SATURDAY LOVE: My current feelings (subject to change) about self-publishing

Whatever else you might say about self-publishing, I’ve never felt so free before!

Today marks the official publication of my book SATURDAY LOVE. It’s my eighth book, my fifth self-published. I’ve gotten much better at this thing over the past couple of years, everything from formatting to editing to cover design is better now. Even my writing is improving with every book, and I say that with no false modesty whatsoever. I can’t read one of my older books without blushing a little, and I wouldn’t want to change that. If I could read them all with unfettered pride, it would mean I was standing still.

But why do I say self-publishing is freeing? Whether it’s a good thing or not (and it’s definitely more work in many ways), I can publish what I want and make my own schedule. Having done it both ways, I thought I’d give you a sample schedule for both traditional and self-publishing.

SELF
Write
Finish book and set aside.
Write something else.
Return to first book, rewrite and set aside.
Contact editor and get quote.
Send book off for editing.
Write.
Get edits back. Lots of great suggestions! Pay editor.
Rewrite and make better.
Set aside.
Write something else.
Pull out book and read over making small changes and edits.
Decide it’s good and set a publishing date.
Write blurb.
Contact a cover artist, tell him/her exactly what you want.
Get back cover and be pleased. Pay cover artist promptly because you want to use them again.
Submit everything to CreateSpace.
Decide to go over one more time. Crap. How did you leave that apostrophe out?
Fix apostrophe and resubmit everything to CreateSpace.
Begin telling friends, posting on FaceBook, Tweeting, etc.
Publication day!

TRADITIONAL:
Submit book.
Wait
Wait
Wait
Wait (begin checking email obsessively)
Wait
Wait (despair of ever hearing back)
Wait
Finally!
Open email with great trepidation to find a refusal.
Break smartphone/computer/etc.
Drink wine.
Resubmit book.
(repeat above process)
Finally!
Open email and rejoice to acceptance.
Wait
Wait
Contact with editor who gives you rough schedule of editing process and publishing schedule and sends you worksheets that will help the art department and blurb writers get a handle on what your story is about.
Complete worksheet and return.
Wait
Wait
Wait
Get first edits.
Despair that there’s still so much wrong with your story.
Get to work.
Complete edits in much less time than is given and return.
Wait
Wait
Wait
Get second round of edits.
Complete edits much faster this time because you and your editor understand each other better.
Return edits.
Wait
Wait
Wait
Final round of edits.
Complete and return.
Wait
Wait
Wait
Copy edits arrive, marked up by two or three additional editors you don’t know.
Crap. There’s still so much wrong! How is this possible.
Fix and return.
Wait
Wait
When will you get to see your cover? What’s up with that? And the blurb?
Wait
Wait
Finally! The cover arrives. The artist is very proud. He/she has a cover they know you are going to love!
It’s not what you’d imagined. But how do you tell him/her that? And it’s not bad, just not what you’d pictured.
Blurb arrives. It’s pretty good. They’ve taken your original idea and spiced it up with some catch words and phrases designed to make readers LOVE the idea of reading your book.
The cover’s really not that far off. And what do you know, anyway? You point out a few small things that could be changed.
The artist replies that those things are set, makes a very minor change and you’re both okay with it.
Wait
Galleys arrive. You read eagerly, certain your book can be nothing but perfect now.
Crap. Who left out that apostrophe? Was it you or one of the copy editors? Is it too late to fix it?
Decide it’s too small to bother editor with.
Decide it’ll bug you forever if you don’t.
Query editor about it and be reassured you’re not being a pest and they’ll fix the apostrophe right away.
Relax.
Wait
Wait
Wait
Get advance copy of your book. Start querying review sites that haven’t already been hit by publisher about reviewing your book.
Wait
Wait
Wait
Publication Day!

In so many ways, the process is the same. The difference is, the only person I have to wait for is myself, really. The editor and cover artist (and I’ve done self-publishing without either) never take long to do their jobs, and because I hire them, I know about how long that will take. So, in the end, I can publish what I want when I want to publish it. But I’m out here more or less alone, except for you guys, my readers.

