Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Look Inside: Self-Publishing


I used to think of self-published authors as a small group of wild-eyed visionaries who kept their excess inventory on pallets in their garage and sold books from the trunk of their car. That was years ago and I was wrong.

Now with e-books and companies such as Amazon, Smashwords and Lulu, self-publishing is affordable, practical and increasingly popular. One of the savviest authors I know, Edie Ramer, is here today to give us the heads-up on self-publishing and her debut novel "Cattitude."





Edie is a foundering member of the blogs: Magical Musings http://magicalmusings.com/ and the Write Attitude http://www.writeattitude.net/. Her writing has won numerous awards. In the Wisconsin Romance Writers, Edie is both a friend and a mentor to many of us. I’m delighted to know her and I believe you’ll learn a lot from today's post. Here's her October message:

Header by Samulli


13 Reasons I Chose to Self-Publish -- and
Why Other Writers Might, Too

1. "Cattitude" had already been shopped around. I wrote "Cattitude" six years ago and had an agent, but he quit the business less than a year later. I had written a blurb on my old Website about "Cattitude" and people would e-mail me and ask when I was going to publish. So I knew this was a story people wanted to read. Plus, I’m a better writer now than I was six years ago. I kept most of the book as is, but with help from some beta readers (waving madly to Jody Wallace!), I made it a better book. It deserved to sell.


2. Self-publishing is empowering. More empowering than I expected. It’s like finally being old enough to drink and going to… oops, wrong analogy. Like finally getting out of prison… oops, wrong again. Like putting on the red shoes that belonged to Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and realizing you had the power all along. No one is stopping you from getting your books published. It's like walking forever and then discovering that you have wings and can fly.


3. I’ve come so close to being published that my wings have been singed. I’ve won RWA contests for four different books. I’ve had short stories published in print books. I was a finalist in the American Title V contest with, "Dead People" (which should be online soon.) I’ve had close calls with other books. I’ve had -- count 'em -- four agents. And to top it off, in a review of "Cattitude," Jody Wallace recently praised my use of commas.


4. I write “different” books. I feel a bit like my heroine in the next book I’m self-publishing, the aforementioned "Dead People." Though I don’t talk to dead people like she does, I do feel a bit of an outsider. One of my beta readers for "Cattitude" said that she loved it but could see why it didn’t sell. It doesn’t fit into the genres, or even subgenres, and the agents/editors love to know where to position books. Yes, I know that many of you are thinking it’s shocking that there’s no genre for cat fiction. Obviously a big mistake, but so far that hasn’t happened. I could write to the current market, but I have a low threshold of boredom, and I like to write books that are a bit different. If the cat in "Cattitude" was a shifter, that might be more common. Instead, she changes bodies (or souls) with a woman on the run from a murderer. The cat’s soul is in the woman’s body, and the woman is running scared and hungry in the cat’s. (That’s my subplot, which I love almost as much as Belle the cat’s.)


5. The publishing industry is growing tighter. I know some midlist writers who consistently earn out their advance, yet their publishers are letting them go. A friend has done really well with her last book, but her publisher is giving her less money for her new contract. Less everything else, too. Publishers are running a bit scared and looking for the next BIG book. Try as I might, I’m not a BIG book writer. But I’m hoping I can be that little one who keeps growing and growing and growing. (I’m talking about my readers, not my weight!)


6. The stigma against self-publishing (or indie publishing) is pretty much gone. Part of the reason for the stigma was that people were paying to have their books published. We all know that money is supposed to go to the writer, not away from her. With digital publishing, that’s changed. Because a friend did my cover, I didn’t pay for my fabulous cover (though she’s working on my second cover now, and I’m insisting on paying her for it). Plus, I’ve had friends whose professional skills I trust read "Cattitude" for me (waving "hi" to Jody Wallace again), so I didn’t pay for editing services, either.


7. The money. If you sell your book for very reasonable prices on Amazon (I think between $2.99 and $9.99), you get 70% of every book sold. For Smashwords, it’s 85%. The other places vary. There's no way you’ll get that big of a percentage in print publishing. Yes, I know if a print publisher is behind you, you can get great placement in stores and they have other perks, too. And I hope you find a place like that. But if you don’t, you now have other options.. You can read more about the money part here. http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/09/ebook-pricing.html


8. Second chances – aka “other options.” There’s a story I’ve told on my own blog, about a man who walked down a street and fell into a hole. The next day the same thing happened. The third day he walked around it. It went like this for a while, and finally he got the brilliant idea of taking another route. It’s taken me much longer than that man to see that there’s another route. My dream was always to hold my book in my hand, and when I let go of the dream, that’s when those wings started to sprout on my back. I didn’t find the other route, I flew to it.


