Posts Tagged With: indie writer

Give a warm and bloody welcome to horror author, Mandy White!!!

Image of Mandy WhiteSo glad to have you here today Mandy! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

~ I’m a Canadian horror writer from Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I love the outdoors and prefer the wilderness to the city.

What do you do when you are not writing?

~ When I’m not writing I can usually be found outdoors. I live a block from the beach so I spend a lot of time at the lake, fishing, swimming and boating. I also love to garden and spend most of my summer making my yard beautiful.

Most people would KILL to live near the beach (no pun intended. LOL!) Do you have a day job as well?

~ I quit my day job about eight years ago when a disability made me unable to do that job anymore. I looked for alternative ways to earn money. Six years ago I became a freelance writer and since then, writing has been my only job. I made the transition from content writer to novelist three years ago.

So when did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

~ I have enjoyed writing ever since I was a child, and always dreamed of being an author someday. When I reached the age of 40 I realized that ‘someday’ was never going to arrive unless I made it happen. I finished my first book in 2010. It was ‘The Jealousy Game’ – a short self-help book on dysfunctional relationships. It is my only non-fiction book.

How did you choose the genre you write in?

~ I don’t know if I chose it or it chose me. I’ve always been a fan of the macabre and an avid reader of horror books. It seemed natural that I would want to write the type of books I would be interested in reading.

Where do you get your ideas?

~ Ideas are everywhere. Everything I see on a daily basis is a potential story idea. Where most people might see a pretty flower garden, I’m imagining bodies buried underneath. I also get a lot of ideas from dreams. My novelette ‘The Immigrant’ is based on a dream I had almost twenty years ago. My first novel, ‘Avenging Annabelle’ is also based on an idea from a dream.

I hope those ideas let you get some sleep! 😀 Haha. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

~ Never. I have too many ongoing projects to ever get writer’s block. If I get stuck on one story, I put it aside and switch to another. I think the reason a lot of writers get blocked is they try to force something that isn’t there. It’s like trying to remember something that’s at the tip of your tongue but the harder you try, the more elusive it is. When you stop trying to remember and focus on something else, it pops into your head. For me, writing is just like that. Switch focus and the blocks disappear.

That’s great advice! Do you work with an outline, or just write?

~ I’m primarily a pantser. (write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writer) I find that most stories develop as I write, so outlining isn’t something I spend much time on. Sometimes I will write a rough outline if I know what’s going to happen in a story, so I don’t forget important details.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

~ Stephen King is one of my favorites. I also read a lot of Dean Koontz. The thing that I like most about Koontz’s work is the way he makes the implausible seem plausible. I think the book that stands out most in my memory from my childhood is ‘A Wrinkle in Time’.

Oooh I love ‘A Wrinkle in Time!’ Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

~ As an independent author, I had to learn as I went and made a few crucial mistakes in the beginning. The first was being too eager to publish and putting out an unpolished work riddled with typos. The second was not hiring an editor to polish that work and eliminate those typos. I fooled myself by thinking I could effectively edit my own work. The third mistake I made was thinking that a book’s cover didn’t matter. The first edition of The Jealousy Game has a hideous generic template cover. Avenging Annabelle’s first cover was a poorly done cover I made myself.

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?

~ There is one thing I would definitely change if I could: With my first books I focused entirely on publishing the print version rather than the ebook. I didn’t understand the value or importance of ebooks. Like many new authors, I thought that only ‘real’ books counted. As a result, I was very disappointed with my sales. (what sales?) The fact is, ebooks outsell paper books by a huge margin. It is also easy to make corrections in a digital version. Sure, you can correct a paperback edition just as quickly but once those typo-riddled paperbacks are out there, you can never take them back. Now, I always release the ebook first and follow with the paperback only after I am satisfied all the bugs have been worked out.

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

~ I don’t devote a lot of time to marketing. I’d rather be writing. I rely mostly on readers finding my books linked together on Amazon. The best marketing tool for a book is another book by the same author. I do a lot of networking through social media, particularly Facebook. I have met a lot of great people on Facebook and I’m incredibly grateful for all they have taught me. That, to me is far more valuable than any sales pitch I could come up with.

Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?

~ I am an indie author and also an independent publisher so this has never been an issue. I have full control over every aspect of my publishing.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

~ My latest book, The Feeder, is a gruesome and bloody novel that straddles the line between thriller and horror. It is about an individual obsessed with avenging a murdered twin sister. It is not for the squeamish, as several readers have observed. There is a monumental twist right in the middle of the story that I guarantee you won’t see coming.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

~ I interweave little details from my own life into almost all of my stories. It’s fun combining reality with imagination to create a realistic tale.

