Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Realism About Independent Publishing

FINALLY! Someone who doesn't shy away from giving me the straight lowdown about Indie Publishing and the dreaded nightmare that ensues! THANK YOU, MIMI BARBOUR, for sharing with us what I am sure would be my exact experience, should I ever decide to self-publish. For the rest of you, read on...and then don't forget to head on over to Mimi's blog and check out her 12 STEPS TO SELF PUBLISHING!

This month I have decided to join the NaNoWriMo group for the first time since becoming an author.  Never before have I ever felt the need to force myself to do the one thing I love to do most of all—and that is writing.

But over the last while, my focus has been on my new release "My Cheeky Angel". A book I self-pubbed in September. I know a lot of us in the profession have chosen this route and don't get me wrong, I'm glad I did. I just wish someone would have told me about all the extra work it takes to be your own publisher.

Previously, being with Wild Rose Press, I would send in the second or third draft of my WIP to the editor and expect her to find all the errors that I'd missed. After we'd work together on the material, I knew it had gone through quite a few readings and would still be sent to a copy editor for the final check. By then my part was pretty well over. The cover would have been chosen and the book would just magically appear for me to blurb, blab and blog about.

Totally different for the Indie author.

Not only do you have to choose and pay the cover artist, but it's up to you to okay the final choice and select your own title. Also, when you're the boss, having the work edited is a completely different experience. There is a cost involved, which can be rather hefty depending on who you choose, and after the first go-around, it's up to you, the author, to deal with the final product. To make it perfect before the next step.

Right - the next step! (long heavy sigh…) This, for me, was the worst part. Trying to upload the readied piece to Smashwords. After multiple tries (…AND initially I was fortunate enough to have help) I still had to re-read the Smashwords Guide numerous times and re-do my formatting over and over before they accepted my work into their premium catalogue…which, trust me, you want to get into.

Then comes the Amazon experience (even bigger sigh!!). Many tantrums later, including some pretty bad language (halo definitely slipping here), too many glasses of wine over the dinner table while bitc…complaining to my husband and an inherent stubbornness that makes me dig in when many would give up, I finally conquered that monstrous mountain. To help others in this predicament, I wrote the 12 steps I followed that led me to success (which you can find on my blogsite http://mimibarbour.blogspot.com - just go to the left hand side and click on the October archives).

During all that work, I promoted through every means available. I had decided that one of the best ways to advertise would be to open my own blog. Big headache for a computer illiterate non-techie like me! But, a lot of fun once I knew what the heck I was doing. I won't go into all the other promoting steps I followed because I've written them all down in a blog that I will be posting at a later date. Needless to say, the days flew past and I worked more hours during this time than ever before.

I guess the worst part of this whole procedure is that I never found a spare minute to write. Plots were flowing as usual, and I'd jot down notes, stick them into a growing pile then get back to letting people know that my new book was the one they really wanted to read.

Which brings us back to the reason I wrote this blog. I finally realized that even though I was pretty good at the promotion stuff, mostly because I love meeting new people and making new friends, I missed doing what I loved best. Working with new characters to give them a story. So…I signed up for a month of writing and I'm as happy as a kid taking the first lick of a triple-decker ice cream cone.

Have any of you tried the Indie route? Did you find that your career flipped to publishing first, promotions second and writing a thing of the past?

I really enjoy having visitors to my website, so please check in at http://www.mimibarbour.com/ and join my newsletter for a chance to win a free copy of my latest release.

Or follow me on twitter https://twitter.com/#!/Mimibarb

Or on Facebook…

Because My Cheeky Angel is the first book to my new series "Angels with Attitude" I've made it available at all major outlets for $.99.


My Cheeky Angel Blurb:
     Annie Hynes is a tomboy. Na├»ve and love-starved, she’ll soon to be celebrating her big 3-0. Something needs to be done! Celi, her ‘down-to-earth’ guardian angel appears to help kick-start Annie’s big change—her looks, her job, her whole life. By taking a managerial position with a sophisticated shoe manufacturer, Annie becomes embroiled with her new associates and hooked on the power of big business. Unfortunately, her exhaustion from overwork forces her to ignore old friends, and her lapse places someone she cares about in terrible danger.

