Entering the Arena of Self-Publishing

I’m taking the plunge.

After months of dithering between here and there, this and that, trying to correlate the reams of publishing information bouncing around the internetz, I am going to self-publish a volume of my short works, a combination of published and unpublished stories. I have Joseph Paul Haines to thank for the kick in the pants — and fabulous support for my inane questions about the process — since he blazed the trail with the release of his own collection. I must credit MeiLin Miranda too, for sparking off the idea in my head that there could be a place for such a volume.

I’m still in the early stages, and I will blog about my experiences with self-publishing as it happens. I know I whine a lot about conquering another learning curve (doesn’t it seem as if your head will explode at some point??) but as I’ve stated before, a writer doesn’t “just” write anymore — if they ever did. Time to man up (or woman up, if you want to be politically correct) and take it head-on. Whiners belowdeck.

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So, for me (and your mileage may vary if you decide to accept this mission) the beginning of the self-publishing process was to talk to Joe and pick his brain, since he had just completed his own mission. He made it sound quite easy, and thus encouraged, I went on to do my own due diligence. Don’t get me wrong — I know Joe would never steer me wrong and I hold him in very high respect. That being said, it’s up to ME to do my own research, and that I did.

Joe recommended CreateSpace, so I not only looked at the company’s website, I Googled reviews. I re-read some of MeiLin’s experience with them, and found that in spite of a small snafu, she was very pleased with the quality and customer service of CreateSpace, and the other reviews I read reflected that opinion.

I signed up for a free account. To be honest, I found their interface a bit confusing at first — yeah, a learning curve — but eventually I figured out how to get around. What I wanted to do was study the submission requirements and make sure I got it right the first time around. This is all before I started to put the collection together, understand — I felt like if I had the basic requirements down, that would save me time later when I was putting the masterpiece in order.

What is confusing me at the present moment is margins and terms like “bleed” (which sounds ominous), but those are little things I can ask more experienced writers. (Yes, Joe, you’re on deck. Heh.)

Now, on to the fun part. And believe me when I tell you I say that facetiously. Choosing the material. Plus, although I try to stay organized, I have pieces saved in several different folders, on flash drives, and I even went digging in GMail to find others. I’ve visited websites in which my stuff has been published, and had to re-type one that had been published in print which of course, I didn’t save anywhere else. *sigh* Lesson learned. I finally got it all in one place.

Actually, it’s not choosing the material that’s a brain fryer as much as the line-up. Most of my short work (but not all) is flash. I love flash. I’ve written a lot of flash. Tweaking my stockpile into a cohesive flow is a challenge. Plus, I became easily distracted walking through the beginnings of my writing career and remembering how, when, and why I wrote what I did. It was fun, but draining.

So, I tweaked and copy and pasted and dithered. I asked for the opinion of a trusted friend about the line-up, made a few more adjustments, and moved on to write the Author’s Obligatory Acknowledgments, a Table of Contents, and Author’s After Words. It’s starting to shape up to resemble a book! Yay!

Next stop is the book cover — I’m waiting on a specially commissioned photograph to reflect the material within, which should be here tomorrow. I will forward it to a very dear friend who has offered to Photoshop it into a cover, and in the meantime I will tweak and adjust some more.

And that, my poppets, is where I am in the process so far. Joe was right — it has been easy up to this point, but then we move on to the uploading and waiting for a proof. I will certainly keep you updated on the progress.

I hope to have “Not Nice and Other Understatements” available in the next couple of weeks, the gods willing and the creek don’t rise. Wish me luck :)

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A Taste of Hunger — Friday Flash

Happy Halloween!

Millie remembered always being hungry. She was starving when the children picked on her in school for being different. When her father screamed and yelled and threw fits and fists, she was ravenous and couldn’t wait for dinner.
 
Somehow her metabolism was able to keep up with her appetite until she married Harry. At first, there was love. At least, she was pretty sure there was love, or some version of it. Over the passage of time, the love lines became blurred and in some instances, totally obliterated.
 
Millie was a good wife, but never good enough. Leftovers from gourmet meals attempted did not end up in the trash. They ended up in her belly as she tried to eat her mistakes and pretend nothing was wrong.
 
