Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Welcome Valerie Douglas: A word from the wise.....

Ignorance is bliss. It never occurred to me that I might fail at this writing thing and as it happened I was one of the lucky few – I succeeded at traditional publishing, but sort of backward. *grins* And I had a plan. (God or the Gods love plans, laughing hysterically as they whiz by.)

Fortunately, I was also smart. So I attended local writers’ workshops/conventions to learn everything I could about this writing thing. I learned all the maxims (except an important one) – for example, have at least three books written before submitting. That one, by the way, is arguably still true. I can’t tell you how many ‘trilogies’ have never come to be, or how many writers promote one book endlessly. Oh, and the important adage I missed? That those three books were supposed to be in the same genre. Ooops. (It’s also no longer true. With Indie/Self-publishing you have more choices.)

Attending one conference I presented one book to a mid-level publisher who was trying to expand their lines. They suggested I submit, so I did. After six months I checked them out on-line and discovered their specialty was erotica or erotic romance. Reading a few I thought ‘I can do that’. So I did. Then I ran into a problem…my editor. It wasn’t a good fit. That’s very important. If I had one piece of advice for indie writers it would be this: find an editor with whom you can work, discuss, and interact. A good editor is priceless. They can make your book so much better as I can attest. Back to the plan. (And those laughing Gods.)

The plan was that I would use that medium press to launch my other books. That was another of those axioms. Except it didn’t work.

My first love had always been fantasy, and that’s what I wrote. Then I was informed that no traditional publisher would consider epic fantasy from a new writer.
Luckily for me indie/self-publishing was just taking off. I had a standalone fantasy novel with which I was willing to take the chance.

To be honest, it was scary to give up the ‘security’ of a traditional publisher. (These days self-publishing isn’t the barrier to traditional publishing it once was.) Security is a misnomer, too. There’s no guarantee you’ll get published and it can take years before you hold your book in your hand. There are also companies that make a lot of promises to new, desperate writers. Many of which are a rip-off. (Predators and Editors and Writers Write are your friends!)
Reality check – the idea that your standalone book will suddenly take off. I see so many authors endlessly promoting their one book. Back to that maxim about writing more books. It’s true. I knew I was going to have to make a commitment one way or another. An article in a prominent financial journal reassured me about self-publishing. I couldn’t find more information, though. I searched on-line, but there wasn’t much out there. So I created a Facebook group (the Indie Author Group) to fill that gap, and so other writers wouldn’t make the same mistakes I had. That first book was doing well, but I knew it could do better. I had created the cover (and won an award for it) but it was being identified as a ‘romance’ novel – which it wasn’t. The original art was
very pink, though, definitely off-putting for male readers. So this time I hired a professional. The cover he came up with was amazing. Based on everything I was reading, and those old axioms, I also released more books. Those two things made all the difference. That first book shot onto the bestseller lists. What astonished me was the difference between the percentage I made through my traditional publisher and my
check via self-publishing. I made a lot more money self-publishing.

So, what did I learn?
First, find groups on-line that can help you.
Second, hire professionals – editors, cover artists, formatters. Good ones will make your book so much better. Use references to find them but double check through Pred-ed and/or Writers Write. Third, write more books. Nothing sells book one better than book two. One thing that doesn’t sell? Spam, aka endless promotion.
Finally, self-publishing is no longer a barrier to traditional publishing. There are traditional agents/
publishers who are open to self-publishers. Just ask Hugh Howey.

Valerie Douglas – Facebook Author page

Web page - Valerie Douglas Books

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