Thursday, September 19, 2013

On Naming Characters

A couple months ago, I went on a road trip with a good friend. She had a fun idea for a book and wanted to brainstorm and outline as I was driving. It was great fun bouncing our ideas around the car as it cruised through the mountains of western Idaho. 

And then we got to character names. 

My friend wanted names that reflected her characters - the wild child needed a wild name, the sheltered girl needed a sheltered name, the mean secondary characters needed mean names, and the douchebag boyfriend needed a douchy name. 

I had a horrible time coming up with names, because I can't name characters that way.

When parents name a new kid, with few exceptions, they don't know what that baby is going to be like when he grows up. They don't sit and think "Hmmmm...I think he'll be a popular football player, maybe even Homecoming King. What's a good Homecoming King name?" Two stuffy accountants aren't likely to name their baby girl Starshine Rose, even if that name will work wonderfully with the quirky teenager she'll grow up to be.

Our characters are full people with lives outside the pages we write them into. Their names should reflect less who they are and more who their parents were when they named their baby. After all, your characters didn't just get named when the story you're telling starts; they've had their names for their whole lives before page one.

But what if your character has boring parents, but a boring name just won't work for her? A quick way to get around this is by using nicknames. When I lived in Montana last, I was part of a YA Book Club. One of the members was a girl about my age, maybe a year or two younger, named Finn.

Except her name was actually Linda.

She grew up thinking her parents had given her the most boring, old-lady name in the world, so when she went to college, she told people to call her Finn, and it stuck. 

(Apparently Linda really is a boring, old-lady name, because it's also my step-mom's name, but she's always gone by Cathie.) 

Now, you don't have to name characters this way. Authors give characters names with meaning all the time, and it works. (And, really, who is going to argue with Queen Rowling?) I'm just giving you something to think about next time you are trying to come up with the perfect name that will, in one word, encompass everything your character is. 

Your turn! How do you name your characters? Sound off in the comments. :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Interview with Laura Elliott

Laura release The Storytellers last week. Here's a bit about the book, and then you can check out her interview!!

Four storytellers
One ancient demon
No way out…
Four women who call themselves The Storytellers have gathered one hot August evening to tell tales, as they have for years. But on this night, they unknowingly evoke the powers of an ancient Mayan idol that breathes real life into their stories. The Mayan idol isn’t the only ancient being awakened. A power-hungry demon is determined to see the women fail and become enslaved to him forever.
Now the women’s lives depend on surviving each other’s stories, defeating the demon and solving a centuries-old mystery.
If they survive until The End untold wealth is theirs. But some stories have a life of their own…



What’s a typical writer’s day for you?


I don’t think I’ve had a typical writer’s day for years. I’m on the road a lot and so I’ve had to develop ways to “plug-in” to projects in any kind of situation––busy cafes, construction sites, random hotels, out in the middle of nowhere. What puts me in tune to my muse is music. I have a pair of noise-canceling headphones and lots of playlists. I usually make a playlist for every book I’m working on. So, I’ll turn on my imagination and tune out my surroundings and type away just about anywhere, whenever I get some time. Lately I’ve been gesture sketching the people and places around me too. To listen to the music that inspired the The Storytellers you can click here


What’s your favorite thing about writing paranormal?


Like most readers, I see myself in the stories that speak to me. These stories are a kind of mirror of my hopes, dreams, all that I hold dear and all that I fear. They settle into my core and make me laugh, think, cry, sigh or act. For me, this is paranormal romance.


Paranormal romance lives within my heart and mind at the sandy shores of my relationship with myself, and others––what it means to love and to be loved in return. It asks questions about what I’m willing or able to give in love and what I take from it. The stories that hit home with me usually shine a light on the costs and great gifts of true love. These stories show us what love could be, and so seldom is. They show us what love should never be and call into question the things we might be settling for, and those situations or relationships we might need to break away from or reexamine. These stories can clarify our passions and be a call to action in defense of them.


