Thoughts on Self Publishing with Ethan Bethune

Here to talk today about self-publishing at Writing Prompts, I’d like to introduce my friend Ethan Bethune. He is a captivating poet, photographer, and he aspires to publish his first book at the start of the year.

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As children we kept journals. We wrote essays for things like 9/11. But I never thought I’d fall in love with writing. Now I write poetry, essays, and short stories. Some for my younger brother and sister, who are special needs children.

Now onto the self-publishing bit. 15 years ago it probably had a lot of stigma around it. I don’t know for sure, but I do know that if you self published, it was pretty obvious because your book was the one that looked like a government food label. And it screamed that you had important things to say, but no one would listen.

But today I will probably be using this indie publishing. It just makes sense. I’ve talked to publishing companies or houses. They on a good day, only ask for your college tuition or left lung…mere Micro fees.

With self publishing, I get so many options that still allow me to have control, or outsource the ones I don’t like ( such as cover design, editing, book binding, etc.).

The biggest thing is it’s affordable. Because it’s printed on demand while being available online as well, and still purchasable globally anywhere from Canada, to our cousins across the pond, to the girl next door on her way to Barnes and Noble.

So for me it just makes sense. I mean, my first book of essays and poetry titled Bleeding Ink is not the easiest thing to get published. I will likely also publish an era series I’ve been posting on my website, titled lettres-de-guerre, War letters, just because it’s hit so well.

With social media as a marketing platform, writing should be fun. I’ve watched artists self publish. And their books were unavailable on Amazon, but using Twitter and all forms of networking to push their book, they’ve sold thousands of copies.

15 years ago? Not the case. I know self publishing or being any kind of indie artist can be overwhelming, but the important thing I think, is that we make good art, regardless of what form we use. So just make things. Because people will read it. These are the stories we leave behind not only for our children, but for everyone.

For more of me, just checkout Regarding Samuel | A writers blog.

Louie’s BIG Day! By Maria I. Morgan

Maria headshot LLBDToday we welcome Maria I. Morgan…

 

Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, what made you decide to write, and how long have you been at it?

I’ll put it this way – I’ve always enjoyed writing. One of my English professors in college pushed me in that direction, but I continued to pursue a degree in the health field. It’s neat to look back and see the doors God opened for me to continue to express myself through writing even when it wasn’t my full-time job.

A little over 5 years ago, I bumped into a girlfriend I hadn’t seen in a while, and she encouraged me to start a blog. I began without clear goals or direction for my writing. I took some writing courses and found the courage to pursue publication.

 

What’s it like writing a children’s book?

It’s both fun and challenging. I loved coming up with the initial storyline and cast of characters for “Louie’s BIG day!”. But I wanted the book to be more than just a cute story.

My goal was to share some important biblical truths in the book, and give parents/grandparents the opportunity to discuss them with their kids.  So I included a few simple application questions at the end to stimulate conversation about God’s purpose and plan for each of us.

 

What project are you currently working on?

I have a few things on the table right now. I’ve written the next book in the Louie-the-Lawnmower series: “Louie & the Leaf Pile.” Now it’s time for Sherrie Molitor (http://sherriemolitor.wix.com/sherriemolitorart#!books/cnec) to work her magic with the illustrations.

I’m currently editing my devotional/Bible study, “Outrageously Fruitful.” And I’ve got another children’s series about a traveling frog that is in the development stage. Never a dull moment!

 

What’s your favorite marketing strategy?

Oh, such a good question. This is my first published book and I am still learning. Developing a team of ‘Insiders’ (people who agreed to read my manuscript and leave an honest review on Amazon) has really helped. They’ve also been fabulous about letting their friends know about the book release through social media.

 

Have you ever had a funny experience connected with being an author?

Actually, I do remember one…I had written an article to pitch to a specific magazine. When it was rejected, I was really disappointed and started submitting it to other publications.

When I finally DID find someone to publish it (without pay), I waited eagerly for my copy of the magazine. When I got it, I thumbed through the issue looking for my article. Imagine my surprise when I located it – only to see the by-line with someone else’s name attached!

It was an excellent lesson in humility! :)

 

Thanks, Maria, for dropping by! For a chance to win a copy of Louie’s BIG Day! leave a comment below!

Louie Lawnmower Front Cover for Kindle export (1)

 

Louie is a bright red lawnmower who used to live at the hardware store with his friends: Ruthie Rake, Eddie Edger, Bobbie Blower, Terri Trowel, and Henri Hose. Recently he was purchased by a man and his wife and now he’s on his own.

