Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The ART of SELF-Publishing mingled with singing and dancing

Yesterday was a very happy day for me. ( Me kicking my heels) Why? Well, I'll tell you. Yesterday the preliminary cover of my debut novel, "The Sand Bar" was sent to me. I squealed in delight when I saw the mock-ups. I did. I admit it. I squealed. This book has been a long time coming and to see it was very exciting to me. To celebrate, we watched an Indian movie called "Lagaan" and danced to all the Bollywood songs. Even Dan, the husband. The guy who moans and groans when I ask, beg, plead for him to dance with me. It was amazing. And now he is going to be embarrassed that I've just published the fact that he enjoyed dancing.

Anyway, with the dancing and singing behind us I can move on and describe my journey towards self-publishing.

It hasn't been an easy decision. I've written several books, sent queries out, gotten a few nibbles and then nothing. Crickets. It's a horrible way to live. Always hoping, waiting, waiting and waiting. Send ten queries out, wait, check your email. Wait.

Get excited when one asks for more,
wait some more and then have your hopes dashed upon a sharp rock when they later respond that it just didn't work for them.

Then there are the horror stories;I have a friend who got an agent, the agent then left the agency and took my friends book with her, so then she had to fight to get her book back. What a mess. Don't get me wrong. There are many who have gotten an agent, sold the book to a publisher, and then had it published and distributed to thousands of book stores, like my friend and former classmate Jen Wolf is about to do. It can happen. And to those who succeed down this path I cheer emphatically for them. But I decided that I needed to take my books future in my own hands, and make it happen.

So I spent several months comparing self-publishing companies. It was painful and confusing because somewhere along the way the publishing company is going to make money off you, whether it is on the front end, making your actual book or on the other end, distributing it to bookstores online and the brick and mortar type. I was so confused I asked my father-in-law, whom I consider to be one of the smartest people I know, to help with the research. I actually felt better when he made the comment that "This is very confusing." as he studied the different plans. I knew then that it wasn't just me.

I finally decided that there wasn't one golden company out there. You just have to find the one that works best for you, and good luck!

One great reference for comparing companies is dogearpublishing.net. They do a great job comparing several different self-publishing companies and helping you think of questions that might come up later. I didn't end up using their services and I'll explain why in a second.

So it came down to four companies: Dog ear, Create space, Outskirts publishing, and Abbott Press. Dog ear and Abbott were a little more expensive on the front end, but touted cheaper book publishing costs on the other end. Abbott is affiliated with Writer's Digest. This, to me, is a good thing as I take a lot of classes from Writers Digest and read their blogs and get their newsletters. What I didn't like was the royalty package. I think after all the costs I would make 50% of what was left in the kitty. I was going to make literally pennies unless I sold the book for more money than I knew even my mother would spend for it. Not an option since my name isn't Nicholas Sparks or Jodi Picoult. The next company, "Create Space" seemed like a great option if you want to take out the middle man or do things on your own. I mean, they're Amazon; seems like a no-brainer, right? You can do it all yourself, or buy into one of their packages.

In the long run you make more money per book with Create Space, but I didn't feel like they were interested in marketing my book beyond putting it on their site. And to be honest, I have a soft spot for the little guy. And Amazon is nothing if not gargantuan.

This leads me to Outskirts Publishing, located in Parker, Colorado. Cheaper on the front end, Outskirts leaves a little more money in your pockets so you can buy into their plethora of marketing packages. They have thought of everything from putting your cover choices on their blogs for people to vote on, thereby building buzz about your upcoming book, to sending your book on a worldwide book tour, to creating your own book trailer (all for a price, of course). They do most correspondence by email, but you can call them if you have a concern. I'm not much of a phone person so this works great for me.

So far they have been very attentive, punctual, and have honestly surpassed my expectations. On Friday, my Representative, Colleen asked me to send any photo's I hoped to use for the cover, and to give the ideas I had about the look of the book. By Friday afternoon I had sent off my ideas. When I received an email Monday afternoon with two Great mock-ups all ready to go I was shocked and so excited!

They listened to everything I said, maybe to their detriment, as the one I had imagined in my mind was not the favorite of those I polled late last night. The looks are very different. A reminder that designing a book cover is an art form in itself.

Anyway, I am very excited. And now, showcasing the winning cover (minus a few changes to be made) May I introduce my first novel titled "The Sand Bar" YIPPEE!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sweet Sixteen...I remember when...

