Four Things You’re Doing to Ruin Your Self-Publishing Career

 

Papa

There is an immense freedom that comes with self-publishing your work. You can write whatever the hell you want and publish whenever the hell you like. You don’t have to wait for the approval of an agent or a publisher. You are in control of your own writing career!

To paraphrase a quote from a certain arachnid-themed superhero film, with great freedom comes great responsibility.

I repeat – You are in control of your writing career. You are also capable of ruining it before it begins. Here are some ways you may be sabotaging your chances of success:

1. Editing the Book Yourself – I don’t care how well you write, you are incapable of seeing all the errors in your own work. You know what you meant to write – readers will see what you actually wrote. It’s so easy to omit simple words in a sentence because your writing brain mentally fills them in when you’re reading your own work. As for grammar and punctuation rules, there are millions of them and you’re likely to get lots of them wrong. I know I do! I would be terrified to publish a book that hadn’t been professionally edited.

2. Improperly formatting the manuscript– Formatting is something you may be able to do yourself. I can’t. I am utterly techno-phobic and wouldn’t even attempt it. It is possible to teach yourself how to properly format your manuscript for eBook and/or paperback, but don’t do it unless you’re sure you can do it 100% correctly. Don’t kid yourself by saying things like “Ah, the formatting’s only slightly off, nobody will notice.” Yes. Yes they will. It’s the first thing I look for in a self-published book. If it looks unprofessional, I won’t download it, even if it’s free.

3. Ignoring page and word count guidelines – If your book is fewer than 150 pages, it’s not a novel (at least not an adult one). I don’t care if it’s a free giveaway. If a reader settles down with a book you’ve marketed as a novel and finds it’s only 100 pages, he’s going to be disappointed. Angry, even. Angry enough to give you a bad review on Amazon. Writing shorter works is great! Just market them honestly as short stories or novellas, whatever the case might be. You also may want to price the story accordingly, perhaps .99 or 1.99.

4. Having a Bad Cover – This doesn’t just refer to the professionalism of the cover, though of course that’s critical. If you’re not good at art and graphic design (I’m not. As you can tell, there’s a long list of stuff I suck at…) don’t attempt it yourself. Whether you do it yourself or not, make sure you do your homework. An attention-getting design isn’t always better, believe it or not. Your number one goal is to attract the right readers –those who read your genre. If you’re marketing a romance, it’s important that your cover screams – this is a romantic book! That way, it will catch the eye of readers looking for a romantic read. If your cover grabs attention but doesn’t make the genre clear, readers will pass on it. Likewise, you want to make sure the cover matches the story. If the cover is pink and bright but the story is tragic and violent, your reader will be the one who’s dark and stormy.

I hear lots of self-publishers making excuses for not following these common sense rules of professional writing.

But I got good reviews! – If you have only a handful of reviews, enjoy them. You won’t be getting many more. When your book first came out, you may have had a few readers willing to overlook your errors, but this good fortune won’t work long-term. Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and most readers will not recommend poorly written or badly formatted books. Also, no professional book blogger is going to bother to review a book that is incorrectly formatted. Sure, you’re not getting bad reviews that complain about that badly written book – that’s because most people won’t buy or read the book in the first place.

I can’t afford an editor, a formatter, and a cover artist! I filed for bankruptcy the year I published my first book .Guess what I did first? Paid the editor, the formatter, and the cover artist. I worked too damn hard on that book to make it look unprofessional. Times are tough, no question about it. But you’re tougher. Sell your blood, have a lemonade stand, I don’t care what you do. You owe it to yourself to do right by your book. Don’t sabotage yourself by taking shortcuts.

I know some of my Wannabe Pride articles sound harsh sometimes, but it really is because I care about indie writers. I WANT YOU TO SUCCEED.

I’ve dreamed for twenty years of being a published writer, and I finally made it happen with my debut novel in 2014. So far, I’ve gotten a positive review on the front page of an LGBT newspaper as well as several great book blogger reviews, been invited to give two public talks about the book, sold about three times the number of books that I had expected, and got my novel accepted into my local public library system.

I teared up as I wrote that last paragraph, because I still can’t believe that all that happened.

No, I’m not a huge success and I’m not ready to quit my day job, but this whole experience has been a dream come true. I want all this and more to happen for you.

None of this would have happened if my formatting had been even a touch off the mark or if my book contained grammatical errors. The library would have rejected it, no professional would have reviewed it, and I would have only gotten a handful of book sales.

Don’t sell yourself short.

Push yourself to be the very best you can be.

I believe in you.

You need to believe in yourself.

– Linda Fausnet

 

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The Book Launch from HELL

Joyville

I launched my second book this week. Kind of.