     Social Worker, Tyler Jones, previously hurt in two relationships, signals disinterest in women, and only wants Annie in his life as a good buddy. Oh yeah! And to help with his mixed-up street kids. Perversely, once her life alters, he misses her like hell.  In one sweet night of loving everything changes. But, due to an overabundance of nightcaps, she doesn’t remember the night he can’t forget.

And here's a peek between the pages:
Monday morning, getting ready for the daycare became a major battle with a mocking, unseen presence. Every one of the outfits she normally wore got vetoed. Her overly casual clothes, strewn in every direction, indicated how few items in her closet would be appropriate for when she eventually became employed in a sophisticated office. The baggy style she’d stuck to for years concealed her body, and when a person strives to go unnoticed in the world, the tomboy look does the job. It isn’t chic, but it is safe.
“Didn’t anyone ever explain to you that a body such as yours warrants feminine attire?”
“A compliment? You must be in a good mood.” Annie had given up talking to Celi out loud when it was simpler and a lot less weird communicating with her mind.
“Don’t push it. I’m just sayin.”
“You must be the strangest angel in heaven. Just my luck to get a maverick.”
“Hey! I’m an Angel first class. Count yourself lucky.”
“Now I know you’re kidding. I watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ every Christmas, as I’m sure you’re aware of.”
Finally, settling on a pair of snug jeans she seldom wore, Annie wrestled over the choice of her top. A new white blouse hung from one hand, and the safer, often worn t-shirt fluttered from the other.  She faced the mirror and waffled.
“Why did I ever buy this silly ruffled thing?” she grumbled.
“Because it’s pretty and modern, so wear the darn thing already.” Celi popped to life in her favorite yoga stance at the end of the unmade bed. 
Why don’t you have any wings? I’ve often wondered about that.”
“They’re at the drycleaners. Look, quit stalling and get dressed.”
“Why don’t you talk like other people? I can hear your words in my mind, but your lips don’t move.”
“Why, why, why. You’re worse than a child.”
Annie stopped what she was doing, stuck her hand on her hip, and glared at the diaphanous form.
“Fine. It takes enough energy to appear, why waste more speaking when I don’t have to?”
It’s very disconcerting.”
“Quit stalling and put the blouse on.”
You’re a bully!”
And you’re beautiful. Look!” Magically, the garment draped her form. The white emphasized her tanned skin, and she had to admit that the new fashion suited her. She buttoned it and stepped back.
“It’s supposed to be worn with the top few buttons undone.”
 She undid the first one.
One more.”
“One button, okay! Two? That’s indecent.”
“Indecent? Give me a break. You look very much the way any twenty-nine-year old city girl in this century looks.”
It would be easier just to follow directions, she supposed. If she didn’t the button would unexplainably fall open all day long anyway.
Before she could change her mind, she put on the earrings she’d bought to go with the blouse and slipped her feet into the fancy sandals that lay hidden in her closet after a shopping trip months earlier. She checked out her shiny cap of black hair, which had stiffened from the setting lotion applied earlier, and now stood up in a perky ‘do’. The darkness highlighted her unblemished skin, and brought her face to life.
Annie turned to Celi for final approval, but the angel had disappeared. “Thanks, Celi.” Only a faint fragrance of perfume answered. A scent Annie instantly fell in love with permeated the air around her hair. She’d have to ask Celi for the name of the product and wear it everywhere. It could be her personal smell for success.
A tinkling sound drew her attention to her dresser and there sat a tiny, rhinestone studded blue bottle.
“You’re the best Celi, you really are.”


Amy said...

Thanks for an enlightening post about self-publishing, Mimi. AJ can attest to the fact that I'm OBSESSED with self-pubbing. Good luck with your Angel series!! :)

Amy said...

