Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Top Ten Things I Learned From Indie-Publishing Edge of Mercy

Well, it's July 31st, 2012, and my goal date to have Edge of Mercy published. I almost made it, and I'm okay with that.  The book is available on Amazon and will be available at Barnes and Noble and Kobo by the end of the week.  Sony and Apple will be a little later, but it will make it to both.  In the spirit of the Olympic times, I think I earned a silver, at the worst a bronze in self-pubbing, and I'm going to go for gold next time.  It's not perfect yet, but hey, it's pretty, darn good for a first try, and I learned so much about myself and about publishing for myself.

With the idea of educating anyone else who is considering the indie path, here are the top ten things I learned from indie-publishing Edge of Mercy:

10.  Even if they are very supportive, your family (especially your seven-year-old) won't feel the same urgency to get every little detail just right that you do.  Matter of fact, they might even complain about "all that time you spend in front of the computer."

9.    Which leads me to my next point--The first time you self-publish, be prepared to spend a lot of time in front of the computer.  Beyond typing, editing, re-editing, re-re-editing, you will also be communicating with editors, beta-readers, formatters, cover artists, potential readers, reviewers, previous self-pubbers.  Also, per the learning curve, each step takes trial and error, which can be time-consuming.  Very time-consuming.

8.     To save money, you CAN do everything yourself, but be prepared for some very painful and epic FAILS if you choose to do so.  I did my cover countless times, not always because I didn't like it.  Sometimes, it was because computer gremlins attacked.  Sometimes, it was because my short-term memory has issues.  A couple times, I formatted, converted, converted, saved, and then realized I'd forgotten some of the front and back matter of the book.  I was on a less-than a shoestring budget, so I did everything myself, but next time, I plan to hire freelancers as much as I can.

7.     If you're going to save time, you CAN'T figure it all out yourself.  You have to research the process.  The good news--there are bookoos of resources available.  You just have to find them.  Personally, two resources I count as invaluable to my process are kentuckyindiewriters.blogspot.com and the Indie Romance Ink Yahoo loop.  Both are beyond informative, and I wouldn't have attempted anything I have without the many willing self-pubbers sharing their successes as well as mistakes.  It was a quicker and, in many ways, better education than the one I went to college for.  The Indie community is a generous group.

6.     There will be bumps along the way, some major potholes.  One that comes to mind is when I uploaded to pubit.barnesandnoble.com.  Turns out, they want a different size cover image than the other sites.  It took me a good twenty minutes to figure out why it wouldn't load my cover.  Then another thirty to re-size to the right dimensions.  I will probably go back and tweak that one when I can because it skewed the cover to re-size it.  But, the point is, expect problems, and if you can, which I didn't do well this time, give yourself EXTRA time to compensate for the inevitable issues that arise.

5.     Do a "soft-release" first.  This basically means, actually set a release date, but upload it at least a week ahead of time.  It's best to upload to Smashwords about three weeks before your intended release because it takes up to that long to get into the premium catalog which is how you get distributed to other retailers.  But if you're like me, you're tweaking and editing constantly until you have to publish it to keep yourself from going crazy in the pursuit of perfection.  Barnes and Noble and Kobo can take up to 72 hours, and though Amazon usually takes less than a day, there have been threads on the Yahoo loop that mentioned it has taken up to a week.  So, it's best to upload well before you actually plan to announce the release.  If you happen to get a few buys before the official day, maybe they'll post a good review and get things moving all that much quicker.

4.     One of the best benefits of self-publishing, especially electronically, is the fact you can upload changes easily.  Don't get me wrong; you want to get your book to the best it can be before you publish, but if you want to add back matter (links to new releases), a different cover, a tighter blurb, or (hopefully not, but it happens) edits, you can do it with a click of the mouse.  This is different from trad publishing because if there were mistakes, an author didn't always get a second chance to get it right.  Now, keep in mind, any earlier versions that were downloaded before the changes will remain the original version; however, at Amazon, at least, there is a way to send out a message to let people know they can download an updated book if they would like.

