I sent the rough rough draft of Burning Darkness to a trusted friend tonight. It’s kind of a checkpoint for how is the overall story before I put too much work into (potentially) the wrong things. You see, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m going through a period of self doubt with my writing. Deep down, I know this is a great story. I love the story. But when your life is turned upside down and so much changes, whatever those changes may be, doubt can set in. That, and I know this friend will have valuable input on this novel in particular. I’m sure I’ll be consulting her throughout the entire process. So while this step isn’t even on my timeline (this is even before alpha readers!) I am making progress. I finished the read through tonight, have changed some plot points that were just…bad, and have lots of ideas and notes on other things I need to change, add, and flesh out. I can’t wait to get her feedback, but I’ll be working from my own notes until then.
I hope everyone had a fun and safe new year. I brought in 2014 surrounded by new friends, and it’s so far been off to a wonderful start. I cleaned my house today and started working on Burning Darkness. I’m aiming to release it May 22, so it’s time to get my nose back to the grindstone. I wrote the rough draft for NaNoWriMo 2012, so I started reading it today and making minor tweaks, then I’ll really get down to business with editing. This one is a standalone, but don’t worry – Elena will be back late this year (tentative release date November 20.)
I have a crazy busy 2014 ahead of me. I still have my full time day job, and I’m also working to become a Mary Kay Sales Director by June 30, along with releasing 2 books this year and attending several conventions. Not to mention exercising and eating healthier, and attempting to have a social life (aka fun) in between all that! Phew!
Right now, the most important thing for you to know is that I’m a dark fantasy writing guest of honor at Kawa Kon 2014! The convention takes place February 7-9 at the St. Louis Airport Marriott. I’ll be selling my books all weekend and will be doing 3 panels. So stop on by, learn some stuff, buy some books and have some fun!
Friday Feb. 7, 6-7 pm – Creating Believable and Engaging Characters
Saturday Feb. 8, 1-2 pm – Life Happens: Finding Time to Write
Sunday Feb. 9, 12-1 pm – NaNoWriMo Basics
I sent Ravaged off to my editor, Shawn Mihalik, tonight. We have a consultation scheduled for tomorrow night. I’m interested to see what that entails since I’ve never worked with a professional editor before. The book is getting closer and closer to being ready for publication, and September 26 is creeping up! I can’t wait to get this in your hands!
Speaking of September 26, don’t forget about the reading and signing at Subterranean Books that night at 6:00PM. All the details are on my Events page.
I’ve finished my edits for Ravaged, and just sent it off to Chase Night for story consultation. I really look forward to getting his comments back – that will be when I really have a lot of editing work to do.
I also sent everything over to my cover designer, Denise Wy. She did such an amazing job with the last one, I can’t wait to see what she comes up with this time.
So now I’m in a holding pattern and don’t quite know what to do with myself! Well, that’s not entirely true. I think I’m going to start brainstorming for the next book in the series, and work on some ideas for how to improve the book I plan to publish after Ravaged. Not to mention a brand new, non-writing project I’m working on with some friends! Yes, I still have plenty to keep me busy while I regain strength in my shoulder.
It’s been two weeks since my surgery. I’m doing better than I expected to be. At the checkup my doctor said I can move my arm full range of motion. Let me tell you, I never thought the simple act of stretching would feel so good. My shoulder has gotten very weak though, and I can’t have it in the same position for any length of time without it getting sore or tired. So next week I’ll start physical therapy for some stretching exercises. I still can’t do any weight bearing exercise.
The saga of the dogs hasn’t ended yet. By the time we were ready to have Cookie and Emmy at the kennel together for socialization, Cookie had gone into heat. (We will have her spayed ASAP, but with her heartworm treatment, then all the training issues, we haven’t been able to yet.) Because of that Bo couldn’t socialize her (it can cause fights.) So Emmy came home, and Cookie stayed at the kennel for obedience training. This Monday we finally got them both there together. They tried to fight each other at first, but have progressed to ignoring each other when in the play yard with a bit of curiosity. As Bo explained, the steps are agression, ignoring, curiosity, then playing/friendship. We hope to bring them home Monday. It won’t be over yet, but we’ve all come a long way.
