Hi everyone! This is Francesca Hawley.
As I start the new year, I get ready to travel a new path with my writing. I’ve been happy publishing with Ellora’s Cave but with the explosion of new opportunities for writers I’ve decided to try self-publishing – now known as Indie publishing. In preparing to embark on indie publishing for the first time, I’ve been trying to do some research.
Self-publishing isn’t a new phenomenon. You always could publish your own book. It’s just that now the opportunities are very different.
Historically, self-publishing was called vanity publishing. In other words, you were publishing your book as a sop to your pride. In a fit of narcissism and self-importance. Or so everyone believed. Companies set themselves up as publishers who would help you get your book out there when the traditional publishers wouldn’t. Oh, those feeble minded, short sighted publishers, was the charge. Your work is amazing. It’s going to take the literary world by storm. Let me be your partner to get it out there. Pay me and we’ll make it available to the world so your brilliance will be known. Yeah, it was a scam. These vanity presses took your money and usually, though not always, provided you with books. But then you were on your own. You had to store them in your garage. You hawked them out of the trunk of your car. There was no distribution network. You were just out thousands of dollars with very little to show for it. Plus, you could count on a stigma because you paid to have your book printed.
But oh, how times have changed. And the biggest change happened as a result of electronic publishing. Smaller presses who operated similarly to traditional publishing started up. They read manuscripts, contracted books, paid royalties, and sold books using web sites. Turn around was fast. Companies were small. But it began the process of opening the publishing industry up to people who had good work, but just didn’t fit the traditional publishing model.
Ellora’s Cave was one of those start-ups. Jaid Black, the company founder, had been turned away from traditional publishing because she wrote sexy. Graphic language and lots of sex. She was sure she wasn’t alone in wanting to read books like hers, so she started her company. It was all run out of her kitchen on her own little computer at first. Then in 2002 she incorporated the company and began to sell books by authors other than herself. She found a circle of talented writers who also wrote hot books and a new industry was born. EC now has over 4000 titles and contracts with over 800 authors. One of whom is me.
At first all of these books came out in pdf format and had to be read on your computer. There was no curling up in a comfy chair with a good read. Not with the size of computers back then. I can’t imagine curling up with a tower on the floor beside you and a monitor the size of an old style TV in your lap. So it took a while for this new style of reading to catch on.
Until the ebook reader. Suddenly, an electronic book could be held in your hands. You could curl up in your favorite chair with an ebook. Although the Kindle and Nook fought for market supremacy, the winner was the reader. At first there weren’t a lot of books available to buy and you couldn’t get ebooks through your local library. That’s no longer true. Libraries are either buying ebooks outright to offer to their readers or participating as groups to flex their buying muscles and gain access to electronic resources for library patrons through services like Overdrive.
So electronic publishing and especially e-readers paved the way for independent authors to publish their own books. But how is this different from vanity presses, those scams where authors paid the bills but reaped none of the rewards. Well, there are similarities. The author pays for the cover. Editing. The ISBN number. The copyright filing. So yes, it can be expensive. And there are companies out there who package “services” where they agree to do all that for the author at an exorbitant cost. But what’s different now is that because traditional publishing fought the new model so hard for so long, they lost their distribution monopoly.
Oh, they still control most of the print side of things. But not the electronic side. And on the electronic side, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes and others are selling books on web sites which bypasses traditional publishing strangleholds. Amazon came to this early in the game when they set up Createspace for authors to publish their own print books. Amazon also offers Kindle Direct Publishing books for electronic publishing. Smashwords was created by an author whose books didn’t fit anywhere and he opened the service to other authors like himself. Even Barnes and Noble got into the game with Pub-It.
So how does it work? Well, I admit I’m still learning but I intend to give it a try in the next few months. The first thing that is an absolute must. You must have a finished book. You can’t publish in any form without one. Once you have that in hand, you have to make it the best it can be. That means critique partner reviews and beta readers who are those friends or followers who will give you an HONEST opinion. In other words, don’t ask your mom who’ll say “Oh dear this is wonderful” whether it is or not. Then if you really care about your work rather than just throwing something out there to see if it sticks, you should probably pay an editor. You don’t need to pay $5000 dollars to get your book edited. There are editors out there who charge a reasonable price. Find one. Get recommendations from other indie authors. Don’t ever assume.
Next, you need to format your book and each retailer out there seems to have their own criteria for how the formatting should work. So again, you may want to hire someone to format the book for you. And don’t forget the cover art. A cover will make or break your work. Seriously.
We’re always told not to judge a book by its cover, right? Wrong. Every reader out there judges a book by its cover. If your cover looks unprofessional, unappealing or just plain silly. Readers will NOT buy it. That’s just the truth. So pay for a talented cover artist. Now you can find prepaid covers that run from $20-50 dollars. A custom cover can run from $75 – $150 depending on the artist.
Self-publishing, or as it has come to be known now – Indie publishing, is not cheap. It can cost you. But you get what you pay for and so will your readers.
With all the expenses associated with this enterprise, why am I considering this?? Well…Why start any business? To make money. You have your initial capital outlay and then you begin to sell your product. Or as they say, it takes money to make money. Unfortunately that’s true. Nothing is free, but is the effort worth the cost?
The biggest pro to indie publishing is that there are no gatekeepers barring your path. Anyone can publish a book – electronic or print. You just need to be willing to spend the time and money needed to make it happen. It’s really exciting to be a writer now. It’s amazingly freeing. No more do you have to get an agent to publish. No more worries that an editor will love the book but the marketing team won’t know what to do with it, so you don’t get the contract.
