InsecureWritersSupportGroup

It’s that time of the month again, first Wednesday, which means, it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group:

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

 

A few weeks back, I was talking online with a group of writers. Someone new expressed an interest in indie publishing her book but wasn’t sure how to go about it. She then asked, “I have to do everything myself, don’t I?”

I remember thinking along these lines when I first started writing. After all, the term self-publishing, or indie (independent) publishing suggests a certain degree of autonomy. The thing is, this is not to be confused with DIY (Do-It-Yourself). In fact, an author who is starting out will be doing herself a disservice if she tries to publish a book with no other help. She may think she’s really good at what she’s doing but it will show (it always does).

Let’s look at some of the steps towards self-publishing that might be better to be hired out:

  • editing
  • cover art and design
  • formatting and typesetting

I would say that hiring a professional editor is one the most important steps in self-publishing. There are many options available nowadays and I suggest you ask around for recommendations, do your research, and send for free editing samples until you find and editor that is right for you. It’s an investment that you won’t regret.
A book really is judged by its cover. You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of the reader and a professionally designed cover is another step worth the investment.
Formatting and typesetting may seem like cosmetic choices, but presenting your book in the most attractive, professional fashion will only increase its value. Plus, readers nowadays are very savvy and demanding, and details do matter.

You may be in a position to barter for some of these services, or even form a cooperative of writers with different skills: one who’s good at editing, another at proofreading, yet another who can format book interiors, someone who’s good with photography and Photoshop. You get the idea. Pooling skills and resources benefits everyone in the group without having to make a monetary investment. Or, you may also take the time to learn some of these skills, with the knowledge that your investment in time is a medium to long term one and that you can’t expect to do it in just a few weeks.

Let’s not forget about  other steps not directly related to publishing a book but more on the business side:

  • marketing and advertising
  • blog/website creation and hosting
  • copyright
  • business license
  • taxes

Some of these you may be able to do yourself, or learn how to do, and others you might actually need to get help for. Or again, a cooperative with a few business-savvy individuals would be a good idea as well.

My point is, self-publishing your book is not an occasion to show off your scrimping. You want to publish the best product you can show to the world, and sometimes that means hiring out others who are better than you at things you can’t do.

Concentrate on writing the best story you can. Then, surround yourself with people who can help you make it shine.

Insecure Writer #213

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What are some services you have hired out to indie publish your book? What are some you wish you had hired?

  • Loni TownsendJuly 2, 2014 - 10:09 AM

    You hit a lot of good points in this post!

    I hired an editor, but the rest I did myself. I actually enjoy the formatting part, because it hit close to my day job (computer programming). I also made the cover, but it was after much trial and error, and testing it with my target audience. I’ll probably hire out next time for that.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJuly 2, 2014 - 3:03 PM

      Thanks, Loni. I like to do ebook formatting so I’m doing that myself, but I hired out for the paperback formatting, as well as an editor and proofreader.ReplyCancel

  • Diane BurtonJuly 2, 2014 - 12:20 PM

    I agree. I’m a former English teacher and would never edit my own work. Geez, I completely miss missing words and the wrong homonym. Or the glaring hole in the plot. I have zippo artistic talent so a cover artist is worth every penny. I have learned how to format my books but the learning curve is steep.

    You’re absolutely right that you have to present your work the best you can.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJuly 2, 2014 - 3:02 PM

      Thanks for the visit, Diane. The truth is we can’t do it all, so hiring out only makes sense.ReplyCancel

  • emaginetteJuly 2, 2014 - 3:42 PM

    I think your mixing up self-publishing with indie publishing. I’m with two indie publishers and they do most of the work. I still have to help promote my work, but with their contacts and reviewers it’s far from Do It Yourself.