3.     Believe it or not, you're going to obsess over your baby.  Yes, it's true.  You will probably be like every other newbie pubber and check your numbers constantly.  Eventually (I hope), this will fade, but at first, sales reports, rankings, reviews are going to be the Three "R's" that rule your every waking moment.  If you can though, set limits for yourself.  Only check sales reports once (or twice at the most) a day.  Set a particular time, and hopefully when the numbers go up, you'll be pleasantly surprised.  Also, don't stress over rankings.  Yes, the higher you are on the "lists," the more visible you will be, but your first book isn't going to soar to number one (MINE IS!) without a lotta, lotta help and luck.  Eventually though, with a few marketing hits, you might see a surge in rankings.  Then again, you might not until you have more to offer (but I'll get to that in a minute).  And, of course, the scariest "R" of them all--reviews--will make you sweat at night, if you let it.  First, the anxiety is because you don't have ANY reviews.  Then, when the reviews begin coming in, that's a whole different kind of scary.  Just keep in mind, it's rare to please everyone.  Hopefully, you'll find your audience quickly and get a few 5*'s to start things off, but if you don't, don't let it get you down.  Don't over-think what you could have done differently.  Just realize not everyone is going to like what you write, and that's just the way life works.  In that case, grab some chocolate, your fave soothing beverage, and put your BICHOK to work on the next one.

2.     Truth is, you just have to go for it.  No matter how hard you work on your manuscript, there's no such thing as perfect.  Eventually, if it's something you want to do, you just have to create the best product you can and share it with the world.  Believe me, no one is going to believe in your book more than you, but no one is going to even know about it unless you share.  Plus, some people will even PAY you to read it.  So yeah, we all write because we love it and all that shhttuff (tee-hee), but if you're interested in publishing, you're probably interested in making money doing what you love.  For the first time, authors (not just the super best-sellers) have the opportunity to make a living writing.  But you can't do that unless you go for it.

1.     Finally, time for the next one.  As hard as it is, the best marketing you could do for your book (read: my most precious) is to write the next one.  Each book teaches you more about your craft and yourself, so they get better the more you write.  Plus, once you actually do find your audience, they're going to want more of your work.  You need to have more to offer, and the only way to do that, is to write the next one.  Also, the reality is, this seems to be the way to move up in the rankings consistently--putting out new books regularly (see number 3), especially if you can make your first one a loss leader.  Readers will get hooked with the first book.  Then come back for all the others (::crosses fingers::).

I hope you found something helpful in this post.  Now, I'm off to obsess over my sales and rankings.  Yeah, I know--number 3.  I'm learning, but I'm far from perfect.

Edge of Mercy blurb:


Charlie hides her true identity, but her very presence places everyone around her in danger. With no other choice but to remain where she is, she stays with a community that might not be as benevolent as it appears. In this new and dangerous version of the world, where a friend might be an enemy and an enemy might be a friend, seventeen-year-old Charlie protects her baby sister and herself from grotesque monsters outside the community as well as human ones inside. Will the truth she discovers about her protectors save her or ultimately doom her to a fate worse than death?


Amazon Buylink
BN Buylink--coming soon!
Kobo Buylink--coming soon!
Smashwords Buylink

Happy Reading and Writing!

Cherie/C. C.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Come Find Me at Darkling Delights

What's the appeal of the dystopian genre? Stop by Darkling Delights to weigh in today as I guest blog.  I'll also be sharing an excerpt from Edge of Mercy.  Stop by if you get a chance:

http://t.co/VclMmHFJ

Happy Reading and Writing,

Cherie/C. C.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mercy is LIVE on Amazon!

In anticipation of my July 31st release date for Edge of Mercy, the flash fiction piece, turned short story, "Mercy," is now live on Amazon.  For those of you who've read the flash fiction posted here and on Smashwords, this is an expanded version that I pubbed for kindle to make sure I could figure it out before I completed the process for Edge of Mercy.