Nothing was wrong. She was punished as was only right and natural, for not ironing the crease in Harry’s pants the right way, for being late from grocery shopping, for talking too much or too loudly in social situations.
 
“You’re just bringing me down. I don’t know why I put up with you!” Harry would exclaim and Millie would agree. Sometimes she didn’t agree fast enough and that was good for a few more bruises. Bruises that were hidden by long sleeved shirts, or make-up.
 
She never felt the burning rage always simmering under the surface because she would eat until she felt sick and her heart pounded. She would go on diet after diet at Harry’s command, trying to become the woman he needed, the woman he wanted her to be. She was constantly famished, and the weight would not come off.
 
She started having dreams; dreams of mountains of food that she would eat and eat, never feeling satiated. Millie would wake in the morning feeling drugged and unhappy, until her breakfast of eggs, toast, hash browns, bacon, orange juice and yogurt. Because yogurt was healthy.
 
When she became pregnant she was ecstatic and actually lost weight the first six months of her term. Harry wanted a boy, of course, but in her heart Millie wanted a girl. A perfect girl.
 
Daisy was born and Millie was very happy. Harry had proof of his virility and viability of his seed; Millie had someone to love and someone to love her, unconditionally. Harry just sighed and said, “Maybe next time you’ll get it right.”
 
For four years things were tolerable, even good in places. Then, Harry got a promotion at work which meant more money, more status and more stress. Life took a U-turn back to the days of flowering bruises.
 
The constants were fits and fists, and of course, the sharp hunger that never quite left her.
 
The dreams came back. Mountains of food on which she gorged, never feeling satisfied.
 
The situation finally came to a head one evening when Harry came home from work in a spectacularly bad mood. The screaming was so loud from Harry, and in turn Daisy, that all Millie could hear in her ears was a curious ringing. This was not assuaged by the blows to the face and head she received, or by the kicking once she was down. She thought she would have to go to the hospital for broken ribs, and make-up was never going to cover the black eye or the split lip.

Harry realized he may have gone a little too far. He apologized and promised he would never do it again. Millie agreed that it was her fault in the first place for not being the woman he needed. They went to bed. Millie was starving.
 
She awoke with the realization she was not dreaming and she was not in bed. Disoriented, she sat still until her eyes slowly adjusted to the dark room. She could faintly make out the figure of her husband. Something was wrong with this picture, but at first she couldn’t figure out what it was. She heard a drip, drip, drip, like water from a faucet. The air felt hot around her. A coppery aroma arose from the bed.
 
She reached for the bedside lamp with trembling fingers. The light snapped on and her mind tried to take in what her eyes were seeing.
 
Her hands.
 
Covered.
 
In blood.
 
Red, sticky and wet. She sat in a kitchen chair bedside her bed, in attendance of her husband, not knowing how the chair, or herself, had gotten there.
 
Millie contemplated this for almost ten minutes.
 
She raised her bowed head and looked at the figure in front of her. Something dark fluttered at the edge of her consciousness, but she batted it aside absently.
 
Harry’s head had a dent near the temple and blood soaked the pillow, crimson so dark it was almost black in the low light of the bed lamp. His eye sockets, empty now – but they had been empty even with eyeballs intact – stared  blankly at the ceiling. Once cheek had been ripped off. There were teeth marks around where his nose had been. Millie heard crunching noises in her head, then batted them away too. It looked like something had been gnawing at the knob of his chin.
 
Her gaze traveled down – seeing and not seeing the half-eaten pecs, (so toned, so tough, so tasty, her mind whispered ) the ravaged abdomen, and then finally to the place of Harry’s power.
 
The man root, the masculine rod, and its two attendants were missing.
 
Millie held her hand over her mouth and burped gently. Like a lady. It was a meaty burp.
 
She contemplated this for another ten minutes.
 
She felt full and replete for the first time in years. The dark thing was back and it fluttered madly. She couldn’t push it away anymore, and finally recognized it for what it was.

She knew what she had to do.
 
Pushing back the chair, she spared one more look at her husband, her captor, her torturer – and the father of her child.
 
She went to feed her daughter.

