Tag Archives: publishing

I am a Writer

It’s always interesting to me when people I’ve known for years say, “Oh, you’re a writer?” It’s such an essential part of who I am. But I’m very, very bad at telling people about it, because it’s also a very personal part of who I am. I always sort of hoped that I’d one day have a best-seller and the New York Times would out me, but that doesn’t really seem to be happening, so…

I write romantic fiction of several different genres. I’ve written a coming-of-age romantic mystery (i.e. Weeds and Flowers), contemporary romances (i.e. my Sleight of Hand series) and romantic fantasy (i.e. my Synchronicity series—see below). Three of my books were traditionally published (Secrets of the Lotus and Winter Solstice by Lyrical Press and Where the Heart Lies by Carina Press). I am also the proud author of a book that’s been called “unsettling” and “thought-provoking” (Ducks in a Row).

And there you have it. That’s me. I’ve outed myself. There’s a little bit of me in every book I write. I am a writer.The Synchronicity Series by Michelle Garren Flye-page0001

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Writing and publishing and what comes between.

I’m getting better at this self-publishing thing. I’ve even started thinking of it as a four-step process. The first step is writing/editing. This includes all the drafts and all the deep editing and re-writing. (I’m going to skip a step here, but stay with me.) The third step is publishing. This mostly consists of pushing a button and saying a prayer as your book begins its journey into the world. The fourth step, which actually begins somewhere between the second and third step and continues well into the future, is marketing. I’ve talked about that some, but it includes blogging, tweeting, sending out excerpts, begging for reviews, putting together a press kit…you name it, it’s there.

The second step, which is what I’ve been deep in the process of recently, is book-making. I include copy editing and formatting for ebook and print in this step, and it’s the step that many authors miss out on in traditional publishing. This is the step I’ve had to work to perfect over the years. I’ve found it’s not as simple as typing up a book and plugging it into a publishing platform like Smashwords or CreateSpace. It involves a lot of work, a lot of oversight and a lot of experimentation to get a good, clean-looking book. Chapter headings, white space, margins… Oh, and book covers! Book covers are so much fun. I usually have to get professional help with these, but I also get to make some suggestions and requests (much more so than with traditional publishing). And when it’s all done and you’re ready to move on to Step three, you can call yourself something new, something beyond an author, editor or even publisher. You can call yourself a book-maker.

Pretty stinking awesome.

I’ve been at it for a couple weeks now. I’ve finished the copy-editing and am into the formatting stage for Out of Time. It’s already up for pre-order on Smashwords and Amazon. Go check it out, even if just to look at the beautiful cover designed by Farah Evers Designs. But don’t forget to come back here often. As soon as I’m done with formatting the print version, I’m throwing myself headlong into marketing, and I’ve got a few surprises lined up that will culminate in the day long Out of Time Launch Party on June 15.

See you soon!

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When you don’t want lemonade.

So today I got a second rejection on my romantic fantasy novel, Out of Time. It’s the first book in a planned trilogy. I had hoped to return to the world of traditional publishing for these books, but I’m starting to think it might not happen.

No, that’s not bitterness.

It’s resignation.

So when I’d written my polite note of thanks to the sweet editor who took the time to write my rejection (complete with a compliment on my writing and style), I started thinking about what to do with the lemons I’d been handed.

And I’ve never been much for making lemonade.

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When life hands you a slightly spotty lemon, create a still life on your bookshelf with it.

Labyrinth II continues…

Sarah woke in the darkness and her very first thought was for Davey. She sat up, an afghan sliding from her shoulders as she did so. Voices in the hall warned her and she lay back quickly. A moment later, the door opened and someone looked in.

“She’s still out.”

“You think she’s okay, though?”

Her husband and her father. She felt guilty about deceiving them, but she couldn’t really help it. She had to get to the Labyrinth. She had to find Toby and force him to return her son. That wouldn’t happen if she couldn’t get out of the house, though.

“She’s fine, son. You were right to call me.” The tone of worry in her father’s voice almost made Sarah flinch, but then the door shut and their voices grew fainter.

She sat up again, looking for her backpack. There it was, on the chair. She slipped out of the bed, found her boots and a light jacket, and tucked everything under her arm, ready to leave.

“You think all the preparations in your world can prepare you for another stint in mine, Sarah?” His voice slid from the mirror in a silvery shard.

She turned slowly, knowing she’d meet those mismatched eyes in the mirror, the ones that saw into her very soul, the only ones that could still see the frightened but determined fourteen-year-old girl she’d once been. The one who’d lost Toby in the first place because she’d been too self-involved and thoughtless to believe her own actions had consequences.

By that token, Davey’s disappearance could be traced directly back to her.