What’s the hardest thing about being self-published?


I think it would be that I have to be a jack of all trades. But IMHO increasingly these days even traditionally published authors have to know more about promotion and marketing. But I love wearing lots of different hats. It suits me. Before I was published I had no idea how I would have to fight for my writing time because all of a sudden there’s all this marketing and promotion that needs to happen after I published. 


What is the best part of being a self-published author?


I’m a technogeek. I’ve always been an early adapter of technology. I was working in the dot-com world during the Internet boom of the 90s, programming and designing for a company that came up with proprietary software for online banking for credit unions. There’s just something really cool about technology. It intrigues me. I love the way it can be used to tell stories. I guess I’ve been telling digital stories for a dozen years or so. I love designing book covers and producing book trailers. These were all things I had been doing in the news and entertainment industries and now I’m producing them for my stories.


The classic design problem of articulating a story through a single image fascinates me. That’s why I love designing book covers. I also enjoy engaging my other senses through music and video in ways that put me in touch with the story in deeper ways. I always learn a lot about what I’ve written when I produce a book trailer. The process seems to open up more interpretations and meaning behind my books.


Beyond all that, the indie author community is so generous and helpful and friendly. I’m truly honored to be a part of it and have made amazing friends here.


What one piece of advice would you give writers?


Never. Give. Up. Follow your gut and write your heart out. READ.


Tell us a little about The Storytellers?


The Storytellers is a Thelma and Louise meets Raiders of the Lost Arc story about four writers whose stories all come true for each other.


Four women who call themselves The Storytellers have gathered one hot August evening to tell tales, as they have for years. But on this night, they unknowingly evoke the powers of an ancient Mayan idol that breathes real life into their stories. The Mayan idol isn’t the only ancient being awakened. A power-hungry demon is determined to see the women fail and become enslaved to him forever.
 Now the women’s lives and loves depend on surviving each other’s stories, defeating the demon and solving a centuries-old mystery.
 If they survive until The End untold wealth is theirs. But some stories have a life of their own…


you can buy The Storytellers here


What was your favorite part of The Storytellers, when you were writing?


One of my favorite, but hardest parts of the novel for me to write concerned the naming and powers of the four idols at the heart of the story: Escrito holds the power of the writer, which we know as the power of the truth; Bailador, the power of the dancer, which holds the power of falling in love; Pintador, the power of the painter, which embodies the power of perception; and lastly Músico, the power of music, which transcends time and space and holds the power of emotion.


Tell us something most people don’t know about you?


In the 80s, I won tickets to a Phil Collins concert by singing “Against All Odds” on KLOS in Los Angeles.




Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy book birthday to ST Bende and Adrianne James!

We're so excited over here at Indie Ignites because we've had TWO #NA book birthdays this week !!!!

Book birthday number one was ST Bende's second installment in The Elsker Saga, Endre! Here's the blurb from Amazon: 

Endre (The Elsker Saga #2)Sometimes, finding your destiny means doing the exact opposite of what The Fates have planned.

Winning the heart of an immortal assassin was a dream come true for Kristia Tostenson. Now she’s knee deep in wedding plans, goddess lessons, and stolen kisses with her fiance. But her decision to become immortal could end in heartbreak — not only for Kristia, but for the god who loves her. While Ull would do anything to protect his bride, even the God of Winter is powerless against the Norse apocalypse. Ragnarok is coming. And the gods aren’t even close to ready.
Ack! If you're looking for a fun getaway this weekend with the likes of Thor (technically his stepson, Ull), check out Elsker and Endre!

Buy Endre on Amazon (link)
Add Endre to Goodreads (link)
Start at the beginning with Elsker (link)
Visit ST's blog and enter to win an Amazon gift card, Endre ebook and swag (link)


The Tempering (Mackenzie Duncan, #1)Our second book birthday goes to Adrianne James -- The Tempering's birthday is today! Woo hoo!

