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Archive for the ‘Indie Publishing’ Category

Recently, I’ve taken the Indie Publishing thing more seriously. I believe there is only two ways to go about this. Do it or don’t.

I’ve also learned that is also hard work and that it requires a different mind set from traditional publishing.

Traditional publishing you have the acceptance of the publisher etc and they (hopefully) have a strategy to market your books. If you have the print deal you get into books stores and launches and if the publishers are pretty good you’ll have some press releases and even a marketer selling your books, getting you press in various places. These days you have to do some of your own marketing, Twitter, Facebook Pages, Blogs, Instagram etc etc.

That is nothing like Indie Publishing. And I don’t even know the half of it. I’m at the bottom of the hill pushing the dung to the top.

So what have I learned so far?

Advice is out there. Ask. I have learned so much mostly from the generosity of Patty Jansen and her cadre of Indie Publishers. (I’ll put a link up her page at the bottom of this post). Believe me there is a lot to ask.

Putting your book up on Smashwords or Ingrams and expecting it to sell doesn’t work (except maybe in some fluke circumstances). Believe me I had a book up there and it didn’t do much. You have to write more books. I had to turn that one Indie Published book into a trilogy. And I have the rights  back to another series so by mid-year I’ll be playing with eight Indie Published books and that gives me more options marketing wise/promotion wise. This does not include my traditionally published works under my own name and my pen name.

New skill sets…administration, formatting, Photoshop, buying stock images, learning about newsletters, different places to market my books, cross-promotions, pricing etc.

That’s just a quick overview. You really don’t understand until you do it. For example, I buy my own ISBNs so they have to be registered, then I register them with the National Library Catalogue in Print, then there is listing the books with different sellers and distributors, writing blurbs (the hardest thing of all), hiring editors, proofreaders, cover artists and writing briefs for cover artists. There are the ebooks to format and upload and print files to prepare…yadda yadda

Yet, it is rewarding. This has been the most challenging thing that I have done. It’s scary. It’s empowering. But most important of all–it’s a business. That’s the biggest change in mindset for me. I want to make a living from my writing. I want people to read and enjoy my books. I have to get the books out there. I have to find my audience.

So big achievement of the week. There have been a number of them, but sending out my first newsletter is the star  moment.

I’ve called the newsletter Wing Dust. People who have read the Dragon Wine series will get the reference.

Here is my newsletter banner, which I put together on Photoshop. Thank you You Tube for the tutorial. (It’s a very complicated and powerful program btw).

Newsletter banner master amended

If you want to sign up to my newsletter click here. 

You can unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time.

Heartfelt thank you to Patty Jansen. I suggest reading a few of her posts on Indie Publishing. Great advice and good sense from her. You can find her here.

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Some of you may recall my first long form publication was Rayessa and the Space Pirates, which was picked up by Harlequin’s Escape Publishing (digital imprint) in 2013. Rayessa had been languishing my hard drive for a number of years. It started as a short story, maybe way far back as 2002. I was writing the story for Elsewhere. At the time the first 7,500 were the longest short I’d written and it still wasn’t done. When the space pirates turned up, well I knew it wasn’t going to be a short story anymore. It ended up as a novella, then a slightly longer novella. It took it out and revised it a couple of times. I gave it to a couple of people to read with some positive feedback. I submitted it a couple of places. Once it was forwarded to the children’s editor at HarperCollins Australia. It was rejected but the rejection was along the lines of we already have stories along these lines and sorry to take  so long to get back to you. Then it sat in the hard drive a little longer. Then I went to my first RWA conference in the Gold Coast (2012) where Penguin launched their Destiny Imprint and Harlequin launched Escape. It was actually at the launch cocktail party of Destiny that I clued in that Rayessa was also a romance. Chinking champagne glasses with Nicole Murphy I said that I thought I had romance arc in some of my stories. She was like ‘Dah, why do you think I told you to come here?’ The clue people was the slideshow they had playing on the walls. Science fiction scenes at a romance conference.

So Rayessa was published. Then I wrote Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures, which should have been titled, Essa Takes on the Space Pirates or better still. Essa Rescues Mum from the Space Pirates etc. Now Escape decided they didn’t want any more spate pirate stories from me when they took Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures (and also revamped the Rayessa cover). Not with this family at least. So I changed the ending to Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures so there wasn’t too much hanging. But I always had in mind to write Opeia’s story. Opeia (Opi) is the mother of Rae and Essa, the head of AllEarth Corp.

Now pesky ideas will keep bothering you until your write them down. I thought I’d dealt with Opi by writing some notes about the story in my ‘Notebook of Really Cool Ideas’ that Gillian Polack gave me when I started the PhD. It is meant as a place to park ideas so I can come back to them when the Phd is done. Well obviously Opi had other ideas.

Opi meets NaNoWriMo and viola! she is out there on paper! I tried to be more emotionally contemplative in Opi Battles the Space Pirates. My wonderful beta reader (who is a fan of the first two books) gave me feedback. I had to rewrite the beginning and the ending after that. That plot twist that I had come up with but abandoned because I was trying to address my plot addiction by being a bit more touchy feely, well I had to put the plot bit in. It’s just that type of book.