9. J.A. Konrath and Karen McQuestion. I’ve been reading Konrath’s blogs in which he’s been talking about how much money he’s making from his e-books. At first I thought, sure, he’s making money. He’s published in print. He has a following. But then he had Karen McQuestion as a guest last spring. She’d put her first e-book on Amazon less than a year previously, she’d been unpublished in fiction, yet she outsold Konrath. There went my excuse. After reading that, I emailed my CP, critique partner and told her I was going to self-publish "Cattitude." She told me to go for it.


10. Zoe Winters, role model. Zoe’s been a well-known indie writer for a couple years. We were friends before she put up her first novella, and I’ve watched her do really well with her three novellas (and soon a full-length book!). She’s given me a lot of great advice. In addition to being my role model, she’s my mentor.


11. I don’t want the day to come when I’d think “I wish I would have done that.” There’s a famous quote that Marlon Brando, playing an ex-boxer turned dockworker, said in the 1954 Oscar-winning movie, "On the Waterfront": “I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody. ...” Unlike Brando’s character, I’m not letting anyone keep me out of the ring. I’m not going to be a “coulda been.”


12. "Cattitude" is just the first. I have other books that deserve to be read, too. The means are available, so I’d be a fool not to do this.


13. It gives me an excuse not to clean the house. My CP made booklets with the first two chapters, and I think seeing and holding the booklets made it seem real to my husband. He’s proud of me and he’s taken the booklets to work and a few other places. It’s very sweet.
Thanks to Brenda and the Underworld Diners for having me here. And extra thanks to Brenda for the great topic suggestion!
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Are any of you thinking of putting your books on Amazon and the other sites? Even my published friends are putting up their backlist books. What about you?

Edie has graciously offered to give away a free e-copy of "Cattitude" to a lucky person commenting on her work and her counsel. I’m reading "Cattitude" and really enjoying it.

59 comments:

  1. I am in the process of putting my series in print on my own. For me it is to reach my target audience. The more I learn about things, the happier I am with my decisions.
    Best of luck to you!
    Happy T13!

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  2. Good for you. A lot of people I know are self-publishing now and doing well. I think it's a great option, especially for books that are a little bit different.

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  3. Love the way she presented her analogy on self-publishing and empowerment. Thanks for this informative post.

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  4. Adelle Laudan,
    That's great. More and more of my writing friends are with you. Self publishing is a growing trend.

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  5. Shelley Munro,
    I love hearing tales of success and right now lots of my friends are having good experiences with publishing on their own.

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  6. Hazel,
    Thanks. I agree with you. Edie's positive post is inspiring. :0)

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  7. Adelle, I hope your experience is as good as mine. Best of luck to you, too!

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  8. Shelly, a lot of published writers are putting their backlists on digital, too. It's a great opportunity for all authors.

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  9. Hazel, I'm glad I inspired you. I know a lot of writers who will be diving into the self-publishing pond with me.

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  10. I'm glad you had such success and wanted to educate on the subject.

    As the industry changes I find it easier every day for people to understand digital and digital first publishing, but self-publishing is still a mystery to many as far as the differences and the work involved.

    Best of luck to all with sales!

    Happy TT,

    ~Xakara

    13 Foods For Breast Health

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  11. Xakara, I feel pretty good right now just selling Cattitude and knowing people are reading it and getting great comments. I'll feel successful when I'm in the top 100.

    Smashwords is a good place to start for anyone interested in going digital. If anyone wants advice, feel free to contact me.

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  12. Hi Belle! We hope you're having great sales. Oh, hi to Edie, too, I suppose.

    Meankitty & Jody Wallace

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  13. Hi Jody & Meankitty. MK, sorry I didn't wave madly to you, too.

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  14. Edie,
    I'm so glad you're here. Thanks.

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  15. Xakara,
    You're right. Many things are changing with the digital world.

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  16. Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Edie. It's interesting how the image of self0publishing has changed over the years. I confess to being wary of it myself, but many of the "classic" greats such as Dickens and Ben Franklin were once self-pubbed.

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  17. I know what you mean by a low threshold for boredom. It's lead me to write some "unpublishable" books, too.

    Great list this week.

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  18. Heather,
    I hadn't thought of Ben Franklin as a self-publisher, but you're right. Self-Publishing goes way back.

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  19. Alice Audrey,
    I'm with you and Edie. I like to play in my fiction too.

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  20. Brenda, I'm so glad you invited me. This is a fun place.