Blurb from Amazon:

The Mythology department at prestigious Harvard University is tiny—and Mackenzie Duncan has just been selected as one of the lucky few. Her love for myths and legends is strong, but she never thought any of it could be real.

After being attacked by a large wolf while walking home alone, Mackenzie realizes something is not right. She heals quickly, is suddenly super strong, and is experiencing mood swings that can't possibly be normal. The myths she's studying aren't myths at all. Werewolves are real and she's one of them. Fear of what she is, and who she might hurt sends Mackenzie running from the life she’s worked hard to build–and straight into the arms of a handsome Were named Geoff and into the home of his pack. Living with her new pack takes the edge off her confusion and self-loathing, but the arrival of new pack members changes the dynamic, and tests Geoff and Mackenzie’s growing relationship.

The hardest part of being a werewolf is having no control and no memory of her time as a blood thirsty beast. When a moon cycle passes and she actually remembers bits and pieces of the night, she starts to ask questions, and the more questions she asks, the more she realizes she doesn't like the answers. Can she set aside her own sense of morals to belong to a pack that is like a family or will she leave everything behind yet again in search of a life she can be proud of?

If you're looking for a romantic read featuring paranormal mythology (or simply a new Were book) this weekend, check out The Tempering!

Buy The Tempering on Amazon (link)
Add The Tempering to Goodreads and enter to win a copy (link)

Congrats guys, from your fellow Indie Ignites ladies!!! <3

Friday, September 6, 2013

Why I went Hybrid--Self-publishing with an agent.

Earlier this week, my counterparts posted about being a small press author and self pub author. Today, I'm gonna talk a little about being a hybrid. It's a catch phrase that I've been seeing around the Internet a lot--I'm sure you have too--an honestly, it makes me feel a bit like a mutant. Like, Storm from XMen, but not as sexy.


Anyway. Here's a bit about what it means to me and why I chose it.


What it is:

A hybrid-author is someone who takes more than one path to publication. They self-pub and small pub and sometimes, traditionally pub. They often times have an agent. I would take it a step farther and include that I have an amazing publicist on my team as well. She does for my indie titles what my agent does for my traditional titles (or what she will do--it's still very new and squee worthy).

Both my agent and my indie team are people that help direct my career, who make informed decisions to help me place myself and my books at the best place and time to succeed. Michelle places me in front of the editors at houses and imprints I can't reach alone. Jessica (publicist) advises me what bloggers and readers are looking for and when is best to release a story, and follows it up with amazing help getting the word out about it.


Why I chose it:

I'm a control freak, you guys. I'm a workaholic control freak who doesn't sleep. I am also  prolific--I average three books a year. And I write a lot of genres. Dystopian, retellings, zombies, paranormal, space opera, contemporary romance, mafia thrillers, historical. I would be a traditional house marketing nightmare. And with as many books as I write a year, I'd go crazy on their slow schedule.

Self-publishing gives me the freedom and speed to put out all my various stories however quickly/slowly I want.

On the flip side, traditional takes stories that won't do well in an indie market and puts them in a traditional arena. (Sci-fi and retellings, you guys)


Really, guys, what it came down to for me was what was best for THIS story. Sometimes the answer is indie and I throw myself into that with both feet and gleeful abandon. Sometimes, the answer is traditional publishing because they reach the audience I want. And with an agent, I am poised to do both.

Always--ALWAYS-- it comes down to one thing. Do your homework. Make an informed decision. Then be ready to work your butt off because whatever you chose? It's hard and takes a lot of work and is so so worth it.



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Publishing Choices - Why I made the choice to self-publish when I had an agent interested.

To continue our series on publishing, I’m going throw in my two cents of why I chose self-publishing over going traditional route. 

Two days before I was about to announce the release date of THE TRUTHS ABOUT DATING AND MATING, I received an email from one of the agents I’d had it on submission with, informing me that she wanted to discuss my book.  I was so stunned that I couldn’t even answer for a day.  To be honest, I stepped away from the computer because it seemed too freaky that this was happening the exact week I had planned to make the announcement.  This was after a couple of months of hearing nothing.  (I know, a couple of months is nothing, but I’ve never been good at the waiting game.)