It’s fluff, it’s funny (I think so) and it’s light and possibly uplifting. (Complete opposite to the Dragonwine series). Opi Battles the Space Pirates is also longer than the first two books, just under 60,000 words, it’s adult, but not sexy, more sweet in keeping with the other two books. It features an older protagonist (42) and a space battle goddamit!

Stay tuned. Cover art is in progress. Proofreading is in progress. I’m going to self-publish this one for fun.

Just to refresh your memory, here are the covers of the first two books, which I adore. Not sure the wonderful covers sell as many books as they should, but they are pretty and swish.

Link to the Escape website here. The books are at all major e-retailers. You can also buy these books in large print format/hardcover for libraries I think. I can’t afford to buy myself a  hard back version. There are some copies in libraries in Australia and the USA. Here.

However, I plan to have a print version of Opi Battles the Space Pirates. Just for fun, for a laugh and maybe as giveaways. So watch out.

Oh and the moral of the story? Don’t throw anything out. Learn from rejections. Don’t give up. Keep writing. Follow your heart…and whatever!

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Time seems to fly by so quickly these days. Some kind of inverse perception. When I was a child time passed slowly. Now, I can’t believe how fast.

I wish it would slow down.

For me, 2016 was an interesting year. Lots of changes in my life. I left the work force and started a PhD in Creative Writing. I had done my sums, and of course, things change so sums are often being trimmed and rearranged. Do I regret leaving work? Hell no! It was the best thing for me physically and mentally. Of course I miss the huge $ I was making but there was a cost involved. I’m content.

I started the PhD with a vengeance–long days and it hurt too, but now I’m better at balance and I hurt less as a result. I actually felt good for many, many months and I was happy. I realise I can stay home and read and relax while studying instead of in a chair in the study centre everyday. I tried twice this year to get an APA and was unsuccessful, (APA is a stipend/grant for studying) and I have to give up applying now. It was a lot of work putting the application together. Hint do honours and you’ll be a shoe in, they are worth more than a Masters by coursework).  Now I have to look for part time work to fund me. I was hoping for some tutoring at uni but there are no guarantees.

One the writing front, I put out Argenterra in late April. It’s my epic, portal fantasy, that’s not dark (like Dragon wine) and is suitable for YA readers. It’s romance themed too. I thought I’d get the next two in the series out this year but that was a lot harder than it seemed to be when I thought it up. Book 2, Oathbound is with the editor (some delays there with editor moving house) and Book 2, Ungiven Land is awaiting one beta reader comments before being revised and sent to the editor. I’m thinking they will be out in the first half of 2017. I was so thrilled to get those books written. Finish drafting my first trilogy!!! (15 years in the making) Wohoo! Next year, when the books get published I’ll see how the hybrid, indie, self-publishing gig works for me.

Under the name, Dani Kristoff, I was published again by Escape Publishing, this time with Invoked. It’s the third and last book in the Spellbound in Sydney series. I thought this book was coming out next year so I was so happy to have it come out in December. I have one more book to write under Dani Kristoff and then Dani might retire. I enjoy writing the sexy paranormal books, but you have to have a big enough audience to make it worth your while and frankly, I don’t. I’m proud of those books. Invoked was the hardest thing I’d ever written. Nearly chucked it out. Rewrote it almost completely. It taught me a lot about writing. Although it is dark, especially compared to Spiritbound which was light and bright and lovely.

So for Nanowrimo I wrote another Space Pirate book. This time starring Opi, Rae and Essa’s mother. It’s fun and I like it a lot. I’m going to publish this myself.  Escape aren’t selling enough of the other books, Rayessa and the Space Pirates and Rae and Essa Space Adventures to acquire it. But I’m totally cool with that. I want to publish it myself. It’s a bit of light fun. I’ve kept it sweet level in case any YA readers happen on it, but it’s longer 55,000 words and features older protagonists and space pirates….

Also in December, I dusted off the draft of Deathwings, book three in the Dragon Wine series. I’ve booked it in with the editor that Momentum used for the first two books and I’ve got book 4 booked in too. So fingers crossed I’ll have them out in 2017 too. I have to meet the editor’s deadlines!!! Both books are mostly written. I had to dump about 10,000 words from book 4 and I did that over a year ago (then Phd happened). It was starting off too slowly according to beta readers. I have not written a word of the last two books  (5 & 6) and that will be my side project for the rest of 2017. Around other writing and the PhD and part time work if I get any.

I have three other books in completed draft form. Into the Dark Glass (YA fantasy) is currently with a skilled beta reader. It’s the most ready to go somewhere. Cold Soldier (SF Romance) – I haven’t touched this in nearly a year. Needs a new beginning and a revision. The Tainted Lady, my attempt a Regency romance needs a revised beginning and a revision then polish, then beta readers etc. Ruby Heart is still looking for a home but I’ve a mind to write Emerald Fire (the sequel) or actually finish writing it. Half written I think. I have a couple of other things started but may have to wait years before I revisit them.

I have my PhD novel to write too, which will get drafted during 2017. I think all this other writing helps me refine my craft so the PhD novel will benefit.