I’ve also started doing a bit of editing on Ravaged. I’m trying a more defined method this time. I’ve created a checklist of sorts that’s a combination of Roz Morris’ Beat Sheet and the Elements of a Scene Worksheet from Jami Gold. I must admit it’s pretty tedious. Rather than doing it on paper, I created a spreadsheet. So I read a scene, switch to the spreadsheet, make notes, repeat. But I can already see where things need to be changed, fleshed out, perhaps removed. I can tell it’s going to be a very helpful, and more refined, method.
I’ve also been receiving feedback from my alpha reader. It’s been very helpful, and I can’t wait to put it into action.
So that’s it here. Lots of sleeping, reading, watching TV, and just taking it easy in between the little bit of editing I’ve done. I very much look forward to whenever I’m able to start working on strengthening exercises for my shoulder.
Well, it’s about two days until my surgery. I’ve reached the point of mild anxiety. I’ve never had surgery before, and while plenty of people have told me what to expect, I have no idea what to expect. Someone else’s experience doesn’t really prepare me for what my experience will be, or how I’ll feel after, what my pain level will be, or how the anesthesia will affect me. So I just want it to be Thursday already so I can get this done and over with.
In the meantime, I haven’t started editing Ravaged yet. I had a last minute house guest last week, a friend I hadn’t seen in a year, so spending time with her took precedence. Plus I’ve been cramming in any other things I need to do before surgery, such as organizing, laundry, and cleaning so I’ll have peace of mine from a tranquil home environment. But maybe the distance from the manuscript will prove useful and give a fresher eye for edits.
I hope to get a bit of editing done while I’m recovering. Or maybe I’ll start something entirely new while I’m on pain meds to see what kind of silliness comes out. I’m mostly joking about the last…I’m sure I’ll be sleeping more than anything.
I’ll post an update as soon as I’m able after surgery, but don’t worry of you don’t hear from me for a few weeks. I do look forward to getting lots of sleep!
While writing my last post I realized I haven’t yet shared my plan for getting Ravaged ready for publication. If that sort of thing interests you, here it is. If not, you can skip this post.
In the midst of all that I’ll be working with Denise Wy again on the cover design, and putting together the paperback version. I’ve gone back and forth on whether I want to have the paperback professionally designed this time around, simply because it was such a pain last time, but I think I’ve settled for doing it myself again. I got the kinks worked out, so I think it will be easier to do this time around.
Some other more minor things I’ll have to do:
One other item that isn’t specific to Ravaged is promo materials to hand out at conventions. I’m going to print out trifold handouts that have the cover, blurb, author info, and an excerpt from the book to raise interest. I already have this ready for Divided. I think by the time I go to Con-tamination in August I’ll be far enough in edits that I can also print some up for Ravaged as well. A friend of mine did this and said it worked pretty well for him, so it’s worth a shot.
The final item is decide how I want to handle distribution. Do I want to stick with Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select? Right now I think I will, and do a free promo for Divided either right before, or when Ravaged is released. But I’m sure I’ll change my mind back and forth a hundred times between now and the time to publish. If I decide not to go that route, I’ll also have to format both Divided and Ravaged for other platforms, such as Kobo and Nook. That might be part of the deciding factor too…with my upcoming surgery, I’ll have less time to work on things like that, so if I run out of time to do that formatting, well, there’s the decision perhaps. Or maybe I’ll just release to those platforms a bit later.
So there you have it. Once Ravaged is published, I’ll revisit this and talk about what worked, what I’ll keep for the next book, and what needs to change in this plan.