So, once I got my thoughts together, I decided I'd be crazy not to at least listen to what she had to say.  After a Skype call – which was very interesting and I’m sure I acted like a total dork on – I heard some ideas I liked...and some I wasn’t too fond of.  There was a lot of information to ponder.  I discussed everything with my husband ad nauseum, weighing the pros of signing with an agent, as well as the cons.  I received  a lot of advice from friends and family, who generally don’t know much about how publishing works and why I was struggling with this so much.  What it really came down to was this:  Did I really want to make a lot of changes to my storyline that I wasn’t comfortable with for a book that may or may not ever sell, or did I want to go forward with my plan of self-publishing, and for better or worse, keep my book the way I wanted it?

I didn’t have a lot of time to decide, but I used every second I had to try to figure out what I wanted to do.  
I’ve always wanted to be published, but I also had the story written the way I wanted it, and every part is in there for a reason.  I laid a lot of groundwork in Truths.  Cutting some major scenes and characters would feel like selling out and sacrificing my story to possibly get a deal.  And what if I did all that work, and the agent still wasn’t happy with it?
What do I do?

After about a week, I finally came to a decision:  I was going to pass on going that route, and move forward with my original plan of self-publishing.  I’ve heard various reactions from people close to me, such as why are you settling for self-publishing?  What if you never get a chance like that again?  I thought that’s what you always wanted! 

With the new shift in the publishing world, self-publishing didn’t feel like settling.  It may not have been the deal I had always been dreaming about, but the idea of taking charge of the entire process myself – while scary – was also really exciting. 

I knew it was going to take a lot of work, but I was willing to put the time in.  I ran a blog tour by myself.  I bought an advertisement spot.  I sent out some review copies.  I ran some contests.  Oh, and I did a few strategic $.99 cent sales. 

In return, I’ve sold ten times the number of books I ever expected to.  I invested a fair amount of money in getting the book ready, and I made it all back in the first month, three times over.  My overall rating on most sites is pretty dang good.  From that, I’ve also learned that bad ratings don’t really bother me anymore.  
There are plenty of books people loved to death that I thought were horrible.  Different strokes, right? I remind myself of how many people have told me they enjoyed my book.  They far outweigh those who hated it.  I’ve built an audience and still have days where a simple tweet or email from someone who loved my book brightens my day and makes me feel like I’m walking on air.  

The simple fact is, I did it!  I put a book out there by myself, the way I wanted it to be, and not only did people buy it and read it, but plenty have enjoyed it and taken time of their busy days to let me know that.  And ten months after my release, people are still buying my book, they're still reading my book, and many are still letting me know how much they enjoyed it.  That right there is how I know I made the right choice in self-publishing, and why I consider myself successful from having done it!

This doesn't mean I won't ever consider traditional publishing again.  There will always be a part of me seeking that bit of validation, but I don't feel it as much I used to.  I got what I wanted the first time out without a publishing deal.  That may be all the validation I'll ever need.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Publishing Choices, Part II: Self-Publishing

Self-Publishing -or- IDEK WTF I’m Doing

Yeah, you read that right. I have no clue what I’m doing. And I love it. I’m the girl who likes to laminate itineraries for road trips with scheduled bathroom breaks. I’m annoyingly detail-oriented when something matters to me, and I love to research topics that I find interesting. One would think with this personality type that I’d have some clue as to what I’m doing over here.

One would be wrong.

Every time I think have a firm grasp on what I’m doing and my next step, the market, or life, throws me a curve ball  I’m becoming a pro at adapting. Being my own boss is the best thing I’ve ever done, and it’s brought about some surprising discoveries about myself. Here, I’ll touch on a few things about self-publishing from my unique perspective. Everybody is going to have a different story to tell. This is mine.

