Oct 22

Terra is still deep in the throes of editing, but over the weekend I finalized my cover and simply couldn’t wait to spill!

I worked with the amazing Cassie Johnston, graphic designer extraordinaire and a good friend of mine — even though we’ve never actually met in real life (yet!). We met through our respective blogs, and it was an instant friendship that only the internet could have made possible. She is incredibly talented, as you’re about to see, and I’m infinitely grateful for her help in making this cover a reality!

Drumroll? No? Too much?

Click the image to view larger, if you like!

Obviously, I am flipping out with excitement over the cover. I just ordered another proof copy of the paperback in order to ensure that the colors come out well in reality and whatnot. With this, we’re one step closer to publication!

Would it be appropriate to squee at this point? Actually, I don’t care. I’m going to do it anyway.


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Oct 18

Photos by Taylor (Ben Powell Photography)

So… I received my first proof copy of the book. In real, bound, legit-looking paperback.

Ish just got real.

The first draft of my manuscript is still going through heavy editing and revisions right now, but I was getting really antsy without being able to do much, so I decided to order a preliminary copy of the paperback to ensure that A) I liked the book dimensions I chose, and B) I actually know how to format a book properly. So far, so good!

I went with the 6 x 9, primarily because CreateSpace charges production costs by the page. I was originally planning on going with a 5.25 x 8 ratio, but the page count would have been over 360 at that size, which meant I would have had to price the book unfavorably high in order to make even a few measly cents. Fail. I thought that 6 x 9 might be too big, or feel bulky, but I actually really like it! The ratio of height: width is good, and it’s still sleek enough to fit in most purses, I’d say.

The paperback formatting process is actually quite straightforward. CreateSpace converts your Word document, so you just have to make sure everything looks the way you like (and ensure you’ve followed their guidelines in terms of margins and gutter and whatnot). I printed this copy with .75″ margins, but I actually think I’m going to increase them to 1″. Too many words on a page = harder to read. Plus, this proof is only about 250 pages, which at 6 x 9 doesn’t feel particularly impressive. I think I’m going to try to hit closer to the 280 – 290 mark in the end, still staying under 300 (for cost).

I also need to give a little more thought to the interior font. I went with Garamond for this proof, which seems to be a pretty popular choice for YA fiction (Hunger Games and Twilight were both printed in this font). However, Garamond in italic isn’t the best, so I’m a little torn. Preliminary research also suggests Minion as an option, which I like, though the spacing between lines really increases the pagecount. Decisions, decisions. (You can see examples of top suggested print fonts here or here, if you’re curious.)

Regardless of all the little details that may or may not change, I cannot even begin to tell you how thrilling it is to see your words in actual print. My initial reaction was literally, “Whoa.”

I mean, it’s, like, a real book! I still have a long way to go with the edits and revisions (my editors and I have made it about a third of the way through so far), but it’s still pretty damn exciting. And I have an absolutely amazing cover in the works, which is equally, if not more, exciting to see come together as well! So yes, please imagine a flippin’ sweet cover instead of the dinky little placeholder one I whipped up on CreateSpace’s cover designer.

Man, this really is getting… real.

Which now means all the fears that have been roaming around inside my brain are starting to run a little rampant, of course. I have to literally slap myself in the face to stop myself from being too self-deprecating roughly 3x a day.

Confidence, right? Confidence!

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On why I’m self-publishing

Oct 11

The world of publishing as we’ve known it is changing. Traditional publishing is no longer the only way to get your book, your story, the product of your creative mind out to the masses. With the advent of the eReader revolution and print-on-demand services like CreateSpace, authors are being provided with more and more avenues to explore. It is truly an exciting time.

I, personally, believe in the self-publishing industry so much, that I am purposefully forgoing traditional publishing all together (at least for now). So my attempts to find a modicum of literary success via self-publishing are not in response to being rejected by agents, or publishing houses, or both, but rather come from my belief that this really is the future. I know that sounds cheesy. I’m okay with it.

The bottom line is, while there are still a few reasons to consider traditional publishing — the prestige, the expertise, the tradition — there are also a lot of reasons to self-publish. Arguably, there are MORE reasons to self-publish. These are some of mine.