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More About Self-Publishing

So many choices, so many options, so many decisions. It makes your brain cramp, doesn’t it? And you thought once you wrote the book, you were done. Silly writer.

Now that your Work of Genius is complete, it’s time to find it a home, and in all actuality, you should be thinking about this stuff BEFORE your work is complete. What choice is right for you? Good question, and it depends on your ultimate goal and what you intend for your business. Remember, I told you writing was a business, and if you want to be successful at this writing thing, you’d do well to keep that in mind as you progress in the Maze That is Now Modern Publishing.

Personally, I have been agonizing over the decision of what to do with my material for months. Let’s face it, once you’ve finished your project (or projectS), the submission process to traditional publishers is like staring down a black abyss. Do you get an agent or try to submit without one? What about those thrice-damned queries, or the dreaded synopsis? How long will your book dangle in time, waiting on word from an agent, editor, or publisher while you chew your fingernails down to the bloody tissue? How long can you wait before you start seeing some kind of financial return on months of work? What happens when the rejections start coming in and you’re ready to take a face-plant off a high cliff?

And say you decide to bypass all that hoopla and publish yourself. What are you looking at then? You’re looking at conquering several learning curves, unless you are extremely blessed and have friends that can help you handle technical requirements such as formatting, book covers, and a professional edit of your material. You’ll have to figure out how to format for different venues such as CreateSpace, Amazon, Kindle, Nook and several hundred more you may be unfamiliar with at this time. You’ll have to think about marketing strategies and pimping and hoping like hell someone other than people related to you by blood will buy your product.

This is my take on the matter, and I will admit I have been heavily influenced by following Dean Wesley Smith. One recent post in particular has caught my attention — with some excellent advice about harnessing both traditional publishing and self-publishing. It doesn’t have to be an “either/or” situation, and actually, it looks like it is detrimental to look at it that way.

The reason Dean’s approach appeals to me is because it is very similar to the freelancer’s business model for non-fiction. For instance, I have preached forever about filling your basket and creating passive income streams. The same philosophy applies to fiction — what a concept! Once you realize that, several things click into place.

So, here are my thoughts — and remember, I’m a struggling writer just like you. I’m trying to find the best way to make this career a success, just like you. I have questions, concerns, nightmares, and doubts just like you. I am confused, excited, overwhelmed…just like you. These are some of the questions I’m asking myself.

1. Is being published by a traditional publisher what I’m looking for? For so many years, mostly because there were few other options for me, I dreamed about being picked up by a Big House and then I’d be successful. However, that’s no guarantee my book won’t end up in the bin at the local dollar store even if I was successful in landing a contract and no guarantee I’d make decent money. Stories like the success of Peter V. Brett, wherein he scored not only a contract for three books and is swiftly taking over the universe, but had his material optioned for movie rights, are like finding the Holy Grail.

2. Speaking of contracts, I’ve heard so many horror stories about stinking contracts that screw a writer over it makes me wonder if I’m better off going the maverick route.

3. How much effort am I willing to expend in publishing myself? I’m not worried about the “stigma”, because I honestly don’t give a rat’s ass about that as long as I can become established as a Writer of Excellent Stories and make money doing it. But, I’m not getting any younger and my brain cells actually start SMOKING at the thought of yet another (or dozen) learning curve to add to my repertoire.

4. Where do I start? Do I serialize it on the web, publish on demand, publish electronically, or say screw this and send the manuscript to an agent and sacrifice a chicken and start working on Book II while I wait and wait and wait?

Oye.

So, my poppets, that’s where I’m at. I wish I had definitive answers to offer, but sadly, I’m fighting the hamsters nightly, just like you. My mind is literally a-whirl with the possibilities, the angles, and the plethora of options available. I’m looking hard at success stories, failures (because you can learn as much by contemplating what is NOT working as by what IS working) and taking notes. I’m helping writers I believe in as much as I can, picking the brain cells of those who know much more than I do, and at some point, will make the jump.

Which way I’ll jump is open-ended at this juncture of my career.

What do you think?