So, back in January, I made this post detailing why I was choosing to go indie. I won’t rehash that post, so I’ll tell you what it’s like actually being self-published, as opposed to the idealistic version I posted back before I hit “publish”. Because while I made great points, I barely have time to even think about that stuff anymore.
It’s hard to image that it’s only been seven months since I became a published author. It feels like a lifetime ago. And I’ve learned so much about myself and what I’m capable of. But most importantly, I’ve learned how very personal this journey is and why the only authentic choice I could have made, for myself, was to self-publish.

It all comes down to personality.
(If only he was talking about me!)

If you follow me on Twitter or you’re my friend on Facebook, you’ve likely been smacked in the face with my opinion about something. I’m a vocal person and when I believe in something, I have a hard time keeping it to myself. Publishing is a business and businesses want professionalism. I get that and don’t hold it against them. It just means I’m probably not a good fit for a publishing house. I don’t want to feel I have to stifle my voice because it might offend someone or reflect poorly on my publisher.

I’m controlling.

Case-in-point: my cover designer, Gonet Design, is also my best friend. Not only is she awesome, she KNOWS I’m incredibly critical. The other night, when reviewing a mock-up for the cover for my fourth book, I asked her to move a letter over by like one millimeter. Unfortunately, we couldn’t because it would mess the entire composition up. But she did alter the spacing on my name as I requested. And while we work super well together, I don’t envy her position. The cover for Marital Bitch took some 30+ designs before I was happy with it. Anomaly took about ten. For The Switch, she knew what I wanted. But for Anomaly’s follow-up, and my up-coming secret project, I created mock-up covers because I’m so particular. Then she went and fixed it and made my idea absolutely gorgeous and put her own spin on it. In short, putting up with me is no small feat. I can’t even imagine not getting to choose my own cover. It’s the first impression people get of my work.

I like to do things at my own pace.

Last night, I was up working until 5am. I’m behind on my current project because I was behind on my last project. The Switch was originally supposed to be to my editor at the end of June. I got it to her in August. And now because of that, I have two projects which are behind schedule and I’m scrambling to keep up. But because I have other responsibilities such as being a full-time student and working part-time in addition to the full-time schedule I put in building my author brand, it’s important to me that I’m able to take as little or long working on something as I need to without worrying over contract stuffs. I also have the freedom to write multiple series at one time, and I get to decide what gets released and when. I don’t feel cornered to have to stick with something I’m not feeling at that moment.

What I say goes.

I had no idea how to put a book on sale for free on Amazon. I was planning on a week-long sale to get the word out. But it’s not as easy as just changing the price, so when my sale didn’t go into effect as expected, I forgot about it. Then Books (another one of my besties) asked me if I intended to make my book free, and if I knew it was ranking on Amazon’s best-seller list at #28 a month after its release. Marital Bitch eventually made it in the top 15 in the free store and #2 in both contemporary romance as well as women’s fiction. And it stayed there for weeks and weeks. March saw over 100,000 downloads.

But I wasn’t making a dime off of it. Some people were SUPER critical of my choice to keep the book free until it was professionally edited (which ended up being five months after its release). But what mattered to me then, and still matters to me, is that I gained a readership by doing that. Sure, I had no idea I was doing it until it had happened, but I couldn’t have gained the readership I did without making it free, I don’t think. And a publisher wouldn’t have let me do that. They’re invested in the work financially and they want to see a financial return on it. And yeah, so do I. But as the reviews came in (positive and negative) and I saw that people were actually reading (and sometimes liking!) my book, I knew that I was making an investment in my career by getting my name out there. For me, that was priceless.

It’s SO stressful.

Seriously. Self-Publishing isn’t easy, nor is it for lazy people. Every single aspect of your career and brand rests solely on your shoulders if you’re self-published. If I get it wrong, I don’t have back-up to take to task for it. Being a self-published author can be expensive up-front. I’m spending money to make money just like a publishing house does. Only, I’m doing it on a college student’s dime. I have to pick and choose what services I hire and when. Some projects I’m lucky enough to hire a PR person and a formatter in addition to the editor and cover designer. Other projects, I AM the formatter and PR person. Also, since I set my own release dates, I am solely responsible for being mindful of when other authors release their books as well.

