Hot off the Press! The new trailers turned out so cool!! You can tell by the sheer number of exclamation points that I’m using!!!! Check’em out on YouTube or below…
I’ve been working on Book 3 which I call Midnight Child. It’s coming along really nicely and I expect to have it in publication in early 2012. There’s alot going into it, so it will likely be larger than the first two books.
Midnight Child will have more action. Keira starts her search for the true “human gift” and the mogdocs learn that Drew Hayes is her charge. Plus, there’s all the drama of senior year. It picks up a few weeks after Whispering Evil ends (fall of junior year) and continues through most of senior year.
Better get back to writing now. Talk to you soon.
Since I released Of Sun & Moon, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about self-publishing. I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things that I’ve learned with you here as well as some of the answers to the most asked questions.
What software do you use?
I use Microsoft Word to write. I put the entire book in a single file. It’s more difficult to edit that way, but I think that it makes formatting the files for publication easier. It also allows me to go back quickly and re-read a section if I need to. Word files are also very easy to convert for submission to the distribution centers.
Where do you get your covers?
I design my own covers. I have a background in graphic design. The companies that self-publish will want either a .jpg or .pdf format of your cover and will be very specific about the size needed. Less is better on an ebook cover because they often appear very small on computer screens.
Who do you use for publishing/distribution?
I publish with Kindle Direct Publishing (an Amazon company) for the kindle version, Smashwords for the other ebook formats, and Createspace (another Amazon company) for the paperback. I looked into hardback, but couldn’t find a way to self-publish it and still make it affordable. I do pay extra for the upgraded distribution channel at Createspace and found that it is worth it. If you do the upgrade, your paperback flows into Ingram which feeds Barnes & Noble and is where many libraries and other bookstores buy their books. I’ve had a good experience with all three companies.
How do I go about Copyright and ISBN?
Getting your copyright is much easier than you think. You can do it online through the copyright office. There is a fee of $35. When I applied for the first one, I have to admit that I was a bit paranoid. I had read all this stuff about people being harassed because the copyright application is public information and the author’s address and phone number are listed. So, before I filled out the application, I picked up a prepaid cell phone at Walmart and opened a post office box in a nearby town – placing those two items as the contact info on my application. Now in hindsight, I don’t think I would have had to do all that, but better safe than sorry.
You will also need an ISBN. Some stores, such as Apple iBooks, require an ISBN to carry your books. You must have an ISBN for each format. For example, the ebook version cannot use the same ISBN as the paperback version. The three companies listed above all offer a free ISBN as part of their service. ISBN’s come in 10 or 13 characters; either is acceptable, but the newer method is 13 characters.
Why don’t you sell books yourself? Why don’t you sell books at book signings?
That is a conscious decision that I made from the start. My goal was the experience. I do this because I enjoy it, not because I want to roll in dough or become the next JK Rowling (although that would be totally cool). If I have to establish a business, apply for a vendor’s license, and submit quarterly sales tax it is no longer fun.
Do you make a bunch of money in royalties? Do you have to pay a lot to self-publish?
Kindle Direct Publishing, Createspace, and Smashwords do not charge an upfront fee. They take their share from each book that is sold. I did purchase the extra distribution channel at Createspace ($39), Copyright fee ($35), and I chose to purchase a proof copy of the paperback ($19.51 which could have been less, but I’m impatient and had to get the express shipping). That’s it in up-front costs.
I was able to recoup that with royalties, but no, I’m not getting rich from this hobby. I did some extra facebook advertising, book giveaways, and direct mail to hype book 2; so, until I receive my Apple and Nook quarterly sales totals in October, I’m showing in the red. Don’t worry, I’ve still spent far, far less than my husband with his hobby – antique tractor pulls.
As far as writing, what’s your best advice?
I read an article once that said the mark of an inexperienced author is when the author puts in a “he said”, or similar, for every piece of dialogue. Seasoned authors don’t do this. They trust that when the dialog is between two people, the reader is intelligent enough to follow the conversation without this. Omitting these extra words, especially during emotionally charged dialog, allows for better flow and intensity. Here’s an example of with and without. See if you notice the difference…
“Did I do something?” Keira asked.
“There are just too many secrets,” William said.
Keira responded, “My secrets? I’ve never even been to your house.”
“What are you always training for? You’re getting stronger and faster, that’s not due to piano lessons. I’ve never even seen a piano in your house. And what’s with the whole Cinderella routine every night at midnight?” William asked.
“That’s nothing,” said Keira.
“Oh yeah, and why did you tell the police that Colby was with us after the Halloween party?” William asked.
