Self-Publishing

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Jun 29 2011

It’s been an interesting experience self-publishing my e-novella, Tempting the Knight, and my e-novel, Dark Deceiver. The operative word in that sentence is definitely ‘self’. All the things my NY publisher used to do for me are now my responsibility. What things, you ask?

1. The Cover.
Many people who self-publish whip off a cover themselves, but my design skills aren’t up to the task and, frankly, I got spoiled having my previous covers designed in NY. So, I went to a design shop–one that has an excellent portfolio of romance covers–and hired someone to design my covers. Both of my covers were designed by Kim Killion at Hot Damn Designs.

2. The Editing.
If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts about the publishing process, you’ll know how grateful I am that there are copy editors. I have a bad habit of reading a sentence and seeing the words I intended to write, not the words I actually wrote. After revising my manuscript umpteen dozen times, I’ve been known to drop words like ‘a’ or ‘it’ or ‘the’ in spots. I’m also clueless about the rules for hyphenation and I’m a comma ho. My copy editor in NY used to catch all those boo-boos, and also caught poor sentence structure, timeline problems, and continuity errors (descriptions that change over the course of the book, i.e. blue eyes in the beginning, green later on).

I truly value the role of the copy editor. For Dark Deceiver, a full-length novel, I knew I needed a second pair of eyes. I had writer friends read the manuscript and point out problems, but I wanted a thorough scrubbing. So, I hired a copy editor. Laura Paquet from Cornerstone Word, who previously did copy edits for Harlequin, helped me out tremendously. Now, there still may be a few boo-boos in the book, but I take full responsibility for them–I made some small revisions after Laura had been through the manuscript.

3. The E-Book Formatting.
There are numerous e-reader devices on the market and although it would blissful if they all read the same file format, they don’t. The Kindle reads .MOBI files, the Nook and the Sony read .EPUB files, the Palm devices read .PRB files, etc. Plus, it’s important to make the e-books available for folks who don’t have an e-reader, so you’ll want to produce .HTML and .PDF files, as well. If you publish through Smashwords, they have a piece of software called the Meatgrinder that takes your Word files and spits out all the various formats. I used it for Tempting the Knight. Unfortunately, the output isn’t perfect.

So, I learned how to create my own e-book files. To give credit where credit is due, I found Guido Henkel’s blog series Take pride in your eBook formatting extremely helpful.

If you want to be a self-published author, be prepared to do a lot of the extra work yourself–or hire someone to help. Yes, it’ll cost you time and effort beyond the actual writing, if you want a truly professional result, it’ll cost you dollars, as well. But, in my humble opinion, the ability to publish stories that would otherwise remain untold and to reach new and existing readers is worth it.

Happy Canada Day!

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Jul 1 2010

Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians. I hope you have a terrific holiday and have plans to celebrate in style. I’m celebrating, too. Not just the 143rd anniversary of the birth of our nation,  but the latest cover of my Soul Gatherer books.

The first two covers of my Soul Gatherer series, Drawn into Darkness and Bound by Darkness, both featured hot guys with swords.  The focus was the body and the mystical elements of the weapons and the backgrounds. I loved them both.

With Surrender, my publisher is taking a slightly different approach. Don’t worry, there’s still a hot guy with a sword on the front! I’d be heartbroken if my Soul Gatherers lost their moment in the spotlight. But instead of the chopped off head and bare chest, Surrender to Darkness has the full image of my hero, Murdoch, in a more active pose. My editor and the marketing team at NAL did an awesome job of finding a look-alike and dressing him in the attire he wears in the book, right down to the motorcycle boots.

I love this cover, too! Take a look:

So, what do you think?

Page Proofs

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Jan 13 2010

I received the page proofs for Bound by Darkness today.Yay!

The best part of ripping open the envelope is seeing my words laid out like a real book. The process is still pretty new to me, and I can’t help but get a little giddy when I see those pages. It means the printed book is right around the corner. Earlier this week I got some cover flats, too. I can almost picture the final version of the book, can’t you?

While my eye is naturally drawn to the buff image of my sword-wielding hero, I must say the raised bronze lettering of the title is gorgeous. The old style script font really looks terrific.

PASIC Interview

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Oct 14 2009

Susan Vaughan interviewed me over at the PASIC blog today. One of the questions was: What three people–fictional, living or dead–would I invite to dinner, and what would I serve? If you’re curious about my answer, stop by!

Wow!

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Sep 2 2009

Yesterday was a blast. Thank you to everyone who stopped by Literary Escapism, tweeted with me on Twitter, and commented here or on my Facebook page. It was a busy day, but also an incredible one.