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Ruminations and Meandering Thoughts on Self-Publishing

I know I’m about to open up a whole can of worms here, but this is a subject, an important subject, that affects all writers of fiction. These are just ruminations and meandering thoughts of things I’ve observed in the last couple of years since I started in the business and the art of writing for money.

First of all, you may ask what makes me so qualified to express an opinion since I don’t have a novel on the bestseller list? I don’t have an academic degree in anything, other than the PhD I have acquired in the School of Hard Knocks. I am just a working writer hack. Just who do I think I am, really?

I have been reading since I was three years old. This old brain is stuffed full of stories of every kind, and this old heart overflows with the love of the written word. Couple that with an observant nature and an insatiable thirst for learning, and although I may not be a product of formal education, I have been around the block a time or two, and have learned a bit in the process. I might not be able to diagram a sentence in the tradition of Mrs. Outhouse, my high school English teacher (and yes, that is her real name, bless her heart!) but there’s one thing I know intimately, and that is story. Plus, I have been earning a living through writing, editing, and renting my soul to the devil for years. (Not really. If that were the case I’d rent my soul for a lot more than what I’m making. Heh. But earning a living from writing and editing is true.)

What I have observed lately is the world of publishing has cracked wide open, especially in the last couple of years. We can discuss for hours the implications of this to writers, but that’s not really the point of this post. In other words, I’m not going to get into a philosophical discussion about “art” vs “business” here.

Self-publishing is not new. Consider this who’s who list of self-publishers: Mark Twain, Margaret Atwood, L. Frank Baum, Ernest Hemingway, Benjamin Franklin, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rudyard Kipling, Walt Whitman….those are but a few. However, self-publishing has never become a respected vehicle for writers, and there’s some good reasons for that. For one, there are no gatekeepers. Say what you want about traditional publishing, but they get it right more than they get it wrong (Paris Hilton aside) and that’s because there are gatekeepers. Sure, it’s a crapshoot when you pick up the latest on the shelves, but chances are the material is in decent condition.

But self-publishing books? Well, there are no gatekeepers of any kind, and the only thing you really have to go on by buying and reading material from a self-publisher are reviews, if available, or word-of-mouth, which can be unreliable. And writers who opt to self-publish run the risk of a publishing stigma that maintains if you self-publish, it has to suck. Thankfully, I see that trend starting to change, although I suspect it will be a long row to hoe.

I have mixed feelings, and I’m sure a lot of other writers do, too. The thing that many writers fail to realize is this whole clusterfark is not about art. It’s about business (I can hear the wailing already — save it. I’m not listening, because I know I’m right and in your heart of hearts, you do too). Wail all you want, but the truth is the truth. If you can’t handle it, maybe you should be doing something else. Just sayin’.

Consider these points, if you will:

1. Whether going the route of traditional publishing as opposed to self-publishing, you are going to have to take on a bigger role in self-promoting. It is now a fact of writing life. No longer will you be able to “just” write and send in your material to a publisher and have it magically appear on the book shelves with no more effort from you. It’s not going to work that way. “Write it and they will come” does not apply. Sorry. You’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and sweat some more. Self-pubbers know this — have known it forever. Traditional publishers are going to expect you to do your part to get the word out about your book. Is it fair? Don’t care. It is what it is.

2. When is self-publishing a viable option? Well, there are a few reasons I can think of. For one, it is a smart business move to put together a small volume of shorter works and self-publish to get a buzz going about your novel. If it does well, you have something besides a smokin’ story to show a prospective publisher without compromising your material. Establish an audience — you’re going to need that, anyway.

3. For two, there is some excellent fiction that just won’t find a publisher. Why? Because it is not mainstream enough — meaning, the target audience (and if you don’t know who your target audience is, you have more problems than I can help you with) is not big enough for a publisher to make any money. The novel you’ve just written about the mating habits of the tse-tse fly is not going to appeal to more than a very small and very specialized market, no matter how well-written it is. Remember, this is a business — and this is not personal, so get your panties out of a bunch.

4. With the advent of electronic reading devices and of course, the Internet, a self-publisher has a better chance of reaching a larger audience than ever before. Not to mention opportunities afforded by digital publishing (known as “weblit” to some) in which some authors have found much success due to hard work and innovative marketing ideas.