Louie misses his friends, but it’s time to find out if he can do the job he was made to do. Join Louie for his BIG adventure and discover the surprise that awaits him at the end of the day!

 

 

Maria I. Morgan was born with an active imagination that shows up in her endearing stories for children. Originally an inspirational author and speaker for adults, Maria has widened her circle to include kids. She lives in the muggy South with her husband, two retrievers, and two Maine coon kitties – the perfect mix to fuel her creativity for years to come!

(You can find her devotionals and download a free copy of her eBook, God Speaking, at http://www.mariaimorgan.com)

Connect with the author:

Website: www.mariaimorgan.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriterMariaIMorgan

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mariaimorgan

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mariaimorgan/

 

Connect with Louie:

Website: http://www.mariaimorgan.wix.com/louie-the-lawnmower

JIM OLSON: AN “EXTREME” SELF-PUBLISHER

222309_2027135080645_1177857_nMy friend Jim is a good writer, devoted husband, a proud U.S. Navy veteran and a very likable guy with an easy smile. He’s also an “extreme” self-publisher. When most writers “go independent,” they usually contract the services of an established self-publishing service, or use a print-on-demand (POD) company that takes a big chunk of the price of each book you sell, and there is an important role for those companies (some are better than others).

But when Jim talks about self-publishing, he means that he personally tackles the entire process from beginning to end: writing, editing, formatting, designing, printing and even binding. And the personal relationship he has with his books is matched only by the personal relationship he has with his readers, selling his books face to face at farmers and crafters markets and other community events.

He is passionate about his faith and his writing, and that passion pours over into the creation of his books and his close connection to his readers. I asked Jim to talk to us about his self-publishing adventure.


DON: Jim, could you briefly sum up your work in self-publishing, and point out what you do differently than most self-publishers?

JIM: I think most self publishing authors use a print on demand company. You send them your book, they print it out for you and sell your 4444_1106847445119_3505009_nbooks back to you. This is how I started. When I saw how much they were selling them for, I knew I had to do something different. After trying different publishers, I started exploring ways to do it all myself. After many attempts and trial and errors, I found a way to print my own books on a laser printer. I designed a press that I use to bind the pages together. I started designing my own covers and having a print shop print them out. Colored ink is way too expensive to print the covers yourself. After gluing the pages, I then glue them to the covers. With this type of publishing I can get a book put together for $3.00 to $6.50, depending on how many pages there are.


DON: How long have you been doing this, and what made you decide to choose this route for your books?

JIM: I finished my first book in 2000 and paid a company to publish it. Then I had to buy my books from them. I only did this once. Sometimes we learn the hard way. The buy back price was pretty high. I figured they made 300% and paid me an 8% royalty. I wasn’t too happy about it, and I was sure there was a better way. On my second two books I used Publish America. They published my books for free but the buy back price was outrageous. The only people who buy their books are the authors who write them, however this is one way to get your book out there. It was after this that I started truly self-publishing on my own.


DON: How would you describe your writing (e.g., genres, themes, style, etc.)?

JIM: When I first started writing, it was poetry that I received directly from the Lord. I started adding short stories and finally had enough for a book. I started writing my autobiography, which took ten years to complete. This was one of the most difficult things I had ever done. During those ten years I wrote several other books that were historical fiction, which is what I enjoy most. I have always enjoyed history. I think John Jakes has had the most influence on me and the genre I write. He also writes historical fiction.

The thing that amazes me the most is the way a story develops as I am writing. People continually ask me where I get all these stories and all I can do is point up to the Lord. For this reason the Lord shows up somewhere in each of my books, and I find that most people enjoy this.


DON: How do you get your books into the hands of readers, and how does that affect your connection with them?

704203_4624406221890_946626654_oJIM: At first my readers were friends and family. They encouraged me to get my books out to the public which is easier said than done. I created a web site and advertised my books on it. This is okay but very slow. I have a few on Amazon.com, but they like to raise the prices quite high. I sold most of my books at the local Farmers Market. They sell very well and I get a lot of feedback from the readers. I am continually looking for better marketing ideas, but it is very difficult and you have to be very careful who you are dealing with.


DON: Last question – your publishing endeavor is obviously a lot of work. But would you say you’re also having fun with it?

JIM: You’re right, it is a lot of work, and because I enjoy it so much I continue on. Even if I had no way of getting my work out to the public I would continue to write. I feel it is a gift from God, and if he wants it out there he will help me in some way.