    Anna from Shout with EmaginetteReplyCancel

    • LucindaJuly 2, 2014 - 4:52 PM

      Thanks for the visit, Anna. I know the difference between a small indie publisher and an author who’s self-publishing. My point was to show that many writers today are under the assumption that they have to do everything when they’re self-publishing, and that’s not the case.
      And as for marketing, even authors with big name traditional publishers do most of their marketing work.ReplyCancel

  • Julie MusilJuly 2, 2014 - 11:12 PM

    I hired an editor and cover designer…money well spent! I formatted myself, though. A steep learning curve, but I’m so glad I learned how to do it.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJuly 3, 2014 - 12:28 PM

      I’d say cover designer and editor are good investments. Thanks for the visit, Julie.ReplyCancel

  • Patricia LynneJuly 3, 2014 - 4:27 PM

    Great points. Self publishing doesn’t equal DIY.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJuly 4, 2014 - 11:45 AM

      Thanks for the visit, Patricia. I think it’s easy to forget the options are out there.ReplyCancel

  • Kim Van SicklerJuly 3, 2014 - 6:29 PM

    Your post is so appropriate to me right now. I am self-publishing my debut novel and am learning all of this as I go along. What a fascinating journey!ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJuly 4, 2014 - 11:47 AM

      I’m right there, Kim. I’m also self-publishing my début novel, and I’m trying to learn all I can about it. Thankfully, the resources available online are invaluable. Thanks for the visit!ReplyCancel

  • AJ Lauer (@ayjaylauer)July 5, 2014 - 6:06 PM

    You are totally right about needing to have others participate in the process of making your book the best it can be! I lucked out in that my co-author is also a graphic designer, so he took care of all the appearance-related stuff. We did most of the editing last time, with just minor help from a writerly friend, and I think we might want to get a professional editor this time. This book is just so much more complicated…

    Visiting from IWSG,
    ~AJ from Naturally SweetReplyCancel

  • Michelle WallaceJuly 6, 2014 - 5:51 AM

    I always think about the saying: First impressions are lasting.
    So yes, a professional cover is a must!
    I read somewhere that according to a study on consumer behaviour, a potential buyer holds a book in his hands for approximately 3 to 5 seconds. So your cover, which is the first thing he sees, has about 5 seconds to make an impression.
    Great post!ReplyCancel

  • Kristen SteeleJuly 10, 2014 - 2:13 PM

    So true! If you want your self-published work to be successful, you’ll need to hire out help. You might be a great writer, but that doesn’t mean that you are a great editor or cover designer. The investment is worthwhile because your end product will be that much better.ReplyCancel

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It’s that time of the year! The Summer Book Trek Reading Challenge by New LDS Fiction! Keep track of your reading during the month of July and win book prizes. You don’t have to be LDS to participate, just read books by LDS authors. Click on the links above to find out how to enter. And here’s the prize page: Book Trek Prizes!

I don’t usually plan my reading list, but here are a few books I’ve been wanting to read for a while:

Falling for You by Krista Lynne Jensen;

Glimmering Light by Margot Hovley;

Porcelain Keys by Sarah Beard.

So head on over to the New LDS Fiction blog and enter the challenge!

Happy reading and Happy Summer!

  • KarleneJune 30, 2014 - 10:50 AM

    Good list. Looking forward to your reviews. :) ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 30, 2014 - 11:49 AM

      Thanks, Karlene! Hoping to find some time to read them.ReplyCancel

  • KatieJuly 12, 2014 - 10:35 AM

    Fun list! I’ve read those and have loved them. I hope you enjoy them, too!ReplyCancel

vintage torn paper

 

Torn_Canvas_Front_Full_Res_WEBVERSION

Even a hero needs rescuing sometimes…

Modern-day pirates took more than Jori Virtanen’s friends; they stole his face. Not only does the twenty-four-year-old former model have to confront months of reconstructive surgery, he discovers his previous life was as superficial as his looks. Jori struggles to make a new life for himself as an artist while evading the press. They expect a hero, but he knows the truth. His beauty masks a beast.

Olivia Howard’s given up a normal life for her job, and the sacrifices are finally paying off. The twenty-six-year-old talk-show host’s ratings are heading to the top of the charts. Her dream is to make a difference in people’s lives, but the studio wants mind fluff—like interviewing hot model Jori Virtanen. When Olivia learns the guy helped rescue passengers on a cruise excursion from kidnappers, she knows this is the story she needs to make her case. The only problem is the hero was injured, and now he’s disappeared.

The more Olivia learns about the man behind the scar, the more intrigued she becomes. But Jori is no girl’s happily ever after. Once she finds him, Olivia has to free his heart and help heal the beast.