I stopped by my local bookstore to catch a glimpse of DRAWN INTO DARKNESS on the shelf and sign the copies they had. I meant to stop by more stores, but time simply ran out. You’re only a debut author once, so, naturally, I had to take to take a picture:

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There it is, sitting right next to Erin McCarthy’s fabulous books. grin

After guest blogging, stock signing, and twittering, I worked some more on my proposal for book three and took a lovely call from my editor congratulating me on my release. Then it was off to my sister’s where the family had a small celebration planned, including champagne. All in all … a wonderful day.

Release Day!

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Sep 1 2009

This is it….Drawn into Darkness is officially in stores today! Woot! What a year it’s been.

Hey, if you spot it in the store, would you do me a favor and drop me a quick email to say where, or even better, send a picture? Thanks!!

Today I’m celebrating over at Literary Escapism, where I also got a great review yesterday. Drop by and say hello. And don’t forget to enter the Cross into Darkness grand prize draw–if you think you know the location of my mystery photo.

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Another Review!

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Aug 21 2009

I just discovered Terri at Night Owl Romance posted a five heart review of Drawn into Darkness on Aug 12th: “Fantastic new book by a great new author. I loved it and it kept me glued to the story from beginning to end.” Check it out! grin

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R&R

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Aug 2 2009

Two awesome things:

1) I received my very first copy of my book this past week. It’s becoming increasingly real that my book will hit store shelves on September 1st. Seriously. Cool.

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2) I completed the manuscript for Bound by Darkness (book 2 in the Soul Gatherer series) yesterday and sent it off to my editor. Yay! Once

Reviews

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Jul 13 2009

One of the truths of post-sale life you have to learn to deal with is that people are going to read your book and have an opinion. And some of those opinions may not be favorable. Gasp.

I’ve met a few authors who are brimming with confidence and aren’t fazed at all by a negative opinion. They wave off harsh reviews and never look back.

But the rest of us? We chew our lips and bite our nails waiting to see what people think. I know, I know. It’s crazy. We don’t need the validation of another person to justify who we are. We are talented writers, contest winners, devoted parents, supportive siblings! One person’s opinion shouldn’t matter, even if he or she is a Power-that-Be. But the sad truth is, we do care.

I will get unenthusiastic reviews. It’s a fact of life, because you can’t please everyone. I’ve donned my armor, preparing for the coming weeks and reminding myself not to take the comments personally. But I’m happy to say my first official review isn’t negative at all, it’s good. Publisher’s Weekly posted a review of Drawn into Darkness today and used words like ‘entertaining’ and ‘readers will hope for sequels’. You have to scroll way down to find the mass market reviews, but it’s there.

One down, many more to go. grin

Badges, Pins & Ribbons

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Jul 9 2009

The RWA National conference takes place in Washington, DC, next week. One of the more interesting elements of the annual conference is the badge.

Yes, that’s right, I said the badge. Every registered attendee gets one with their name printed on it and it allows them into the official functions. Pretty standard stuff. I’m going to this year’s conference, so if you happen to see my badge, stop me and say hi.

But the badges you’ll see at an RWA conference serve as more than just ordinary ID. In fact, on some badges, you’ll be hard pressed to read the name. Why? Because the badge wallet will be smothered with pins. Pins from previous conferences, pins from local & special interest chapters, pins from writers groups, Golden Heart pins, RITA pins. Pins are a big deal–the more you have, the better. I don’t have a lot … as you can see:

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Underneath the badge, trailing all the way to the floor if necessary, are the ribbons. There’s a ribbon for almost every possible nod you can get–conference volunteer, speaker, chapter president, contest judge, Golden Heart finalist, RITA finalist, PRO member, PAN member, conference first-timer, first sale, etc.

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You’ll meet folks that have a dazzling array of ribbons attached to their badges. If you’re like me, you’ll be tempted to bow in their exalted company–these women are clearly both very talented AND very involved in the writing community. The most ribbons I’ve ever had at one time was three. Not that I was keeping tally. Honest.

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I must confess that this year I’m looking forward to wearing the ribbon I’ve coveted for years–the first sale ribbon. A thrilling and memorable occasion. I’ll take a picture of that one, for sure.

Book Trailer!

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Jun 16 2009

The book trailer for DRAWN INTO DARKNESS is up on YouTube, and I must say I’m thrilled with it.

It’s my first book video and I learned a lot during the process–which is another way of saying it’s not perfect–but I think Circle of Seven Productions did an awesome job of capturing the mood and plot of the story. Selecting the photos and the music was a lot tougher than I thought. The production director had the patience of a saint. He put up with all the mistakes, questions, and script rewrites … and kept a smiley face in his emails the whole time.

So, here it is… Tell me what you think.

Advance Reader Copies

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May 14 2009

Without a doubt, my biggest thrill this week was receiving a box of ARCs of DRAWN INTO DARKNESS from my editor. This is the last step before the mass market book is printed.

