Tag Archives: traditional 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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Life as a Self Published Writer and the Road Not Taken

Tomorrow morning, Island Magic goes on sale. My tenth book (nine novels and a novella). It seems like a good point in my career to sit down and look at the road I didn’t take for a minute.

I see the roads of Self Publishing and Traditional Publishing like this. Self Publishing is a rural route. Part of it isn’t paved, and part of it is freshly hacked out of the forest undergrowth. It’s windy and long and sometimes difficult to get through, and there are a lot of little side paths you might find yourself on if you’re not careful. Traditional Publishing, however, is a highway. Well-paved, but sometimes jammed up. Littered with rejection letters from editors, publishers and agents. It’s only once in a great while that a writer can make their way through the pack and over the bridge and into the big, golden city named Published. And once you do, you have to go back to the beginning and start all over.

I reached the fork in my road a while back. Traditional publishing had paid off only mildly for me (two ebooks with Lyrical Press and one with Carina Press). I tried self publishing with my book, Weeds and FlowersMH900058885, because I had literally no idea how to sell it. It isn’t literary or genre fiction. It’s fairly intense for young adults, but the main characters are teenagers. I tried to rewrite it as a young adult romance, but that didn’t work. So I self published it, telling myself it wouldn’t hurt anything.

And it didn’t hurt anything. But it opened up a whole new world to me. Suddenly I realized, as a writer, I don’t have to sit in a traffic jam on the Traditional Publishing Highway. I don’t have to spend my precious writing hours anguishing over cover letters and synopses. If I took this exit onto Self Publishing Route, I could spend them writing what I want to write. Books.

I can still see Highway Traditional Publishing. It crosses Route Self Publishing from time to time. I check out the market, consider submitting, wish for a moment that life could be easier, that my books would sell themselves. And then I continue writing. Because that’s what I want to do, and if I have to pull out my machete and hack my own way through the wilderness, so be it.

Island Magic goes on sale tomorrow. Don’t forget to buy your copy of my seventh self-published book.

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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.

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Self-published and proud of it: Stop squelching the new voices.

There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt. — Audre Lorde

I’m really trying not to get angry now. If you want to know why, go read this article: Are Self-Pubbed Authors Killing the Publishing Industry? I actually read the article yesterday and let it sit for a day so I could be sure after cooling off that I didn’t see her point, but after reading it again this morning, I realized I’m still hot. So here I go on my soapbox.

Seriously? KILLING the industry? You want to know what’s killing the industry? Look a little deeper. Look at the agents who don’t want to take a chance on cross-genre works and new names. And the editors who won’t even look at a new author unless they’re represented by an agent. The publishing industry has become so intertwined, it’s almost impossible to get anything published the traditional route unless you’re grandfathered in.

Of course, there are exceptions. Everybody knows J.K. Rowling’s slush pile acceptance story. But that was more than fifteen years ago. More recently, of course, there was the Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James (what’s with the British authors with initials thing?) breakthrough, but let’s please remember that that started out as fanfiction, and was originally published online. So I’m not certain you can claim Ms. James went the traditional route at all.

I have self-published a book. I’m considering self-publishing more. And the reason I’m doing it is because I’m a writer, and I have every intention of continuing to write and be published, whether I have to do it myself or not. And to promote my books, I will do web tours and give away Kindles and Nooks, even if “Traditionally published authors aren’t stooping to these tactics.” Traditionally published authors don’t have to. Their publishers take care of publicity for them.

I have said before and will say again that the way for new authors to get their words out there is to go through small e-publishers. With that route, you get the benefit of a professional editor (believe me, it helps). However, I also know there are books that even indie publishers aren’t going to consider. And for those, Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing will continue to be desirable routes for writers. And if we want to sell our words for 99 cents, then traditional publishers need to suck it up and stop complaining. Buyer beware. If you pay 99 cents for a book, you might not enjoy it. It probably hasn’t been professionally edited. It may have typos and formatting errors.

On the other hand, it might be brilliant. It might be a new voice with something to say that you might enjoy hearing. At any rate, it cost less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks, so what do you have to lose?

If you’d like to try my 99 cent self-published 5-star on Amazon book, here’s a link: Weeds and Flowers. And my self-designed cover, which I am very proud of:

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