Not really.

The publication of this particular book has pretty much been a disaster from the beginning.

The book, THE JOYVILLE SWEAT SOX, is a book about baseball aimed at middle-schoolers. I love baseball, and I wrote it during the time when my son played Little League for the first time. Writing the book was a dream. Publishing it has been a nightmare.

I wrote the book back in the bad old days when it was traditional publishing or bust as far as I was concerned. I’ve since come to my senses and gone the self-publishing route, which is much preferable to the slow, agonizing death of my writing career that was trying to get agents and publishers to give me the time of day. I queried as usually, got rejected, got sad, got over it, and shelved the project.

Enter self-publishing. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, this book is not likely to sell well because it’s not easy to market to grade schoolers online. My best bet is word of mouth through people I know, particularly my kids’ friends at school and my son’s baseball teammates.

I wasn’t even planning to release this book just yet. The next book after my debut novel was supposed to be a chick lit book that I finished writing long ago. Our finances are tight, dangerously so, and I just do not have the money to pay for the editing for that novel right now and there is no way I would EVER publish a book without have it professionally edited. That book is currently being edited by an intelligent, wonderful well-meaning but s-l-o-o-o-w moving grammar Nazi friend. She’s had it for five months and is about 2/3rds done with the editing.

It has been excruciatingly painful to wait, but I just don’t have a choice. I hate that all I seem to talk about is my first book, QUEEN HENRY, for the past year. It’s embarrassing, and it makes me look like I haven’t done a damn thing since last July. It’s not true. I’ve done extensive rewrites on two novels and I’ve written 65,000 words of a new novel since then. I’m not lazy. I’m broke. I’m trying to keep the lights on and food on the table. I hate seeing those completed book sit and rot. It hurts. But I can’t do anything about it.

Publishing THE JOYVILLE SWEAT SOX is cheaper because it’s shorter. That means lower cost for editing and formatting. My son read this book when I first completed it and he loved it. I thought I would put together the book, dedicate it to him, and publish it for his birthday on May 17. It wouldn’t make a lot of money, but at least I would have SOMETHING out there, and it would be a wonderful present for my son. Plus, I love the story and I couldn’t wait to share it, especially with children.

I managed to scrape together the money to pay for editing and formatting, and all I needed was the cover. Long story short, my cover designer completely screwed me over. He didn’t mean to, but he did. I went to him a MONTH before my deadline of May 4 and asked if he could have the cover done by then. He should have said no, but he did the worst possible thing by promising he could do it and then not even coming close. He kept swearing it would be done on time, then soon, then almost; all those bullshit promises that I stupidly kept believing. I finally took the project back from him (since I already missed my son’s birthday), got my money back, and I found a terrific designer who swooped in and saved the day. He completed the project in a week, and the cover is beautiful

It was FAR too late for my son’s birthday, but it was in enough time to get the book out and published before school was out and before Noah’s baseball season was over.

Today is the last day of school for my kids, and my son’s last baseball game is tonight. Both my son and daughter brought a proof copy of the book to show all their friends, and Noah showed his teammates. Many of the kids on his team were excited about the book.

Then something went wrong with Amazon.

The paperback is still not available for sale, though I approved it June 3. It’s available on Kindle, though the few kids I know who own Kindle Fires use it for games, not reading. Kindle doesn’t help me when I’m marketing to fourth and firth graders.

Summer vacation starts tomorrow. Those kids will forget about the book. You only get one chance at a time like this. My son brought his book into school when he first got it, but he’s not going to take it in next year. It’ll be old news.

The opportunity for those few precious sales is gone.

Amazon sent me stock email saying they don’t know “when or if” it will be available.

I’m stuck with no answers and I’m heartsick over it.

I finally posted the link to the Kindle version on Facebook and Twitter last night and got three “Likes” and one retweet. Nobody cares. It’s not really for my Facebook friends. It’s a kid’s book, and I have nothing to offer the kids.

Yesterday sure didn’t feel like a book launch. I feel like I sank my last dime into publishing this book, and I’m devastated at the result. Sadly, it’s not enough to write a good book. You also have to have money and luck, and I really don’t have either.

There have been a lot of tears and heartbreak this week, but I will say this. I still got up every morning this week and wrote from 6:30-7:30am. I wrote more than 5000 words on my new novel.

It’s going to take more than bankruptcy, threats of foreclosure, and a clusterfuck of a book launch to keep me from pursuing my dream.

For what it’s worth, here’s the Kindle link for my new book. If you know anyone who might like it – kids or even adults who love baseball – I hope you’ll pass it on.

