Sunday, July 22, 2012

How I Became a Self-Published Author

Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies the Thriller Novel is NOW available in ebooks and paperback!
Check it out here in paperback:
Or on Amazon Kindle here:
So you would like to be self-published or maybe you want to know how I did it...

Let's look at why literary agents and publishers reject work. We've all heard of the slush pile and know those editors are busy skimming through huge stacks of manuacripts, but getting rejected is not just a matter of getting lost in the mix. With self-publishing, as with anything else in life, follows the law of nature that good work rises to the top.

I've written for years. I wrote many short stories and submitted them to sci-fi and fantasy magazine. I was turned down with two or three word rejections written on the manuscripts: "Too long" (When they say 500 words they mean it!) "Not suitable" to the subject matter (fantasy, paranormal, apocalypse, etc. is not Sci-fi). The lesson there for becoming published, or being successfully self-published is to know your market.

I wrote two and a half unpublished fantasy novels based on Dungeons and Dragons games in college - yes, I am a geek. They were fun games and I wanted to remember them well. I wrote them down and then decided it would make a good book if I changed just a few things. The lesson I learned there is that I needed to change everything around in the story, time-line and keep only the character names, some character traits, and some of the things that were said in conversation. Don't get bogged down in your fiction with the idea that your real story "didn't happen that way". If you want to write fiction, write a good story.

On that note, I recently ran into a poem writer who admitted she gets so attached to her words that she can't let them go and delete a sentence or a stanza. Let it go! You may have the perfectly formed descriptive prose in your manuscript but if it doesn't fit the scene then get rid of it! your writing will improve with practice and you won't miss that bad sentance for very long after you see how much better the scene is without it.

The reality of all writing is to write well. As a writing coach told me one time, "If you remove all the bad writing from your work, you are left with good writing." Learn the recognize your writing weaknesses. Learn to rephrase and rewrite sentences so that they flow well through the scene. The lesson here is to know your tools. The English language is a tool set for transmitting information. Know how to use it! Good stories are well written, crisp, easy to read, and flow naturally. Make sure you balance dialog with narrative and action.  J.R.R. Tolkien was a great writer and his works are wonderful, but in today's book reading market people will simply not read three pages of description about a landscape scene - unless it is a book about landscaping!

Skipping ahead... so you now have a well written book and all your friends are kind to you and tell you that it is great. Don't take their word for it! It's free advice! Free advice is almost worthless (unless your friends are literary agents or "big publisher" editors.) I edited Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies no less than 11 times, and 5 or 6 of those times were AFTER my copy editor made her first pass through the work. Write and edit, write and edit and then keep editing.

Okay, so NOW you have a well written book... You need a book cover. Hopefully you can do it yourself or you hired someone to create a book cover for you. Hopefully you don't have to learn about PDF printing to get the correct size and shape demanded by your POD company. I used GIMP, a free image editing tool, to produce my book covers, but my POD company (Createspace) couldn't accept huge size PDFs. The free PDF printers I installed for creating the final cover PDF document were 60 megabytes. The Print on Demand company had a maximum size of 40 Meg. to reduce the size I had to compress the graphics quality and the only option was a 1 Meg file size, but the image quality was terrible. To solve this problem I downloaded a trial version of Photoshop to simply print the pdf. I personally finished the Julie Rayzor book cover within the 30 day free trial. The good thing is that photoshop has a subscription service of only about fifty bucks a month, so you don't have to go out of pocket for the hundreds of dollars to buy it. Build your book cover using GIMP and print it using a free trial or subscription to Photoshop (and then cancel your subscription).

NOW: You have a well written book and a book cover... What else do you need? Advertising. Amanda Hocking is famous for selling a million copies of her book in one year as a self published author. The reality is she worked on advertising for ten years. She gave away copies of her work to the thousands of friends she made on social websites over that ten years. She had a following and she did it herself. If you don't want to work for ten years, well then you need to have millions of dollars to give to a big publisher to hire television advertising. I'll bet that you, like me, don't have millions of dollars to produce, create, and release TV advertising commercials.

So while we are social networking what else can be done?

I personally "donated" about a thousand dollars (when I was still in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy and walking away from ten years of real estate holdings that turned upside down) to make a video for Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies. I bought two nearly complete military costumes one piece at a time on eBay. I bought Airsoft helmets and camouflage helmet covers, belts, holsters, Airsoft military weapons - painted with silver modeling paint to look like worn, battle scarred real guns. We got sweat shirts for the girls, canteens, etc. I grabbed a couple black pouch binoculars and slid them on the belts to look like gear and equipment. I solicited friends and looked on Craigslist for actors to star in the video. I sweated and worried that actors wouldn't show up. I hired stand-ins and undersudies and paid them all for showing up - just in case. My wife and kids helped me put together a story board for two versions of the video - with and without zombies. We drew picturs of each scene on small pieces of paper and taped them up in the order we wanted them to appear and moved them around to test different concepts. Then we filmed. After filming we edited the video on a PC and when the video and sound was right we pushed it onto youtube.

If you do that, you now have a video to go with your book and book cover. So what's next? Sit back and collect money... NOT!

Get on facebook, myspace, pinterest, instagram, twitter, and enter forums related to your subject matter, and then self-promote and advertise. You cannot do enough blatant self-promotion. As a marketing genius friend of mine says, "target your market." If you advertise outside the subject matter, that is almost worthless. Considering the value of your time, it is worthless. I went on zombie webpages and told everyone about the video and book. Post behind the scene images from the video shoot and pin and tag them. Make pages dedicated to your book and invite everyone you know to see them.

Then create a blog and write about your writing and post short stories and excerpts!

That's it for today! I'll leave the details of uploading to Kindle and other ebook websites to another time.

Oh yeah! Don't forget that Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies comes out August 1st, 2012 and please watch the videos of youtube here:

and here:

and see the facebook page here:

See that? Blatant self promotion!

Remember, good work reveals itself! Don't give up! Write and edit, and write, and edit, and then promote and advertise.

And also more self-promotion follows:
Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies is available in ebooks and paperback!
Check it out here in paperback:
Or on Amazon Kindle here:

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