Hey, Mimi--I really wanted to read your post about the 12 steps, but I can't find it. Help, please! :)

AJ Nuest said...

I think it's over at her blog, Ames. Mimi told me yesterday that she is traveling today, but will check in. Try this link: http://mimibarbour.blogspot.com/2011_10_01_archive.html Hope this helps!

Beth Trissel said...

Mimi, I selfpubbed my nonfiction work (a 2012 EPPIE finalist) and nearly lost my mind getting it up on Amazon, didn't even attempt Smashwords. I had to hire an editor to format it for Kindle (a nightmare to get right) and still haven't even earned that money back yet. It's gotten some raving reviews but has been a total flop sales wise. I'm clinging to the Wild Rose like grim death for all my other works and only self-pubbing ever again if they refuse something of mine.

Jennifer Ann Coffeen said...

Thanks for the great article Mimi! What's your opinion on the Kindle Nation Daily push? I seem to be hearing a lot about that lately.

Suzanne G. Rogers said...

Promotion is a bear, whether you're going it alone or self-publishing. Maybe it'll get easier as I continue to publish...

Beth Trissel said...

No, I'm afraid it won't. Sigh.

Lynn Chantale said...

My husband is trying very hard to get me to self-pub again. I look at him and smile. The poor man has no clue, but he means well. Congrats on your book Mimi, your post gives me hope. Maybe one day I'll venture down the self-pubbed road. Until then I'll give my hubby your 12 step guide and let him have fun.

I lack patience, something required when dealing with technology.

Lynne Marshall said...

thank you for a realistic blog about self-pubbing. I am currently taking an online class on this topic with Bob Mayer. I'm not sure I have what it takes to go indie, but it's sort of like the lure of the lottery. If you don't play you can't win!
Dragging my feet on so many aspects of promo as it is...Lynne

Anonymous said...

I'm on!! Finally got hooked up (poor hubbie who had to organize the virgin stick (must be the name cause it gave him some trouble!!~~)Travelling from Canada is very tricky when it comes to hooking up on the internet.
I'm sorry that I'm too late to answer all of your e-mails directly but please feel free to contact me at mimibarbour@hotmail.com if I can help any of you in any way.
As I said in the blog, I'm glad I tried this experience but if you're at all worried about whether you can handle the expense or the stress, you might want to really research this step before taking it.
I've never heard about the Kindle Nation Daily push...is it a website? Sounds interesting.
The 12 steps I followed were on my 2003 word program and might be a little different if you have a later one, but a friend who used them for her newer computer did say they worked fine. Also, a little hint for you ladies who feel intimidated. I watched so many How-to videos on U-Tube and I must say, they saved my sanity. Of course, the first viewing was like warching a different language but surprisingly, once I actually started into it, they did make sense.
One last point I wanted to mention. Like anything else in life, once you've done it once...it's never so hard to do it again. Or at least that's what I'm hoping for this spring when I release the next in the new series!!!
xoxo Mimi

Cathie Dunn said...

Sound advice, Mimi. Thank you for sharing. :-)

Calisa Rhose said...

Sheesh I thought I was askeered of indie before this post. *joins AJ in the corner*

Great informative blog, Mimi. I knew it's a lot of work, but hadn't realized how much. Thank you for putting it out here.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

You've scared me off Indie, Mimi, at least for now. I read your 12 steps a while back and for me, THAT was a different language. I have to say you did a great job with My Cheeky Angel, so if I ever change my mind, I know where to find an expert!

Deborah Schneider said...

I'm so sorry your experience was so difficult. I got my rights back from Dorchester for my first published book, (Beneath a Silver Moon)and went the Smashwords/Kindle route this summer. I followed the manual for Smashwords step-by-step. I made it through the meatgrinder first time, and after that Kindle publishing seemed easy.
BUT - because if my job with the library, I have more technical skills. As for promotion, whether you are Indie or with a publisher - you have to do it. I've found the sales from my book to be excellent, and it's money I wasn't making before. Self-publishing does require time, effort and money though.