– Linda Fausnet (lindafausnet@gmail.com)

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Why It’s Okay to Publish a Book That Probably Won’t Sell

 

fave

No, this article is not about to tell you that it’s okay to use a stock cover, do your own editing, and ignore proper formatting rules.

I’m talking about genre, story. The best-selling indie books tend to be erotica, romance, mystery, and thriller. What if you have an idea for a novel that doesn’t fit anywhere in these popular categories?

Neither traditional publishing nor Hollywood are known for taking on risky projects. It’s understandable, really, because there’s typically a lot of money at stake and there’s a lot to lose if you gamble on an untested type of story. Unfortunately, that’s why there is such a glut of superhero movies and sequels. Slap the word Marvel on a film and it’s guaranteed to make big bucks, and a sequel to a bad movie is likely to make money if the first one did. With traditional publishing, the number one priority of agents and publishers is producing a book they really believe will sell well. Again, this makes good business sense, but it also results in a lot of repetition, severe lack of originality, and little room for passion projects.

Enter self-publishing.

We indie folks are all about passion projects. We don’t have to wait for someone else to tell us we’re allowed to write and publish what we love, and we can afford to take risks. If you publish a book traditionally and it doesn’t sell well – and quickly – it’s going to get yanked from the shelves with no second chances. If you thought it was hard to get traditionally published the first time, good luck getting a second deal, EVER, if your first book didn’t sell well. I was listening to one of Simon Whistlers’ podcasts recently with host David Gaughran, author of Let’s Get Digital, and they were discussing the fact that there are no asterisks in publishing. Even if your terrible sales record was completely beyond your control ( for instance, your book was released on 9/11, or your publisher suddenly pulled all its advertising of your book to focus on another hot release) you’re still going to be blamed for sluggish book sales. Your career could be over before it’s begun.

The worst-case scenario for a self-published book is that you’re disappointed that your book didn’t sell well, then it’s on to the next. You can even leave your book up for sale indefinitely in the hopes that it could still take off someday. And why not? The book is still part of your backlist and could still get sales as you slowly build your following.

You can slowly build your following.

And there it is – one of the coolest parts of being an indie author. Your career doesn’t have to take off like gangbusters right away. Realistically, how many endeavors are successful immediately? Almost everything worth doing takes a lot of perseverance and hard work.

So if you’ve got a book that you just love and don’t want to let go of – DON’T. You can’t expect it to make you a lot of money (though it could), but you can expect to be really excited and proud of it. That passion shines through, and you’ll probably find at least a handful of readers who really love that book of yours that means so much to you. Isn’t that what being an author is all about? That special relationship between reader and author?

I wrote a middle-grade book called THE JOYVILLE SWEAT SOX. It’s about baseball, which I love. It has lots of humor, which l love. My eleven-year-old, baseball-playing son loves the book, and I love him.

I can’t market the book, which is targeted at boys and girls aged 9-12, on Twitter. Those little people aren’t old enough to be on Facebook, and it’s not too likely they’re going to sign up for my email list anytime soon.

This book is likely not going to be hugely successful for me.

I wrote this article – Self-publishing Means Never Having to Say Goodbye – all about how sad I was that I that I was never going to publish that middle-grade novel.

Yeah, well, I’ve changed my mind.

It probably won’t make much money. So what? I don’t have an agent or a publisher breathing down my neck for big sales numbers. The publishing company releasing the book is WANNABE PRIDE publishing. MY COMPANY. I’m the boss, and I approved this project.

No, it won’t sell a ton of books, but maybe it will make a few kids laugh. Maybe I’ll get to give a talk at a school about it at some point. And, as proud as I am of QUEEN HENRY, my super-gay, pro-equality LGBT book, I know it’s not for everyone. I don’t mind talking about the book, but when someone who is uber-conservative asks me about what I’ve written, I kind of inwardly roll my eyes. Just don’t ask. You’re not gonna like it.

THE JOYVILLE SWEAT SOX is perfectly acceptable and appropriate for all ages. Knowing the kind of racy stuff I usually write, I’m not going to be able to say that often. The book is about a woman, Konnie Mack, who loves baseball but hasn’t played the sport since her beloved father passed away. It’s against the law to get mad in the town of Joyville, and her punishment for having a hot temper is to coach the local Little League team. The kids have never played baseball, so it will take a lot of patience for her to teach them without totally blowing her top.

Once this book is released, I’ll always have a book that my friends and family can read and promote to others without blushing. I can send a copy to the old orthodontic office where I used to work, and if I’m chatting up old ladies in line in the supermarket, I can recommend they buy a copy for their grandkids. I might only sell a handful of copies, but I will get to share my story after all.

And that’s pretty cool.

