The Long Road to Print

41QYVx8F5vL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_My first published novel, Sister Issues, is finally in print. It only took a dozen or so years after I wrote it for this to happen. What took so long? Paradoxically, my impatience to be published is what held this book back from seeing print for so long. Readers of this blog know that I’m a fan of publishing online. When the Kindle came out, I already had one book in print, an indie non-fiction title I used to teach creative writing. My campus bookstore kept it in stock, so I had a built in distributor in a brick and mortar store.

In 2007 not many people even knew about the Kindle. E-readers had been around for awhile but only a few tech savvy readers were on to them. Amazon popularized e-readers, and I took notice. One day I decided to upload my own book to the Kindle Digital Platform (KDP) for students who preferred an online version. I think I may have charged 99 cents, a significant savings. What I found was other people, not just students, bought that book. Which amazed me. And gave me an idea.

I’d been writing novels and knocking on the doors of traditional publishers for a long time. I’d also been blogging for five years. I knew how fun it was to be published digitally. Maybe I should just by-pass all the traditional publishers and put my most polished book out on KDP. I well remembered the hassles and the long months of indie publishing a print book from my experience with the creative writing manual. Had I known the work and time involved, I don’t think that first book would have ever seen print.

So I was not anxious to do that again. Enter KDP. Suddenly, everyone was using it to self-publish their novels, why not me? So I went ahead and did it. What a thrill. Then the bigger thrill came when The Wild Rose Press (TWRP) accepted another novel I’d written. Soon I had a book contract with a bona fide publisher and didn’t have to worry about cover art, formatting, ISBNs, uploading or printing a book. All that was done for me. As I continued to polish my manuscripts and publish them with TWRP, I never forgot my first novel. I couldn’t submit it to my publisher because it was already published online. If only I’d waited!

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All this time I was teaching too, so life zoomed by pretty fast. Before I knew it I had ten books to my name. Amazing! And yet…I really wanted to publish a print edition of Sister Issues. I wanted to hold it in my hands. A decade into my career as a published author, specialized companies run by tech savvy entrepreneurs sprouted up everywhere. These companies helped indie authors do all the zillions of things I had to do myself when I self-published my first book. I started to see the impressive results of friends who worked with one such start up here in Detroit.

Another idea was born. I could hire Woodward Press to bring Sister Issues out in print! Really, how much could it cost? I was sure it would be less than the $3000 I’d paid to order a modest print run of 500 books on my first endeavor. After all, with POD there is no need to order a print run. A single book is printed as it’s ordered. So I called Woodward Press and found out that the costs were significantly lower to publish this way, even a decade later. Working closely with Woodward Press, I began the process of preparing Sister Issues for print. From start to finish the project was significantly less anxiety provoking than doing it myself. And it only took two months for me to receive a copy of Sister Issues and hold it in my hands.

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If you still prefer print books to e-books, and many many people do, now you can order Sister Issues in print from Amazon.

Encore!

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I am not very interested in promotion or platforms or any of that. I have this blog because I like blogging. That’s it. Also I remember I used to look at Jennifer Weiner’s blog and see all her book covers marching down the side of her page and thought how cool would that be? And now it’s real!

Anyway, I’m not sure about how this will work but I wanted to say that Blue Heaven is being reissued by Amazon Encore on September 15, 2015. That means it won’t be available anywhere (except perhaps pirate sites!) until then in e-book form. It’s still out in print as Encore only contracted e-book rights.

Even though I don’t like pushing my books, I am excited about this. Who knows what will happen? New life for an old book. cindy.signature.IMG_1606

Plotting a Thriller

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I’ve had the idea for a psychological thriller for almost a year now. The minute I finished my latest novel (on my editor’s desk as I type this) I started planning the new one. I quickly realized there would be a LOT more research than usual. I had a new genre, a new setting, a new profession, which has since turned into several new professions. I almost said “maybe not.”

But my critique group meets next week, and a month ago I’d promised them a first chapter of the new book. I’d already done quite a bit of research on the setting and I knew the character since I’d written about her in two previous novels. Also, I had read How to Write a Damn Good Mystery by James N. Frey when I wrote Sweet Melissa, so I knew some stuff. Enough for a first chapter.

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I had also done “research” of a sort when I attended Sleuthfest in Miami last month. I picked up a few books, read a couple of them, skimmed the reference text I knew I’d wear out before the WIP is finished. I’d attended workshops and even had an enlightening talk with an editor who gave me some names of agents who might be interested in the type of story I was planning to write.

Sometimes writing gets interrupted by social media. Occupational hazard. I “somehow” saw a post by Tim Baker yesterday, a writer I follow on Twitter.

Tim’s guest post had the word “research” in the heading. Because I finished my first chapter and realized I had a lot more research to do, I clicked the link. And learned a lot. Inspired, I got out James N. Frey’s How to Write a Damn Good Thriller and started taking notes. It turns out that a thriller does not have to be a mystery! It ONLY has to be “nonstop action, plot twists that surprise and excite, settings both exotic and vibrant, and an intense pace that never lets up until the adrenaline-packed climax.”

I sort of knew I wanted to write an action packed page turner. I wanted to challenge myself to write at that intense pace. I have the exotic and vibrant setting (just hope I can bring it to life). I didn’t know I’d need a high concept that can be contained in one sentence, not more than thirteen words. So I thought about all that and got some ideas. I actually wrote my high concept sentence! And then outlined a few of the twists coming up.

I found out that some high concepts are cliches. Like 9/11 terrorist stories. Oh. That was one of my first ideas…because of my setting. But I had another idea, so I went with it. James N. Frey says the goal of a mystery is to catch a killer, but the goal of a thriller is to stop evil. Makes sense; the page-turning thing would be easier to execute if the stakes are higher than just “catch a killer.”

So thanks for giving me some timely reminders to do my research, Tim, as it is already paying off. And thanks to Sonya for hosting Tim on her blog. It takes a village (of authors) to write a book.