I have to prepare for my confirmation seminar in March so I’ll be busy with that in January and February and maybe before New Year. It’s my first piece of work that gets assessed and the foundation for the PhD. I will then be officially one year into the PhD too. My surveys that are part of the PhD are going great guns. Need more responses though.

Along with the rest of the world, I’m processing terrorist attacks, the US election, Brexit, war in Syria, Australian bloody politics and views on refugees, deaths of fav actors and musicians. May we weather these things and find 2017 a better time to live in. Highlights, Jane Austen Festival in Canberra, RWA Conference in Adelaide, Shanghai visiting my son in October and presenting a paper on Twitter poetry in November. Also, I am standing for GUFF ( Going Under Fan Fund), which is a fund to send people from Australia to Europe from SF conventions or a European fan to Australia) and there are some great candidates this year all vying to get to the SF World Con in Helsinki in August. (link below)

Downside some work injury related stuff that I won’t blog about until resolved. Worst thing ever!

I’m still addicted to Twitter and Facebook. I’m the world’s worst gardener, besides the Dweeb and I totally failed at sending Christmas cards this year. I’m pleased to say that this year  for me Christmas isn’t about excess as it usually is. My two daughters are vegans and we are having a small gathering this year so less meat, less waste, less money spent. I kinda feel good about that. I will miss my son, who is in China and two of my grandchildren and their mother who are in Perth this Christmas.

Most of all I want to say, I wish you well and happy and prosperous this Christmas, end of year, New Year. I am grateful for my health, my wonderful family and friends. My excellent partner Matthew (the Dweeb) and for those of you to interact with anywhere in the world and on the internet.

Maybe I’ll see some of you at the ARRA convention in Melbourne in February.

 

More info on GUFF

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Yesterday, just by happenstance, the ability to lose myself in a story and the loss of my university access cards, I finished drafting Book Three of the Silverlands, Ungiven Land. 8,000 words yesterday. I was knackered. I haven’t pulled one of those in ages. (A massage, hot pack,  hot shower, more hot pack was required to recuperate).

It’s not finished per se. I have to tidy the draft up a bit before sending to beta readers. There is probably a few talking heads and some scenes that need to be moved around plus other tweaking. I was fairly pumping out the words and the scenes unraveled in my head. I get all excited near the end and I plough through. I think I read in the same way. Also, I lost track of time. Didn’t eat dinner. Didn’t prepare dinner. Looked up and Matthew was home.

But damn. I got the story out. I did it. I finished my first trilogy. (picture me hands in the air, dancing on the spot) I have written in series format before say for the Love and Space Pirates series (I want to write another one) and under Dani Kristoff I’ve finished the third book in the Spellbound in Sydney series. But a trilogy is a whole new ball game. You start out thinking what’s going into those three books that make up the ONE story and time and lack of note taking can seriously derail that.

As an aspiring writer, I had lots of advice about whether to write the whole series or just the first book. The prevailing advice was don’t invest in a series you haven’t sold. So I devoted myself to a number of first books in series hoping to sell them. Lucky for me I also did writers’ retreats where I could devote myself to writing for two weeks. And in the past I had drafted second books or parts of books. I have 153,000 words of the second book (or second two books) in the Dragon Wine series btw.

That may be good advice, on the other hand, if you haven’t got notes and it’s a big complex story and you do sell the first book, the pressure would be immense. I’m not a fan of working on one book for ten years. I’d rather work on ten books over ten years. It’s all learning and I love ideas and exploring story and genre. If I had my time again, maybe I would have at least drafted the remainder of the trilogies I worked on while it was all fresh in my head and concentrated on selling the first one. It would have made this year easier.

You may recall that The Silverlands Trilogy is my self-publishing/indie publishing investment. Argenterra came out in late April. That book had been revised and edited etc many times over many years. Basically, the crafting of a load of crap into something worth reading over 15 years. I hope so!

Book Two was drafted but probably only ever a tidied draft. It was a much better draft than Argenterra was originally as I had progressed as a writer. No one had read it except me. I’m about to do a final revision, tweak and polish before sending it for an edit. You might ask why I haven’t already done this. Well, I was working on book three. I had thought I had 50,000 words of the third book written. Gah! I did but the words were shit. They had to be rewritten and most of it chucked out. I was in despair. Somewhere around 70,000 words the draft felt like it was coming together. Now at 121,000 words I’m pretty pleased. It’s done. The story works…well for now .Beta readers may bash me in the head.

This probably doesn’t answer the question. Why work on book three when two was waiting for a revision? Because finishing book three allowed me to work out all the kinks and to see if it was going to work before I went back to book two. I could still change things in book two before I set them in concrete by publishing it. Rescue a character who had sunk beyond redemption, for example. Set up things in book two that I had brought to a head in book three. I guess it’s a form of cheating. But hey, it worked. This is probably why I’m advocating writing the whole series in one go. Why I wish I had. But my best advice is just write what you want, how you want. I figure this book three is better than any I envisaged say ten years ago. Totally much better. I’m a better writer than I was. Ideas just smashed together well this time.

This week and maybe part of the next I’ll be tidying it up ready for beta readers. Then I’ll be back on book two, Oathbound.Now I’m ready to push forward. I believe the next two books will come out pretty close together. I have the covers. I just need the edit. I do my own laying out and book packaging. The cover layout I get help with. Technically I could do that I just have to buy Photoshop!