She shook her head and said, “I thought you were over that.”
WITHOUT (the better way)
Did I do something?”
“There are just too many secrets.”
“My secrets? I’ve never even been to your house.”
“What are you always training for? You’re getting stronger and faster, that’s not due to piano lessons. I’ve never even seen a piano in your house. And what’s with the whole Cinderella routine every night at midnight?”
“Oh yeah, and why did you tell the police that Colby was with us after the Halloween party.”
She shook her head. “I thought you were over that.”
Did you try to go the traditional publishing route?
Nope. I love my day job, so I never intended for this to be a replacement. I just don’t have the time to shop my manuscript around to an agent who (if I can find one who will accept it) will then shop it around to the publishing houses. Things may change one day, but for now, I still consider this a hobby.
Any other advice?
Before publishing a paperback, pull your favorite paperbacks from your bookshelf. Take note of their size, are they printed on white or cream paper, look at how the page numbers are formatted, and see how they adjusted the first page of each chapter. To make your’s look professional, you need to mirror the professionals.
Also Edit, Edit, Edit – I have no bigger pet peeve than a poorly edited self-published book. It makes the rest of us look bad. Spelling and grammatical errors are unprofessional.
Avid readers Beth and Sadie wrote to ask me about hidden items and inspirations in Whispering Evil. Well girls, here they are:
Cousin Anthony - Anthony, designer of the first guardian training rooms, was named in honor of my friend Tony who designs websites.
Mikayla Collins – Mikey is my homage to author Rachel Caine. I adore her Morganville Vampire books. Mikey was named after the two male leads of that series: Michael Glass and Shane Collins.
Dog at the Rest Stop – Keira encounters a playful boxer at the rest stop during her driving instruction, inspired by my brother’s boxer named Archie.
“It’s uh maize” – I can’t resist a good pun…or a bad one. My friends know me as the self-proclaimed Queen of Corn!
Valley View High – Valley View is a street in my neighborhood. I always thought it would be a good name for a school.
Bon Jovi – Yes, Bon Jovi really did perform in concert on Feb. 4th, 1987 in Fort Worth. No, I wasn’t there.
Broo’s Coronation – Broo’s coronation was patterned after the traditional British royal coronation ceremony. In Britain, when the monarch dies, the next in line steps in immediately, but waits several months (a proper grieving period) before holding a coronation ceremony. Specific items described in the ceremony reflected real-world parts of the actual ceremony held for British monarchs.
Dairy Dog – I know this spot isn’t exclusive to Book 2, but its one that the ladies above mentioned and it’s also something I’ve been asked about many times. This is not a real location, however it was inspired by Briskers Dairy Bar in Oak Hill, Ohio (not sure if it still exists or operates under that name), the Dairy Boy in Crown City, Ohio, and about a dozen other ice cream stands sprinkled in every county along the Ohio River. I’m afraid that I have yet to see one that has twinkling lights or honeysuckle. That part was all me.
Read last April’s post about hidden items in Of Sun & Moon – Easter Eggs in Of Sun & Moon
Yesterday, I headed to The Great Serpent Mound in Adams County for some research. It will be an important locale for Book 3 in the Midnight Guardian series. Part of southern Ohio history, the mound was created by an early people in the likeness of an uncoiling snake with an egg near the snake’s mouth.
Scientists first believed that the Adena people of 800 BC – 100 AD built the effigy. Burial mounds located near the serpent were from that time period. However, more recently evidence was gathered that indicates the mound could have been built by the later Fort Ancient culture (1000-1550 AD), which had a nearby village.
My grandmother first took me to Serpent Mound as a little girl and I was always intrigued by it. Walking the trail, there are signs to point out how the serpent was laid out in conjunction with sunrise and moonrise, aligning with the solstices. At approximately 3 feet tall and over 1300 feet long, the mound is an amazement…considering that the bulldozer hadn’t yet been invented.
Of course, there are many fictional tales regarding the creation of Serpent Mound. There’s even one about it being built by the refugees of Atlantis. Hmmmm…
My favorite time of year, though it never lasts very long. We’re already starting to make plans for Halloween. My sons are dead set on dressing up as Link and Shadow Link from the Legend of Zelda games. It should be pretty cool if I can pull it off. I’m still debating on my costume; although, I’m leaning toward Sookie Stackhouse at 40.
Pretty soon I’ll put the giant spider on the house. I made it last year using a stuffed black trash bag as the body, eyes cut from a plastic red binder, and covered pool noodles for each of the legs. It’s easy to do, but you’ll need TONS of black duct tape.