I got maybe five hours of sleep last night because I crammed a week’s worth of homework into one day. The rest of the week is devoted to writing because I have to have my next project off to my editor in just a few weeks. And I was up at 10 this morning working on chores so this afternoon I could write this post and then continue on the book I’m writing. I’m busy, y’all. But you know what, I love it. I’m obsessed with my own career.

Being a loner doesn’t mean I’m alone.

But the best thing I’ve learned about self-publishing is that I have this enormous support network behind me. I have friends, readers, bloggers, other authors who are all rooting for me. Indie authors stick together like crazy glue, even if we aren’t familiar with one another’s work. We all have the same goal. I have yet to run into an author who isn’t willing to help another person figure this publishing thing out. I absolutely could not do it without these people who continually show me their support. They “get it”. It’s totally organic and it shows me that I don’t need a corporate backer.

Something finally, really matters.

I’m an out-of-the-box thinker, so I’m pretty open to new ideas. I’ve tried out like six different majors throughout my duration in college. I’ve given crafting and a bunch of other hobbies a go, only to drop them weeks later. I’ve spent the larger part of my life not wanting or caring enough to give it (whatever it is) my all. I was always the person who would rather have a good night’s sleep than to earn that “A” in class (still am, I’m totally cool earning a “B”). But somewhere along my writing journey, this author thing became a serious frickin’ deal. I spend most of my time plugging away at either social media (Facebook), betaing for other authors, or writing my own books. I may be chill about earning a “B” in class, but I’m all about getting that “A” in my career. I have this passion for what I’m doing, and I wake up every day knowing that I’m on this journey that is more rewarding than I could have imagined. Every day I’m building toward my life’s ambition and that is TOTALLY worth the aneurysm I’m overdue for.

My confidence level is at an all-time high.

Dude. I wrote a book. Okay, well, I’ve written three books and I’m working on my fourth. But I’ve done it. Everything from conceptualizing the storyline to the characters to the cover, to writing the book (oh jeez, this sounds super easy NOW), branding the book, marketing the book, and eventually publishing the book—I’ve done it. I had no idea what I was doing seven months ago (and most of the time, I still don’t). But I did it. I look at life differently now. While I hope I never lose that fear that people won’t like my work, I’ve learned something invaluable these past few months. I can do it! Whatever it is, I can do it. My mother always says I’m capable of more than I realize, but it wasn’t until like a month ago that it hit me. I know who I am, I know what I’m capable of doing, that I’m a hard worker, and nobody can take that away from me. This is my story, exactly as I want to write it. And I couldn’t be more pleased with the journey.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Publishing Choices, Part One: Small Presses

Writers today are lucky enough to have a lot of publishing options. Most people dream of making it to the Big Six, the huge and hugely famous publishing houses that have their books sold, paperback and hardcover, in every market in the world, from online venues to mega-bookstore chains to small indie stores to Walmart.

If you don’t make it to the Big Six, you still have options, and there’s been a lot of debate online recently about self-publishing versus small presses. The writers here at Indie Ignites have taken both paths, and I’ll let my self-pub sisters tell you about that option because they’ve done a remarkable job with it. I am in no position to speak about all small presses and all writers’ experiences with them -who is? - but I can tell you about my experience in the hopes that it helps any pre-published writers out there struggling with the decision.

1.     My YA romance novella series, Snark and Circumstance, is the first work of fiction I’ve ever published. I knew very, very little about the publishing world beyond what most of us have read or seen in movies. I wasn’t even sure I had anything worth publishing (and had experienced enough rejection to doubt that I did).