I’ve done loads of research on self publishing, and thought I had a pretty good handle on what I needed to do. And for the most part, I did. But there were several things I completely overlooked and was left scrambling to complete in time. Some are minor, some…not major, but big enough that they left me a bit frazzled until they were resolved. So for anyone reading this who is looking to self publish a book, here’s what I learned publishing my first novel. Be sure to read to the end…I saved the biggie for last.
Contact local independent bookstores at least a month in advance.
A week before launch the idea finally popped into my head to do this and ask if they would either be interested in carrying a few copied of Divided, or hosting a book signing. So when Subterranean Books said, “Yes, we’d love to have a book signing for you, how about April 4?” I realized that wasn’t the best plan as far as selling paperbacks goes. I accepted the date happily, but next time will ask much further in advance. By not having the signing until 3 weeks after release, and wanting people to buy the paperback at the signing rather than online, I had to ask locals to please wait to buy the paperback. I know they understood since it was friends and family I asked this of, but still…I could have planned that better.
Leave PLENTY of time for reviewing the paperback proof, then leave some more time.
I thought 2 weeks would be enough time. But then I got the proof (which I’d paid out the wazoo for expedited shipping.) And I needed to make changes. So then I ordered another proof (which I decided to wait for the regular shipping speed.) Then I got the second proof, and there were still some things I need to fix. Then I paid for more expedited shipping for a third proof. But I finally got it right.
Have at least 2 sets of eyes proofread your manuscript.
Especially if you can’t afford professional editing. My editor was amazing, but she’s not professional. My dad scanned through the manuscript and found some more errors (he’s amazing with grammar.) Even then, my mom found some more typos when she was read the book. And someone else found a typo that everyone else had missed, and it was a biggie! The good news is, you can update the Kindle file easily at any time. I hope I can afford professional editing with my next novel, but even if I do, I’ll still get a second set of eyes, because no one is perfect, not even if they’re paid for it (though they had better be close.)
When working with a cover designer, you need more than just the cover.
Some things I wasn’t prepared for – author bio, author photo, back cover blurb, and – most importantly – how many pages is the book? That is vital for the designer to know if you’re asking for a paperback design as well, because that will determine the size of the spine they create. Also, don’t depend on the PDF to tell you the correct page numbers. I guarantee it will be wrong. Be sure you upload it to CreateSpace (or whichever printing service you’re using) and let it tell you the page number. Once I thought we were completely finished with the cover, I had to ask Denise for one more update to the spine size. I was completely unprepared for all that.
Not only do you have to buy ISBNs, you have to buy a barcode too!
OK, you don’t have to. If you want to stick strictly with Amazon, you can use their free ISBN service. But I wanted to own my ISBNs, so purchased a block of 10. I didn’t realize that didn’t include barcodes, and each barcode is an additional $25. You only need that for the paperback though. Speaking of barcodes…
Have the barcode BEFORE giving the final approval on your cover design.
Or have some knowledge of how to edit PDFs on your own. Denise had left a white block on the back cover of the paperback version of the cover for me to insert the barcode. Problem is, I don’t have Photoshop, and even if I did, I don’t know how to use it. I really didn’t want to bother her yet again with yet another update, and was lucky a good friend of mine is extremely proficient with Photoshop, so she was able to update it for me. But if I’d had the barcode before, I could have just sent it to Denise and she could have inserted it for me. (I’m sure she would have anyway if I’d asked, but I felt like I’d been a big enough pain in the butt already.)
Have business cards with your name and website, and the name of the book, made.
I only figured this one out after talking with complete strangers in my physical therapy office who showed interest, that it would be nice to have a pretty card to give them rather than a scrap of paper with my name scribbled on it. I have them in hand now, but would have been nice to have much sooner. Maybe even include the release date if you plan to hand these out before it’s available.
And last, but certainly not least…
I would have done the free promotion through Amazon’s KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing Select) later.
There were people who were going to buy Divided regardless of whether or not it was free. At first I thought that making it free for a few days right from the start was a nice move since the paperback wasn’t available yet. And it was. But I think most of these people would have bought the ebook anyway. And if they weren’t going to buy the ebook AND the paperback, they weren’t going to buy the ebook at all. So I kind of feel like I lost out on a chunk of sales from people who would have otherwise paid for the book.