SATURDAY LOVE is now out there. Feel free to give it some love. And if you’re worried about reading the sequel without reading the first book, DUCKS IN A ROW is free for the Kindle today. Do me a favor and go check it out, then let your friends know, too.

NEW REVIEW! Ducks in a Row still has it!

Ducks_CoverSaturday Love
What a great way to end the old year…especially when I’m kicking off the new one with another book. If you check this page out closely, you’ll see what I’ve been up to besides happy holidaying with my family. Yes, I’m getting ready for the release of SATURDAY LOVE (sequel to DUCKS IN A ROW), which will definitely be available for purchase on January 1, 2014.

And what better way to celebrate the end of the old year than with a FIVE STAR review of DUCKS!? Read below for a bit of what WE’RE JUMPIN BOOKS had to say about DUCKS:

One of the best books I have read this year, very thought provoking…Michelle brings you close to the characters, you can understand their logical, or what seems to be, thinking. This book has so much depth on so many levels. The thought process, and how everything played out was so great! —WE’RE JUMPIN BOOKS

You might want to pick up DUCKS IN A ROW now for only 99 cents on AMAZON…and catch up on the story before it continues in SATURDAY LOVE.

What the heck is “Saturday Love”?

Saturday Love Cover

It’s been asked. What the heck do I mean by “Saturday Love”? Is it a once a week thing? A one-night stand? If so, why did I choose that for the title of the sequel to Ducks in a Row? This is, after all, the book that follows the further adventures of Will Hubbard, the man many people was done totally wrong by Cady Summers in Ducks. We want him to have a happy ending, don’t we? So why not call his book “24/7 Love”?

Well, in addition to not sounding like a 24-hour gas station, Saturday love is a feeling that refers to more than a time period. It’s forever love. The kind of love that lets you rest, safe in the knowledge that you’ve reached the prize you were aspiring to. It’s the kind of love that lasts fifty, seventy-five, even a hundred years if it’s called on to do so. And even if there are hard times and difficult passages, Saturday love is still there.

Saturday Love, the sequel to Ducks in a Row, will be published January 1. As you can tell by the cover above, it’s in the final editing stages right now. I’m cleaning up the final typos in my last thorough read-through. So you’ve still got time to get up to speed if you haven’t read Ducks. Plus, Ducks in a Row, the novel that has been called “thought-provoking”, “unsettling”, “wonderfully beautiful” and “painful”, is currently only 99 cents for your Kindle on Amazon!

In the meantime, here’s a bit of Will’s introduction to “Saturday Love”:

“Being in love with Stephanie is awesome.” Patrick looked out at the vineyard for a second, thinking. “It’s kind of like Saturday morning when you’re a kid. Remember those?”

“I’m not sure I get what you mean.” Will shook his head.

“Remember how it felt to wake up on a Saturday morning and know there wasn’t anything you had to do? You’d slept late, and maybe you had a few chores around here, but other than that, most of the day was yours. It’s kind of like that with Stephanie. It’s like I spent my whole life working and waiting and looking for her, and now it’s Saturday and I don’t have to do that anymore.”

Will felt a slight hitch in his chest at his brother’s words. He wanted that and he suspected he could find it with Accalia. He’d seen that kind of Saturday love: between his mother and father, now with Patrick and Stephanie. And even, if he admitted it, between Cady and Neil. He reached over and grasped his brother’s shoulder. “Thanks. I’m really happy for you, man.”

“Yeah, me too.” Patrick stood and stretched. He looked down at Will. “I’m happy for you, too, you know. You know why?”

Will shook his head.

“Because even if you haven’t found it yet with Accalia, you’re getting there. You haven’t asked me even once about Cady.”

Patrick went back inside, but Will remained where he was. His chest felt strangely hollow. Strange, because it wasn’t a totally unpleasant feeling. It felt clean, not empty, and he knew why. Whether Accalia was his Saturday love or not, he’d finally faced the fact that Cady wasn’t.

What a week! Time to give some stuff away…

Okay, it’s really, really good to be sitting here on THIS side of last week. I feel like it’s the first breather I’ve taken all week. In addition to returning home at 11 o’clock Sunday night from Las Vegas, this was the first week of my online book tour, the last week of school for two of my kids and the week I had to get the school library packed up. I’ve been up at six AM and going until I put my kids to bed all week.

