Wednesday, February 29, 2012

To self-publish, or NOT to Self-publish

If you feel that THAT is the question, you're in good company.  And I'd like to invite you to join the debate here for a couple weeks.

This conversation arises due to the extensive changes that have rocked the publishing world in the last few years.  In the past, each publisher had a couple stars and a mid-list.  But these days, mid-list writers are an endangered species.  Publishers neither have the money nor the confidence in writers to publish a bunch of books that might not make much money. 

That means that unless you’re one of the blockbuster boys it’s real hard to make writing fiction a career.  At the same time, one can’t help but notice that the writers getting nice contracts seem to be people who are already names - actors, celebrities, big-name chefs, etc.  Fiction authors who do land contracts seem to be getting smaller and smaller advances.   We look over at people like Joe Konrath making $150,000/month with e-books and wonder if that’s a workable alternative.

I have nothing but respect for Mr. Konrath, but anyone who tells you they know the future of publishing is kidding himself.  BUT, since nobody really knows what the industry will look like in a couple years, isn’t this the perfect time to try new things? 

Also, with so many big names stepping into self-publishing it is no longer the mark of the desperate wannabe.  More and more successful e-book authors are getting contracts with mainstream publishers.  Even agents (maybe the most conservative people in the business) are starting to see e-books as valuable entrees into the publishing world.  True, not every e-book is worth buying and you might get tarred with that same brush.  But is every printed book worth buying?  I think not, but they are a bigger financial gamble for the buyer than an e-book at $2.99 or even 99 cents.

Of course, it’s not all that simple.  Not everybody WANTS to learn book design, how to choose covers, the ISBN process, hunt for distribution and be a publicist.  Let’s face it: a lot of us just want to write!  If that’s you, maybe self publishing is not for you.  On the other hand, learning the ins and outs of the business has certainly given me a better perspective on what to write and what readers want.  And, frankly, it has gotten me more engaged in my work.

More pros and cons from me next week, but first, I want to hear what YOU think?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

4 Essential Self-Publishing Tips for Writers

Nadia Jones is a frequent flyer on various blogs.  At the online college site she blogs about education, college, student, teacher, money saving and movie related topics.  She sent me a guest blog on self publishing that is longer than my usual posts, but it was so meaty and useful I decided to share it with you. 
With the rise of eBooks and "indie" sentiments throughout society, more and more authors are taking the self-publishing route for their work. Publishing is no longer a realm solely governed by major commercial publishing companies and firms. Fewer authors are finding themselves dependant on third-party publishers to get their book published and out to the public. While this is an extremely invigorating and rewarding process, self-publication with a long list of do's and don'ts and can prove to be a major challenge. Self-publishing is a wonderful option for authors looking to have complete artistic control over their work and have the satisfaction of going through the entire novel writing process on their own. These are four must-know tips for authors interested in self publication.

Pick Your Niche

This first step begins even before the writing process for some. Knowing your book's niche area is essential for the publishing and promoting side of things. You'll want to keep that niche in mind during your writing process to help guide you in a focused way. This niche area will help you determine exactly who your audience is and how to reach them. Focus is important in writing and in marketing. Finding a niche to write within is usually a fairly natural process for writers. We write best when we write what we know. What we know is our niche. Explore the niche you feel most adept to. What's missing from your niche? What does that audience want to see? These are all important things to look at as a writer and a publisher. Knowing who your audience is and what your audience wants are the two most important aspects of successful publishing.

Edit, Edit, Edit

With self publication, you are often your own editor. Unless you hire a professional editor yourself (which can get pricey), you will have to do it yourself. Editing is an extremely important step in the writing process. You should proofread and revise your work thoroughly before you even begin the publishing process. An unfinished or sloppy final product will be difficult to promote. There are numerous online resources for editing that can help with the process and it is always a good idea to get a second set of eyes on the page. Ask a friend or colleague to look over your work if they are willing. Sometimes we can look over our own mistakes very easily. It is also important to get some distance from your work before you try revising and editing it. If you are too close to your work or you have written the words too recently, you may miss important mistakes or be too reluctant to make essential changes.

Know Your Competition

Before you self-publish, you must carefully study your competition. Now that you have your niche in mind, explore other authors and books in that niche and genre. Compare and contrast what you are doing with these books. See where they are successful and where they are not. By knowing what your competition is up to, you can more easily bring something fresh and unique to your niche. You want to find a way to stand out from the others, without alienating yourself. 

Self-Publication Means Self-Promotion

This is one of the most difficult (and important) aspects of self publication. Without a publishing agency or a literary agent to market your book for you, you'll have to learn to do it yourself. Promoting your book is the only way that people are going to be able to see it. Self publication puts you at the disadvantage of not having all of the media and other contacts in the literary world. However, this does not mean it is impossible. Be aggressive and be ready to put yourself out there. Promote your book online, organize book signings, and send out reviews to newspapers, magazines, and blogs. Promoting your book should become your primary goal. Get active on social media, reach out to your professional contacts, and do all you can to make waves about your publication.

You can reach Ms. Jones at nadia.jones5 @

Monday, February 6, 2012

How Long Did It Take To Write This Book?

Morgan Mandel is a former freelancer for the Daily Herald newspaper, prior president of Chicago-North RWA, prior Library Liaison for Midwest MWA, and belongs to Sisters in Crime and EPIC. She enjoys writing thrillers, mysteries, romances and also enjoys combining them. Her latest paranormal romantic thriller is Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, Book One of the Always Young Series.  I chatted with her at the Love is Murder Mystery conference about her writing process and thought you would enjoy what she had to say.  She was kind enough to send along this guest post/ 

Yesterday marked the close of another great Love is Murder Mystery Conference. One February, three years ago, Austin and I were in the book room at that year’s conference and I was moaning about how long it took to get a book published. He suggested self-publishing. It was a scary thought, but I had nothing to lose by trying it. I hired Helen Ginger as my editor and published the romantic suspense, Killer Career, under my own brand, Choice One Publishing Company, that August.

After that, I kept getting ideas for books. I’d start one, then put it aside when another brainstorm hit. It didn’t help that I also had a day job, so my writing time was limited. I was floundering, not getting anywhere, with people asking when I’d have another book out. I had no idea.

Then, at the end of 2010, a blessing happened, although it didn’t seem so at the time. I lost my day job. Now I could spend more time writing, but at what? I’d started so many. There was the thriller with tons of characters who took a pill to be young again, another about my dog, Rascal, also a NaNoWriMo romance I’d not completed, not to mention a thriller about a guy with amnesia.

I decided to finish them in the order I’d started. In January, 2011, I ignored the other manuscripts and tackled Forever Young: Blessing or Curse. I whittled down its cast to one main heroine, a few friends, plus her opposition, and pasted the extra characters into another document for a spinoff. Sometime in August, I typed The End, but it wasn’t really the end. I rehired my editor, Helen Ginger, hired Stephen Walker as my cover art designer, completed edits and consulted about the cover art, then did the formatting for Kindle and Smashwords. I’d thought the book would be done sooner, but it didn’t land on Amazon until December 16, followed by Smashwords the next day. I then conquered CreateSpace’s foibles and am happy to say my novel is now available in print.

Anyway, getting back to my original question -- How long did it take to write this book? I don’t really know.

Learn more about the talented Morgan Mandel and her writing at , and