I have nothing to compare the effectiveness of the free promotion to since this was my first book. So I can’t say if it did any good or not. I’ve been listening to several podcasts and reading a lot of blog posts about the debate over whether the free promos do any good anymore. For myself, though, I simply don’t know. I don’t think I’m ready to write the program off entirely. But I do think that when I released Ravaged, I won’t make it free immediately. I might make Divided free at the same time Ravaged is released, or maybe for a few days the week before, to help drive sales. But I’ll wait until sales slow down to make it free so I can give it a boost.
Last week I had a photoshoot to get a photo for the back cover of my book. I had a good photo of myself, but it was uber outdated. My hair is long and brown in it. Neither of which is true anymore. Casey from Chalk & Soot is absolutely amazing. I could not be happier with how the photos turned out. It was hard to choose just one for the cover!
Then today I got the final cover design from Denise Kim Wy. WOW! For having to work with someone who had absolutely no idea of how the cover should look, she did a fantastic job. I’m so thrilled, and I can’t wait to get a physical copy in my hand.
I still have some formatting quirks to figure out, and to finish the edits (grammatical and such, no more story edits.) I got super lucky with my editor as well. She did an amazing job. I’m so happy with how this is turning out and can’t wait to share it with all of you. I’m still aiming for early March, as long as the day job eases up enough for me to finish everything. I’m going to focus on Kindle, and let the paperback release be a bit later if necessary.
I know I still need to add a photo to this site. I hope to get that up in the next couple of days.
Thanks for hanging tight everyone, this is going to be worth the wait, I promise!
For the past couple of years I’ve had grand plans for my writing career. For the past couple of years, those plans haven’t quite panned out. However, 2012 was the year I finally got the kick in the pants to really start getting serious about my writing career, and make it an actual career, and do something with it other than talk about it. This was in large part because of the Asymmetrical Community. I’ve met a lot of great people and found loads of inspiration from the people in that community. Another MASSIVE inspiration for me this year was the Self Publishing Podcast. Holy whoa those guys pump out some words!!
2012 in Review
While I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to in 2012, I’m happy with what I did complete. Divided is edited and on the way to being published. I’m working on the technical aspects of it now, but the book itself is done. I’m going to publish it in March, and can not wait to get it out in the world finally! It’s been a long journey, but the end is in sight.
I also have a rough draft of another book that I’m going to work with and publish. I’m not sure yet if I’ll publish it in 2013 or early 2014, but it will happen. This is the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo (my 4th win!)
So while that’s not a massive list of accomplishments, for me they’re pretty major. It’s a list of solid accomplishments and steady progress and I’m pleased with it. I’ve also taken the first steps toward self-publishing, which means the next book will be a little easier to get out there.
Looking Ahead to 2013
I’m not really a fan of New Year Resolutions. Every time I’ve tried them it doesn’t last. But this is a list of things I’ve been working towards for a little while anyway, so I don’t see it as a resolution list. In 2013 I have both writing and non-writing goals.
- Publish Divided in early March
- Write/rewrite/finish writing Ravaged, the sequel to Divided (it’s half complete but it’s been almost 2 years since I’ve looked at it, so I’m not sure what needs to be done with it.)
- Publish Ravaged probably near the end of 2013
- Edit Burning Darkness , and possibly publish at some point in 2013. If not, in early 2014
Those are all the solid goals I have, but I also plan to write some short stories. I don’t know what they’ll be about yet, but they’ll be around sometime.
- Become a Mary Kay Sales Director
- Visit NYC at least once
- Attend Mary Kay Seminar in Dallas
- Become healthier (this entails a lot, and I won’t bore you with the details unless you really want to know…leave a comment if you do.)
What are your plans for the new year? Do you make New Year resolutions? Why or why not?