Everything went pretty smoothly, and I have to thank the Indie Romance Ink Yahoo loop and the awesome folks with Kentucky Indie Writers.  Without them, I don't think I would have ever attempted something like this.  If you're interested, I'll put the various links below.  Currently, it is $.99 at Amazon and free at Smashwords, but don't download from B&N, Kobo, or any other retailers until the expanded edition is available.  The expanded edition is about 9800 words and the flash fiction piece is about 1200.  So, make sure you pay attention.

Anyway, here it is for the world to read:

Charlie’s true identity is a secret, but her very presence places everyone around her in danger. With no other choice but to remain where she is, she stays with a community that might not be as benevolent as it appears. In this short dystopian romance where a friend might be an enemy and an enemy might be a friend, seventeen-year-old Charlie must protect her baby sister and herself from grotesque monsters outside the community as well as human ones inside. Will the truth she discovers about her protectors save her or ultimately doom her to a fate worse than death?


Amazon Buylink
Smashwords Download

Happy Reading and Writing,

Cherie Marks/ C. C. Marks

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Big Reveal for Edge of Mercy


______________________________
 <---What do you think of the cover?

Literally, just a couple weeks away from the publication of Edge of Mercy.  My excitement is building, but like any major project, there have been a few issues along the way.  Not the least of which was creating my second cover ever and then losing it to the computer gremlins.  Yeah, I get why people pay for book covers.  Next time...next time.  Yet, I think it was for the best because it gave me a moment to step back and think through the process a little more.  I really, really like the finished product I was finally able to SAVE today, but I'm definitely still learning.  Here's a little more about Edge of Mercy:


Charlie’s true identity is a secret, and her very presence places everyone around her in danger. With no other choice but to remain where she is, she stays with a community that might not be as benevolent as it appears. In this post-apocalyptic romance where a friend might be an enemy and an enemy might be a friend, seventeen-year-old Charlie must protect her baby sister and herself from grotesque monsters outside the community as well as human ones inside. Will the truth she discovers about her protectors save her or ultimately doom her to a fate worse than death?
For updates about this book and other reads like it, check out my new-fangled blog at http://www.ccmarkswrites.blogspot.com

Happy Reading and Writing,

Cherie Marks/C. C. Marks



Monday, July 9, 2012

Stuck in the Mud--How to Get Through Writer's Block

Right now, I've been working on a short story for over a week and it's driving me crazy.  I'm stuck at one scene and have been for the last two days.  I've exhausted my bag of tricks, and I can't seem to get unstuck.  Sadly, I'll write a sentence, then erase it.  I rant at my internal editor to back off, but she's planted firmly on my shoulder and keeps pushing my muse off.  I backtrack to see if something took a wrong turn earlier in the story, but nothing seems to work.  I've been here before, and I'll probably be here again, but it doesn't change the fact I can't get out of this funk.

It reminds me of one of the funniest scenes in National Lampoon's European Vacation, when Chevy Chase's character can't figure out the round-a-bout in London.

Yep, that's me.  No matter how many times I try, I can't get to "The End."

One of my last ditch efforts to unblock myself is to visit some of the blogs from which I've learned the most.  After hitting a couple unsuccessfully, I came across deanwesleysmith.com.  I often visit here after a trip to his wife's blog kriswrites.com.  And can usually find something new at both sites that I truly didn't know or quite understand before.

Last January, Dean Wesley Smith gave himself a challenge to write 100 short stories in a year, and starting July of this year, he's taken up the challenge once again.  Now, I'm not nearly that prolific and don't have plans to attempt any such challenge.  I'd like to just finish the one I started last week.  Yet, as I read through his process for the first story, I was intrigued.  I'd heard it before, but he said it again, and it was worth repeating.  Sometimes, you just had to write through the hard scenes, word-by-word, and keep on going, even if you don't know where it's taking you or if it's salvageable material at all.  I've done that before and been pleased with the results, changing some, but keeping most of what I wrote.  It works.