Find the book at:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | iTUNES | KOBO | GOODREADS

 

 

My review:

I’ve been following this series, Safe Harbors, and was excited to see #2 come out (with a novella in between). A lot of the story is concurrent with the timeline of A Change of Plans, and I definitely recommend you read that one first in order to understand the characters and their stories (and read the novella Hope’s Watch while you’re at it).
In a way, this is a story of second chances. Jori has a troubled past that affects his relationships with others, especially with women. He makes new friends on the fated cruise trip, and these new friendships help him grow and understand how he can change, how he doesn’t have to live with the past, or whom he used to be. We see him progress from a jaded man into one who values others, and eventually, himself.
When Olivia comes into his life he doesn’t trust her. The relationship between Jori and Olivia is one that grows slowly into friendship, as unlikely as it seems in the beginning. Olivia is a strong character, and one who learns to understand Jori.
The settings are expertly done, and the characters come to life through the dialogue, which is natural and very well done. It was great to see the whole cast of characters in some scenes, and catch up with them to have the whole vision. All in all, a very satisfying read and a great installment in this series.

 

I first asked to interview Donna, but then I thought it would be more fun to ask Jori a few questions. ;)

Q: If you could choose only one time period to live, when and why would that be?
Jori: “No historical times for me. There’s nothing romantic about stinking and dying before you’re fifty. Have you seen the life expectancy even a hundred years ago? I mean, look at 1918. The life expectancy was under forty.” [Jori grins, the scar on his left cheek pinching a little, giving him a rakish look.] “Besides, I like my modern conveniences, like antibiotics and fast food. And video games.”

Q: If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Jori: “That’s an easy one. If I didn’t have reasons for staying in the States, I think I’d move back to Finland. Smart people there. Great education system.”

Q: If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why?
Jori: “How about me? I’ve always wondered if I could act.”

 

Thanks, Jori, for the candid answers!:)

 

Donna Weaver-20 (Copy)

 

Donna K. Weaver is the author of the Safe Harbors series and Second Chances 101, Book 5 in the Ripple Effect series. A wife, mother, grandmother, Harry Potter geek, Army veteran, and karate black belt.

 

Find Donna at:
Blog | Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | YouTube | Google+

 

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A few weeks back I had the chance to attend an all-day conference in Provo with the Indie Author Hub.

DSC01475(Hey, look, that’s me in the second table on the right side. Thanks for the picture, Donna!)

Amy Harmon was the keynote speaker, and one of the main reasons why I attended this event. Amy’s awesome and kind of deserves her own blog post, so that will be for another time.

There were several break-out classes with the intent of helping indie writers with the business of publishing a book, including writing, creating covers, and selling your book.

One of classes I took was taught by Abel Keogh, who has extensive experience with marketing on his day job.

His class was called “The 5 Best Ways to Market Your Book”:

#5— Know your audience well. It seems kind of obvious, but you can’t market if you don’t know who the audience is. By reading reviews (both positive and negative), blog comments, etc, you can get a firmer grasp on this.

#4— Target your media blasts. This goes hand in hand with the previous one. Once you know your audience, you can target your efforts more efficaciously. For instance, if you plan a blog tour, arrange it with blogs that cater to the same genre as your book.

#3— Blogging, which can be either frustrating or effective. Some simple ways to make it work better for you is by having entertaining and informative content; by NOT making it about your books (your readers will get tired of the same subject all the time); by making your blog a place where readers want to go (refer to #4 and #5); by writing to your target audience, and by blogging regularly (and even on the same day).

#2— Email Newsletters. Don’t send the newsletter unless you have something worthy to say (like announcements about a new book coming out). When sending announcements and other news, share them on the newsletter first, and then on other platforms.

#1— Write a new book. And why is the best way to market your book writing another one? Because word of mouth is the best marketing tool. With each new book published, your readership will increase, and so will the word of mouth referrals.

And there you have it. Five simple ways that help market your new book, but simple always works better. Thanks, Abel, for the tips.

A common complaint I hear from readers against indie (or self-published) books is the lack of editing. With Amazon and other platforms making it so easy to publish, there are lots of writers who upload a book without any kind of edits, which is painfully obvious from the first few pages. There are also lots and lots of other writers who do work their most in making sure their book is the very best, which means rounds of edits, among other steps. In the last 2-3 years I’ve discovered new indie authors who have become my favorite ones to read and they are true professionals in every sense of the word.