So if you’ve got a weird, crazy, potential-flop of a tale you really want to tell, DO IT. Go ahead and greenlight the project and make it happen! You’re the boss and you’re in charge. Don’t invest your life savings in a super-risky project, but don’t let the fear of failure stop you from pursuing something that you truly have a passion for.

The only real failure is that risk you didn’t take.

  • Linda Fausnet

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Why Authors Should Answer Their Fan Mail

Snob

If you’re new to self-publishing, it may be hard to imagine that someday you might have actual fans – people who really love your work and are excited to read more. It will be really exciting when some of those fans are passionate enough about your work that they actually reach out to you, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, or even in an email.

It may tempting for you to play it cool. You might be jumping up and down with excitement that you’ve actually got some fan mail, but perhaps you decide not to answer, preferring instead to act like you’re too busy and too important to answer back.

I don’t recommend that course of action.

As a newly self-published author, one who has spent over twenty years wallowing in obscurity, I treasure each and every sale that I get. It makes me so happy when someone buys my book, or even downloads it for free. I’m honored that people take the time to read my books, and if a fan ever contacted me, I would be more than happy to write back. I realize that it’s easy for me to say that now. I don’t have people sending me emails every day, so of course I could respond easily to anyone who contacted me.

As authors, we’re always bombarded with so much information on marketing and social media. Ya gotta advertise on Facebook! Tweet five times a day! Use Pinterest and Linked in! It’s easy to forget the SOCIAL in social media. It doesn’t work for me to have you throw marketing in my face and walk away. If I’m a true fan (which is what you want, after all. That’s why you’re marketing), I might want some kind of personal response.

My advice is, if a fan writes to you, write her back. You can wait 24 hours if you don’t want to appear overeager. Of, if you’re fortunate enough to have lots of fan mail, write back but make your responses quick. Even if a fan writes you a ten-page love letter, you can still write back with only a few sentences, and you don’t have an obligation to keep the conversation going after that. Fans should understand that you’re busy, but it’s not too much to ask to get some kind of response when they send you a nice message about your work.

Sean Platt, one of the authors and self-publishing gurus behind Write, Publish, Repeat (a great resource for indies if you haven’t read it) wrote me back and answered my question about publishing middle-grade fiction. It really meant a lot to me and I never forgot it.

And guess what? I never would have plugged his book as I just did if he’d ignored me. I wouldn’t hold a grudge I guess, but I would have been disappointed and wouldn’t go out of my way to promote his work.
I had a similar situation with an indie author whose books I LOVE. I’ve only read two so far, and I couldn’t put them down. They were just the type of book I love to read – sweet, sexy, tender romance with an excellent plot, so it’s not just lovey-dovey stuff. I loved her first book and made it a Wannabe Pride Book Pick of the Week. I just read her second book and did the same thing. I loved that book so much that I deliberately read it slowly so that it wouldn’t end. I said this on Twitter and tagged the author. To be fair, she did answer back on Twitter to say thanks.

She has a Contact Me email address on her website, so I did. I wrote her a nice email and told her how much I loved her books, and how I admired her for her success. I told her she was an inspiration to me. She somehow managed to get a review in The New York Times of her self-published book, and I asked how she managed such a great accomplishment.

As you can probably guess, she never wrote me back. I’m not gonna lie; it kinda broke my heart. I really don’t have the enthusiasm for her work that I once had. I loved her books – she was really my favorite author – but now when I see her books, it kinda bums me out. I’m not trying to be petty, but I just don’t have much interest in reading her stuff anymore. So I haven’t read any more so far.

I’m sure it’s no big deal to her if I don’t buy her books, but this loss of sale(s) could have easily been avoided. If she had taken the time to write me back- even two sentences – that would have been enough for me. As my readers know by reading Wannabe Pride, I have a real passion for helping other authors. I really feel that we need to look out for each other. If you’re ahead of me on the success ladder, I hope you’ll reach down, give me a hand, and help pull me up. It’s what I would do.

I also feel it’s a little unfair to encourage your fans to Contact Me if all you want is for us to tell you how great you are. Even with traditional publishing, gone are the days where the publishers do all the publicity for you. YOU need to be your own best advertising advocate. Taking your fans for granted is just not wise, no matter how successful you are.

Okay – one more rejected-by-an-author story. Through an acquaintance, I’ve met a  traditionally-published Young Adult author. I’ve met her once in person – when I attended a book signing of hers – and we’re friends on Facebook. I’ve responded to several of her posts on Facebook. They were posts about writing, and I commented about my own experience. She never answered back, even though there were usually only one or two other comments on the thread. I definitely get an “I’m better than you” vibe from her, though I could be wrong. After all, I drove to her book signing, listened to her talk, and bought a copy of her book (and not the Kindle version, either). This woman knows who I am and knows I have self-published a book, but she really doesn’t bother to give me the time of day. It’s frustrating, because if the shoe was on the other foot, I would have been excited to see what I could do to help her. Kinda annoys me, too, when I think of all the literary agents who will only considered a new writer if she is referred by a published author. So what happens when published authors treat you like garbage?