But, it was the next post that really spoke to me.  It seems after he went through his process and published that story, someone took the time to comment to say it had too many typos and mistakes.  The nerve of some people.  Whether it takes a week or a year, every story is precious to a writer.  It's personal, even when it's not.  It's a part of him or her.  So, it was enough to make Dean Wesley Smith want to give up the challenge--after just one story.  I totally get this.  You know why?  Because when you have to work incredibly hard to suppress your own internal editor, any little criticism just throws all that work out the window and makes it impossible to shut that trashy witch up.

I recently finished a manuscript I have serious plans for and have passed it on to Beta readers who have already given me plenty of feedback, even some criticisms.  Now that's all in my head, swirling around like a summer windstorm, and I can't get to "The End" on my current story.

I'll finish this story.  I'm determined to.  And at least now I have a better grasp of what exactly keeps getting in my way.  Just wish my Muse would grow a pair and knock the IE off my shoulder.  Until then, I'm going to do what I know best--power through.  Wish me luck and any advice is always appreciated.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Cherie Marks

Sunday, July 1, 2012

4th of July Blog Hop and Giveaway!


Blog Hops are the best and when so many authors participate and offer up so many prizes, it only gets better.  The Blog Hop Spot is hosting a blog hop for the 4th of July and I'm excited to participate.


What do you have to do?  Just click on the rafflecopter at the end of the post and find the entries you're willing to participate in to be entered.  It's that simple.  Don't forget to visitThe Blog Hop Spot 4th of July Hop to click on all the other hop stops for more great prizes.



Blurb

Months after he stole her affections—then her executive chef position—Shyann and Luke meet again under sizzling circumstances, competing head-to-head on a televised cooking show called Kitchen Twist. Each arrives with a motive: Luke intends to win back Shyann’s heart, even as she wants closure on the not-so-tasty heartbreak he once served up.

Luke knows culinary masterpieces require a delicate touch, but that knowledge is tossed out with the leftovers as he works to show Shyann he’s not such a bad guy. Now he pushes his skills to the limit to win the competition and satisfy a bet.

Can two top chefs resist each other as they move out of the pan and into the fire?

Excerpt

Silence reigned for half a minute before he reached out a hand and touched hers like a breezy
whisper. Her head went a little fuzzy at the warm contact. He shouldn’t still be able to affect her so
strongly.

“I regret it went down the way it did, but why did you show me the exit before giving me a chance
to explain, not to mention—dress? Enlighten me, sugar cheeks?”

With a jerk, she pulled her hand free. He was really asking for it. Sugar cheeks? Seriously? Now
she knew he was only messing with her. She could give as well as she got.

“Tell you what. You win tonight, and I’ll give you your chance. You lose, we go our separate ways,
and you walk out all by yourself, big boy.”

A crooked grin formed on his face as he reached a hand toward her hair. He fingered an escaping curl
before she pulled away, leaving his hand hanging in mid-air.

“You can call me big boy all you want, but I’ll do you one better. How about if I win, I take you to
dinner, and you let me explain the whole situation?”

She felt her eyebrow rise and knew he’d read it as interest, but she didn’t care at the moment. “I
honestly don’t want to hear any explanation from you now or ever, but if I win? Which I will, of
course.”

“Then I’ll leave it up to you. If you want me to walk away, I will.” He took a step closer, placed his
hand on her shoulder, and leaned down, his mouth right next to her ear. “But if you want me to call you darling, sweetheart, and sugar cheeks all night long, I’ll do that too.”

Into the Fire Amazon BuyLink: http://tinyurl.com/3f7vfnp
Into the Fire TWRP BuyLink: http://tinyurl.com/3mfn3zj
Facebook– http://on.fb.me/qRl1lD
Twitter— http://twitter.com/cheriemarks
Other links on the sidebars

Enjoy the HOP!


a Rafflecopter giveaway