- New book releases
- Free e-books
- Blog tours
- Blog posts
"I'm it. I got tagged. Does that mean I'm a big thing? No, not exactly. 'The Next Big Thing' is a 'game' designed to promote authors who also blog. Or bloggers who also write books. We have to promote each other, you see, because that's the nature of the business these days. You can only go so far with self-promotion. It's like this: how many times can you tap someone on the shoulder, trying to get their attention, before you annoy them? But if you have someone else say, 'hey, you might want to see what that guy over there has to offer.' Get the picture?
Besides, promoting other authors is actually quite addictive. You build friendships with like-minded people. One of the most enjoyable things I've done as a blogger (I have to admit a love/hate relationship with blogging) has been my 10 Questions interview series which highlights others (mostly authors) involved in the business of writing books.
If you are an author and you don't help promote other authors, you're cheating yourself."
(CLICK HERE to read the full post — and meet the other "tagged" authors — on Carl's website.)
My first novel, Ava, will be coming out in print in a matter of days. While I'm excited to finally have this option for readers who do not use e-readers, it has taken more time than I had originally anticipated to make a paperback version of the book available.
On this blog, I’ve been candid about the highs and lows of my journey from occasional writer to self-published author. Even as I write this post, a certain part of me still hopes that a literary agent, one skilled in navigating the release and promotion of print books, will discover my novel and insist on representing it, and me.
There is real value in having an educated, experienced guide when traveling to new areas of business, and personal growth.
I can't help but wonder if making the choice to move forward on my own will remove the possibility of agent representation, permanently. Time will answer that question, I suppose. For now, as my dad would say, Onward!
Through research, I determined that my best two options for self-publishing a print novel were CreateSpace and Lightning Source. I spent several weeks reading up on the two, and comparing procedures, pricing packages, distribution logistics, and ease of use. Happily, there is a lot of useful information, and a wide variety of opinions as to which company offers the best possibility of making a printed book accessible to the widest range of shoppers.
I decided to consult on the matter with three self-published authors that I know and admire. Two of the authors used CreateSpace and were happy with the results, and one, though she had started with CreateSpace, had moved over to Lightning Source.
Once I had their input, I went back and reviewed the websites for both companies. CreateSpace came across as faster, easier to work with in terms of preparing the manuscript, and had the obvious advantage of getting a newly-published paperback version of my novel onto Amazon.com in a matter of days.
Lightning Source, on the other hand, seemed more complicated to me, considering this was my first time prepping a book for print. I could have dealt with the complications if it weren’t for the fact that Lightning Source has no immediate path to availability. Amazon will carry books printed by Lightening Source, but making that happen would add in more steps – and more time – to achieve what was essentially the same outcome: the availability of my paperback on Amazon.com
The key advantage Lightning Source offers, it seems to me, is the potential to have my novel reach the shelves of brick-and-mortar book stores. However, I would have to do all the marketing myself, on a store-by-store basis. With one reasonably new novel and no readership history to my name, I determined that marketing my books to the stores would take far more time than I would be able to give, or justify.
Imagine making this call hundreds of times in a row: “Hi, I’m a self-published author! I’d like to let you know my novel is now available in print and is ready to be stocked at your store. Who is the right person to speak with about this process?”
I can’t count the number of blind marketing calls I’ve made over the course of my career. With my first business, I made a thousand — maybe more — in the first few months alone. Once those calls started connecting with right buyers, at the right time, the volume of daily marketing calls I needed to make declined, but I still had to make time for that activity every afternoon.
Of course, that was a service-based business not a product-based business, and it was an entirely different marketplace from this one.
Still, if I went forward and dedicated the time to make those marketing calls, would I have success? Some, yes. But I have no idea how many calls it would take, how many books would be ordered by a store, and how many of those books would ultimately sell. I also don’t know how much time, in terms of paperwork and channel management, is required once a book is added to the stock of an individual book store.
And what about the opportunity cost of spending huge chunks of my time on marketing the paperback version of Ava?
There is always a chance that a large distributor, or well-connected book buyer, would choose my novel, thus opening many doors with one connection, but, for the same reasons stated above, I had to face the fact that this was an unlikely outcome.
My decision made, I opened an account with CreateSpace and moved forward into the next phase of self-publishing.
I already had a professional cover, one for the e-book version of Ava, but had forgotten that I’d made arrangements with the designer to wait on producing the print version of that cover until I had completed the book description. The time had come; I had to buckle down and write a 3-paragraph description of Ava.
As you know, authors, writing a first novel is a very personal undertaking. When it came to boiling down my plot to a handful of paragraphs, I had never been able to see the forest for the trees. Finally, the words came to me. It was if they were waiting for me to reach a point in my development where I could step back far enough to see the big picture.