That is definitely a fun way to write! What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

~ I think the chapter I had the most fun writing was ‘Bluie Louie’, the chapter in which my killer’s very first murder takes place. It begins innocently enough, with a visit to a sleazy ex-boyfriend to ask a few questions and ends with Louie dead in a pool of blood with his eyeballs carved out.

Oooooh, definitely gruesome! How did you come up with the title?

~ ‘The Feeder’ is the nickname of the serial killer in the book, named so because of the killer’s habit of feeding victims parts of themselves while they are still alive.

What project are you working on now?

~ Right now I am working on a series of charity anthologies for MS with WPaD, a group I have called Writers, Poets and Deviants. WPaD Publications is also my publishing label. Our next release will be a fantasy collection to be published July 1, 2013.

How fantastic! Will you have a new book coming out soon?

~ Aside from the three charity anthologies WPaD has planned for this year, (fantasy, post-apocalyptic and holiday, in that order) I also intend to resume work on ‘Phobia’, the novel I wrote in rough copy during last November’s NaNoWriMo. Phobia is about a reclusive woman who is afraid to leave her home due to agoraphobia and a host of other fears. When things start to get weird in her home she has to decide which is more frightening, the inside or the outside.

I’m intrigued! Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?

~ I would like to do more work with Sammie, the main character of The Feeder. That’s something that will probably happen. I already have an idea for a sequel.

Can’t wait! What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

~ The toughest criticism is the stuff that’s true. I learned about ‘show, don’t tell’ the hard way. The best compliment is when readers say they couldn’t put the book down.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Do I ever!

~ If writing is what you want to do, then do it. Just do it. No excuses.

~ Throw away any previous assumptions you might have had about publishing. The rules have changed. If you want to succeed in today’s publishing industry, then you need to learn the new rules.

~ Seek out people who are doing what you want to do, then watch what they are doing and LISTEN to the advice they offer.

~ Be smart. Don’t stumble blindly into publishing. RESEARCH! Failure to do the right research makes you easy prey for the many vulturous vanity presses that pose as ‘publishers’. If someone offers to publish your book, then asks for money, you are being scammed. If you are offered a publishing contract, seek professional advice before signing because not all contracts are alike. Find out what you are signing before you get stars in your eyes.

~ There is nothing wrong with striving for success, but be realistic with your expectations. Understand that royalty checks aren’t just going to start pouring in. Writing is not a get-rich-quick scheme – it is a slow, gradual process. It is quite possible to make a nice living from it but patience is key. The best way to sell a book is to write the next one. And the next.

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

~ I guess I’d just like to say thank you for reading. I am grateful to each and every one of you. If you find any of my stories offensive and disturbing, I hope it’s in a good way.

Thanks so much for being here today Mandy, and sharing with us your life as an author!

Go here to Mandy’s Amazon author page to check out all of her books!

And follow Mandy of facebook here.

And Mandy’s twitter handle is @MandyWrite

Readers! Don’t leave quite yet! I’ve just finished reading Mandy White’s new horror/thriller novel, The Feeder and I wrote an amazing 5 star review here. Check it out!

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Categories: Meet the Author! Interviews with Awesome Indie Authors! | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

HOW I SELF PUBLISHED WITH AMAZON’S KINDLE AND CREATE SPACE

Many people are turning to self publishing rather than the traditional publishing. I am not here to fight for one side or the other (I respect everyone’s choice to do what they think best), but I am going to explain in steps, how I self published with Amazon’s Kindle and Create Space.

You, like many people, may be trying to make that choice right now, and believe me I spent many sleepless nights tossing and turning over what I should do. And here’s the one and only reason I chose self-publishing over traditional. I’M IMPATIENT. Haha! There it is in a nutshell. There’s no big magical secret or right way or wrong way, it just comes down to time and patience (and of course being a good writer.) After LOTS of research, I came to the conclusion that it can, and in most cases, will take a VERY long time to even get accepted by an agent and then a publisher and it can be years before your book is available to buy. There also may be better financial benefits for self-pubs as opposed to traditional. But I will say it again, I am not here to get into the heated debate that lots of loyal indie authors and trad authors tend to get into.  I have never even submitted my manuscript to a literary agent or publisher (although I spent days upon days compiling lists of recommended ones so I could do just that.) A good site to do this at is Preditors and Editors, here http://pred-ed.com/.

