Self-Published Authors are Real Authors

Over the weekend, I read an article. I’m not going to mention names or titles, but if you’re an independent author, you probably know which one I’m talking about.  In his article, the author lists many reasons why self-publishers should not be considered real authors.  Believe it or not, the article didn’t make me angry.  It did irk me enough to write this post (twice – I had just finished when I accidentally clicked a different tab – deleted everything), but to be honest, it really just made me roll my eyes.  It was written with such ignorance.  Clearly, this guy knows nothing about independent authors.

There’s a stereotype out there that independent authors are the ones who aren’t good enough to be published by a big traditional publishing house.  We’re the second-stringers who are so desperate for notoriety and publicity, and perhaps even fame and fortune, that we publish our own work ourselves because no one else will touch it.  Let me tell you right now, if writing books and going through all the work is just for fame and fortune, I can think of like, a hundred different ways to try to go about that, all of which would be significantly easier and less of a hassle than publishing your own book.

Don’t get me wrong.  Writing and publishing is a joy, one of the greatest joys in the world.  But it’s also a lot of work, work that I wouldn’t be willing to put into anything that I didn’t want to do with all my heart and soul.  Independent authors don’t have the luxury, the resources, the funds, or the man-power of a traditional publishing house.  True, I have editors and a cover designer whom I appreciate all the way to the moon and back, but everything else, I’ve done on my own.  But I don’t regret it for a moment.  By choosing the independent route, I retain all rights to my work.  I never have to worry about contracts or bottom lines.  There’s a great deal of freedom in the indie world.  There is also a great deal of love.  Independent publishing is a labor of love.  And it always will be.

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In related news, I spent yesterday reading Snow Globe by my friend and fellow author, Jeanne Skarsiaris yesterday.

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It’s a great book about a teenaged psychic, thrilling and the perfect read for a cold, dreary day.  Also, I’m quoted on the back!  How cool is that?

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You can read the rest of my review and the reviews of others here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24847594-snow-globe?ac=1

Finally, my dear friend and editor, Hannah Alvarez, is in the process of getting her new business up and going.  She’s designed a line of mix-and-match stuffed animals called Snapdragons and they are simply adorable.  Her campaign will be coming to Kickstarter in April.

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Everyone have a wonderful Monday.  And stay warm.  We’re iced in down here.  Perfect writing weather!

HubPages Update

Okay, so apparently I don’t know how HubPages works and my actual posting did not get published.  The problem now is that I have no idea how to make it work.  See, this is why writers shouldn’t be required to do anything on a computer other than WRITE.

Anyway, if you’d like to read what I wrote, here it is.

“Once upon a time, the path to becoming a published author was a one-way street. Your manuscript was either picked up by one of the big companies in the industry, or your chances of being published were slim at best. Today, options for writers and aspiring authors of all ages, from all walks of life, are endless. Resources are available to anyone and everyone who has ever dreamed of writing and publishing a book.

I’m going to stop right there, because I know what a lot of people are thinking. So thanks to the self-publishing industry, anyone can publish a book, no matter the quality. It’s true. Independent authors and publishers still have a difficult time getting the big time sellers and critics to take them seriously. Several professionals and readers will automatically presume that if a book is independently published, then it’s poorly-written, not good enough for the big publishing houses, ergo, not worth reading or even considering. For several writers, self-publishing is a last resort – something they’ll consider only if absolutely no one else will take their manuscript.

After I decided that I wanted to pursue publishing back in 2012, I realized that I knew almost next to nothing about the process. I went to the library, invested in the 2013 Writer’s Market, and consulted everyone I knew who either had or knew someone who had published a book. I was advised by several friends and family members to try to find an agent. I knew the process was going to be a long one. Agents receive thousands of query letters a week, and very few of those queries result in requests for full or even partial manuscripts.

After a few months of trying (and failing) to find an agent, I decided I had two options. I could pursue a contract with a traditional publishing house without an agent, which would have meant more months of waiting and almost inevitable rejection, or I could take matters into my own hands and get to work immediately. I ultimately decided to pursue independent publishing after consulting with a fellow author.

My decision was not solely based on my desire to see my book published quickly, although that was definitely a plus. I liked the idea of retaining all the rights to my work. I also liked the idea that I had complete control over my book and what happened to it. I put so much time and effort and love into my book, who better to publish and promote it? Unlike a big company who only cares about how much money a book can bring in, independent authors and publishers care about the integrity and well-being of their work.