My oldest son turned sixteen. It was just yesterday that I was looking forward to my own first date, and getting a drivers license, and having more freedom. It was also just yesterday that I gave birth to a squirmy little boy who moaned for twenty-four hours like he'd just been through the most traumatic experience of his life...Ok, I guess in some ways, he had. Even the nurses didn't know what to think of it. I remember they came to me and asked me what I thought the problem was. And I remember thinking, ' You're asking me? I have nooooo idea what is wrong with him. All I want to do is curl up under a blanket and sleep.' He eventually stopped moaning, but I didn't get much sleep for the next... twelve years. But sixteen! How can it be?

I think back to what I was doing at sixteen. Well, at least the things I can share. I remember my first date: swimming at Green Canyon Hot Springs, picnic, burgers,"bubbly" and then proceeding to soak the blanket with our drinks. Then we went to Rexburg where all my friends were waiting to surprise me with a party at the Botanical gardens. What a fun time. So much has changed. Or has it, I wonder? I'm not sure. So I've made a list of all the things that were happening that wonderful year. See if any of these are familiar:

#1 song on the billboard the week of my birthday was Sinead O'Conners,
"Nothing compares to you",

but I had the tape single of the #1 song from the previous week called, "I'll be your everything" by Tommy Page.

1990 was also a great year for movies, like Joe Verses the Volcano and Gremlins II. No, it really was a good year for movies. It included one of my all time favorites, "Ghost"

Hunt for Red October, Pretty Woman, Edward Sissorhands. (The beginning of my Johnny Depp crush.)

Dances with wolves, and my personal favorite, Misery, 'Mr. Man' Wow, that was a good year.

Some other fun facts for 1990 are:

Cost of bread=72 cents

Cost of a gallon of milk=$2.78

Cost of a dozen eggs=$1.00

Cost of a new car=$9,437.00

Cost of a gallon of regular gas=$1.16

Cost of a new home=$149,800.00

Cost of a stamp=25 cents

The average income=$29,943.00

The Dow-Jones market reached a high of 3,000 and a low of 2,365

Minimum wage was $3.80 in 1990.

TV shows were Days of our Lives and Cheers and Seinfield. It was also the first year of Prince of Bel Air.

I could put five bucks in my blue sprint and drive for a week.

There was no such thing as the internet or cell phones or mp3 players or even DVD's. Especially in my red neck of the world, (Idaho). But I did learn that 1990 was the year http was invented. In 1990 our texts consisted of notes we wrote to each other in class.

I never locked my locker, which might explain why money was constantly stolen from my jacket. I also found little presents like cookies, candy bars, M&M's, love notes. Roses, teddy bears, and other surprises. I'd talk on the phone for hours! And because the phone was attached to the wall, I'd stretch it as far as I could and lay on the living room floor, making the whole family step over me. (As a mom, that would drive me CRAZY. My parents were so patient!)

I was crazy for Madonna

and in love with Brad Pitt and
Patrick Swayze's "Ditto"

not to mention Johnny Depp and Tom Cruise. So many choices.

I listened to the Princess Bride Soundtrack every night before I went to bed and wished I were twenty-something living a dream life on an island in the Caribbean with a tall gorgeous man. Poor 16 year-old me would be appauled that I have yet to put my feet on Caribbean soil. Boo! Boo! Putrescence!

So that's about it. And the answer is, yes! Things have changed, but some things haven't changed: the desire to be loved, respected, cared about, and for. The hope that you'll do something big, and be somebody important. In the wise words of my favorite movie of 2011, "You is smart, you is kind, you is important." 16 years ago one of the good ones joined our family. I hope he knows he is all of those things. I thank my Heavenly Father for sending him to us. Happy Birthday, sonny boy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Three Cheers for Parenthood!

You probably know by now that I love movies, T.V. shows, and just a great story in general. Today I want to give accolades to the best TV drama on the tube right now.

Parenthood. Tuesdays @ 9:00

This show is a diamond among thorns. I love the characters, I love this family. They get it. They really get it. I'd love to have a family this connected. It would drive me crazy and wouldn't probably work in real life as well as it works in T.V. Land, but the idea of family helping each other, being there for the highs and lows, knowing you, caring about your humdrum, every day, and sometimes wild life would be nice. I think. It's not exactly a "family" show. It's more of a "Parent" show that deals with a few adult themes, so watch it alone and then decide if it is something your kids are mature enough for.

So three cheers to Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, for creating a heartwarming, loving, crazy, real family that loves, fights, and then forgives. Which only grounds them deeper, creating a solid foundation. If you care about the quality of shows on T.V. you should really give this show a fair shake. I've had to say goodbye to a few shows I liked, but my conscience couldn't support. I'm hoping this show stays the course. We can't complain about anything if we aren't doing our part to support the few quality programs out there. I can support this one. So, please don't let me down, Ron! Just keep on going. And maybe if you could use an extra, or a surprise new sister, or something, give me a call. :)