Here’s to Bob

Bob just published his first novel! Yay!

And I had the pleasure of taking that journey with him, from the minute he sat in my Advanced Creative Writing class with at least one completed manuscript and a whole lot of determination.

To be a writer you need those three things: determination, some pages with words you wrote upon them, and a tribe. That’s my tribe, above: I’m sitting next to Bob, next to Tom, next to Vernie.

That writing class was Bob’s tribe for the moment. We writers move around. I don’t even teach college anymore; I write full time now. Neither Bob nor I were published when we met.

How Bob Baker became a friend of mine is pretty straightforward. I recognized his talent. I encouraged him. I was apparently nice enough so that he felt okay emailing me after our school semester was over. I was confident enough in his talent to invite him into my writing group, and he was confident enough to accept. Thus, a tribe was formed.

My writing group–it’s a small group, just four of us–came about through many offers for participants on my part and much comings and goings on the part of others until we settled into a fine quartet. We’ve been meeting there or four years now once a month with 10-20 pages each. We spend five hours tearing each other’s work apart giving each other constructive criticism and talking about writing in general. Publishing, too.

When the group began, we had two published writers and two unpublished. Bob has rounded it out so that now with the advent of Hiding Tom Hawk we are all published, all quite pleased with ourselves. And my best advice to any writer is to find your tribe. There’s no mystery to getting published. Practice and show your work to a few trusted souls and follow the well worn path that the internet is very happy to set out.

Here's to you, Bob!
Here’s to you, Bob!

I’ve got a book about it. I wish I could give every one of you a copy but it sold out in print although there’s a newer edition of Your Words, Your Story anyway with the whole scoop on indie publishing, and whether you are published by a traditional press or as an indie, (and I’v been both) nothing will ever feel better than holding your first book in your hands.

To help say congrats to Bob, I will send free copies of both e-books, mine and his, to the first three people who comment today. And thanks for reading about my lovely band of merry writers.

Indie or ePub?

Congratulations to my publisher The Wild Rose Press for winning “Best ePublisher” five years in a row here. Being with a #1 ePublisher feels good. About the same time I signed a contract with TWRP for The Paris Notebook, I self-published my first indie novel Sister Issues on Kindle. I thought it would be interesting to see the differences between doing it myself and having a publisher. I can now report that:

1. Money: the money I earned on each book so far is about the same. Quarterly earnings in 3 figures. Low 3 figures. Don’t let that discourage you. Other authors earn much more. They promote their work more effectively, write more books, write sexier books, paranormals, series.

Another money issue, if you go indie, you’ll probably have out-of-pocket expenses. Nothing like what a vanity press would charge. (Many people think indie publishing and vanity presses are the same but they are not. A vanity press will take thousands of your dollars and not even edit your masterpiece. Not even a spell check!) But a couple of hundred bucks if you hire out any of the hard stuff. With TWRP the author pays nothing and the publisher does everything.

2. Content Control: Going indie means I have complete control of content. It also means your book will need an editor unless you have two degrees in English and a super smart critique group, like I do. Freelance editors charge fees as low as $100 but some are much higher. Going indie, you’ll need to do your homework here. Ask indie authors you’ve read and enjoyed who edited their books. With TWRP, I worked closely with an editor.

My TWRP editor advised I cut a subplot and add a consummation scene. I really loved that subplot so I turned it into the free short story “Sarah’s Survival Guide” on my website. I paid a friend who is good with graphic design $100 to make a cover. I think the book would have been better with the subplot but it would not have been a romance.

As for the consummation scene, this is a personal decision. TWRP does have a “sweet” line of books for people who want to be sure they are reading “G” rated material. My book was not sweet, even without the consummation scene. I had four letter words and lots of sexy foreplay. So I wrote the scene.

3. Covers: As an indie, I had to find a cover that looked professional or hire someone to do it. After a long time of trying to stage a cover myself, I got permission from my daughter-in-law to use a pic of her and her sister. I paid them peanuts, but I think anyone who gives permissions like that should be paid. At TWRP I got a great professional cover by one of their artists. Didn’t have to pay a dime or do a thing but fill out an art-fact sheet.

4. Print: As an indie, I knew it would cost a little more ($100 working with Amazon’s Create Space) to have Sister Issues available in print. I decided not to do that. Yet. With TWRP, if you write 65,000 words or more, your book goes to print. That was a thrill!!

5. Format: As an indie, I had to find someone to format my Word document into KDP (Mobi). I tried several times and could not get it to work right. I found someone to help with that for $100. Turn around time was less than 24 hours and my book looks great. TWRP does all that for you:)

6. Marketing: As an indie, you are on your own. I read up on self-promotion and did what I could with the time I have. I want to write, not market my work. But with indies, self-promotion is essential. TWRP has a marketing department. They send galleys to all kinds of review sites and I pulled in a few reviews that way. They chat up your books on Twitter and Facebook. They ask you for ideas to partner with them to promote your book. I’ve done a bit of that, too.

7. Distribution: Most stores that sell books do not sell indie books. If you live by an indie bookstore, lucky you! But you need to make first contact. TWRP handles distribution. That is huge.  Everything TWRP does for me is huge. I want no part of making covers, formatting, or distributing my books. So the clear winner, at least for me, is The Wild Rose Press.