Then I guess I’ll get serious about marketing. My main goal so far has been to get reviews of Argenterra while I’m working on the other books. Reviews will help me if I want to do some paid promotion, such as Book Bub. If you read Argenterra and liked it please leave a review somewhere. It helps!

What have I learnt so far? I already knew writing well is hard work. Self-publishing/indie publishing is hard work if you want to do it well, but it has bells on. I’ve been stressed. I’ve had sleepless nights. I’ve invested my capital in my indie publishing gig. I have not spent time in promoting or whatever magic these successful indie writers do. My hat goes off to them. But I will when I get these books out.

The other thing successful indie writers do is they keep writing and keep producing. It sounds exhausting. I mean I do that too, but it’s driven by what stories interest me and my own creative practice. Maybe I should be more business like in my approach.

three-books

 

Buy link for Argenterra, Book One-Silverlands

Print copy from Book Depository here

Amazon.com Here

Amazon.com.au Here

Kobo Here

ibooks Here

Print (Amazon.com) Here.

Print elsewhere. Available from Createspace and Ingram Sparks.

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It is still very early days in my hybrid/self-publishing venture for the Silverlands series. Book one is out and my main focus is on gaining reviews for the book. Why is this important? Bookbub. When I have all three books out I want to submit to Bookbub. You need reviews for that. Good reviews. So far so good. I don’t have a lot of reviews but what I have I’m very pleased with. There is a lot of retweeting of a review prefaced with How Not To Write Distopian YA. I thought that rather amusing. I wasn’t writing dystopian YA, but epic fantasy with a YA feel. Yet it might have some dystopian elements, of course. My main sin is a cliffhanger ending. Apparently cliffhangers are to cause people to buy the rest of the series. Hell everyone wants their readers to buy the next book. Mine wasn’t for that purpose. I started Argenterra when I was a newbie. I’ve thought long and hard how to move the ending…before the cliffhanger….after the cliffhanger…and nothing seemed to work. To top it all off, book two has a cliffhanger too. I guess I have to own that I’m evil.

My woes! Would you believe I have had the most difficult time with book 2? Firstly, I have to revise it a little and polish it before it gets edited. That’s sort of sitting there while I finish book three. Book three is totally rocking btw. However, I need to finish the draft before I go back to book two so I can align some things. Issues with agency, pulling back in some places so I can redeem a character in book three. The usual stuff.

The cover and the name of book two has been a real issue. I believe this problem crops up for authors in traditional publishing. I know I had to face it with Dragon Wine. Changing the name of the book (s). For example, in my original thinking there were three books in the Moon Fall Trilogy, Dragon Wine, Dragon Wing and Dragon Wane. Then Momentum took Dragon Wine. The editor wanted to split the book, call the series Dragon wine and I had to come up with two names for the first two parts. That was hard work and eventually I came up with Shatterwing and Skywatcher. It’s going to be a real bugger with Dragon Wing when I get around to publishing that. If I publish it in two parts what the hell and I going to call them. Barrahiem and Deathwings??? Your guess is as good as mine.

So back to the Silverlands…Book Two was called The Crystal Gate. Getting the cover together for this was proving to be hard. We tried a couple of combos but they weren’t working, particularly as I wanted the series’ covers to have some consistent feel across them. I’ve been stressed. I’ve been anxious. I’ve had sleepless nights. Then I realized I had to change the name of book two and think up a new concept for the cover. I tossed and turned and then it came to be: Book Two should be called Oathbound. That way I could have Sophy on the cover and used symbolism to denote the chaos of the oaths have brought round in the story, not just for Sophy but for others.

Yet I was so stressed because I was mucking the artist around. I like to be very straight, say what I want so all this indecision was like killing me. I know it’s a bit silly, but the responsibility for this is all mine. The cover, the content, the marketing…and I want it to be good, not crap…not just another ebook flung into the ether…I’m proud of this production. So there’s the woe. It is really tough.

I consulted with the lovely Aiki, who had beta read book two. She totally agreed with Oathbound being the best name for the book. I think I gave her a sleepless night. She’s arty, you know, not like me. She came up with the idea of binding or chains. You can find out about Aiki here. She’s multi talented and an author of an amazing SF YA story that’s coming out soon. Also she has been so supportive. High five, Aiki.

So anyway, I bit the bullet and emailed the lovely Les Petersen. I sent him my horrible sketch, some photos of my model with different expressions and he sent me this like within an hour or so.

Oathbound

I think this is amazing. I love it so much. It was just what I was picturing. Thank you Les for not sending the hit men after me.

Now I’m going to show you book one and two together. Les added the subtitle to book one (somehow I forgot that originally). Anyway, let me know what you think.

 

I should add that the cover for Book three is going well. Book three is called, Ungiven Land. I believe Sophy has a sword!

So if you are interested in checking out Argenterra. Here are the buy links. It’s available in ebook from your favourite ebook retailer.

Print copy from Book Depository here

Amazon.com Here

Amazon.com.au Here

Kobo Here

ibooks Here

Print (Amazon.com) Here.

Time to go back to work on the PhD. It’s creative project work today.