And, of course, being published with a traditional publisher is not a guarantee that said book will be free of editing mistakes. In fact, more and more I find traditionally published books with typos and mistakes that should be easy to correct, and it makes me wonder about the type of editing they do in those publishing houses.

So the question is— how many edits does a story need? And what are those edits?

edit_quote

The first draft of a novel is the raw material, the potential. Like the quote says, it’s the lump of clay waiting to be molded into something beautiful. It’s not ready for the world and it needs to go through edits and revisions.

What does this mean? Writers have different methods to do this, they have their own schedule and way of working, so I’m going to share how I’m doing it. It doesn’t mean it’s the right way or the wrong way; it’s just what  works for me.

After finishing my manuscript, I read it straight through a couple of times to look for mistakes and unclear parts. I also started looking for beta readers and critique readers. What are these? Some writers start out in critique groups, which means they belong to a group of other writers and they take turns critiquing each others’ works. There are many advantages to this, one of them being that it helps to grow the craft of a writer. I didn’t belong to such a group, but I’d been starting to make connections with other writers on Facebook groups. I had also joined the local chapter of the League of Utah Writers. I asked some of these friends if they’d have the time to read my story, and when they agreed to it, I sent it to them (in most cases, I later reciprocated the favor and read for them).

The word beta is the second letter in the Greek alphabet, and in the writing world a beta reader means the second person to read the story (the writer is the first one, obviously). Sometimes these betas are other writers who write in similar genres, and other times they’re readers in the target market for your book, which means they read a lot of books in that genre, and are very familiar with the ins and outs of it. This is good because they can point out the things that don’t work in your story.

Simply put, my immediate goal in having beta and critique readers was to find out if my story was absolute crap or if it had any merits and potential. I sent it to four writers and the initial feedback was quite positive. I applied some of their suggestions, and then sent it out to four other beta readers for more general opinions, did another round of edits, and sent it out again to four other beta readers. All in all, I had twelve beta readers (with a mix of writers and genre readers) in three rounds of four with revisions in between.

I then put my manuscript aside for six months while I worked on other projects (I started writing my second novel and a novella). I also started looking for an editor, a free-lance professional editor. In my research about editing I learned there are developmental (or content) editors, copy editors, and proofreaders (when working with traditional publishers, there are also acquisition editors and contract editors, but I’ll skip those since I’m publishing my book independently). What does it all mean?

  • Developmental or content editors look for mistakes and inconsistencies in characterization, structure, plot, conflict, and pacing of the story.
  • Copy editors deal with punctuation and grammar, sentence structure, consistency errors, and technical considerations (when needed).
  • Proofreaders take the last sweep, so to speak, and they look for mistakes, typos, formatting problems, and double check corrections.

Most editors will do a free sample edit to see if you’re compatible. I highly recommend a sample. I sent about six or seven samples to different editors, and I found those editors through recommendations from writer friends and authors whose style and books I love. I asked around a lot, took my time with research and the edit samples, and when I found my editor, I knew she was the right one for me.

Obviously, this is a process that takes time, but I believe that anything worth doing is worth doing well, and I’m on my own timeline. That’s one of the advantages of indie publishing—I can make my own schedule, and take the time to work through the edits. In the end, my book will be much better than that first draft was, and it will show for it.

If you’re a writer, what part of the editing process is your favorite? And if you’re a reader, does a poorly edited book keep you from liking the story?

  • Crystal CollierJune 11, 2014 - 12:27 PM

    You know, I like the entire process. Granted, I may prefer the second draft because it’s so malleable and you’re really looking to stretch, strengthen and amp it up in every regard. I guess it’s the creativity involved after the raw clay is sitting in front of you.

    As a reader, I don’t mind a typo or five, but when a word is used wrong or a character motivation is off, that’s when I debate putting the story down.ReplyCancel

    • LucindaJune 11, 2014 - 12:59 PM

      Agreed, Crystal. The other day I picked up a book by Bethany House and on the first page of the first chapter the word “prosperity” was used instead of “posterity” (in relation to photographs). That was it for me, I had to put the book down.ReplyCancel

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