She has a three-book series out now. Guess how many I bought after the book signing? Again, I know I’m small potatoes, but a sale’s a sale. And she’s lost mine, and any other publicity I might have given her.

One last story. I promise.

Jodi Picoult is an internationally-renowned, traditionally-published, New York Times bestselling author, who has had several movies made based on her books. If you send her an email, she usually sends you a brief yet very friendly response within 24 hours.

Do you want to be a classy, humble, appreciative author, or play it cool and aloof, even when it means losing followers?

  • Linda Fausnet

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AuthorRise – A Great Resource for Indie Writers – is FREE This Week Only!

I’ve been a beta user for this emerging program, and now they’re ready to go live. There’s typically a subscription fee, but they’re letting people sign up free for the next week, so I recommend you take a look. The website is https://www.authorrise.com/.

Chris Weber, CEO of AuthorRise, guest blogged for Wannabe Pride a few months ago.
How To Create Your Social Marketing Strategy (for Writers) by Chris Weber, CEO, AuthorRise.

AuthorRise basically helps you navigate social media marketing campaigns for your books, and helps you track your success. It boasts the following services:

It can help you set social media goals. It’s so hard to know what to tweet and when, and this program helps guide you through the process. You can start slow – one or two social media message per day – then work your way up.

You Can Create “flyers” – These are like free, mini-ads that you can create easily. Flyers eye-catching, visual messages you can create by adding a brief message, a link, and an image (like your book cover). These flyers are shareable/ tweetable and take just seconds to create. I am utterly techno-phobic, and it was easy for me to do. Here’s what one of mine looks like:

Flyer

Helps you track book sales. You can easily track book sales with the program, and you even get an email notification when there is a spike in your Amazon ranking.

Helps you track the success and reach of all your social media outlets. I think this is one of the coolest aspects of AuthoRise. You can plainly see which social media messages work and which don’t. You can see how many people clicked on your website or Amazon page and what message sent them there. This is valuable information for any author to see which social media platforms work best and which messages garner the most attention.

So far, it seems like a useful service and the customer service help has been top-notch. Whenever I’ve had questions, Chris Weber himself usually answers back, and rather quickly. The folks at AuthorRise seem to really want to help indie writers, so it’s worth taking a look.

– Linda Fausnet

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Should I Enroll My Book in Kindle Select?

 

EbookSometimes I worry about Amazon taking over the world. It’s not a good thing for any one company to have too much control over any kind of market, but you can’t argue with results. For the moment, Amazon pretty much rules the world of self-publishing.

I published my first book, QUEEN HENRY, on Amazon Kindle, Createspace (Amazon’s paperback book service), Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. The book sold far more copies with Amazon than the other venues by a wide margin. I found Smashwords difficult to use and their customer “support” snarky and rude. I don’t plan on ever using them again. Barnes and Noble (Nook Press) was easy to use and their customer support was first rate, but I didn’t sell many copies. (Two. I sold two, so it wasn’t worth the thirty dollars I spent on the special formatting).

I sold a fair amount of paperbacks through Amazon Createspace – more than I expected – and I have been asked to give several talks about my book and have sold some books in person that way. Overall, I’ve sold the most books – by far – on Amazon Kindle. That’s why I decided to publish my upcoming book via Kindle Direct (different than Kindle Select) Publishing, meaning Amazon has the exclusive rights to the book for a set period of time. You can always remove your book from the Direct program after that time period and publish it anywhere you like, so it seems to be worth a try.

Publishing with Kindle Direct means the following:

  • You may only sell the digital version of your book through Amazon during the period of exclusivity. You can’t sell your eBook anywhere else, including on your own website.
  • Your book is automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited – the program where subscribers can read as many books as they like by paying a monthly fee. It is possible you will lose some money on this deal, though it can increase your exposure.
  • Your book is automatically enrolled in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, where users may be able to borrow your book. See earlier comment about money and exposure.
  • You will be permitted to give your book away for free for up to five days during each 90-day period of enrollment. You can do one day at a time, all five at once, or anything in between.

After having QUEEN HENRY available on Barnes and Noble and Smashwords for about six months or so, I yanked it from those outlets and enrolled the book in Kindle Direct to see what would happen. The first month or so, two people downloaded the book under the Kindle Lending Library program. As I see it, that’s two more people I’ve reached that I wouldn’t have found otherwise.