Anyway back to the point. I chose self publishing, and I chose to do that with Kindle Direct Publishing and Amazon’s Create Space. For you newbies out there, Kindle is the digital e-book version that people purchase on their kindle, and CreateSpace is the paperback version people can order and hold in their hands.

Now that brings us to another point. Kindle and CreateSpace are just one in MANY options. There’s Smashwords, which is highly recommend as well, for they distribute to lots of different e-readers and distributors like Barnes and Noble, Nook, Kobo, Sony, IPad,etc. There’s also LULU and Lightning Source which will distribute your hardback or paperback books. The list could go on and on. (Thus, many more sleepless nights trying to decide.)

BUT, alas I had decided, and I will discuss my journey thus far and the steps you need to take to get there.

STEP 1. Have a completed book. YES, it must be all the way finished and edited over and over to a squeaky clean! Do NOT try to edit it by yourself. That is just asking for a disaster. Even editors don’t edit their own books, because your mind becomes fickle, missing your own errors over and over. So make sure your book is at it’s best before you even think about submitting it to be published. Some authors go even as far as having beta readers. They will give you feedback on things that you may overlook in the whole scheme of your story, things that don’t make sense to them, things that may not flow right, missed plot opportunities, what they do and don’t like etc.

STEP 1a. If you are doing a paperback and/or hardback book, don’t forget your book blurb for the back cover, author bio, and author picture. I took a look at some of my favorite author’s blurbs (one’s in my same genre) to help me write my own. Keep it short and sweet (only a couple of paragraphs) but make it irresistible. Why would the reader want to pick up your book and read it? Make sure they really want to without giving away any secrets or the ending of your book. Create suspense. Don’t put too much into your author bio or make it too long to where the reader looses interest. I chose to go a little more fun and quirky with mine, as I’m targeting young adults and teens. You will want your editor to take a look at your blurb as well. Have a nice author pic taken professionally or by a friend that can use as camera. 😀

STEP 2. After editing is completed then you need to get your manuscript formatted into the proper files. There’s .epub for Nook, .mobi for kindle and PDF for paperback. Research where you will have your book published (nook, kindle, kobo, sony etc) and find out which formats you need to do so. For me, hiring a formatter for minimal cost was the best option. Some authors who are technically gifted -or brave, as I like to think they are- use Calibre or other formatting software to format their own. I tried to do it myself, and alas, it was more stress and not worth it for me. That’s your choice.

STEP 3. Cover design. Step 2 & 3 can be done simultaneously (sort of.) Let me explain. If you decide to hire a book cover designer, they can go ahead and start on your ebook cover. An ebook lacks the back cover and binding. Now for your paperback and/or hardback cover, you will need to have your manuscript PDF file completely formatted and finished, because the designer needs to know the exact page count before finishing your paperback cover. The page count WILL change as you change the formatting. The designer will also need to know a few other specs of your choosing, like book size, paper color, white, cream etc. I found these options through Amazon’s Create Space where I had my paperback done. Check these options thoroughly, because some are limited and will not allow you to distribute through libraries, expanded distribution, etc. Choose your options and hand them over to your designer along with the final page count of your paperback/hardback and leave the rest to them. Again, some authors choose to design their own covers and there is also an option on Createspace to design your own. Some of these are pretty general and generic but you may find something you like and may want to keep it simple.

STEP 4. Research pricing. If you price your book at $0.99 or $1.99 (these prices are pretty good for shorter stories) you will only get 35% profit from your sales. If you price your book at $2.99 and above you will get %70. I suggest perusing through Amazon and check out books that are similar to yours. Look at how they are pricing their books. There are many different theories on pricing. Some say that you will sell more at $0.99 but then you have look at what you will be getting. Pennies, really. BUT if you sell A LOT, that can add up rather quickly. Some say it is better to price your book a bit higher between 2.99  and 4.99 because it makes the reader actually think about their purchase. If they have to think about their purchase, your book is probably something they really want to read, therefore the chances of them liking it and leaving a good review or suggesting it to others is higher. If it’s $0.99 they may just buy it because its cheap, and therefore it may not be what they usually read and could end up causing a bad review from the buyer that reflects back onto your book. Some people say you should price higher because you want the quality of your book to be reflected in the price, if it is cheap will the buyer think your book is cheaply written as well?