2.      I knew even less about self-publishing, so little I wasn’t even sure it was a viable option.  Plus, I am a recent arrival rom the academic world to the fair shores of published fiction. I have published articles in the field of literary/cultural studies in academic journals and books, and I know that in the academic world, there is a version of self-publishing through what are known as “vanity presses” that you pay to publish your dissertation or book. The assumption made by most people is that you paid someone to publish it because no “real” publisher would take it. Snotty, I know, but at least in the academic world there is some truth to it. (Some.) So I come from a place that has long deemed self-publishing as self-indulgent, a path for someone who has not made the cut, so to speak.  But that’s just  the Ivory Tower – this perception is changing rapidly outside of it, as most of you know.

3.     If I had been more open to self-publishing, I was still clueless. And really busy. I barely fit in the little scraps of time I found to write the novel, and it took years today because I was parceling away stolen hours (minutes) like a squirrel hoarding nuts.  How was I going to produce a whole printed book with pages and a cover and binding and everything?

4.     I needed validation. Part of why I waited until later in life to publish than some of my sisters at Indie Ignites is because I was never really sure I could do it. It’s been a dream since I was a child, but that doesn’t mean I would actually get to be a writer. Lots of people have aspirations that they can’t live up to. I need someone in the publishing world to lay their anointed hand on my head and say, “You are a writer. You are allowed to be a writer.” So, in other words, I had my own psychological crap to deal with aside from writing.

5.     I wanted some feedback and a little help from an editor. I had polished and honed and edited and fixed the manuscript as well as I could, run it through critiques, and there were still some places that felt so shaky to me, like a condemned house that looks good from the outside but if you go in you see big holes in the floor with raccoons sticking out. (I needed, perhaps, someone to make me stop with bad metaphors like that one). I was a novice novelist and I knew it. I also knew that editors are not there to hold your hand or correct your grammar or spelling or turn your crap prose into gold. But they make suggestions, and I hoped for some.

6.     I got an offer. An editor at a small press called and actually sounded excited about the book. She said she had cancelled dinner plans the night the “full” (manuscript) came in because she wanted to keep reading it. She loved my characters. How could I not love her? (And I do). Some people cautioned that I should wait and see what else comes around, to use the fact that one person loved it to convince me that other people in the pub world would, too. But my editor’s enthusiasm won me over.


Almost a year later, the book is out there, in parts, because the press decided to publish it as a series of e-novellas. It was an experiment that I agreed to and I have mixed feelings about it, but mine is a unique case, so I’ll just stick to the general small-press experience.

1.     If you think you will have a lot of editorial guidance, you might not.  I don't have as many revisions as I had thought I would.  My original editor is off my “team” and on to other projects and my new editor is overwhelmed with lots of projects. I’m not saying that this is a tragedy. I’ve learned to be more ruthless and critical with my writing (I hope) and that is probably a good thing.

2.     You will still have to do a lot of marketing and promotion yourself (which is true for even Big Six writers). My particular press loves social media and I had a great blog tour when the first installment came out. I learned to use Twitter -- and could learn to use it to market myself better, I am sure. I have a blog that I love and it actually has followers, but I should probably invest in a professional website, though it’s hard to tell if it’s “worth it” to do that if you’re not sure anyone out there is reading it. But through social media, I have met so many wonderful authors and have developed “virtual” friendships that I value as much as my in-person relationships. I may never meet the ladies here at Indie Ignites, for example, but their help and support and good humor has been invaluable to me. 

On the other hand, through my small press, I had an instant group of authors for support.  Through Google groups we share successes and learn who's been signed recently. Then you can follow them on Twitter and they'll follow you and you can help promote each other's stuff.

3.     You will not become JK Rowling overnight. I hope you already know this, but I thought I should say it. I never wanted that, myself. I just wanted to be able to call myself a writer and have people read (and like) my books. But I can’t quite my day job any time soon because

4.     You will not get rich. Probably not, though I hope I am wrong, and if I am in your case, feel free to send a charitable contribution to the Snarky Small Press Writer’s Circle and just make the check out to me. My first quarterly statement made me, well, sad. I wasn’t expecting to buy a yacht or anything. But I thought I would maybe make enough to buy TWO books with it.