 

 

 

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I’ve done a series of blog interviews on the topic of beta readers previously. Recently though, I’ve had some thoughts on the timing, or better still at what stage of your drafting/writing/revising process it works best. This was sparked by receiving some excellent feedback on a work in progress.

Not everyone uses a beta reader, but if you look in the author comments or acknowledgements in your favourite books you will see people who  have been thanked, usually as first reader etc. For myself, I need beta readers like I need air. God forbid that a published work of mine was raw and that my first feedback was from a reviewer or a bunch of readers. Thankfully, mostly everything except my blog posts have had a reader, editor etc before being published. Even my Indie published fantasy, Argenterra, had beta readers and an editor before being published. I also beta read for author friends. Not all of them return the favour them being busy with contracted deadlines etc, but I get something out of it. I get to read their books before everyone else and sometimes I get a present of a nice shiny book! I also learn!

I have also used the services of a manuscript appraisal service when I first started out, also I have workshopped a novel with Envision (a fantastic program that no longer exists), that was Argenterra BTW! I also won a Longlines Fellowship to Varuna Writers’ House for Dragon Wine back in 2006 and part of that was feedback and also sharing with other writers there. For Dragon Wine I used the services of a continuity editor which was really useful too.

The ideas and the words are my own but feedback help shape ideas, perspectives etc which are all valuable. Even reading your book aloud to yourself will pick up stuff. Really! Read it to someone else and then heaps of things will jump out at you even when you’ve proofed and polished the text within an inch of its life.

Maybe because I’m an extroverted thinker that beta reader comments work for me. I need a sounding board and I work fairly quickly too, which means I can’t play with one story for ten years with no fertiliser from other people. I usually have several novels or short stories going.

An important consideration in having a beta reader is to have someone who gets what you are doing, who has some interest, sympathy, knowledge, way of thinking etc that gels. Your mum is probably not the best person. Even your kids…although mine usually pick up typos etc after the fact. You need some distance, someone you can trust to be honest and helpful at the same time. More importantly, you need to be ready for feedback. You need to be able to accept criticism because that’s what it is all about. If you want a beta reader to say “OMG! This is the best book on the planet ever!” Give it to your mum. Not that it is not great to get positive feedback, it is…

So it is hard to get good beta readers. If you write a lot it is even harder to share the work around them. Also, you need to return the favour, unless you are paying for a service. If you are paying for a service expect a detailed report and expect to pay upwards of $500 (more these days). Remember you want to be a beta reader that your reader buddies can respect. This means you have to give feedback on things like structure, character, pacing, setting etc too. Your beta reader doesn’t have to be another writer. A reader who likes the genre you write in can be very helpful. I mean they are a sample of your audience right? Your feedback might be a lengthy document, an annotated MS, an email or even just a conversation. It all goes into the mix.

Also different readers have different strengths. You might get a reader who is instinctively good with pacing. Another with character development. So having more than one is helpful. I was going to say essential but we can’t have everything.

I have trusted beta readers for a range of stories. I probably have one who reads anything I write and I read hers. I believe we trust each other, although we have different perspectives.

Timing! Finally I get to the point. This is interesting. The timing varies for me. I might send my MS off just before I send it to submission, when I think it’s fairly polished, but not finally polished just to check that it’s not fatally flawed. Or I might send a tidied up first draft. I never send a story with a gaping hole in it (unless I didn’t see it). I may have a few x in place of names, but usually the story is fully formed. At a minimum a tidied first draft. My older work needs a few drafts before they are ready for beta readers. I’m finding that with The Crystal Gate, the sequel to Argenterra. The third installment is an incomplete rough draft and a nightmare!

You see, Argenterra has been worked on over many years, had many revisions, cut backs etc. The sequel has sat in the hard drive minding its own business and stagnating. Essentially it is a tidied first draft, maybe a tidier second draft. More recent work for me means that the first drafts are much better. I used to be a panster! Now I straddle the fence and plan a bit. Older drafts can be a lot of work, especially if you didn’t make notes!

So the minimum I believe is a tidy, good first draft, where you have  a full story etc and there is something to comment on. I sent The Crystal Gate for a beta read and it’s a tidy second draft. Why?

I have trouble listening to the little voice in my head that says things like “You’ve said that twice now. Maybe cut that.” or “You’ve written the action but what is the character feeling? What is the character’s emotional journey?” Or “That’s all well and good but could there be too much going on in that scene?” But because I’m focussed on my end goal of getting through the revision I don’t stop to deal with those things. I need a second opinion. (Insert LAZY here). I need a kick up the bum. I need to know what’s working and what’s not before I invest too much, before I make a wrong decision. This is where beta reading comments come in. I got some this morning. Some were the kick in the pants stuff-the stuff where I should know better but didn’t. Other comments point out flaws I didn’t notice or thought I could get away with, others highlighted aspects that I hadn’t thought of at all. I know that in addressing these comments I’m going to make the work better. I don’t have to agree with everything that my beta reader says. I’m going to wait for the other beta reader’s comments before working on the MS again.

Essentially the comments have filled me up with enthusiasm, ideas and identified trouble areas where I need to do more thinking. I love this.