To make it all the more fun, on Wednesday I got up to a fantastic email from Amazon telling me the Kindle version of my book had magically transformed into a string of letters and numbers that nobody could read. I’m not kidding, it was like it was in some sort of code or something. I swear that happened sometime SINCE I put it online. So I had to spend a fair amount of time Wednesday re-uploading the Kindle version, seething all the while because I was technically promoting a book that wasn’t even available for more than twenty-four hours–at least not available in the preferred format. I felt like I was on a speeding train going somewhere I really needed to be…but I’d left the luggage that would make the trip worth it.

Please understand, I’m not complaining, exactly. I’m EXplaining my absence from here.

And I want to make it up to you. I’ve been planning to give away copies of DUCKS IN A ROW and WEEDS AND FLOWERS for a while, and today seems like a great time to do it. So please, be my guest. Download my other two indie babies. And if you’re only interested in CLOSE UP MAGIC, I’ve got something for you there, as well. I’ve already posted Chapter One online. In a few minutes, Chapter Two will join it. You can find them here: CLOSE UP MAGIC.

Happy reading!

For the love of it: Reviews and the Writer

Reviews. What would we writers do without them? It’s really the only method we have of getting into our readers’ heads for a glimpse an idea of what we’ve done that works…and what hasn’t. Just recently, I discovered a new review on my book Ducks in a Row that revealed a lot to me of how it’s been received. The reviewer wrote that the book’s subject matter put her as a reader in an uncomfortable place emotionally because it deals with a marriage in trouble and an extramarital affair. She winds up with what might be my favorite line from any review any of my books has ever received:

“I highly recommend this unsettling book.”

Why does that line appeal to me so much? One reason. I intended the reader to be unsettled. Not only by the subject matter, but by the emotions of my characters. Human beings are not perfect, and married ones can be less perfect than most. Marriage is hard work. No matter how idyllic your ideas about love and marriage might be, you remain human after you say your vows. And eventually you end up hurting each other in ways both large and small.

That was what my book was about and this reviewer got it.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been working hard to secure reviews for my contemporary romance Close Up Magic. It’s harder than you might think. For every ten people you offer a free copy of your book to, you might get three reviews.

That’s pretty darn understandable, if you consider that most book reviewers don’t actually get paid for what they do. They do it for the love of reading, whether they blog their reviews or just post them on Amazon and Goodreads. So when I ask somebody to review my book, I’m asking them for several hours of unpaid labor, for which I will pay them with my sincere thanks…and hopefully an enjoyable read.

To date, I have six reviews on Amazon and several more promised, so I’m not doing too bad. Here’s what some of the reviewers have said:

“Family and forgiveness play their own parts in Close Up Magic, both in ways that are insightful and also leave you with a sense of the good in humankind.” — Five stars

“The magic element of the book made it fun to read. I have always been a skeptic when it comes to magic, but the story had me believing that maybe Andre did have something special.” — Five stars

“Michelle Garren Flye does a fantastic job of putting her readers into the heads of each of her characters – her words making one feel so profoundly their desires, their reticence, their range of emotions as they fumble towards each other and true love.” — Five stars

“Close Up Magic is an enchanting story that will make the reader believe in romance and magic!” — Four stars

“An overall compelling and magical story that fans of contemporary romances are sure to enjoy.” — Four stars

“Whoa…I do believe in magic and the incredible ambience it creates in this wonderful romantic story.” — Four stars

My thanks to all my readers and especially all my reviewers!

If you’d like to read more from my reviewers of Close Up Magic, click here: Close Up Magic
If you’d like to read the whole review of Ducks in a Row, click here: Ducks in a Row

Ducks in a Row reviewed: “Well-written and thought-provoking novel”

When I decided to self-publish Ducks in a Row, I had plenty of occasion for self-doubt. It’s not easy putting yourself out there, but it’s a lot easier if you’ve got a publisher behind you. A publisher is verification that there’s something in the words you wrote. Somebody else read your work and found it good. Self-published authors don’t have that.