5. Traditional publishers have a larger distribution and more resources than self-publishers. Again, this is the truth and why being published by a big house seems like the Brass Ring. But is it right for you?

So, what’s a writer to do? Stay tuned for the next post, in which I will give you my opinion of what a writer needs to think about before choosing which way to jump.

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Some of My Favorite Things

I spend a lot of time on the ‘net due to my job duties and a natural curiosity I find difficult to resist. If there’s a rabbit hole, I’m diving in it. In my travels, I have come across some pretty cool things that may help you, entertain you, or annoy you. I’m hoping for the former two :)

Morning Coffee is a Firefox extension that allows you to mark pages you visit every day, and conveniently load them with one click. I use this mostly for sites on which I click daily, such as the Breast Cancer Site or other sites where I vote daily for my favorite online fiction. Saves me from riffling through the half a million bookmarks I’ve collected. *sigh*

I have rediscovered StumbleUpon, and while this can be as big a time suck as any other online networking device (not mentioning any names, *coughtwittercough* or *sneezefacebooksneeze*) SU actually points you toward useful and interesting sites, for the most part. You can give the thumbs down to those that don’t meet your standards and a thumbs up to outstanding pages. Be prepared to lose a couple of days down a black hole until you get used to it. There’s a Firefox add-on that will provide a toolbar to make it even more convenient, curse them. Heh.

If you need a few minutes away and you like puzzles, here’s a small one that provides a little entertainment. Only took me about 15 minutes. Fun :)

And, if you’re having a bad day and you are thinking about how dumb you are sometimes, fear not! There are people having a much worse day than you are, and if you need proof, just click here. I literally laughed until I cried.

Sometimes, you just need a boost to get the creative juices flowing. This page gives some great prompts guaranteed to put a boot right up your Muse’s….uh, nether regions.

Speaking of boots and the Muse, 3Words is a perfect place to get your fiction on if you feel as if you just can’t fit it in. Three prompt words are given daily, and you write 100 words (or more, it’s flexible, but I like the challenge of only 100 words to work with) every day building a complete story by month’s end. I love it, and if I can fit 100 fiction words in a day, so can you. Registration is free, and the stories being built are great fun to read.

This article is a couple of years old, but it really details out the health hazards that face working writers. I like to refresh my memory of how dangerous this job really is.

And, speaking of the writer’s life, here’s an article that really lays it all out. An honest appraisal of the lighter side of the pen.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. BACK UP YOUR DATA, PEOPLES. I’ve lost more stuff than I can remember, sadly, because of my lazy backup practices. Mozy is a free online backup system, up to 2MB, and you can configure it to run as often as you like. Mine runs automatically twice a day, and is an important part of my overall Backup Plan. All info is stored offline, which is nice in case something happens to your flash drive, CDs, or hardcopies of your material.

That’s about all I have for this week. Yep, enough there to distract you for a couple of hours. Hey, I’m not going down that rabbit hole by myself!!

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Fabulous Fiction Friday – An Interview With MeiLin Miranda

As you can see, I’ve been re-vamping the site due to a server move. It’s still a work in process, and it’s eaten up my time this week like I eat Peanut M&Ms when I’m stressed. Still, I was fortunate enough to catch up with MeiLin and ask her some interesting questions about her experiences as an indie writer and publisher. Take notes, my poppets, because this woman is a dynamo. Not only talented and smart as a whip (heh!), she’s got a handle on this indie publishing monster and you would do very well to study what she’s done and emulate it. Lovers and Beloveds is a ripping good tale, and is not only available in serial form, updated twice a week, but also as an e-book in several formats and hardcopy due mid-October.

1. What was the inspiration for “An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom” and how did you get started?

It started as a serial daydream I’d tell myself—the story of Warin and Emmae. I read a Neil Gaiman quote to the effect that daydreams were perfectly good story ideas, which astounded me. Foolish writer, I’d never considered such a thought. So I started with that.

Later I gave it to a good friend to read who’s a sociologist, and she started asking me all these questions! What was the society like around them, who were these people, what languages did they speak, what was the relationship between their two countries, and on and on! I found I enjoyed answering her questions, and the next thing I knew, there were Temmin, Teacher and the Greater Kingdom of Tremont and Litta. (She’s still asking pesky questions, by the way, and I’m still enjoying answering them.)