I think I would be less likely to be accepting of feedback if I had polished the story to the nth degree and thought it was amazing and gorgeous and nothing could be improved. Nothing could be worse that having someone say-this is fatally flawed, you need to restructure this. You might take that from an editor maybe if you could see their vision. So far I haven’t had to restructure anything majorly at all. For this reason, I think getting feedback on a good draft is better than a polished draft you have no brain power to accept feedback. It can be done. I’ve worked with someone who had been edited and a reader picked up something which meant it had to be edited again and the issue addressed.

Of course, the timing is individual. Some people I know won’t let me read for them until they think their MS is perfect. Naturally enough I don’t get to read for them very often at all.

Now I wrote this post because I’m working on a rough draft of The Ungiven Land, Silverlands book 3. It’s hard work even thinking about this story so procrastination helps. This blog post is brought to you by procrastination!

 

 

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Today marks the end of my working life in the Australian Public Service. It’s my last pay day. I can’t begin to express how big a change this is for me at this time of my life. I gave up my big paying job, my ‘social capital’ as an educated woman and well-paid over spender/consumer. I gave up building my nest egg and putting heaps of money into my house, or using it to go traveling or just buying shit. I’m sure this will bother me in future, but now I don’t have regrets. (I’m pretty scared about not having money but its’ not like I’ll have none just less! Okay a lot less. A $100,000 less on paper.)

The bottom line was my arthritic spine was making my life pretty miserable and I wanted to spend what productive time I have doing what I want, while I can.

Upside, I can now talk about politics and stupid things that bother me without being threatened with the sack.

I think doing the PhD allowed me not to think about anything but the Phd. It gave me something to put my mental claws in. I am enjoying it. Now, I didn’t get a stipend so that makes things tougher financially. Not that stipends are huge, but it would have helped. Needless to say I’m going to apply again (and fill out the forms correctly this time) at the end of the year. But I have to face the fact that this is it. It’s me, my superannuation and my mortgage. I have the lovely Matthew but I don’t want to impose on him at all, so I’ll be paying my way on the household stuff. My life decisions shouldn’t be reducing his quality of lifestyle.

Then there’s the writing. Still a big part of my  life. The self publishing/Indie publishing thing well I have to see where that takes me.

My previous post I spoke about Print on Demand publishing. I have made my first stupid mistake that cost me money. Not a lot of money, but still I already paid that bugger and had to pay it again. And today is when the money just stops!

You see I found a typo on the very last line of my acknowledgements. It was one letter on a page that maybe no one would read. So I changed the files (I haven’t done iBooks yet as I need a Mac!). For everything it wasn’t a problem, except of Ingram Sparks. I didn’t realise they were going to charge me for the set up fee again, even for the epub file. They charge US $25 to upload your epub file and another $25 for the print. I think other places like Smashwords (which I didn’t use) doesn’t charge.  So fingers burnt. If I waited until other people reported typos then I could have done a lot at the same time, but no I had to change this one letter for about $60 Australian. So lesson learnt.

I’m not complaining that people have to be paid to do their job. Fair enough. I’m complaining that I was stupid, didn’t even think about it and got my fingers burnt.

Createspace hasn’t charged me to reload the print file but I have to go through the review process again. Lesson make sure the file is typo free (it’s really hard) and if you find a typo and it’s a wee thing live with it. That’s what you had to do in the old off-set days.

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Having your book in print, in physical form, is the best feeling ever! No doubt about it.

Print on Demand (PoD) services are fantastic (if you get the right ones) because with digital publishing technology you can do small print runs (one book) and the books are fairly economical to produce. No longer do you have to do an offset print run (old-style) and have a garage full of unsold books to get a price per unit down to a manageable level. With a print book you can wave it about and say look at me. You can do a book launch, sell books, and do book signings. You can take your book on holiday and photograph it in picturesque places. You can give copies to people. You can sell them. That’s the up side!

The best place for a book is in a book shop. This is because people go to book shops to buy books. They go to browse and if that shiny god of inspiration is shining on your book and your browser, you may get yourself a sale. Baring that, having reviews, word of mouth etc may get a person going into the book store to actually buy your book. Other venues for sales include conventions, but that can result in no sales, a few sales or heaps of sales, depending on a number things, including the size and the book buying inclination of the attendees. On line book stores are fab too. My own experience has been that I go to them when I know what I want and I need it now. On line is not a good place for browsing, unless you have promo! A flag waving promo that says buy me because I’m a must read before you die Alas, those promos cost big biccies.

There’s nothing stopping PoD books being in book stores. Nothing, nothing except a small thing.

Book stores traditionally get a cut from the sale of the book, usually a discount on the Recommended Retail Price (RRP) and this discount can be 40 to 45 percent (sometimes more, maybe less but not so in my experience unless the bookstore owners are awesome and treat you like a star). That’s not so bad is it? I mean I can do that. I have done that given the standard discount on my books to book stores. I’ve got to pay a percentage to the distributor too, lets say 10 to 15 percent. Okay  I’m cool with that. Bring it on! Buy my books in wonderful, awesome bookstores!

