Seek and ye shall find …

After I blogged about the possibility of venturing into self-pubbing, I went in search of a past article that featured a “to-do list,” for all self-published authors.

In the past 12 hours, I’ve destroyed my office in search of the electronic and hard copy of this article, gave my dog good reason to wonder why the hell he chose to live with me, and gave my neighbors proof that “The writer” next door really has a few screws loose.

But it doesn’t matter because I found it!

The article, 8 Things Readers Want from Self-Published Authors, which was posted in the May, 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest, offers a “to do” list for the discerning self-published author, who wants to be taken seriously. I thought this relevant topic was worth sharing and reading again.

The top three to-do’s:

Hire professionals for editing, proofreading, and design.
Put most of your cost toward editing. That means, aside from development or content editing, you must eliminate all proofreading errors and typos if you want to be taken seriously. Evelyn Lafont also recommends using beta readers to put out quality work.
Hire a conversion house for clean e-book formatting. (By the way, TheGreenStudy offered that bit of advice in our discussion about self-publishing. Way to go!)

You may want to take a look at The “Self-Pub Is Crap” Debate, which served as the catalyst for the to-do list.

This time around, I’m making a copy to hang on my wall and I’m storing one in Google docs just before I clean up the mess that is now my office.

Enjoy.

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I’m a writer: Is it okay to scream for joy now?

“It’s an exciting time to be a writer.”

This seemed to be the buzz phrase at the NJRW conference I attended last weekend. Every other workshop, particularly those that spoke about the expansion of E-pub, self-publishing and the juggling for position of traditional publishing, seemed to hold this sentence in high regard.

After, reading an article about authors no longer being at the mercy of publishers, I began thinking about my options, and started to see the truth in those few words.

While I’ve mentioned that I would love to be published by a traditional publisher, I’m starting to see the possibilities of venturing into other avenues of publication, which may lead me back to that traditional path.

At one point, traditional writer’s organizations, such as RWA, didn’t acknowledge self-published authors as “true” authors. In all fairness and appreciation, RWA is an organization whose mission is, “to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy. RWA works to support the efforts of its members to earn a living, to make a full-time career out of writing romance—or a part-time one that generously supplements his/her main income.”

The organization didn’t believe that the author should “pay” for the publication of one’s book. I totally get and respect that.

However, as we all know, times are changing.

Authors are trying to broaden their readership, have control over their work and sell books where they can. Thank goodness, RWA was savvy enough to recognize that many of its members have gone the e-pub and self-publishing route, and support them. This is a good thing.

As I see it, I can remain a member of RWA and NJRW and be considered a “published” author, even if I self-pub. Granted, the author must make a certain amount in revenue from their self-publishing to be considered a true published author within RWA.

But even with that caveat, (which isn’t unreasonable) this new consideration gives an author the opportunity to get their books out, particularly when traditional publishing is slow to pick up and rejections are more than overwhelming.

If I decide to go the self-publishing route, I will follow two words of advice that often come with the, “it’s an exciting time to be a writer,” cheer—copy editor. I will secure the services of a copy editor who can go over my book with a fine tooth comb and offer suggestions that will make my book the best it can be.

I don’t want to publish crap. And I don’t want to try and sell it to anyone. IMHO, some of the books on the self-pub scene totally missed that important piece of advice.

Just tossing it out there on this Thursday afternoon.

Taking the multicultural genre to higher ground

After browsing through my Google alerts, I came across an interesting article in Publishers Weekly that veteran African-American writer, Donna Hill (one of my favorite authors) has launched her own e-publishing company, InnerVision Books.

The first thing that popped into my mind was Stevie Wonder’s (and I’m dating myself) “Innervisions” album because it was a collection of lofty songs such as, “Higher Ground”, “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” and “Living for the City.” IMHO, these were songs of hope, struggle, achievement, and love.

InnerVision Books will publish fiction, poetry and non-fiction in a digital format. Its name, which is reminiscent of Stevie’s songs, implies (again, IMHO) that it might also offer hope to authors—veteran and aspiring—who write multicultural characters and plots, but are struggling to achieve success.

With a publishing company dedicated to highlighting “multiculturalism in a global society,” authors have a chance to work with a company that understands that multicultural literature is expansive and layered, and shouldn’t be placed in one section of the bookstore.

And InnerVision Books doesn’t want to stop at e-publishing. Eventually they would like to publish trade paperback editions as well. Woohoo!

It’s wonderful to see a publishing company dedicated to working with authors of the multicultural genre.

Perhaps well-written multicultural stories that don’t make it to the larger publishers, because they’re not, “a good fit” or “not what they’re looking for,” will fit perfectly with InnerVision Books and be exactly what they seek to publish.

Bravo to Donna Hill and other publishers, who look for ways to tell these stories and embrace them.

Hashing through the e-hoopla

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been following publishing industry news about how romance giant, Harlequin, has branched out to self-publishing and e-publishing.

As a business communicator, I see how the world has adjusted, and still is, adjusting to the various means and trends of communicating (e-print, e-news, INTERNET, hello!). IMHO, it’s a given and bottom-line advantageous for corporations to rethink how they do business and communicate.

And as an aspiring romance author, I believe this holds true for any other company, with stockholders (i.e. publishers).

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the standard publishing tradition of receiving an advance and royalties for one’s hard work and talent.

However, I am not opposed to having my work published by an only-digital publisher such as Samhain, Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, and Loose ID–to name a few (although Samhain and Ellora’s Cave are doing print). These e-publishers allow authors who may never publish traditionally, the chance to have their work published and their talent displayed.

I’ve been following self-publishing and have friends who have gone that route and have become successful. They did so because they couldn’t find a traditional publisher (or agent) willing to take the chance on their work.

I’m sure we’ve heard plenty of stories how a self-published author, who was scoffed by traditional publishers, goes on to make millions. That’s great and I’m happy for them.

But I’m also happy for the author who, after self-publishing, receives accolades and (guess what?), an agent—after their book sold a few thousand copies. This is a monumental feat for pre-published authors who have developed personal relationships with the big “R”—rejection letters. It shows determination, confidence and resilience.

I’m not sold on publishers that offer to help “self” publish, but charge a large fee and want half the royalties (i.e. Harlequin Horizons, who have subsequently changed their name to DellArte Press). If I’m going to self publish, I’d like to do the work and reap the benefits.

As with anything, you have to weigh the good and bad. With self-publishing and digital publishing, you have to be aware of the pitfalls and disadvantages. Do your homework. Talk to people who have been through the process, just as you would talk to authors who have dealt with certain traditional publishers.

I’m not looking for millions. (But if they come, hey that’s a different story!) I’m looking for a nice bottom line that my business partners (agent, publishers) and I can enjoy. My main goal is to offer romance readers what they want—a story that makes you sigh, cry and beg for more.