STEP 5. Almost done! After you get back your formatted files and book cover files, you will submit these to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and Createspace, or Smashwords and any other publisher you wish to go through. I can only speak for KDP and Createspace, as that is as far as I’ve gone thus far. You will have a nice long set-up process, to where you are asked to add your book title, files, contributors (editor, illustrator, etc.), your book description(blurb) and other details. Make sure there are NO errors here, as this will be the info that the consumers will see on Amazon, Barnes & Noble etc. After you upload your book files there will be an option for an online preview for kindle. Check this thoroughly to make sure the formatting is correct and everything is in place. There will also be a proof process for Createspace. I highly suggest ordering a proof of your paperback to be sent to your house that way you can make sure everything is how it should be.  You will then need to set up your distribution details, prices, etc. Don’t hit the publish button on the day you you’ve announced your release. Set your release date (for marketing purposes) a few weeks from publishing to make sure everything is ready. Even though I hit the publish button, I did not announce the release for a couple more weeks, as to make sure the paperback and ebook were both available. The paperback takes longer than the ebook. Once you hit the publish button, KDP will tell you it will be about 12-24 hours before your book is available. This is pretty accurate. You will then receive an email saying “Congratulations for publishing with KDP! Your book is now available here!” Yay for you! But wait! What about your paperback? After you hit the dreaded publish button on Createspace, they will tell you it will be about 5-7 days before it goes live. This, again, is pretty accurate. Mine was live in 5 days. But they won’t send you an e-mail. You just need to go to Amazon and search your book title and author name to see when it pops up. And because this is not an exact science and things change, errors are found, and goodness knows what else, that is why I suggest giving yourself an ample amount of time in between hitting the publish button and actually having your release date/book release party.

STEP 6. Write you next book! Yes that is the best piece of advice I can give you. You can market until you’re blue in the face and shout from the top of the walls “BUY MY BOOK!” but this will only give a temporary rise in sales. To keep the longevity of sales and to keep your name in people’s faces you need to keep writing.

Good luck to you in your self-publishing journey! I am still learning myself, and do not know everything, but please feel free to leave a comment and ask any questions or leave a suggestion of something I may have not covered. We, as humans, are continuously learning, and if there’s one thing I’ve gotten from self-publishing, it’s pay it forward. I’ve had many people answering my questions and helping me along the way and I’d love to pass on that knowledge to others.

Categories: Writing Tips | Tags: , , , , , , | 23 Comments

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE? INDIE-PUBLISHING WITH CREATE SPACE AND KINDLE DIRECT PUBLISHING.

Throughout the whole writing and indie-publishing process of my first novel there was an ever-present question in the back of my mind…”How long?”  How long will it take me to write my novel? How long does it take for it to get edited? How long from the point of finishing my novel until it gets published? How long does it take Amazon to have my book live for sale? How long? How long? How long? I don’t know why this was so important to me or why I even cared except for the fact that I am a person that likes deadlines and guidelines and rules, etc. because it helps me to become that much more motivated. And it’s also very exciting to daydream about the day you will actually see YOUR book that YOU wrote FOR SALE and available to millions of people!

There is no rule book on how long it will take you to write your novel or how long it takes the big “ZON” (Amazon) to have your book ready for sale. As a first time published author, I wish there had been some sort of literature or something, anything that I could have refered back to through this whole alien, confusing and sometimes stressful experience. That is why I have documented my journey through self publishing from point A to Z to hopefully give some idea of a general time frame so it just might ease the nerves of my like-minded author buddies. That’s you!

FEBRUARY 2012- I started writing my novel and gave myself a goal to be finished by the end of October of 2012 and have my book for sale by December 25th.

OCTOBER 2012- A little less than nine months later my novel was finished. (Sort of. Haha!)

OCTOBER 2012- It was a week or so before Halloween when I sent my manuscript to my editor (I found someone local and it was nice to actually sit down with her and go over editing notes in person!) Some editors work very fast. Mine took about 5 weeks though. I went over my manuscript one last time and then handed it over. Then the editor did a first run-through and gave it back for corrections. Then I went through it again and handed it back with corrections made. The editor went over it for a last time and then I did again for a last time. (I think I probably went over it again a few more times! Editing is not very fun. LOL!) I HIGHLY recommend an editor if you are self-publishing or at least another set of trusted eyes. No one wants to read a book that makes them stop listening to the story and start focusing on errors. Although I am very good with grammar, spelling, and such, we still found many discrepancies, even in the last run-throughs!

NOVEMBER 2012- Still knee-deep in editing. Blah, LOL! Also working with the book cover designer, and the ones I worked with were FAST!