I then tried the free giveaway thing for two days. I got 200 downloads and reached as high as #9 in Free Kindle Gay Fiction, which was pretty cool. As a self-publisher, especially a relatively new one, I’m concerned as much with reaching new readers as I am with making money. Therefore, I consider 200 downloads in two days a great success. However, be advised that the free downloads have little to no effect on your paid sales ranking with Amazon. They used to, but the algorithms have changed.

An important caveat – if you’ve had success on B & N, Smashwords, and so forth, and plan on pulling your book in order to try Kindle Direct, you will lose your rankings on those sites. If you decide to put your books back later, you’ll have to start over from scratch. If possible, it may be best to try Kindle Direct first, then you can add the other sites when you’ve done the exclusive Amazon run.

Whatever you choose, remember that it’s only a 90-day commitment, not a billion-year contract. The worst case scenario is that it doesn’t work well for you, and you simply move on to other avenues when the time is up.

Keep in mind that you don’t ever want to rely exclusively on any third party venue, whether it be a distributor like Amazon or a social media outlet like Twitter. If you haven’t already, launch your own email list where you can always keep in touch with the most important people in your writing life – your readers.

As with all self-publishing advice, (which can be overwhelming), there’s no one right way to do anything. If you’re interested in Kindle Direct, or any other business strategy for that matter, weigh the consequences and make an educated decision about what to do.

Try stuff.

Make mistakes.

Learn.

Do it again.

Happy Publishing!

– Linda Fausnet

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Can You Pursue Traditional Publishing AND Self-Publishing?

 

Novelists

The short answer is, “Sure, why the hell not?”

There are a number of pros and cons for each type of publishing, and there really is no right or wrong choice. You just have to determine what your goals are and what works for you. Do you crave the prestige and validation that comes from traditional publishing? Is it important to you that you see your book on library and bookstore shelves?  Do you have a niche type of book that might not have huge audience appeal, thus is better suited to self-publishing? Do you just want the freedom to write whatever you damn well please without “the man” telling you what to do?

If you’re at all interested in getting traditionally published, I would advise trying that route first before publishing your work yourself. The alternative is to publish your book yourself and hope your sales are impressive enough to get the attention of an agent or publisher. Then again, if your self-published sales are unusually high, are you sure that you want to fork over a large percentage of your royalties to third parties? If your self-published book takes off, you might find yourself less interested in a traditional deal after all.

Overall, it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to self-publish, then query. An agent will represent you based on how well she thinks your book will sell in the future. If you’ve already self-published and sales are less than spectacular, that doesn’t look too great to agents. Also, it’s usually recommended that you don’t mention the fact that you’re self-published in a query letter to an agent or publisher, unless your sales are really off the charts.

If you’re interested in getting traditionally published, then write a kickass query and send it out to all the literary agents who are open to new submissions and who are interested in your book genre. Then, if everybody turns your book down, you can still go on and self-publish it. If it turns into a runaway bestseller and an agent or publisher comes knocking, great!

I can certainly understand the lure of traditional publishing. Believe me, I was in the “Never shall I self-publish, evah!” camp for a long time. It was a lot of wasted time, if you ask my opinion about it now. The fact is that getting traditionally published really is a crapshoot, a lottery. Luck seems to matter as much as hard work and talent. You have the catch the right agent at the right time on the right day. It’s all incredibly subjective, and agents have to turn down an awful lot of good books.

Remember that when you start the querying process.

If you’re getting a lot of rejections, you’re in good company and it doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of your writing. If you’re not getting *any* responses, form letters or otherwise, check your query and make sure it is professional and error-free. Also be sure to carefully follow the agent’s submission guidelines. Don’t waste their time  – and yours – querying with your horror book if they’re looking for romance (books, that is…).

Thus far, I’ve self-published one book and I have two others that are ready to be self-published in the near future. All three of these books had been turned down by the traditional world. I’m currently writing a paranormal romance, and I’ve been debating whether or not to try the traditional route at all. I’m really loving the freedom that self-publishing has provided. I’m not a runaway success, but I do have readers, which is more than I ever got from the query-rejection-query-again route. It takes time to build up a readership, and I’m more than willing to do that work over the long haul.

I’m at the point where I’m writing books much faster than I can afford to publish them. Finances are really bad at the moment, and that’s primarily the reason that I’ve only published one book so far. For that first book, I’m donating all the proceeds to the Harvey Milk Foundation, so there’s no income there to help pay for editing, formatting, and so forth for the next book.

So, with my current novel, I’ve decided to send out some queries just for something to do while I scrape together the cash to publish it, while somehow keeping the lights on and food on the table. It would be funny if, this time around, I actually got an agent when I’m at the point where I don’t care as much.

