Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hats of Self-Publishing by M. Leighton

So, the lovely and talented Heather Hildenbrand and her pals at Accendo Press are doing this fantastic series on the ins and outs of publishing. It’s an inspired idea and I am thrilled and honored to participate. The topic I get to talk about is the many hats of self-publishing. And y’all, trust me when I tell you, we Indies wear them ALL! 

When I made the decision to self-publish (in other words, when my husband finally wore me down and wrestled me into submission), I had no clue what I was doing. Sometimes, I’m not sure much has changed. LOL But, it was a great learning experience, in which I was able to not only find low-cost or free ways to do things, but also to hone some skills I didn’t realize I lacked.

Let’s start with editing.

So, you have this masterpiece that the world MUST read. You’ve slaved over the plot and the characters for probably months already. What’s the next step, you ask? Editing. Editing, editing, editing.

As an Indie, some readers will tend to be more critical of your work, expecting it to be riddled with errors and grammatical mistakes. Why? Well, because, let’s face facts people. Many of them are. And it’s for exactly that reason you need to make sure your work is as flawlessly written and edited as it can be. I know not all of us have the money or the connections to find and hire a good editor. But there are critique groups galore on the internet, groups in which other writers will trade projects with you. That way, you can get another pair of eyes on your work, an objective pair that can not only help you spot those typos you missed, but also might be able to identify dropped threads or plot holes as well. And the best thing about an arrangement like that? It’s free! All you have to invest is some time to do the same for your partner. Easy peasy! Plus, it often ends up being the beginning of a great friendship. And who can’t use an extra friend or two, especially one that can commiserate with the trials and tribulations of being a self-published author.

Okay, now that your manuscript is flawless, you need to find a compelling and eye-catching way to introduce it to the public. How, you ask? A cover.

Let me first take a second to assure you that people do, in fact, judge a book by its cover. It’s unfortunate, yet undeniable and unchangeable. Don’t make the colossal and costly mistake of underestimating the impact of your cover. Are you worried? Well, don’t be. Having a good cover doesn’t have to break the bank. Again, this is not something everyone can afford to outsource, although there are many cover artists out there nowadays who are extremely reasonable and do great work. But if you just can’t swing it or just can’t find something you like, you can go to any number of websites that offer royalty-free stock photos for a nominal fee. Just a couple are iStockPhoto and Shutterstock. Input that sucker into a program as simple as Microsoft Word and you can make yourself a fairly unique cover with which you can show off your latest brainchild. You don’t have to be a graphic artist to make your own cover, but wouldn’t it be nice if we were? *sigh*
AP says: ^^ This is proof M. knows what she's talking about when it comes to a rockin' cover! 

M says: Where are we now? Oh, right. We’ve got the masterpiece edited, we’ve got the cover polished to a sparkling shine. Now what? If your blurb is done, then you’re ready to upload your book. The two big daddies of the Indie pub world right now are Amazon and Barnes & Noble. There are several more coming on line, like iTunes and Sony, however you can reach those markets right now through Smashwords if you choose to put your work there. It’s probably one of the more difficult to format for, but with a little patience and some elbow grease, it can be done. Just have a margarita on stand-by. Trust me, it helps.

There are also options for creating your own paperback versions, too, which is a fantastic and very motivating thing to do. They can be a little tricky to get right your first time around, but there are few things more rewarding than getting that proof in the mail and holding in your own two hands the physical manifestation of all your hard work. I think most authors will tell you it’s in that moment that it all becomes real. And so, so sweet. I’ll never forget the first M. Leighton paperback I held in my hands. CreateSpace sent it to me from their print shop, but what they didn’t realize was that it actually came from my heart. Straight from my heart. I’m pretty sure that, to this day, there are still tear stains on that one. And yes, I’m a huge dork. I thought you knew!

Anyway, once you have your baby uploaded and possibly formatted in print and it’s showing its pretty face on the major websites, you can just sit back and let the money start rolling in, right? Ha, I wish! No, the hard part is actually just beginning.