DECEMBER 2012- Editing is finished in the beginning of December! YAY! But not on schedule for publishing by the 25th yet. 😦 I would have been closer to hitting my goal had I not had a last-minute change of heart and added some things to my novel, which extended my time frame due to further editing/formatting/cover designing, etc. Don’t ever feel rushed! Your book needs to be the best it can be. So if you feel there are changes needed, just do it!

DECEMBER 30th, 2012- DONE! Edited: check.  Polished: check.  Formatted: check.  Cover design: check.

DECEMBER 31st, 2012, 8:30 p.m.- Submitted my novel to Create Space and Kindle Direct Publishing! Woo Hoo!

JANUARY 1st, 2013, 10:45 a.m.- I received an email saying “Congratulations for publishing on Kindle Direct Publishing!” or something along those lines. I checked and sure enough the kindle version of my book was available on Amazon! Happy New Year to me! BUT there was some funky stuff. It said, “MER by Jade M. Phillips, Marguerite Wainio, Juan Heinrich, Tatiana Vila.” Now… my book is titled MER, my name is Jade M. Phillips, but who are all these other people who apparently wrote the book along with me?! LOL!  I actually do know who they are. That is my editor, artist, and cover designer that I had put in as contributors during the KDP set-up process. And although I love them and they deserve credit, It gives off the impression that MER was written by a team rather than just one author, ME. Haha! Just a word of wisdom: Unless you want the description of your book to look the way I described it, I would recommend you ONLY put yourself, the author, as a contributor. But that’s up to you. SO, I went back into my KDP set-up and changed the contributors, then received the all-too-well-known “We have to review you book, blah blah blah, can take up to 12 hours, blah blah blah,” message.

Now for the Create Space submission. A message appeared on my dashboard saying that my paperback book would be available immediately on the Create Space estore, but it could take 5-7 days for it to be available on Amazon.

JANUARY 1st, 2013, 2:30 p.m.- I filled out my author bio and set up my Amazon author page, which is called Author Central (you can only do this after your book is live on Amazon.) Crazy, right? And at 2:45 I got an email saying that it would be a while before it was live. Then at 8:00 p.m. I get an email saying that my author page is live. It looks great, so I finish it up by adding pics, RSS feed from my blog, twitter, etc..

JANUARY 2nd, 8:00 a.m., 2013- Received an email congratulating me again for publishing with KDP and that my book is now available, AGAIN. Hahaha! I check it out and it now says “MER, by Jade M. Phillips.” Now that’s better. 🙂

JANUARY 5th, 10:00 a.m., 2013- It is has been five days since submitting my book to create space, and sure ’nuff, I check Amazon and there it is! My paperback available for sale! Yay! Whew! You will NOT get a notification from Create Space or Amazon when your paperback becomes available, so just do like the rest of us and check Amazon every day. LOL!

And THAT was the process. MY process. I’m sure it will vary from person to person, but hopefully this will give you an idea of what you’re up against!

To sum it up. It usually takes your kindle version less than 24 hours to become available on Amazon, and your Create Space paperback 5-7 days. Now don’t mark my words, as Amazon is always changing things and it could possibly change. But that is what I got from it.

A FEW WORDS OF WISDOM from my experience:

*When you set a goal of when you would like your book to be published, and I mean actually AVAILABLE for purchase on Amazon, make sure you are done writing your novel a few months before that deadline to allow time for editing, formatting, cover designs, and any changes that may pop up (and believe me, there will be changes!)

*Don’t stress! This is a meticulous and lengthy process. Take it one day at a time, one step at a time.

*Research. Check out other people’s experiences, suggestions and advice by googling any and every question you may have as you go along. Knowledge is power and it will definitely help you get the job done faster and more efficiently.

You will also learn little need-to-know tidbits that no one will just come out and tell you. Like, for example, did you know that your book cover HAS to be the absolute LAST thing you do? Because the cover designer needs an EXACT page count of your formatted manuscript in PDF for your create space paperback in order to format the cover to the right size. SO you must have your book formatted first before you can have your paperback cover! And in turn, to have your book formatted, it has to be in its final stage; edited and polished. NO MORE CHANGES! (Ah! That was the scariest part for me!) There is a chain of events that has to happen in a certain order, and because there is no hand-book of rules for indie publishing with KDP and Create Space you will only learn this by doing research and living through the process yourself.

*Good Luck to you all and I wish you the best!!! And feel free to comment here if you ever have any doubts and/or questions about the whole process or any advice to add. I’m no wizard on it, having only been through it once, but I might be able to help. 🙂

Thanks again for reading and may the power of words be with you!!!

xoxo- Jade

Categories: Indie Publishing, Writing Tips | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

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