1. I’m impatient.

The average lifespan of a traditionally published book can be anywhere from 12 months to 2 1/2 years. That’s AFTER you’ve painstakingly spent months to years of your life actually writing your manuscript. After you’ve proofed and copyedited on your own, and maybe had some family and friends do it for you as well. Maybe even after you’ve already hired resources to help get your manuscript in perfect condition. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s a lot of waiting.

The traditional model of publishing’s timeline goes like this: Congratulations! You finished your manuscript. You’ve revised and edited and polished it up. Now, you’re going to need to query agents. That could easily take 3 to 6 months. And once, God willing, you land that agent, he or she is probably going to have some revision for you. And then once you’ve rewritten it to his or her satisfaction, he or she is going to need to shop your book to publishers. And that could take another 3 to 6 months. And THEN, once you finally get a publisher, they’re probably going to have their own revisions. And then want to send it to their editors. Their copywriters. Their design team. Their marketing team. And finally, a year later, maybe more, your book might hit the shelves.

I’m not going to lie, I’m really not patient enough for all of that. I get antsy just waiting for my food to finish microwaving (I’m always that girl who’s pulling her food out with like, 2 seconds left on the clock. Because yes, two more seconds is just too goddamn long to wait!) Self-publishing offers me complete control over my timeline. Waiting for someone else to pull the trigger, to make decisions, that’s not part of the self-publishing program, and I dig that. I dig it good.

2. I’m greedy.

I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’m one greedy son of a gun. And I don’t just mean monetarily. I mean, with everything regarding my book. I want the final word. I want the rights. I want to know that I’m calling the shots to something that is such a close part of me. And I know it sounds selfish. Downright bratty, even. But I don’t care.

I’ve worked hard on Terra. I’ve cried over my keyboard, yelled at my monitor, and had many, many fitful nights of sleep thinking about the characters of Terra and Adam, wondering what’s in store for them. Writing a novel is no easy feat. It’s not really HARD in the traditional sense, because I loved doing it, but it’s not easy. It requires discipline and sacrifice and I don’t think it’s unfair for me to want to reap all the benefits of the work I’ve put in.

Of course, we won’t ignore the fact self-publishing also offers royalty rates that traditional publishers can’t compete with. The Kindle Direct Publishing program offers a 70% royalty on every eBook sold (priced between $2.99 and $9.99).

3. I’m ambitious.

Now, this one might puzzle you. “But, Gretchen, if you were truly ambitious, wouldn’t you want your book to be published by a real publishing house? Wouldn’t you want to have written a REAL Book?” Why, I’m so glad you asked! Here’s the thing: I truly believe that self-publishing is redefining writing as we know it. Sure, there’s a lot of self-published crap out there. And part of the reason why publishing houses were there in the first place was to help separate the wheat from the chaff. Not everyone’s book should be published. But a lot of them should. Being an author shouldn’t be like being a contestant on American Idol, but it feels like that’s how it’s treated. You allow your work to be judged endlessly by experts of the industry, and if you aren’t part of the creme de la creme, you’re cut. You’re out. You are the weakest link. Please pack your knives and go.

I don’t want to rely on someone else to determine my chances at success. Amanda Hocking, Hugh Howey, Susan Ee… these are just a few self-publishing success stories that inspire me to want to aim high and reach higher. Yes, they are probably the outliers. Yes, I know that it’s highly unlikely I’ll reach the same kind of success. But you never know. I mean, 50 Shades of Grey started out as a self-published novel for crying out loud! And the fact of the matter is, no matter if you’re self-published or traditionally-published, your chances of making it BIG are equally slim.

4. I have faith.

I have faith in this book. I have faith in myself as a writer. And I have faith that whatever is meant to happen with it will happen. And I mean that honestly, whether I sell a hundred copies to my friends, family, and a few loyal blog readers, or whether I become the next (insert famous author here). I mean, sure, I’d prefer the latter, but writers usually aren’t kidding when they we say that we wrote their book for reasons other than pure commercial success. It’s about putting something out there that we crafted, from infancy, into something real. Something tangible. Something that someone else might possibly enjoy.

It’s our craft.

I wrote Terra because it is the kind of book that I like to read. I am in love with its characters, I am mesmerized by its setting, and I took great joy in developing what I consider a very interesting and satisfying plot. I think that there are many people out there who will enjoy reading it as well. Regardless of whether that ends up being the case, however, the bottom line is that I am still proud of what I’ve created. And I have faith that choosing to share it this way is the right choice.

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