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  21. Heather, Mark Twain self-published much of his work. So did Edgar Rice Burroughs with his Tarzan books. No publisher would buy them.

    I know self-published authors who are doing well now... and some not so well. But it's the same with NY print published authors.

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  22. Alice, maybe I'll see your unpublishable books online sometime.:)

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  23. That's really interesting. I always wondered.


    Have a great Thursday!
    http://harrietandfriends.com/2010/10/hey-reeses-cup-36-cal-doesnt-mean-you-can-eat-two/

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  24. Thanks for the insight into your decision and sharing what you've learned.

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  25. Interesting post, with lots of good points for self-publishing. Good comments, too. Thanks for sharing.

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  26. Harriet, I'm hungry for Reese's Peanut Butter cups now. And I'd eat two of them. At least.

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  27. I am Harriet,

    I'm glad you found Edie's post interesting. I did too.

    You set a high bar with your posts, and you have me working hard to try and keep up.

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  28. Ella Drake,
    It is interesting finding out what other writers are up to. I'm glad people like you and Edie share your experience.

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  29. Ella, I'm glad you found my post interesting.

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  30. CountryDew, J.A. Konrath is a font of knowledge on this subject. I follow Zoe Winters' blogs, too.

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  31. CountryDew,
    I agree with you. I think it's cool to learn what options exist for writers who would like to share their stories. Thanks for stopping by.

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  32. Hey, Edie. It is a very inspiring blog. Thanx. I love hearing when someone takes matters into their own hands and make their dreams come true. (Sounds like Cinderella. LOL).

    Cattitude is a terrific book and I know you're going to do well with it.

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  33. Liz, that's too funny. If I were Cinderella, the shoe would probably hurt. I'd tell the prince to marry someone else, that I didn't need him.

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  34. Liz,
    You are right on! Edie inspires me too. She's making her dream come true and we're lucky, we get to be a small part of her success.

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  35. Good for you, Edie.

    I'm published with a small e-pub/small press, but if I ever decide to go your route in the future I won't hesitate. Besides, I'll know who to come to for advice. Wink!

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  36. Awww, thanks for the shout out, Edie! :)

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  37. Sandy, feel free to email me. People are helping me, and I'm happy to pay it forward.

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  38. Zoe, any time! You're my role model/

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  39. Interesting ideas, glad to have read them! I know more and more writers who are headed in the self-publishing direction.

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  40. Sherilee, it was a good decision for me. I'm happy.

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  41. Sandy,
    Kudos on being published and I wish you the best in your future writing.

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  42. sherilee,
    Yeah, self-publishing is a growing trend, but I realized through others'comments it's been around a long, long time.

    I'm glad this post caught your interest. Thanks.

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  43. Edie,
    Thanks, you've been an awesome guest. I'd have you visit again in a heartbeat. Kudos, on Cattitude's release. I wish you many sales.

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  44. Very informative post. Thanks for sharing.

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  45. I love Thursdays for the simple fact that I get to rub shoulders with an entirely different group of bloggers. My husband has been after me to write an e-cookbook. It's a completely different animal than fiction. The jury is still out.

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  46. Kristen,
    Yeah, I like to meet different people too. If you do write an e-cookbook, please let me know. I like cookbooks.

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  47. Raylee, I hope I gave you something to think about.

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  48. Kristen, that would be fun. And you have your husband's backing! That's great!

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  49. Brenda, it's been a blast. Thanks again for inviting me.

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  50. Michelle, you've won an e-copy of Cattitude. Congratulations! I'll contact.

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  51. Ack! Not Michelle, but Heather. Sorry, I was thinking of my friend as I was typing.

    Congratulations, Heather! I'll contact you.

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  52. Great post Edie. I too have decided to publish some of my work through the kindle and smashwords.

    NY right now isn't buying what I want to write, so I figure I will self-pub it instead and still reach my readers.

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  53. NY right now isn't buying what I want to write, so I figure I will self-pub it instead and still reach my readers.

    Vivi, good for you. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

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  54. Edie Ramer said...
    Raylee, I hope I gave you something to think about.


    Yes, you have. And thanks. I've been basically on my own writing my novel series and didn't start interacting with other writers until this summer. What you blogged about hit home since my series doesn't seem to fit anywhere.

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  55. Raylee, I went through that for too long. If you do self-pub, let me know when your book is out.

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  56. Vivi Anna,
    I wish you the best in your publishing. Please let us know when your books come out.

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  57. Raylee,
    I think the best stories are unique and right now it seems self-publishing is really growing.

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