waited, I used my husband’s laptop to check my email and my blog site. On my Kindle Fire, I was able to check Facebook. So, I was hardly destitute.

By this time in my life, I’ve learned that there is always a silver lining in the difficult things that come my way. The silver lining came in realizing something important about myself. When I wasn’t at work, I was thinking about writing, or not writing, or figuring out when I could write. I looked at the calendar and wondered how much time an event would take and when I’d have enough time to start writing again.

With my newfound freedom, I went shopping with my sister. This was the first time in a while that I felt like I was free to enjoy myself because I couldn’t go home and write. There’s a freedom in this, you know.

This past year, I’d not read as many books as in years past. I used some spare time to read a few of my author friends’ books.

Sure, I feel a freedom of sorts after each manuscript is finished. I probably take a good month off from writing at that time. But it’s different, it’s not because I can’t write it’s because I’m at a place of transition.

My husband asked me how I felt now that my computer was fixed and back home. I believe he thought I would be relieved and as happy as I was the last time my computer had a tune up. But, I didn’t know how to answer him. I stammered, and couldn’t quite find the words to match my feeling. Of course it was good to have my computer back because I need it, and it’s in good shape now.

A writer is not like the person who comes home from work and forgets his job for the evening or the weekend. A writer is thinking about what lays ahead in the story, or the next one he will start. We have no freedom to do things with our time, without sacrificing the story we want to write. It is a balancing act to be sure, one most of us are not very good at. It’s a curse and a blessing. The blessing is that when we do write, we are at our happiest.

www.maryvine.com

 
 

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