But to sell books, you have to get them reviewed so people know about them, which means asking somebody for an honest opinion about your work. I’ve done that with several reviewers and I got my first real feedback today. Check it out:

Michelle Garren Flye does not hesitate to tackle some pretty uncomfortable subjects in Ducks in a Row. This well-written and thought-provoking novel provides a realistic look into how two people who love one another can find themselves on the verge of losing everything when they stop communicating and begin taking each other for granted.

Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Many thanks to Book Reviews and More by Kathy for the honest and insightful review. I learned a little about my book from your review, and that’s got to mean something. Plus, I finally feel that putting my story out there was the right thing.

The advent of Freddie Falcon Flye: My moment outside my comfort zone.

Yesterday I took a day off from my life as a fabulous writer of southern romance and women’s fiction, and the reason is pretty spectacular. Check him out:

freddie

Yes, that’s a cute little baby pup. He’s my birthday present. (My birthday, incidentally, is Friday.) I started out thinking I wanted a kitten for my birthday, because, honestly, I’m more of a cat person than a dog person. But then my path crossed this little pup’s, and it was love at first sight. Seriously, I fell in love with his picture. You see, he was an auction item at my kids’ school (hence the name, Freddie Falcon–named after the mascot), and I handled putting auction items on a Facebook page for the school. So I was ONE of the first to see Freddie’s baby picture. And I fell in love.

Here was the quandary. Freddie was not part of the silent auction. Silent auctions are easy. You pick a couple of things you’re interested in and write down your number and check back a couple of times to make sure you haven’t been outbid. Very simple for someone like me who doesn’t like to draw too much attention to herself and really isn’t comfortable at all in the limelight. I know what you’re saying. “Oh, come on. She writes romances. She takes stuff from her head, writes it down and publishes it for other people to read. And then she asks us to buy it. Now she wants us to believe she doesn’t really want us to pay attention to her?”

Yeah. But that’s different. It really is. Most of the time when I’m writing, it’s not like it’s coming from me at all. I mean, my heroines couldn’t be any different from me. I went from writing Alicia (Where the Heart Lies), who has to be my most courageous heroine to-date and way better of a person than me, to Cady (Ducks in a Row), a deeply flawed woman who is extremely selfish and someone I hope I’ll never be. Cady was fun to write, and I won’t deny I have some of her same foibles, but at times I really didn’t like her very much. And I wondered more than once if Alicia was a little too perfect. Her only real flaw was self-doubt.

So you can see that I don’t write my life story when I write. These characters are not me, and I always feel like they are the ones in the limelight. Live auctions require active participation and if you win a sought-after item, it’s you people are paying attention to. But I was in love with this little dog. What to do? I made a resolution to step outside my comfort zone. I try to do that every now and then anyway, so it’s nothing new, but this was really terrifying for me.

As luck would have it, I left the auction for a moment on an errand and came back after Freddie’s lot came up. I walked in, stood there frozen at the sight of the puppy picture I’d fallen so hard for on the screen. Moment of truth. Did I dare? My heart was pounding in my throat, I stood at the back of the auction, sick to my stomach, terrified, as the auctioneer called for bids. Then something in me snapped into place and my arm went up with my bid card. Oh my God, I did it!

But now I was in for it. The bids went on and the auctioneer called out again. I raised my hand, half afraid I was going to fall over in the too-high heels I’d worn. I longed for flipflops or even flats. I’m standing there in a cocktail dress in high heels participating in a live auction. Was this really me? I don’t wear cocktail dresses, and the only heels I wear are on my cowboy boots. My head whirled.

And then it came down to me and one other bidder. A couple of friends came to stand next to me for support. Maybe the other bidder loved that puppy, too. Probably she did. The parents of the kids who go to this school are wonderful people. No matter who bought him, he was going to be pampered and loved and played with. All these thoughts rushed through my pounding brain and I realized I’d lost track of the bidding. I whispered to my closest friend: Am I the high bidder? Not yet, she hissed back. My hand went up and Freddie was mine.

I am not joking when I tell you I still hadn’t recovered when they brought him to me and I held him for the first time, but the panic went away. I’d done it, and although it might seem like a small thing to anyone else, it felt like a huge triumph to me.

And that’s why I took yesterday off from almost everything. Everything except playing with my kids and my new dog, that is. We’ll call it a breathing moment.