As indies, any marketing of our work is up to us. That means, if you have a hope of getting your work out in front of readers, you must find a way to put it there. But how? Personally, I have just started marketing. I know, I know. Stupid, right? Probably. I was extremely blessed when I first started this last year, in that I didn’t do much in the way of marketing, yet my sales were still there. Unfortunately, that created a bit of a lazy monster in me and when my sales started to drop off, I was left floundering and confused. Since then, I’ve looked into various marketing strategies and eventually I will probably have tried them all. Everything from blogger reviews to paid advertisements, there are any number of options available, and you’re limited only by the amount of money you can afford to invest. But really, can you afford not to invest at least a little bit into this newfound, fledgling career? Not really, not if you expect to make a serious go of it. So look into it. All of it. As for a place to start, especially if you’re working from a tight budget, it is with bloggers. It will cost you only the price of your book, but the yield can be exponentially greater! And here again, there’s an increased likelihood that you’ll make some pretty awesome friends along the way. It’s win-win. What could be better?

What comes next? Well, I don’t know. That’s sort of up to you. For me, it’s been rinse and repeat. I’ve gone on to write over a dozen books since my first one. Does that make me an expert at it? *cue the uproarious laughter* Are you nuts? No, I’m no expert, and I probably never will be. But half the fun is in the journey, and I gotta tell you, publishing your own novel is one heck of a trip!

A special thanks to the wonderful ladies of Accendo Press. I appreciate the invitation to be here today and I’m so glad we got to meet! I consider you members of my “circle of trust.” *snickers* (inside joke) You’re cherished friends in this big yet sometimes small world of publishing. Here’s to a long and prosperous future together.

Oh and before I forget, I’ll be giving away a free Kindle copy of my latest book, The Wild Ones. The cover and blurb are below. It’s a New Adult Contemporary Romance. Just give me a follow on Twitter and you’re as good as entered. My handle on there is @mleightonbooks. I tweet the pertinent, the inane, and occasionally the wildly inappropriate, so consider yourself warned. Hehe.

Best of luck to you all! I’ll see you out there. 

M. Leighton is a native of Ohio, but she relocated to the warmer climates of the South, where she can be near the water all summer and miss the snow all winter. Possessed of an overactive imagination from early in her childhood, Michelle finally found an acceptable outlet for her fantastical visions: writing fiction. Thirteen of Michelle's novels can now be found on Amazon, as well as several other sites. She's currently working on sequels, though her mind continues to churn out new ideas, exciting plots and quirky characters. Pick one up and enjoy a wild ride through the twists and turns of her vivid imagination.
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About The Wild Ones:

Passion as hot as midnight in the South and love as wild as the horses they tame.

Camille “Cami” Hines is the darling daughter of the South’s champion thoroughbred breeder, Jack Hines. She has a pedigree that rivals some of her father’s best horses. Other than feeling a little suffocated at times, Cami thought she was pretty happy with her boyfriend, her life, and her future.

But that was before she met Patrick Henley.

“Trick” blurs the lines between what Cami wants and what is expected of her. He’s considered the “help,” which is forbidden fruit as far as her father is concerned, not to mention that Trick would be fired if he ever laid a hand on her. And Trick needs his job. Desperately. His family depends on him.

The heart wants what the heart wants, though, and Trick and Cami are drawn to each other despite the obstacles. At least the ones they know of.

When Trick stumbles upon a note from his father, it triggers a series of revelations that could ruin what he and Cami have worked so hard to overcome. It turns out there’s more to Trick’s presence at the ranch than either of them knew, as well as a long and sordid family history full of secrets that could tear them apart.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Autumn said...

Thank you for the giveaway

iUniverse said...

iUniverse has helped more than 35,000 authors publish their books professionally and affordably. Since 1999, we have crafted a reputation for breaking records and blazing new trails in the self-publishing industry.

Brittni guillen said...

Love it!! Very insightful love my indies ;D

Bethany Lopez said...

Great post! I always love to hear everyone's take on Self Publishing and what does/doesn't work for them!

AuthorTiffany said...

I just love this M. Leighton chick. I'll have to check
her work out.....LOL kidding folks, I've read M's stuff and it freaking rocks and not to play favorites but I LOVED The Wild Ones ;)