5.     If your book is released solely in e-format, you will be limited in some things you can do with it. The most obvious one is book signings, though I hear there is new technology that allows Kindle/Nook autographs. My press encourages its writers to go to schools and libraries and I believe them when they say it’s the most effective way to sell books. But if you have an ebook, that’s hard to do. I can’t walk in with a box full of Snark (except metaphorically). I suppose I could bring in my laptop and have people line up for me to take them to the site as I say “Click here and here” and then “Now go home and look in your Kindle. Love you! Bye!” So I am working on that (I’m going to try to do a young writers’ workshop at local libraries). Also, conferences, which are another way to get to meet readers and sell some books, occasionally ban those of us who have only e-material either because we can’t bring that stack of books or because they have the same snort of snobbery about publishing that I mentioned exists in academia. And that is a bummer because I really want to go meet some writers/readers at these events but can’t afford to go just for my own fun.

6.     You won’t get to control much. (Again, true of nearly every writer everywhere). My release dates change all the time and while I got to say “yea” or “nay” to my first cover (based on the images they to me, not chosen) I had no say in the second cover (which people seem to like) and I can only assume that’s going to be true with the next two.

As I said at the top of this post, there are lots of options for writers these days and we’re lucky to be able to make these choices. Make your own decision an informed one. There are advantages and disadvantages to any route you choose.  Being able to call myself a “writer”, having a book out there, and being part of this community is a wonderful thing. People I don’t know and will never meet have said lovely things about me and my writing and the people I do know (even lots of the people I had lost touch with) have been proud and supportive.

But just don't take my word for it.  Here's ST Bende on her experiences with small press publishing:

Like Stephanie, I chose to go the small press route for my first series, the New Adult Norse mythologies of The Elsker Saga.  Stephanie summed up the small press experience brilliantly. Like any publication option, my choice had its pros and cons. But I chose to go that route for many of the same reasons Stephanie did. Namely, I wanted someone to hold my hand through my first publishing journey.

I’d never published fiction before -- in fact, I had no intention of publishing when I wrote the Elsker books. I wrote Kristia and Ull’s story in my journal, just for fun. One day I looked at my journal and realized I’d written several hundred pages of ‘fun’, and I wondered if anyone else would like my imaginary friends as much as I did. I queried agents and small presses, and ultimately landed a handful of small press offers. I chose one and crossed my fingers. A year later, the world could read my journal.

I came to the publishing table with very little experience -- I didn’t even know the writing-community existed. (Sin from my lips!) I wasn’t on Facebook, I’d barely heard of Twitter, and I knew maybe one person who had self-published a book. I wouldn’t have known where to begin if I’d wanted to self publish, and the entire thing seemed overwhelming and really, really scary. I wanted someone to guide me through the process, and a small press provides an editor, cover artist, and some degree of publicity. For a newbie, this was a very reassuring deal.

I’ve learned a lot in the past year, and forged amazing friendships with writers who have taken every conceivable publishing journey. The great thing about the writing community is the genuine desire of its members to help each other out. I wouldn’t be afraid to self publish a project now, because I know I have a veritable village to learn from.  And I’m writing my WIP with a completely open mind -- I’d love to see it go the full traditional Big Six route (don’t we all!), but if that doesn’t happen I’m open to going small press or self pubbing. Because I know I’ve got this amazing network of writer-friends behind me -- and those friendships are one of the best parts of any publication path. Don’t you think?

Look into your options and make the choice that’s right for you.
You can leave a comment or ask a question below to keep the conversation going. On Wednesday, Jaycee will tell you about her experiences self-publishing and on Friday, Nazarea will weigh in as someone who has an agent but is self-published. We'' keep you covered.

Happy writing, and publishing, whichever route you choose.