Another positive is that indie publishing is fast. Format the file, load it, make some choices about cover art and pricing, click publish and there you are. A published author. A definite plus in our world of instant gratification. It used to be that you had all the waiting I mentioned before, but even after your offer, it took years before your book might make it to the shelves.
Another way that indie publishing is fast. Is the money. Show me the money. With traditional publishing, you got your advance then you had to wait years for royalties, if there were any. With something like Createspace or Smashwords, you can set it up so you receive your payments when you want them. You can set up direct deposit. That’s fast. And as an author, you can follow your sales on a day to day basis to see how you’re doing. You can make projections based on your sales data. Know which way the market is going almost as soon as the readers know what appeals to them next.
Basically, indie publishing is all up to you but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. You assume all the risk but you earn the bulk of the profit and that’s why we’re in business.
If you’re looking for a fun Valentine’s Day read, please check out my erotic romance, Cupid Rocks.
When her parents’ rock band The Pack performs at Zach’s bar, Mandy discovers her True Mate, Joe Blackwolf, the band’s lead singer and guitarist. All she has to do now is convince Joe that she told a little white lie to make her mom happy, her father that rock musicians aren’t all alike, and her new mate’s family that rockers aren’t all that different from classical musicians.
Joe Blackwolf is celebrating his fortieth birthday. And what he wishes for when he blows out the candles is to find his True Mate. He succeeds when he meets Mandy Goldwolf. Problem is…she belongs to someone else. Finding out the truth leaves him free to explore every inch of her smokin’ hot curves, but now Joe and Mandy are neck deep in overbearing relatives and everyone is in for a rockin’ Valentine’s Day.
A Romantica® paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age. If you are under the age of 18, please exit this site.
An Excerpt From: CUPID ROCKS
Copyright © FRANCESCA HAWLEY, 2013
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
“Am I dead, angel? Cause you look like you’re straight from heaven.”
“That has to be the worst line I’ve ever heard,” Mandy laughed, looking up into warm brown eyes. She shivered as he settled into the chair beside her.
“Maybe, but it made you laugh.” He took her hand. “Can I buy you a drink?”
Joe waved over a waiter and ordered for them without once releasing her hand. She could feel the rough calluses guitar playing had created on his fingers, but they turned her on. He turned her on.
This was Joe? “Good ole Joe” as Eddie called him. He was neither good nor old. No. He was gorgeous…and talented. Zach wasn’t kidding when he’d said this Blackwolf was a great guitarist and singer. For the first time since Carly bugged her, she wished with all her might she hadn’t lied about Zach being her mate. Zach might be handsome, but Joe made her throb in places that hadn’t throbbed in all of her thirty-five years.
“So what’s with the camera, angel? Fan or reporter?”
Mandy looked down at her fingers clenched around her camera strap. If she told him who she was, he’d back off so fast she’d see skid marks on the floor. Just this once she wanted to pretend she was someone else. Just tonight. She leaned forward, pressing her lips against his ear.
“I’m more than a fan. I’m a groupie. Can’t you tell?”
He shuddered, turning his head he met her gaze. The fire glowing in his eyes set her boiling. Yes. She had to have him. Now.
“A groupie? For just any rock musician?”
“No, Joe. I want you.”
“yeah,” he growled, standing so abruptly his chair toppled over. No one nearby noticed as he dragged her to her feet. “Where?”
Mandy looked over toward the hallway leading to Zach’s office. They had a clear path. She pulled him after her and they ducked into the shadowy space. He pressed her to the wall and took her mouth in a deep kiss. Their mouths meshed together. Joe pulled back to nip at her lips, then ran his tongue along the inside edge of her lower lip. She caught his long dark hair in her fingers, holding his mouth to hers.
Fire. Heat. She’d never felt anything like this in her entire life. She moaned as his mouth slid to nuzzle her neck. Mandy wrapped her free arm around him, clutching his leather jacket. She lifted her right leg along his hip. He stepped into the opening she’d created, thrusting his hips against hers.
She shivered as his rough fingers slid under her skirt. He pulled her more firmly against him then reached up to her peasant top, untying the drawstring to bare her bra covered breast. His hot breath teased her neck and then his warm tongue licked along the curves of her neck and breasts.
“Hey. Anyone seen Joe?” Mandy and Joe froze as she heard Eddie’s voice. He was close. Too close. She looked in the direction of the entrance to the hallway. She didn’t see him, but he was right there. She knew it. Mandy closed her eyes, fighting to keep her panting excitement from giving them away.
“I think I saw him with a hot chick earlier. I didn’t get a good look at her though. Just noticed she was his type,” Tom responded with a laugh.
Joe groaned in her ear and kissed her cheek. She turned to look up at him. He was still on fire—she could see it—but there was a definite question in his dark eyes. Stop or go?
She lowered her leg and he sighed, then she smiled and grabbed his hand. “This way,” she whispered.
Mandy knew there was an empty unlocked office back here and she wanted this wolf and she wanted him now. He chuckled as they moved into the darkness. She found the door on the right and turned the knob. Hearing the click, she pushed, wincing at the creak when the door stuck. He pushed her through and they shut and locked the door behind them. Mandy flipped the light switch, blinking a bit to adjust to the table lamps that came on. She’d been expecting an overhead.
Joe pulled her over to the empty desk and she climbed up onto it. He stroked her cheek. “You’re sure?”
“Yes. I don’t want to stop. Not now.”