ARCs are printed primarily to be sent out for reviews. They are created from a not-quite-final version of the book, which means they still have a few typos and other errors in them, but for the most part, they are THE BOOK. Some ARCs have a version of the final cover art on them, mine don’t. Mine are plain pink–yes, pink–with black text. Not very sexy, maybe, but with the cost of everything rising, printing glossy covers for advance copies doesn’t make too much sense. Some publishers have ceased printing ARCs altogether and are just creating e-ARCs, so this may not be a part of the publishing process much longer. I’m savoring it.

Here’s what the box looked like when I opened it up:

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I have to say that flipping through the pages, seeing my words in printed form, is a real dream come true. This is one of those ‘firsts’ that I’ll remember for a long time. It’s also a potent reminder that in a few more months, the book will be on store shelves.

Can’t wait!

Page Proofs

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Apr 24 2009

So, I sent the page proofs off yesterday and they arrived in New York today. Yay!

It was a curious experience, going through them. Since the manuscript was laid out just like the book will be, I found reading it to be much easier than reading the Word version on my computer. This enabled me to spot a few continuity errors–things like a chain is gold at the beginning of the book but silver near the end. Most of the items I modified were little errors caused by an incorrect adaption of the copy edits. In all, I made changes on thirty three of three hundred and thirty two pages, and none of them were significant enough to impact the layout of the book.

The really neat part? Knowing that the next time I see the book, it’ll be bound with a cover. Awesome!

Princess for a Year

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Apr 22 2009

Getting the call that tells you you’re a Golden Heart® finalist is almost as good as the call that celebrates a sale. Almost. Why does it feel so good? Because it means five people read your manuscript partial and liked it enough to rate it very highly, and out of a hundred plus manuscripts in your category, you’re one of the top eight or so. To an unpublished author, that feedback is hugely powerful.

It doesn’t hurt that, from that moment on, you’re treated like a star.

The call comes from a member of the RWA Board of Directors—and it’s a call from a real person, not an email. That day and the next, you’re on Cloud nine. Your friends are thrilled for you, sending emails galore, and even perfect strangers send their best wishes. A day or two later, a fat, gold heart-shaped pin arrives from the National Office, along with an official letter of congratulations.

But even that is just the beginning.

Each year, the finalists band together and form their own chat loop, and this group becomes fifty or sixty of your closest writing friends. You can share the excitement, the thrills and even the disappointments with this group and they surround you with support. I’m lucky enough to belong to two such loops and I can tell you, connecting with your fellow finalists is a magical part of the Golden Heart journey.

The RWA swiftly posts your photo up on the website, trumpeting your success to the world. And yes, it feels good. It also helps make the whole experience feel real—there’s your name, your photo, and the name of your manuscript. You didn’t imagine it, after all.

You send out a new batch of queries to agents and/or editors with a first line that says you’ve recently been named a Golden Heart finalist. What does that do? Well, it doesn’t guarantee you anything, but I found that line got me quicker reads, and possibly, LOL, quicker rejections. In the publishing world, where time is often measured in months, a quick response is valuable, even when it’s NO.

As the calendar pages fly and the annual RWA National Conference approaches, the excitement builds. There are decisions to be made: can you go, what will you wear on the big night, who will be your stand-in if you can’t go? A few lucky finalists get a request from one of the judges for a full manuscript, and the whispers of sale begin. Some finalists find their query is as golden as their pin and snag an agent or a contract.

Finally, the conference week arrives. You walk in with your golden pin prominently displayed and are immediately congratulated by everyone who understands the significance. At a hotel with over 2000 other romance writers, that turns out to be a large number. You are asked about your final at lunches, during workshops, and even in the elevator. Many people who’ve never been a finalist don’t believe you when you say that being a finalist is almost as good as winning. But I swear, it’s true. You feel like a princess the entire time.

During the conference you also attend the RITA and Golden Heart reception, where you get to hang out with some of your all-time favorite authors, and you receive a lovely certificate to honor your achievement. You also go to rehearsal to prepare for the possibility that they will call out your name as the category winner. This is when you realize that during the presentation your photo is going to appear on screen in full twenty-foot glory. You gulp at the thought, but beam anyway.

The big night, a splashy Saturday evening gala, is the culmination of all the weeks of excitement. You are escorted to your reserved seating like royalty, sitting way up front. You glance down at the little sweaty note in your hand, where you’ve scribbled your acceptance speech—just in case.

When the lights go down and the award show starts, you’re a teensy bit nervous, but you’re sitting among a group of fabulous women (and a few men) who’ve become your friends. You know that if you don’t win, one of them will. And your stomach settles. This is all good. No matter what the outcome, you’ll be happy.

The first time I finaled, I was convinced I wouldn’t win. I was so convinced, I didn’t even bother to write an acceptance speech. Good thing I didn’t win, LOL. My dear finalist-mate, Victoria Dahl, who has gone on to publish several wonderful books, won my category and I cheered until I was hoarse.

The second time I finaled, I couldn’t pretend it was a fluke, so I wrote an acceptance speech. Good thing, because I won. grin