The next part, understanding the mechanics of properly formatting my manuscript, took me longer than I had anticipated. I made a mess of it several times before the logic behind the process began to make sense to me. But, on the upside, it gave me a chance to review my entire novel once more, looking for any small changes that needed to be made.
(Starting now, I plan to use a print format for any manuscript I’m working on. Once I’d tweaked the margins and set up the proper spacing, I could see six pages at a time on my computer screen. I found that this view made a real difference, from an editing perspective, with the flow of the story.)
Within a week, my print cover had come back from the designer, and the formatting of my manuscript had been approved by CreateSpace. Now, I was ready to set the price of my print novel. The task gave me pause, as it always seems to do. After much internal debate – and an informal study of the pricing choices made by dozens of other self-published authors – I settled on $9.99 as the right price point.
My share of that price is less than a dollar, but that doesn’t worry me so much. It’s too early, as I learned from my e-book pricing challenges, to focus on royalties over distribution. I’m an unknown author (I’d prefer to say undiscovered author!), with one novel in publication, who is working to establish a readership. I felt an $11.99 price point, which I was seriously considering, would be too much of a deterrent to readers who might be willing to gamble a certain sum on a writer’s first book.
Plus, with the e-book version of Ava currently priced at $.99, I felt there was too much disparity between the two amounts if I chose the higher price for the print version.
This afternoon I completed the last step in the CreateSpace process. My novel will be available in print format, on Amazon.com, sometime in the next five days.
I can hardly believe it. I think I feel a little dizzy with excitement!
So much work, so much time, so much sacrifice to arrive at this place. I want to savor the feeling of accomplishment and celebrate the knowledge I’ve gained. And I will, right up to tomorrow morning, when I open my eyes and a new day begins.
And what does tomorrow hold in store for me? I don’t know.
But I’m ready to find out.
“I'll never do another book tour. I doubt I'll ever do another official booksigning. I've stopped speaking in public, stopped attending events. Once it was important to meet fans and network with peers. Now I can do that just fine via email.”
Dear J. A. Konrath,
You don’t know it, but you are a brick in the foundation upon which I am building my future. I thank you for sharing your wisdom with the self-publishing community, and for having no expectations of a return on that investment except, perhaps, that we will use that knowledge well.
I plan to.
“I can't believe I have read this book...it must be morbid curiosity to see what all the hype was about, but in some weird way I am hooked and will have to see it through to the end...there are things in there I didn't need to know!”
"It surprises me that an erotic book is a best seller in this country, but if there's going to be one, it does not surprise me this kinky twist on Harlequin romance is it, because the characterization of what's erotic is so consistent with what's supposed to be erotic for women and men in this country."
“Thank you for your information on pricing. From time to time, we may match free promotions on other sales channels, but we retain discretion over our retail prices."
"Also, I see you wanted us to provide the updated content to customers who purchased your book. In order to accurately describe the new updates, we need you to provide some more information.
Please reply and provide us with details and specific examples of the corrections made for this version of your book. The more details that you provide, the better we will be able to accurately categorize and message your update for end customers. Once we receive these details, we will perform a review of your book and take appropriate action within two weeks. The possible results of our review are listed below.
1. If the changes made to your content are considered critical, we’ll send an email to all customers who own the book to notify them of the update and improvements made. These customers be able to choose to opt in to receive the update through the Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon.com.
2. If the changes made to your content are considered minor, we won’t be able to notify all customers by email, but we will activate their ability to update the content through the Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon.com.
3. If the changes made to your content have caused unexpected critical issues with the book content, we’ll temporarily remove your book from sale. We’ll notify you of the issues found so you can fix them. Once the improvements are made, just let us know and we’ll then email customers as in case 1.
Once our review is complete, we’ll email you to share the results and action taken.
Thanks for using Amazon KDP."
Ashley! I just finished Ava about 15 minutes ago. I was NOT able to put her down since I downloaded to my Mac yesterday (thanks for the tip on how to do that). Thankfully, it was a nice rainy day at the beach, so I just sat on the porch all day reading Ava.
I absolutely loved it!
I've been following a lot of your blog posts over the past year or so (and had no idea we both shared such a love of reading and writing). It was really great—It took my mind away to a much better place than it has been this past month. And, I miss the characters already.
How long do I have to wait until the next installment? You nailed the perfect combination of love, romance, suspense, and of course, I love that it was set in D.C.—our hometown! Congrats! Let me know how I can help spread the word. I'm new to e-publishing. xo. Thank you for your gift to readers everywhere!