Here’s the catch. When bookstores buy from distributors and mainstream publishers they usually have a six months sales and return condition on the purchase. That is, if the books don’t sell they can send them back. This is a risk management set up so that the bookstore doesn’t have the risk of non sales.  There is, of course, firm sale options where bookstores might get a bigger discount if they take a number of books but if they don’t sell they are stuck with them. The risk is on the book seller then.

With PoD, I know with my supplier, I can opt for accepting returns, but I have no idea how that would work. In principle, with POD the book comes into being because of the order so what happens if it is no longer wanted? The options are the book gets destroyed and the purchaser gets a refund on the cost of the book (not the postage) or it gets returned to the distributor and the returnee pays the postage. After this I don’t know what happens. Can it be resold? Dunno! So I’ve opted for no returns.

So in this way, despite  allowing a discount on my books that are comparable to traditional publishers, I am most likely locked out of bookstores, unless I approach them myself and even supply them from my supply of books. My book is not competitive because it can’t be returned (it might be noncompetitive for other reasons too, like no promo, no rep, no sales history etc). The other downside which works against bricks and mortar bookstores supplying/ordering/selling POD titles, is that if they order one book they have to pay postage (usually that would have be passed on to the buyer indirectly or directly). If they ordered five or ten then it would be cheaper but they aren’t going to do that because they can’t return them. If you as a book buyer are lucky enough to have a bookstore that will order in PoD titles then stick to them. Thank them. Send them Christmas cards or seasons greetings because they are awesome. Online it’s a bit different because you expect to pay postage (or not) depending on the store.

The upshot of this is that PoDs are not going to get you heaps of sales through bookstores. They are lovely to have. (I’m going to be selling my pretties at Supanova in Sydney in June!) but we are still small biccies, unless we become big biccies.

I ask myself why I have priced my books to allow bookshops to get the 40 percent and the distributor their percentage. I should race over to my set up page and change it to the minimum, but maybe I’m optimistic that some bookstores will either buy my book or supply it to lovely people who order it in and for that, I’d like them to be compensated.

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Cover by Les Petersen

Buy links for Argenterra here.

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So Argenterra, my YA/adult crossover fantasy is out there in the world. Fly baby, fly.

I have paid for some advertising,  and stuff, but essentially the only copies that have sold so far were friends buying the pre order. I’m very grateful to them! Thanks guys.

I have sent out a couple of review copies. All reviews help! I am waiting to see what the reviewers think. If you want to review it, please let me know.

It’s early days so I’m not going to stress about sales. From past experiences it goes in ups and downs. Discoverability is the biggest challenge with ebooks or small press or Indie publishing. The book is not sitting on a shelf in a book store waving hello to you as you walk in. (As an aside the print book is discounted to book stores at 40% and can be ordered via Ingrams.) For buy links click  here or see My Books Tab.

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Cover by Les Petersen

What I did want to say is that Argenterra is first in a series and I’m committed to putting the three books out. There should be a cliff hanger warning too! For that reason I’ve included the first chapter of book two at the end of book one.

As a self/Indie publisher I can make the commitment to publish the whole series. I may not put them all out in hard copy print, but we’ll see what demand is like. I’m currently revising/polishing book 2, The Crystal Gate. It’s written but I haven’t looked at the draft since 2009. My writing has changed a bit since then. I need to have it beta read, edited before I can layout etc. The proofing and stuff can take a couple of weeks too. I’m hoping to finish the revision by the end of May.

Book Three is partially drafted at 50,000 words. At the time I was writing it, I figured it wasn’t worth finishing a trilogy that hadn’t sold. Now the publishing world is completely different. Now it’s my trilogy and I’m in control so I will get it done and out there.Drafting book three to 135,000 words may take until much later in the year.

Control is so underrated.

As Dragon Wine was put out by Momentum, I had no say in the book being split in two, which people complained about. And as the books didn’t sell sufficiently well, they declined to publish the next book in the series.  A nice blow after working on it for ten years! Thousands were downloaded for free, but unfortunately that didn’t translate to sales. However, the next book is drafted and I will try to get it out later in the year. It’s a bit hard when I don’t have the rights to the first book and given it’s lack lustre performance and it’s very dark nature I can’t quite make up my mind what to do. It’s hard not to get disheartened and lose faith in your work. Alas, Momentum is no more, but Pan Mac have the rights. The Dragon Wine series is quite complex and dark. I may have to lighten it a bit before I publish the next installment. If I publish it.

Dragonwine

Dragon Wine Series

My previous post may have sounded a bit down on traditional publishers. It wasn’t meant to be. It’s just that the crisis in publishing is affecting everyone in the industry and it makes life difficult, particularly here in Australia. I have an agent trying sell a book to traditional publishers.It’s a good book-hasn’t sold but I’m not giving up yet on that. I’ve only half written the sequel to that.  I have more books written that I’d like to see get traditional publishing deals. It’s just tough out there and it takes a lot of time. With 15 years worth of writing behind me, I have a little bit of a back list of unpublished novels. I’m also working on new ones. I may be hyper active. Here’s hoping the PhD will keep me busy, too busy to write anything else but the PhD novel.

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People say it’s easy self-publishing a book, or Indie Publishing as they say these days. It’s not all sunshine a roses and I’m not talking about sales here. I’m talking about getting the files ready and loaded etc.