AJ Nuest said...

Mimi, I just want to add in here that your cover is amazing. Self-pubbed or not, your cover artist did a fantastic job. The more I hear about self-pubbing, the more interested I get. But geesh, I seriously don't know if I could do it. I think maybe one day...after giving disclaimers to every member of my family NOT TO BOTHER MOM! :-) Thanks for the fantastic post, Mimi! I love having you here!

Shoshanna Evers said...

Oh my goodness, you sound just like me after I tried self-pubbing! LOL

After publishing some books with Ellora's Cave and The Wild Rose Press, I did an experiment and decided to self-pub a short story.

Then I wrote a post very similar to this one - about how hard self-pubbing is and how I'd probably never go that route again. Fortunately, the learning curve is only that steep the first time around. After that, formatting and publishing etc take less time.

Don't get me wrong, I definitely spend way too much time on the business side of things with my self-pubbed books. I haven't written a word tonight, even though I've been working for the past four hours straight.

But when Overheated became an Amazon Erotica Bestseller, and How to Write Hot Sex hit #1 on the Amazon Authorship Bestseller list, it was all worth it. And I love having full control, for better or worse. So there are benefits to self-pubbing. :)

I wish you the best of luck with your new book! The cover looks great and so does the excerpt!

Rebecca J. Clark said...

Thanks so much for an honest post. I'm considering self-pubbing one of my books next summer. Maybe. I'm kind of scared to go that route. I'll check out your blog.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Mimi -- Thanks for posting about the perils of indie publishing! I just released my first indie about ten days ago and had my struggles as well. I did get lucky on the cover art (I work with very talented graphic artists) and the editing (I was so lucky that a wonderful editor was available), but the formatting nearly did me in. The worst part was having a product "out there" that had these annoying little errors (like block indents that didn't belong, pages that didn't paginate...). To me that screams "amateur"! After hours of researching and fiddling, I got it right (hopefully!) but ended up with three separate versions: one for Kindle, one for Nook and one for Smashwords. I do appreciate the flexibility and control of indie pubbing, but the jury is still out for me on whether it was ultimately worth it!

Sandra Koehler said...

Hi all, I do as much promotion whether I am an indie author or with a publisher. I think it's harder to get reviews as an indie, though. Lucky enough to have a great boyfriend who is a graphic artist and can do my covers for me. Had a rough time with Amazon and Smashwords, but I got this information from Taleist (wonderful self-publishing newsletter) re: formatting and it's helped me a lot!
* “Save As” to create Kindle file copy
* Insert cover image on first page
* Remove blank pages
* Remove headers
* Remove footers
* Set margins to 1” all around, remove gutter
* Replace section breaks with page breaks
* Set two carriage returns before each pg break and one after each
* Insert page breaks before each chapter heading, if necessary
* Replace double spaces with single space between sentences
* Standardize body text style
* Turn off auto-hyphenate (Tools > Language > Hyphenation)
* Remove any tab or space bar indents, replace w/ ruler indents as needed
* Set line spacing to 1.5, max 6pt spacing after paragraphs
* Standardize chapter headings
* Standardize section headings
* Remove/replace special characters
* Reformat graphics as needed to 300dpi resolution & optimal size (4×6” or smaller)
* Verify images are “in line” with text
* Insert page breaks before and after full-page images
* Modify copyright page to reflect Kindle edition verbiage
* Add correct ISBN to copyright page
* Insert hyperlinked TOC

Hope this helps you!

Alison Chambers

The Word Place said...

Thanks for sharing your insights, Mimi. I have a six-book cozy mystery series I'm planning to put on the Kindle/Nook circuit as soon as these next two traditionally-published books are released and promoted. I dread the mechanics of the process, but I think it will be worth the hassle. It helps to hear from someone who has been there done that. And, oh, yes, I'll buy your book!

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