2. What would you say is the most difficult aspect of writing a serial for the web?

There’s the obvious answer: You’re meeting a weekly, or usually more-than-weekly, deadline. At its height I was writing a 2,000 word update three times a week.

But for me, what’s been hardest is figuring out when you’ve got a serial and when you’ve got a novel. Halfway through what I thought was book three of the History I realized I did not have a serial; I could not sustain the story through ten years of this young man’s life at the pace we were going. I had to start over, and I lost a substantial chunk of audience in the process. They’re coming back as the word is spreading that I’m back, but I think a lot of those who aren’t coming back may not realize that this is a very different story; they think it’s a line edit of the original and they’re not going to come back until I get to what they think is the end of book three. By the time I’m on the real book three, we’re going to be years past the end of what I thought was book three. They’ll miss a lot of story.

But I digress.

The other hard thing is that a lot of the time you’re writing first draft/last draft. Right now, the History is serializing in its final form. It’s the best I could do with that story. But my current serial “Scryer’s Gulch,” a work that can be sustained long term and open ended, is first draft/last draft; sometimes it really shows, embarrassingly so. I usually finish it, give it a quick polish, and post it within an hour or less of finishing it. It’s stated at the top that in the grand tradition of the soap opera it’s fd/ld and any plot holes will be explained away—no do-overs. So you gets what you get with the Gulch.

3. What makes your site unique among the other serial webfic sites on the Internet?

Oh gods, I don’t know. Probably the community that’s formed around it. I have amazing readers, really an erudite, funny, charming, wonderful group of people. Very little in the way of flames, supportive of me and each other, but not fawning.

A bunch went to Webcomics Weekend, I think it was last year, as a group and handed out fliers for me; I was told later by some artists that I have an extremely good-looking fan base. So there’s that, too.

4. What is the one thing that has surprised you the most about your audience?

That I have one.

5. Name the most important thing an aspiring writer should invest in regarding their work.

Time with the keyboard and/or pen, and editing. Accept constructive criticism with grace, not defensiveness. Where you’re defensive, you’re very probably wrong. That doesn’t mean the criticism’s always going to be right; I ignored some things my editor said as well as my beta group. I was right and they were wrong on those points. But they were more right than wrong on the whole—far more so.

6. Where do you see the direction of publishing as a whole headed?

I see the Big Six continuing to insist that they’re selling paper, not books. I see them continue to overprice ebooks. This opens up huge opportunities for independent writers, and for midlist authors to take their pulped-and-forgotten back catalog and make some dough. JA Konrath is not that unusual; he’s no more a fluke than any successful traditionally published writer is. This is a tough business, always has been.

7. What is the most valuable writing advice you’ve ever received?

Read, and when you read something you love, pick it to shreds and figure out how the writer did it. That, and write what you love: if you love mysteries, write mysteries. If you love literary fiction, write that. I love fantasy and Victoriana, so that’s what I write.

8. Tells us about your future plans for IHGK and Scryer’s Gulch.

Oh gods. Well, I’ve begun book two of IHGK, which is tentatively titled “Mothers and Fathers.” I have it outlined, and longtime fans will have their little minds blown, I’ll tell you that much. If you think you know what happens, oh boy, you so do not.

Over at the Gulch, my plans are to keep the goings-on good and soapy. I’m working on a piece about genial Deputy and hapless werecritter Rabbit Runnels for an anthology. Just got a handle on it this morning.

9. If there was one thing you could do over again in this process, what would it be and why?

I would have taken myself more seriously earlier. It would have saved me, I think, from conceiving the History as a serial.

10. I know this is like choosing a favorite child, but who is your favorite character of all your written works?

Oh boy. I have to say Temmin. He’s such a goon. He’s handsome, intelligent, and can be quite charming when he feels like it–and he’s a complete dope. Because he’s eighteen and that’s how teenagers roll.

I’m also very fond of Maleen Polls, a madam from IHGK, and the resident Gulch madam, the demon Mamzelle. Apparently I have a thing for madams. But that’s three, not one! I love them all, really, even the super bad guys like Hildin.