DON: Thanks for your time, Jim. We wish you all the best with your writing and publishing.


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Please check out Jim’s website to ask him questions about his publishing work, and to see his current list of books: www.jimolsonsbooks.com

Amelia’s Legacy by Betty Thomason Owens

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Today we welcome our own crew member, Betty Thomason Owens, to talk about her latest novel, Amelia’s Legacy.

 

(1)  Have you always wanted to be an author?

Betty: The desire to write hit me in my thirties. It took me by surprise, because I had never really thought about it, though I had written stories all my life and I’ve always loved to read.

(2)  What’s your favorite method for keeping a story’s middle from sagging?

Betty: That reminds me of my grandma’s porch. It was sagging, so they used concrete blocks to prop it up until the cotton harvest, when they’d have money to fix it. Sorry, that’s what popped into my head. Sometimes it takes a concrete block. But it’s best if you tear it out and start over with new wood. Looks better, smells better, and you know you won’t plunge through when you walk on it. A strong story sometimes has to be torn down to the studs and rewritten to strengthen a sagging middle. But concrete blocks in the form of fresh conflict can also help, if the rest of the porch is sound.

(3)  Do you write every day?

Betty: Almost every day, I’m writing something, whether it’s my work-in-progress, or a blogpost, or other articles.

(4)  How will you market your book?

Betty: The usual channels around the internet, but also through friends, word-of-mouth, and reciprocal marketing with other writers. I’ll be attending a couple of state and regional gatherings for writers and I’ve made some connections through locally-owned bookstores who will carry my books.

(5)  Have you ever had a funny experience connected with being an author?

Betty: I was at a regional book signing event for local Kentucky authors last year and was honored to share the table with author Virginia Smith and her mother, Amy Barkman (also an author). As the day progressed, Amy, sitting next to me, began to empty her purse on the table, looking for something. Whatever you’re looking for in your purse, it’s always going to be on the bottom. Hers seemed bottomless. It mounded up into quite a pile. I don’t need to go into detail, but let me tell you, she was fully prepared for whatever may come. It’s a good thing we were in the back of the room. We would definitely have created a disturbance, giggling like schoolgirls.

Thanks, Betty, for joining us! Leave a comment to be entered to win a print copy of Amelia’s Legacy.

 

Amelia's Legacy FRONT Cover (2)Amelia’s Legacy

It’s the Roaring Twenties and anything goes! Orphaned and living with her grandmother since the age of six, Nancy Sanderson desires only her freedom from her strict grandmother, Amelia Woods Sanderson, who divides her time between Nancy and a successful career. Her grandmother’s plans include a wealthy, smart, and well-connected young lawyer named Robert Emerson, who bores Nancy. Instead, Nancy seeks the company of the wild-hearted Nate Conners. When her rebellion turns deadly and her dalliance with Nate leaves her in trouble, Nancy turns to Robert, who promises to protect her. But Robert has underestimated Nate’s thirst for revenge. As hidden truths become known, can Nancy find the strength to forgive herself and gain true and lasting freedom?

 

Betty Thomason Owens loves a grand adventure, especially when there’s humor involved. Raising three sons has been her greatest humor-filled experience. Amelia’s Legacy is the first novel in the Legacy series for Write Integrity Press. In addition to the ’20’s era romances, Betty also writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and the upcoming Love Boat BachelorShe has two fantasy-adventure novels in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale Books, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell Press.

You may also connect with her at Facebook, Twitter, andGoogle+.
To purchase her books: Betty’s Books

Bonnie S. Calhoun

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Today we welcome Owner/Director of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and author Bonnie Calhoun to 3 Questions Wednesday.

(1) What is your favorite book? [Bible excluded]

Bonnie: LOL…my favorite books changes from month to month and year to year! As great writers come on the scene, and other writers improve or dig deep and touch a nerve the writing exhilarates and excites. I have several that I guess I could consider favorites…now you have to remember, my favorite style of writing contains the 3-B’s…blood, body count and blowing things up. So one of my old favorites was The Stand by Stephen King. It was the only 1154 page book I’ve ever read. And my new favorite is a tie between two SERIES...the Hunger Games and the Divergent series. What I find interesting is that I read The Stand in 1978, and the other two in the past year…and my favorite genre has remained faithful to dystopian worlds.

(2) If you could walk into any book, what literary character would you want to be?