Furthermore, the independent community is a wonderful place to connect with authors who are willing to share not only their passion, but their support and guidance. For every newly published independent, there are several professionals who know the steps, who’ve been through the entire process, and who can become not only tremendous allies, but also wonderful friends.

I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve done as an independent author. My journey as a publisher is one I never really expected to take, but I am so thankful for the experience. It’s given me the opportunity to learn, to grow, and to really appreciate the work not only that I’ve done, but the work of storytellers and authors and poets all over the world.”

Brainspill Part II

I have a lot of stuff on my mind.  That can be a good thing.  I think I’d rather have too much to think about than absolutely nothing.  However, it does my brain a little muddled and distracted having all these different thoughts floating around.  All these thoughts are mostly combinations of things I need to do, things I want to do, and things that I want to share.  I also want to keep updating semi-regularly, because I feel like I’ve been doing a good job with that recently.  I also need to keep talking and spreading the word about…

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Subtlety at it’s finest.

1.  Today’s challenge has been converting Cemetery Tours into a file suitable for Kindle and other eBooks.  Now, the company I used will do that for you.  However, when I clicked the “read through” version, I noticed several things wrong.  The title, for example, was so huge, the word “Cemetery” didn’t fit into one line.  It ended up looking like this…

CEMETER

Y TOURS

Not gonna work.  It was also missing a table of contest and the ISBN number was wrong.  So, I had to go and reformat the entire things.  It wasn’t too difficult, unless you count creating that stupid table of contents.  That was torture.  But I’m not good with computers, so maybe it was just me.  Although I think the most difficult task is over, I will still be working on it for the rest of the weekend to make sure it’s ready for Tuesday.

2.  I really like LinkedIn.  However, I keep clicking on people’s profiles over and over again to scroll through their “connections” to see if I can find anyone else I know and I’m afraid it’s telling the people that I keep viewing their profiles over and over again and that they’ll think I’m a stalker.  So… any of my friends on LinkedIn who are reading this, I’m sorry.  I promise I’m not creeping on you (I save that for Facebook).

3.  I have to start getting serious about the release party.  I’ll probably have about three or four lists to make this weekend.  That’s okay though, because I like planning and I like making lists.  I would kind of rather be doing that than formatting for Kindle.  I’m telling you, formatting is my absolute least favorite part of the publishing process.  Seriously, it sucks.

4.  I need to order two books ASAP to send in to the Library of Congress.

5.  I need to start focusing on getting the sequel going.  I’m on Chapter 7 right now, but for as long as I’ve been writing, Chapter 7 has always been the bane of my existence.  I am not kidding.  Every single book I write, I always get stuck on Chapter 7 and it takes like, four times as long to finish it as it should.  Chapter 7 is obviously cursed.

6.  As much as I need to focus on the sequel, however, my muse is really wanting to work on my other stuff tonight.  I know a lot of writers say that you need to pick a book and stick with it.  However, you have to reward yourself sometime.  You always write the best stuff when you write what you want to write (Say that ten times fast.  Go!).

7.  I just know I’m going to forget something really crucial about this whole publishing process, which is why I feel compelled to write everything down.

8.  I need to start hanging up my little postcards on more community boards.  Here’s a picture of the ones that I hung up in Starbucks last week.

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9.  If you’ve written a book, please leave me a link in the comment section below!  I want to support you!!

Here are all my links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Cemetery_Tours

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18470430-cemetery-tours

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

10.  If you have any marketing advice, words of wisdom on getting my book out there, please leave a comment of send me a message!  Any tips, experiences, or stories are so appreciated!  Thank you!

11.  I really want to watch The Count of Monte Cristo, but of course, I can’t find my DVD.

12.  I found out that Julianne Moore has been cast as the villainous President Coin in Mockingjay Parts I and II.  While I’m sure Ms. Moore will do a fantastic job, I’ll admit that I was hoping for Viola Davis to get the role.  For some reason, when I read the book, she is the one I envisioned.  She’s such a brilliant actress and she’s so beautiful!!!

Nerve-Wracking

I’ve always been a careful person, but never nit-picky enough to qualify as a “perfectionist.”  I’m not neat.  I’m not organized.  I’m convinced that if the mess in my bedroom can make itself, it should be able to clean itself up as well.  However, I’ve always been confident in my ability to do quality work, and especially in my ability to write (That being said, I really hope this post is grammatically correct or I might be something of a joke).  I was always eager for teachers and professors to read my term papers and essays, because I knew I had done a good job.