Many thanks to MeiLin for answering my nosy questions! The hardcover is available for pre-order here, and if you prefer your books in an ebook format, MeiLin has made options available to you at this link. Of course, you can always visit her site every Monday and Friday for the latest chapter.

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Going to Market

When you become involved in writing, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, the last thing you may think about is marketing. I’m a writer, you say, not a marketer. If I wanted to be involved in marketing, well then, that’s what I’d be doing. And you’re right. Up to a point.

All writers must be prepared to enter the marketing ring. No one does it alone, not even the ones with the juicy publishing contracts. Indie writers have known this for decades. Finishing a book is just the beginning. Now, you really have to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Promoting your work and interacting with people is a difficult thing to do for many writers. By nature, most of us are introspective, withdrawn, and introverted. You may feel as if promotion is similar to bragging, and no one likes a braggart. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but the fact remains if you have a quality product and you want to get it out into the world, you need to own it and promote it. To this end, here is a list of things you can do to market your book and hopefully, create a stir that will attract the People Who Pay Money for Words. Some of these things you have probably already done long ago, but if you haven’t, it’s time to get cracking.

1. You’ll need a quality website and a regular blogging schedule. Make sure you reply to the people kind enough to comment, and offer a free sample of your work or examples of the types of stories you write. Include a picture, as people love to put a face to a name.

2. Establish your identity on the major social network platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Post updates regularly. Work on getting an audience before you start pimping out your book, because social sites shouldn’t be only an outlet for that. They’re social connection sites, so friends and family are great. This is the beginning of your Army of Minions.

3. Join groups that reflect your own interests. There’s strength in numbers, and the people you meet may have other ideas that can help you get your project off the ground.

4. Trade ads with other websites. Get yourself a nice-looking badge or ad (easy to do yourself, or if you’re not competent in that direction, buy or trade services to get you one – maybe a good friend knows how to do it and can supply you or teach you) and offer to host another writer’s ad if they host yours. Make sure it contains a link to your website so when people click on it, they get what they’re looking for.

5. Do you have classmates or friends from college, writer’s workshops, or the like? Send them a friendly email and tell them about your finished novel. Wouldn’t you love to hear about one of them successfully completing their project? Of course you would! (The pins in the voodoo doll come later.)

6. Speaking of email, insert into your email a signature with a link to where people can buy your book. And since we’re speaking of signatures, include a link to your website and/or your purchasing portal in any forum signatures. Make it easy for interested people to find you.

7. Volunteer to supply potential reviewers with free copies of your book (in electronic or hard copy form) in exchange for a review on their website. Suggest a follow-up of an interview, which can be done in the form of a Q&A through email.

8. Visit the indie bookshops in your area and chat up the owner. Offer to come in for a book signing.

9. Local colleges are a great place to post fliers, with permission, of course, and you can also ask if the English department is interested in a guest lecturer on writing. Of course you’re qualified, you just published a book, didn’t you?

10. Create a book trailer and post it on YouTube. I know, I don’t know how either, but I have friends who do and I bet you do, too.

11. Run a contest on your blog with cool prizes like an autographed copy of your genius and a shiny keychain. People love shiny keychains.

12. Look into the world of podcasting. It is one of the fastest growing parts of the social media monster, and could become a major part of your marketing campaign. There are plenty of resources to teach how to podcast, why to podcast, and where to podcast.

Is marketing a lot of work? Sure is, buddy. Most of the suggestions I’ve laid out here are easy and can be done from the comfort of your own keyboard. Some of them require you to go out among people. Others may need the application of brain cells while you conquer yet another learning curve. But, this isn’t the time to whine about how difficult it is. Now is the time for you to put on your Big Girl/Boy Pants and get moving.

The question is, how bad do you want it? Did you write that book just to impress your mother? I didn’t think so. Now, get out there and do something. All it takes is for one person in the right place at the right time and things can go boom. Keeping your work of art in the dark isn’t going to do you a lot of good. Shine the light, baby, and be persistent. Be patient. Keep busy. Stay humble.

Work hard. The rest will come.

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