“Jareth.” She took a deep breath. “Tell Toby I’m coming for him. He can’t take my son and get away with it.”

“You once said that about a stuffed bear, if I remember correctly.” He tented his fingers below his chin in the reflection, grinning a lopsided grin at her. “You had second thoughts about that, I think.”

“Well, it won’t happen now.” She turned to the bedroom door.

“You won’t get there that way, Sarah.” He laughed. “But I can help you.”

“Why would you help me?” She gave the mirror a scornful look over her shoulder.

He shrugged. “Maybe because I enjoy the game as much as you.” His grin faded. “Or maybe because your brother has pissed me off and it’s time to teach him a lesson.”

Sarah did a double-take, hearing the sincere irritation in his voice. She turned all the way around and gave him her full attention. “I’m listening.”

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My Least Favorite Word

Yesterday I had to face facts. My work-in-progress was done. I had written it. I had rewritten it. I had rewritten it in third person. And then I had gone over it again with a fine tooth comb. If there’s a single typo in the whole thing, it’s a miracle.

So then I had to make a decision. I’m a pretty good hand at self-publishing now. I know how to make some covers myself and I know who to call for others. I could publish this story (which I’m really excited about) and have it out there for public consumption by the end of the year, including marketing. Or I could submit.

God, how I hate that word. Submit. Submit to the inevitable. Submit to the machine. Submit to your fate.

Submit to a publisher.

I’m not saying publishers are bad. In truth, the two or three I’ve been fortunate enough to work with have been awesome, actually. It’s fantastic having a professional editor go over my book and point out its weaknesses. I thrive on deadlines. I love what an editor can wring out of me that I didn’t even know was there. Like a washcloth you thought was dry until you really put the pressure on.

Still, I haven’t submitted to a publisher in more than a year, and yesterday, as my cursor hovered over the “Submit” button, I knew I was submitting to something else. Loss of freedom. I love this story. I could do a good job putting it out on my own. I could have a real hand in designing the cover. And since it’s the first of three books, if it’s accepted, I’m submitting those other two as well.

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But I know a publisher can offer this book much more visibility than I can do on my own. Not to mention that ever elusive validation that we as writers are always looking for. I mean, sure, I love the story. But if a publisher likes it enough to put their resources behind it, well, that’s validation.

So, I submitted. To my fate, to the inevitable, to whatever the future holds. And if this publisher doesn’t like it, I’ll make a decision then about what to do with my story. Another publisher? Self-publishing? Trunk novel?

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What’s next?

Ever get to that point in your life where you can’t help but wonder: what’s next? It happened to me this summer, and something changed.

I had four works-in-progress and none of them were panning out. I’ve got one complete manuscript in my Sleight of Hand series that needs editing before it can go anywhere else. But I had lost all my inspiration. I was plagued by the normal questions. What’s next? Do I want to be a writer? Do I want to continue to pursue the “traditional route” of publishing or plough on through the rocky road of the independent?

And then it happened. My work-in-progress, tentatively titled “Out of Time” smacked me in the face and told me to get to work. If the title doesn’t sound particularly romantic, well, that’s because it isn’t, totally, a romance. And I’ve held off talking about it this long because it was something so new to me, I didn’t want to jinx how well it was going.

Turns out what I really wanted to write was a romantic fantasy. I’ve always loved fantasy and science fiction (give me a good Anne McCaffrey novel any day!), but the amount of world building required scared me. I mean, how do authors do it? Coming up with everything from political systems to the amount of gravity on a planet…that’s mind-boggling. Better to stick on good ol’ planet earth.

Well, I managed and the results have become something I’m very pleased with. I can’t say they’ve answered all my questions about what’s next, but I will say I’ve already got a rough outline for a second novel in the series and an idea for a third.

So maybe what’s next is something a little different. A road I haven’t yet taken.

Speaking of roads not yet taken, please note that this weekend, September 17-19, I will be at the Hampton Roads Writers’ Conference. I’m presenting five workshops (!!!) on everything from marketing to writing a series, and while I’m really looking forward to it, it’s with trepidation since I’ve never done anything like this before. You can find more information about the conference here: Hampton Roads Writers’ Conference 2015.

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Dear Amazon: I am one of your writers.

Dear Amazon,

I am one of your writers. One of your writers who truly believed up until yesterday that your Kindle Select Program would eventually prove to be a winning game for me. I have written and published seven books using your Kindle Select Program. I’ve taken advantage of the promotion system you had in place of rollback deals and free days for my Kindle books. Because of this, my self-published e-books were available exclusively on a Kindle platform, in spite of the fact that I know people who own Nooks. When I gave away e-readers, it was always a Kindle.