Bonnie: Hmmm…that is a tough one because I have so many characters in my head that they’d really revolt if I deserted them for some unknown :-) I’ve never had a physical hero in any living person like star or sports figure, and I since I love the dystopian genre I can’t really say that any of those are worlds I want to visit any time soon…although the way we’re going in today’s world we might meet up with that scenario a lot sooner than we’d like.

If I was pinned down with the threat of spiders crawling across my face, I’d panic and say, Selah from my present series…or Sloane Templeton from my first book. I wrote both of those characters as an extension of my wild side, so I could visit both worlds readily and make hay while the sun shined.

(3) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Bonnie: Okay…well see…you sorta locked that one down by specifying “in the world.” If there were unlimited possibilities I’d like to try planets in other galaxies where they think life could be supported…just to see what’s there. After all in Genesis God said (in original King James) that it grieved Him that he made man flesh. So I’d like to see if He found any other favorite medium to form with. But if I’m relegated to this world, I’d say Hawaii. I really like that state!

Thanks, Bonnie, for joining us on 3 Questions Wednesday! Leave a comment for a chance to win a hardcover edition of Bonnie’s new book in the Stone Braide Chronicles series, Thunder. [Continental US residents only]  Also go here to download the prequel, Tremors for free.

Also if you would like to receive future promotional mailings for her latest series, please respond with “Yes” in the comments.

In post-apocalylighter for print Thunderptic America, Selah Chavez is crouched in long grass on a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city.

It is the day before her eighteenth Born Remembrance, and she is hunting, though many people refuse to eat animal flesh, tainted by radiation during the Time of Sorrows. What Selah’s really after are Landers, mysterious people from a land across the big water who survive the delirium-inducing passage in small boats that occasionally crash against the shoreline. She knows she should leave the capture to the men, but Landers bring a good price from the Company and are especially prized if they keep the markings they arrive with.

Everything falls to pieces when the Lander Selah catches is stolen by her brothers–and Selah wakes up the next morning to find the Lander’s distinctive mark has suddenly appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her–Bohdi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell.

With evocative descriptions of a strange new world that combines elements of scientific advances, political intrigue, and wilderness survival, Bonnie S. Calhoun weaves a captivating tale of a world more like our own than we may want to admit.

lighter for print TremorsBonnie S. Calhoun is Owner/Director of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, owner/publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Northeast Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and the ACFW ‘2011 Mentor of the Year.”

She lives in a log cabin in the woods with fifteen acres and a pond full of bass, though she’d rather buy fish at the grocery store. Bonnie shares her domain with a husband, a dog, and two cats, all of whom think she’s waitstaff!

Her sites are:

http://bonniescalhoun.com

https://www.facebook.com/bscalhoun

https://www.facebook.com/bonniescalhoun

https://www.goodreads.com/BonnieSCalhoun

http://www.pinterest.com/bonniecalhoun/

https://www.youtube.com/user/BonnieCalhoun

The Mystery of Self Publishing

TammyTo be perfectly honest, this whole traditional or self publishing dilemma has me baffled. I am so new to the art of writing that it’s all Greek to me. I think the economy has forced a lot of folks to rethink the whole publishing industry. I have heard that in the past, publishing houses used to be pretty liberal with their ability to contract writers who showed they had a creative voice and the talent to back it up. Not so anymore. They are being pretty tightfisted these days, willing only to publish a certain number of books each year, making it harder for new authors to get their product out.

But, is that really true?

I know of several first time authors who are getting contracts from major publishers. So is it more competitive, or are the publishing houses just becoming more selective on the type of product they choose to sell? Perhaps they have just raised the bar a bit more, looking for a product that will sell because they only have limited contracts to invest in.

And even though self publishing is becoming more in vogue, it was only a couple of years ago when I heard, “she is thinking of self publishing,” whispered behind a hand into a friendly ear like it was a naughty word. Now it seems like EVERYONE is doing it. Naughty or not!

I have an acquaintance, who has also been a bit of a mentor to me, she is multi-published in the traditional market, and she has encouraged me to try self publishing. I believe for those authors who are so talented that books just flow from the fingertips like water, self publishing is just a way for them to make money with their craft without going through the middle man and waiting for the traditional publishers to catch up with them.

I googled, “self publishing” to see what it got me. A bit more confused actually.  This article was very helpful:

http://www.cnet.com/news/self-publishing-a-book-25-things-you-need-to-know/

One must be careful of what they get themselves into as well. My mother has a friend who is a writer. She went through what some would consider a “Vanity Press” to get her book published. She signed a contract without looking at the fine print. There were promises made that were not fulfilled, and of course she can’t get out of it without heavy legal fees.