I am really, really, really excited for people to read Cemetery Tours.  I’m confident in my book, my story, my characters, all of it.  I was a little nervous when my teacher and my friend read it, but having passed the test as far as both of them are concerned, I’m ready to share it with the world.  I like it, and I really think readers will like it, too.  I wouldn’t be talking about it so much if I didn’t!  Trust me, I do not like being embarrassed.  I’d rather be in some kind of physical pain than be embarrassed.  And there are things that I’ve written that, yes, if they got out, I would be SO embarrassed.  Fortunately, Cemetery Tours is not one of them.  I am really, really proud of my book.

Turning the final version into my printing company, however, was probably one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve ever done in my life.  I just know that something’s going to be wrong with it, even though my editor edited it and my high school literature/English/grammar teacher edited it and my genius author/valedictorian/Summa Cum Laude/double major/law doctorate friend edited it and I myself read it through about a hundred bajillion million times.  I am still convinced that something is going to be wrong.

Apparently, this is normal.  All independent authors and publishers have talked about “polishing that manuscript.”  Well, this one has been polished, painted gold, spit-shined, and then polished again.  Still, there are no guarantees that there’s nothing wrong.  We are human, and to err is, unfortunately, human.  But I can’t edit forever.  No one can.  At some point, you have to take the editor’s cap off and replace it with the publisher’s bowler hat (For the record, I’m not sure publishers actually wear bowler hats).  You’ll never be able to move forward if you’re always second guessing not only yourself and your own abilities, but those around you whom you’ve trusted with one of the most personal and precious things to an author; your manuscript.  I never, ever thought I’d let anyone read something so personal.  If I was willing to take that step, I have to take the next and trust, once and for all, that Cemetery Tours is good enough and it is ready to be shared.  That goes for all manuscripts out there being primped for publication.

This is the home stretch, y’all.  I’ve been waiting for it for so long, and I can’t believe it’s finally here.  Thank you all for your support.  Please say a prayer, not only for me, but for all the indies out there.  We don’t ask for much.  As hokey as it sounds, we’re just trying to make our dreams come true.

I’m finally ready.

A Writers Life For Me

This last week has been super busy, but last night, I finally found some time to get back to writing.  I have three novels in the works and an idea for one more that I am really excited about.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I am something of a commitment-phobe.  It is really hard for me to just pick one story to work on and stick with it.  Alas, that is how the creative mind works.

I do need to get serious about prioritizing my time, however.  I really want to be able to release my next book, hopefully as early as next spring.  I am fairly confident I will be able to accomplish this.  I’m just not sure which one it’s going to be yet.  As of right now, I’m pretty sure it will be the sequel to Cemetery Tours, since that’s the one I worked on last night and it’s also the one that’s been in my head the longest.  My writer friend also thinks it would be a good idea to release it instead of starting a brand new series.  He’s really smart, so I’ll probably end up taking his advice.

I realized last night that one of my very favorite things about writing is that you can have everything planned out in your head about the way your story is going to go and about what’s going to happen, and yet your characters can still end up surprising you.  I think a lot of people are under the false impression that the author is in total control of what happens in the story.  It’s so far from true.  The characters that we create have to act as we wrote them to act, not how we want them to act.  For example, last night, I discovered a whole new serious side to one of my characters that I really didn’t know existed until I wrote this one particular scene.  That might sound a little crazy, but it’s true.  You can never predict just how a scene or a character is going to play out.

Aside from that, I’m really just waiting for September 17!  I’m going around and passing out my little post cards with all the information on it, hoping to get the word out a little more.  I also bought the first of several prizes for the release party that I’m hosting!  I really can’t wait.  I think it will be a blast!

Celebrating September!

Well, folks.  It’s here.  It is September 1 and we have 16 days until Cemetery Tours is released!  I still don’t think it’s really sunk in for me.  I know it will.  But there’s still a whole lot of work that needs to be done.

In honor of September 1, however, I have decided to make the first two chapters of Cemetery Tours downloadable as a free PDF.  I hope that y’all enjoy it and will be back to buy the book on September 17!  Or any time after that, really.  🙂

So, without further ado, here it is!  I hope it works!

Cemetery Tours Chapters 1 & 2

Cemetery Tours © Jacqueline E. Smith 2013

Quick Cemetery Tours Update

On a Cemetery Tours related note, I have spent the last week going through and editing the book (I swear, the edits NEVER END!) and will be spending the rest of the evening making changes to the manuscript.  Next week I’m hoping I’ll be able to spend a lot of time MARKETING.  That’s going to be the big thing these next two weeks!  Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it’s getting so close!  I’m nervous and exciting and ready and terrified! 