Yesterday, to my sorrow, I lost faith in you, not because I think your program is a bad one, but because you made a move that I believe takes advantage of writers like me. Writers who are trying to get our words out to the public. Writers who believe we have something to say, even if we don’t always have the patience and forbearance to deal with the traditional publishing system. Writers with talent and passion for their work.

By changing your policy of paying Kindle Select authors by the download to paying them by the number of pages read, you devalued my work. You said my work is worth less than traditionally published authors. You said you have lost faith in me.

My work is worth as much as any traditionally published book out there, whether it be a bestseller or a struggling indie book. I already charge less for my e-books, and when they’re borrowed through the Kindle Select Program, I get a fraction of my already small profits. But I guarantee you, I put as much work into my romances as any Harlequin or Kensington author out there, and I insist that that work be respected.

With regret, I have stopped the automatic re-enrollment of my books in your Select program. By the end of the summer, I will be free to seek other platforms to publish my books on, and if your new policy is still in effect, I will do so. I imagine I won’t be the only one, either. Any smart self-published author out there will also look elsewhere if they want the world to know they respect themselves and the writing process.

Sincerely,

Michelle Garren Flye

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The Countdown: So Much to Do, So Little Time!! (Exciting news at the end!)

June 1. The release of my contemporary romance novel Close Up Magic. I feel it coming like the blind curve in a roller coaster. You know the one at the top of the long climb that curves around a partition and you just can’t tell what’s past it? Yep. That’s the one. It might be a plunging fall, it might be more twists and turns. It might be a climb to a higher peak.

Oh my.

When I took on the quest of self-publishing the novel of my dreams, I don’t think I fully appreciated what I was doing. It’s so much easier to turn a book over to a publisher and let them do the work. Let me tell you three things I’ve discovered over the course of the past month.

1. If you’re really gonna do everything you can to sell a book, you’re not going to have time to write.
2. I can survive on four hours of sleep a night, but only if I don’t drink wine.
3. There are some really great people, both in the Twitter-verse and in my own back yard that are willing to help me.

Now that June 1 is right around the corner, I’m looking forward to breathing at least a little sigh of relief. Because no matter what I find around that blind curve, I’ll finally be AROUND it, you know? Success or failure or just more of the same awaits me there, and I plan to embrace it no matter what. Because at least I’ll be there.

So what have I been up to in the world of writing?

1. Finishing up my posts for the Close Up Magic virtual book tour starting on June 3. It’s gonna be loads of fun, so stay tuned!
2. Rounding up reviews. If you missed them, you can find links and excerpts to some of them on the Close Up Magic page of this blog. Here’s a link: Close Up Magic. There are also more on Goodreads and Amazon! BTW, you can also read the ENTIRE first chapter of Close Up Magic on the blog page!
3. Speaking of Goodreads, you can register to win a copy of Close Up Magic here: Goodreads Giveaway.
4. Finalizing and proofreading advance copies of Close Up Magic. I want it to be as perfect as possible for those who buy it!
5. Writing guest posts on friends’ blogs. Many thanks to my friends Zoe Dawson, Donna Steele, Nancy Lee Badger and all the wonderful romance authors at the Contemporary Romance Cafe for allowing me to voice my thoughts on their blogs over the past couple of months!
6. Organizing my thoughts about magic and some of my research in some interesting ways. Want to know more? Check out my Goodreads magic history quiz, my Listmania list of magic books, or my Close Up Magic Facebook Page.

Don’t forget you can still enter to win a Kindle Paperwhite! Like my Facebook Close Up Magic page, Tweet (and tag me) about my book Close Up Magic, post about my book Close Up Magic (and tag me) on Facebook or blog about my book Close Up Magic. Each one is an entry and you can enter as often as you like. Just make sure I know about it. Winner will be announced as soon as possible on June 1.

How can you make the Close Up Magic release day even more special?

Wonder of wonders, guess where I’m going to be on June 1? Las Vegas. The actual setting of my book! This has got to be fate. Karma. I absolutely did NOT plan it. My husband and I are going to Vegas for our anniversary, which just happens to fall at the end of May. And we’ll still be there June 1! I’ve been looking for places to visit in Vegas, which, as most people know, has a rich history in the business of magic. So far I’ve come up with a few, but I’d love to have some more suggestions. I’m inviting everyone who reads my blog to suggest a magical place for me to visit while I’m in Vegas. I’ll go to as many as I can, take a picture of me with the book and then Tweet and blog the pictures on June 1. And everyone who suggests a spot for me to visit gets entered into a drawing for a $20 Amazon gift card! Can’t beat that, can you? So come on, send me your suggestions! Email to michellegflye (at) gmail (dot) com, leave them on my Close Up Magic Facebook Page or right here in the comments!

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