That is why I am so thankful for writing organizations like American Christian Fiction Writers, a community of experienced writers of all levels willing to give advice to folks like me who are just starting out in the craft of writing. There are also a multitude of credible blogs by folks who care about the promotion of craft, like Seekerville, and our own happy place here at Writing Prompts. In my own humble opinion, there are no hard and fast rules about which avenue is better, what really matters is the quality of the writing.

The writing really needs to be top notch, whichever path you choose. Taking time to learn the craft in order to produce a worthy product is still my number one goal. I guess the rest will follow when its ready.

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The Yuletide Angel by Sandra Ardoin

Sandra Ardoin_HeadshotThe Writing Prompts Crew welcomes Sandra Ardoin to our blog.

Congratulations! You’ve written a book and seen it to publication. What are three things you’ve learned from this experience?

Sandra: 1. God has His plan. Through this whole novel (novella)-writing process, I’ve noticed that for every discouraging bit of news, soon after, something encouraging happens to keep me going. It seems the best way to discover God’s incredible timing is through hindsight. While wondering “When will I see that contract?”, He’s working behind the scenes.

2. While family and friends are happy for you, they have a life and it doesn’t revolve around your book. It would be nice to receive a ticker-tape parade, but no one will ever be as excited about this adventure as the author, because only we realize how much sweat and tears go into writing for publication.

3. I’ve discovered how difficult it is to make time for and wrap my head around another project. I’m the type of person who gets started on something and has a hard time stopping, so it’s tricky to go from business matters to creativity. I’ve had to become more organized in both my time and thought processes.

What is your favorite sentence or paragraph in the book?

Sandra: Oh no! You’re asking me to choose a favorite among my babies. That’s hard. But here are a couple of samples. The first is from the point of view of the hero, Hugh Barnes, and the second is from the point of view of the heroine, Violet Madison:

After opening the door and stomping the snow from his shoes, Hugh entered the grocery and stood mesmerized by the sweet laughter coming from across the room—Violet’s laughter, as light and clear as a spoon tapped against fine crystal.

In her whole adult life, she had not imagined a man experiencing jealousy over her. She pinched her wrist. The pain assured her she wasn’t dreaming.

And I sighed over the last few lines of the story, but I won’t include them here.

Writers sit for extended periods of time. What do you do to combat fatigue?

Sandra: I try to get up every half hour or so to walk around. I drink several cups of coffee in the morning and it gets cold after a few minutes, so there’s a path in the den carpet as I hike to the kitchen and the microwave. I also stretch at various times during the day. Movement is always good for both body and brain, but I admit, when I’m really in the zone, I can forget to leave my seat.

How do you personally handle “writer’s block?”

Sandra: I’m a half-plotter, half-pantser, so it always hits me about halfway or two-thirds through the story. Where do I go from here? What’s next? Where’s that bridge from my last scene to the one three chapters ahead? Prayer is always good, but I also keep writing. Sometimes, I’ll work ahead and write a scene I know will be coming up. I read back through what I’ve written (sometimes from page one) if I think I’ve lost the feel of the story.

What fun fact would you like your readers to know about you?

Sandra: Fun? Hmmm … Well, it’s not writing related, but I’m someone who will drive down a road, paved or not, just to see where it goes. During lunch, I stand at the kitchen counter to eat and end up dancing to country songs on the radio, and … Oh, you only wanted one?

The Yuletide Angel CoverThe Yuletide Angel

It’s Christmastime in 1890s Meadowmead, and someone is venturing out at night to leave packages at the homes of the needy. Dubbed The Yuletide Angel, no one knows the identity of this mysterious benefactor. 

No one, except Hugh Barnes, a confirmed bachelor who finds himself drawn to the outwardly shy but inwardly bold Violet Madison, a young woman who risks her safety to help others. 

When Violet confesses her fear of eviction from her childhood home, Hugh longs to rescue her. His good intentions are thwarted, however, when Hugh’s estranged brother shows up in town … and in Violet’s company. 

But Violet faces an even bigger threat. A phantom figure lurks in the shadows, prepared to clip the wings of The Yuletide Angel.

 

Passionate about horses and a fan of old westerns, it’s only natural that Sandra Ardoin sets stories in the days of the horse and buggy. Her Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel, is no exception. Sandy is the married mother of a young adult. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

The Yuletide Angel is available on Amazon.com and at Christianbook.com.