The proofreading, file formatting and instruction reading and following are very left brain that leave me without a right brain cell to aspire to creativity. I’ve been caught in that vortex for weeks it seems. The difficulty is not in the amount of advice out there or the assistance other Indie publishers provide because that’s so fab. It’s just the tediousness of it. It’s like doing ten tax returns in a row. It’s killing me with my left brain. I can now understand why people pay others to do all that crap for them. They may end up making no money out of their publication (most, I think) but at least they have held onto their creative soul.

I have to go back to the reason why I’m doing this. Argenterra got to acquisitions in Australia but then it didn’t fit the young adult niche here. (just one part of the story) The Australian market is a small.Even the digital publishers are getting thin on the ground. I’ve submitted Argenterra over the years and well I run foul over arguments about whether it is young adult etc.  I always thought it wasn’t, but then on reading it maybe it’s young adult or young adult cross over. Last year I was chatting to Keri Arthur and she recommend I Indie publish. I’ve had titles epublished with traditional publishers and why not try hybrid. I talked to her about the Silverlands Trilogy of which Argenterra is the first. I could get two books up quickly and then polish off the third book. I’m not expecting to do anything earth shattering here, but it is certainly an eye opener. The amount of control you have as an Indie publisher is like a drug. You get to make all the decisions but you have to do the work.

There are various ways to get your book out there these days. When I had a small press it wasn’t so easy. There was no Amazon.com.au and people without US bank accounts couldn’t list their books on Amazon.com. Ebooks were not a thing. It was PDF and maybe just the beginning of ebooks in the world. Having that small press experience has been good, but not having the tools I used to have was pretty ordinary. I used to own Creative Suite now I’m reduced to Word.

It’s hard. I whinge a lot you may have noticed.

I’m not even talking about the stigma of self-publishing here or the difficulties in promoting a book.

The process for formatting an ebook is pretty straightforward. But anything that requires discipline and attention to detail can be tedious for me. I can do it but I don’t/can’t do creative stuff round the same time.I had a author friend proofread for me after I laid out the book. In Word this entails formatting with titles so that you can do a table of contents. For an ebook you don’t have to worry about page numbers or headers or footers. I used Calibre to covert my epub. But for Amazon, you only need to the Word file. Most of the other places do the conversion from Word for you too.

It was formatting the print version that life became more complicated. Headers and footers and page numbers. I did a proofread and found a few little things which I changed in the ebook too. Unfortunately, using preorder on Amazon meant I couldn’t change the file. Eep! Lesson number one. Do your own proof before uploading the file. I was able to do it after it became live. Second is don’t underestimate how long it can take to proofread your book properly. (I printed the book out to do my proofs) Then research, ask around what is the best way forward. I chose Createspace for US Amazon.com and Ingram Sparks for rest of the world. (I’ll put a link below as to why). Then I got into problems with the paging. I was either missing a page or having two blanks when trying to get the odd number pages to fall on the right hand side. That took a whole night to fix. Needless to say that I have matured emotionally over the last two weeks. (I you believe that then you’ll believe anything.)

The cover was another issue. I had a pro cover done but it was not the wrap required for a print version and the file sent to me was a PDF and you need specialist software to put the cover together. Having exhausted my $ I had to beg help from the lovely Rebekah Turner. We had to do two covers-one for Createspace and one for Ingram Sparks. But I’ve been told you can use the Createspace one for Ingrams. If I had brains I could have used Publisher I suppose.

Today everything is loaded. Because I wanted Createspace to do the Amazon.com I loaded the book there first and then did Ingrams once it was showing on the Amazon listing. This is because Ingram will list it on Amazon if it’s not there already. (See blog link below to understand why.)

Listing the ebook. I could have used Smashwords, but I wanted to some control over key accounts; Amazon, ibooks, Kobo. Amazon was the easiest even with the tax declarations. Kobo was pretty simple and ibooks was complicated. First thing to know about ibooks is that you need a Mac to upload your content. That information would have been useful and would have saved me three nights of wrangling. I’ve used Ingram to distribute the ebook elsewhere.

Many thanks to Patty Jansen for answering near hysterical emails with aplomb. Also thanks to Ainslie Paton for help with book blurb (a whole day back and forth), Rebekah Turner for cover wrangling and Aiki Flinthart for proofreading, moral support and information.

Why am I doing this? Why don’t I forget about this book or this series?

The publishing industry is in a state of flux, particularly here in Australia. I don’t believe we can rely on the book industry to be the gate keepers they once were. Publishers are not loyal to their authors anymore. If you’re not a best seller then you’re out. Heaps of mid-listers have lost their publishers, not because they aren’t good writers with great books, but because they aren’t making the big $$$. Being a new author is even harder. Your book doesn’t sell the expected number your chance is gone. If you don’t have the sales then it’s darn hard to get another publisher.

Why Argenterra? I love this story. I’ve almost written a trilogy and what a waste it if never sees the light of day. I’ve revised and rewritten this story many times because I believed in it. Now it’s time for me to see if others like it too. I love the characters in this book. Sophy and Oakheart are my personal faves but there’s Lillia too.

After 15 years, I’m going to give self-publishing a try.

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Cover by Les Petersen

Here is the link I mentioned above. Here

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