Believe me, there’s something to be said for not caring. I’m sure the rejections will still hurt, but for the first time in my life, they aren’t the end of the road. I used to query extensively, get rejected, then sadly shelve my book and then go write another one.

Not anymore.

If everybody says, no, fine. I’ll publish the book myself, and it will be exciting and wonderful. I don’t have to say goodbye to my characters anymore. The best part about the way publishing is nowadays, agents and publishers no longer have the final word.

You don’t have to take NO as the final answer anymore.

I sure as hell don’t.

  • Linda Fausnet

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How to Organize a Blog Tour for Your Self-Published Work

Today, Wannabe Pride welcomes Guest Blogger, Kendall  Bailey!

I Am A Writer

Blog tours are a common way for self-published authors to get word out about their work to a broader audience. There are people you can pay to organize a blog tour for you. If you go this route, instead of organizing your own, make sure you use someone reputable. Anyone can call themselves an expert or a professional, so ask for a couple of references.

I organized my blog tour on my own. This post is geared toward the other do-it-yourselfers out there.

The Process

Find 8-10 bloggers, more if you want to do a longer tour, fewer if you want a short tour.

Each of these bloggers will construct a post about whatever you are promoting, I’m going to use the example of a novel. The post may be an excerpt, a review, and interview with you, a character interview (you answer questions as a character from your novel), an original piece by the blogger, pretty much whatever you can conjure up.

Most blog tours have one stop per day for however long you want the tour to be. A blog tour stop is what we call the post the blogger does about you. When I did my blog tour, I spaced the stops every other day. I did this for two reasons. One, I only had 5 stops and wanted to drag it out a little. Plus, I could give each blog I stopped at two days of promotion instead of just one. Two, I started the blog tour the day the Iditarod started (The story I was promoting was called Sled Dogs) and was hoping the race would end the same day as my blog tour. It didn’t.

That’s it. Blog tours are a simple thing… to an observer.

What You Need To Know 

Choose the bloggers you work with carefully. Ideally, you want a blogger who is into promoting their site. Some write a post, publish it on the blog, and expect people to come to them. Unless you’re seriously famous, that isn’t going to happen. You need to go out and get the readers to come to your blog. I schedule multiple tweets for my blog almost every day. I also put new posts on Facebook. Full disclosure, I’ve neglected my Facebook page in recent months and my numbers show it.

Speaking of numbers, I don’t think it’s rude to ask the bloggers you plan to work with how many hits their blog usually gets on a day when a new post is published. When I am not being lazy, Uncommon Sense pulls around 200 hits each time I publish something new. Keep in mind that a “hit” could be something as simple as a person who refreshed their web browser while looking at the page. (That would actually be 2 hits. 1 when they first navigated to the page and another when they refreshed.) I have had a lot of trouble finding what a normal number of daily hits is for the average blog. If you know where or how to find that information, please let me know!

Get creative with the timing of your tour. I did my blog tour for Sled Dogs during the Iditarod because the two were clearly related. Have you written a supernatural novel? Start or end the blog tour on the next full moon. And make sure people know this was intentional! I think most people enjoy little fun facts like those.

Get creative with the posts you ask the other bloggers do for you. I am lucky to know some very creative and accommodating people. For my five-stop tour I received an excerpt with a piece about strong female lead characters, an original piece by Linda Fausnet from Wannabe Pride about using short fiction as a form of promotion, an interview, a video review, and a short story inspired by Sled Dogs.

And that’s blog tours!

– Kendall Bailey

Sled Dogs on Amazon:

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Four Things I Never Thought Would Happen When I Self-Published My Book

It’s been almost nine months since I self-published my debut novel, QUEEN HENRY. The last few months have truly been a dream come true. Thus far, the whole experience has surpassed my expectations, which I purposely kept on the low side…just in case.

I had spent twenty years as a writer, both as a wannabe screenwriter and novelist. I’ve had close brushes with success and a whole lot of rejection. Just the idea of having my work FINALLY out there was absolutely thrilling. The notion that just ONE person, ONE reader would finally crack open my book and experience my story was an amazing thought. It’s never been about the money for me (good thing..) or fame or anything like that. I would honestly rather have people remember my characters’ names than mine.

The experience of self-publishing has been full of surprises, that’s for sure.

What I DID expect to happen, has. People have actually read the book. After years of bouncing around the traditional publishing world and all its disappointments, it’s still a strange and wonderful feeling to know that I actually have readers. Not a huge number thus far, but people who have actually read and experienced my characters, my story, my world that has been kept hidden for far too long.

Several things have happened that I never expected.