Staying Focused

I pretty much love everything about writing, but my absolute favorite party has to be the very beginning.  That first moment you get a brand new idea for a story and you’re so excited about it that you make a whole new Pinterest board and a new iTunes playlist entirely dedicated to this one idea.  It’s new!  It’s exciting!  You can see it!  You can practically breathe it.  

Then that little angel who lives on your shoulder taps you.  

“Eh-hem.”  

Oh right.  I have a book that’s coming out in about three weeks that still needs my attention.  In fact, I really need to get the ball rolling on that.  Like, I shouldn’t even be eating or sleeping or breathing.  I should just be focusing on that book.  

It’s a good problem to have.  You know, to be so excited about a new idea that you forget about everything else.  Then again, I really want to be working on this new idea when I still have a zillion things to do, not only for Cemetery Tours, but for the three other books that I have in the works!  I wish I could clone myself.  That way, I could work on all five of the stories at the same time!  

These Next Few Days

These next few days probably aren’t going to be all that eventful.  I will be spending the weekend rereading the manuscript AGAIN (of course this time, it’s in book format… yay!) checking for misprints, typos, and errors.  I’ve already found one spot where I left out a word.  It’s incredible.  You can read through a manuscript a hundred times, have twelve different people read through it (most of whom are INCREDIBLY intelligent) and you can STILL have errors!  Holy cow!  

But in the end, it will be worth it.  I want this book to be professional quality, and that means making a professional effort.  

On the more exciting however, I have officially procured a place for the Cemetery Tours launch party!  I am really excited about it!  I can’t wait to start planning and making arrangements!  I have also started handing out some Cemetery Tours postcards with all the information on the back around my community, so hopefully the word will spread!  

As usual, I will keep you updated!    

Dream Cast

Okay, so I’m not sure how many authors actually do this, but I imagine quite a few have at least some idea of which actors and actresses they would cast should they ever be lucky enough to have their book adapted into a movie.  It helps to have an actor or actress whose performance and way of speaking are familiar to you to bring characters to life inside your mind.  I didn’t cast the entire book, since I want to keep at least a little mystery in the book, but I want to share my ideal casting choices for the five main characters.

Matthew Gray Gubler as Michael Sinclair.  I’ve been in love with him ever since I saw my very first episode of Criminal Minds.  I knew right then and there that he would be my inspiration for at least one of my leading men, and it just so happened that he fit reluctant medium Michael Sinclair to a tee; cute and awkward with a dry sense of humor.  I’d also love to see Matthew Gray Gubler as the star of the show!

Amanda Seyfried as Kate Avery.  This “casting” was easy.  I love Amanda Seyfried.  I’m a huge fan of all good chick flicks, and she happens to star in several of my favorites, such as Letters to Juliet and Dear John.  I’ve always found it more difficult to write likable female characters.  You want them to be nice, smart, fun, but you never want a Mary Sue; a character who is just so perfect that she’s annoying.  The most important thing for me in writing Kate was that I wanted her to be real.  I didn’t want her to be a perfect Jane Austen-reading, veggie burger-eating, shy girl next door.  I wanted her to be a funny, outgoing, neurotic, pizza-loving, television fanatic.

Jensen Ackles as Luke Rainer.  Okay, any fan of Supernatural will understand how he inspired the dreamy, ghost hunting superstar, Luke Rainer.  He’s loud, charismatic, flirty, but he also has a more serious side that he doesn’t let a lot of people see.  He’s not above a little manipulation to get what he wants, but in the end, you still can’t help but love him.

AJ Trauth as Gavin Avery.  So, for those of you who don’t remember him, or weren’t old enough to appreciate good television in the late 90’s – early 2000’s, this guy played Twitty in the Disney Channel sitcom, Even Stevens.  I’ve never seen him in a really serious role, but physically, he fits the bill for Kate’s haunted brother, Gavin.

Cody Linley as Eugene “Brink” Brinkley.  Okay, so, this guy is a lot older now than he was when this picture was taken, but since this is a dream casting, I figure I can get away with using whomever I want.  And yes, if you’re wondering, this is Jake Ryan from Hannah Montana.  I know his character was kind of a tool, but I kind of  liked him.  Besides, he’s just how I imagined Michael’s friend and roommate, Brink; youthful, carefree, funny, slightly immature, and optimistic.

The End.

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