1. I Sold More Books Than I Expected – Again, I kept my expectations low. I figured I’d be happy if I sold 50 books in the first year, and that includes my friends and family members. After so many years of rejection, just having a handful of people I didn’t know read the book would have been rewarding enough. I’ve heard that the average self-published book sells about 100-150 books in all. Thus far, I’ve sold 153 books in nine months. Hardly a runaway bestseller, but far better than I’d hoped for!

2. I’ve Gotten Great Reviews – I fully expected to get some bad reviews. Again, I’m no stranger to rejection and I know bad reviews are part of the life of a writer. I haven’t really gotten any bad reviews (so far!) and I’m amazed at how many good ones I’ve gotten. My biggest fear was that my first review would be a bad one, thus souring a lot of the excitement of achieving my lifelong dream of publishing a book. I was stunned when the first review I got was a five-star one – from someone I did not know! I’ve gotten several great reviews from online book bloggers and got a front-page rave review from a Baltimore LGBT Newspaper.

3. I’ve Given a Talk About My Book – Since my book centered on LGBT equality (with all the proceeds being donated to the Harvey Milk Foundation), I was invited by a local PFLAG chapter (a group of LGBT Allies) to give a talk about my book. I spoke to a group of several dozen people, some of whom had already read my book, about the story and how it came to be self-published. I also got to read excerpts from the story. It was such an incredible feeling to be able to read parts of my story and some of the characters’ dialogue out loud. People laughed when they were supposed to, which was immensely gratifying. Someone asked me a specific question about the story, and I told her that in order to answer the question, I would have to reveal the ending. I asked the group if I should do that and the ones who had already read the book yelled out “No! No! Don’t give it away”. That means they cared. They cared about the characters and were engaged enough by the story that they didn’t want to ruin it for other people. After the talk, I spoke individually with some members of the audience, many of whom who bought the book and had me sign it. That was a surreal experience, to say the least.

4. My Book Is in the Library – I submitted my book to my local library, promising myself that I wouldn’t be too disappointed when they turned  it down. There are now two copies of the book on the shelf in the New Adult Fiction section. Seeing those books, complete with the official library barcode on the back, is an experience I never thought I would have and I’ll never forget.

QHLibraryQUEEN HENRY has always been my favorite story, and to see it be successful, even on a relatively small scale, has been an extraordinary experience. I’m getting ready to publish another book soon, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.

Whatever happens, it will be enough just to have people open my book and read my story.

Thanks for sharing my journey with me.

– Linda Fausnet

 

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Self-Publishing Short Stories

One of the biggest challenges for self-publishers is simply getting their name out there. Many new readers are hesitant to take a chance on a new writer – even if it only costs them $2.99. Many writers opt to give away their first novel for free, either for a limited time or they may even make it perma-free, meaning it’s always free. Many writers go the perma-free route when they’ve written a trilogy. Like a drug dealer, the first hit’s free. The next one’s gonna cost ya…

Another option is to test the waters with a short story. Again, it can either be a free giveaway or it can be priced at .99 or so. Readers may be more willing to part with a smaller amount of both their time and money – a short story and a measly dollar – to give a new writer a shot. If they like what they see, they just might get hooked.

Kendall Bailey is one such writer giving the 99 cent short story deal a try, and Wannabe Pride recommends you check out his story – SLED DOGS.

Alia’s summer fun turns to fear when her dad’s dog sled team escapes the kennel. Fear becomes terror when the dogs return. Sled Dogs is a gory romp through the wet, southern Alaskan wilderness.

Sled Dogs 2

Author Kendall Bailey:

I wrote Sled Dogs a few years ago. It was the first story I finished that didn’t end up being a disappointment. It sat on my computer, unpublished, until I realized something—but to tell you that story I need to tell you another one:

When I published my first novel, The Bad, I made more mistakes than I can possibly relate here (some of which I’m sure I haven’t discovered yet). I have another novel due to come out late this spring and I am changing my approach to publishing and promotion.

This time I am going to get it right. I’ve created my own Media company – a sole proprietorship containing my name so I don’t have to pay to file as a DBA. I am changing from Lulu.com to Createspace and KDP, the novel will be available exclusively through Amazon. There are many other things I’ve changed but those are the two biggest. Sled Dogs is the dry-run before I get down to serious business. That being said, it’s a solid story and I’m glad it has seen the light of day.

Sled Dogs is a campy horror story. It is an 80’s horror flick put into prose. I wrote it with the intent of creating a guilty pleasure for people, like me, who enjoy a little blood and guts sometimes.

I hope you enjoy it!

Sled Dogs on Amazon:

 Blog:

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Thanks for reading my Wannabe Pride blog!

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