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On selling over 1000 books!

Posted by on 3:50 pm in Uncategorized

Cue the fanfare! The confetti! The obnoxious and comical one-man band (complete with tuba)! Terra has officially sold over 1,000 books (actually, it’s almost 1,100 but I failed at doing math until now, haha) and I think that is something to CELEBRATE!

I knew going into this that self-publishing was a huge risk, and would never give me the kind of exposure that traditional publishing would, but felt very confident in the strength of my work, my writing, and the small internet presence I already had. I’m not really sure what the statistics would say about 1,000 books sold in 6 weeks or so, but I really couldn’t be happier! So regardless of where that puts me on the indie publisher totem pole, I am absolutely THRILLED!

So, to celebrate this momentous (if somewhat belated) occasion, I’m hosting a giveaway over on my personal blog for FIVE SIGNED PAPERBACK COPIES of Terra. If you had entered the Goodreads giveaway that just ended today and didn’t win, you can have another crack at a hardopy of your very own. Huzzah!

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To enter, just pop over to my other blog and leave a comment. The giveaway ends on Wednesday, February 6th, which is when the five random winners will be drawn. Good luck!!

9 comments

On public speaking and today’s youth

Posted by on 8:44 pm in Uncategorized

Hmm, long overdue for an update, eh? Sorry about that. I’d like to be able to blame it on all the amaaaazing writing I’ve been doing on Undergroundbut unfortunately I have this stupid habit of being really honest so, no. That’s not the reason. Time’s just gotten away from me lately… and also I just finished playing through Final Fantasy VII again. Have I ever told you all how much of a nerd I am? Well, I guess the cat’s out of the bag.

IN OTHER NEWS (er, actually, related news), on Friday I participated in the first of several fun upcoming marketing/promotional events for Terra — speaking to a local high school about the book! My college friend Kristina invited me to come to Washington-Lee High School in Arlington and speak to one of her English classes about the book, writing, the publishing process, and the like. I had a great time! It’d been a while since I’d spoken in front of a group of any kind, but these kids had some great questions up their sleeves. Also, I pretty much majored in speech-giving in college (okay, well, it was called Communication Studies, but my favorite part was when I got to force my entire class to pay attention to me when I spoke) so I won’t lie–I definitely enjoyed being the center of hamtention once again.

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It should be noted, however, that high school is already VASTLY different now than it was when I was in high school. I mean, I certainly don’t remember having classroom-rentable iPads at my disposal when I was a sophomore, that’s all I’m saying. But it still was nice to know I could keep (most of) the students’ attention, and most of them even seemed interested and engaged to boot! It was primarily a Q&A session with the kids’ questions, plus I read an excerpt. (Click here to see the slides of questions I was asked.) We also did a drawing for a copy of Terra at the very end of the period, and people always like free stuff, so there’s that.

I think I had the most fun talking about the self-publishing process with the class. You guys know I’m a big advocate of independent publishing and am really pleased with the success I’ve found with it so far. So getting to introduce the concept to these kids that they can write and publish on their own–letting them know they can do it without having to be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer in order to make a real living–that felt particularly cool.

I’ll be speaking again on a panel at a Writer’s Conference in March at Centreville High School, and am doubly looking forward to it after this experience! I know it sounds super cheesy, but it’s true that speaking to today’s youth does give me the warm & fuzzies. (I realize I’m not exactly an elder at this point, but comparatively, I can still call those younger than me youths!) Here’s to looking forward to more opportunities to do so in the future!

5 comments

On a month post-release

Posted by on 3:56 pm in Uncategorized

Happy 1 month-aversary, everyone! It’s been one month since Terra‘s official launch day, and I just wanted to stop by and self-congratulate tell you all how grateful I am for all your amazing support over the past 31 days… or however many it’s actually been. Heh.

My experience with self-publishing has been pretty epic so far, and I am crazy excited to see what the next month (and the one after that, and the one after that, and so on, and so forth) has is store! And I already know there are some pretty exciting things coming up, including…

 

Back to Her Roots book club! (January 31st)

Aaaaand…

CBL Book Tour! (February 19 – 21)

Wheeee!

Also, the details haven’t been worked out yet, but there is talk of a book group/chat where people can connect to discuss Terra with other readers, and of course me whatever you want. While that’s getting sorted out, if you ever have any questions for me, considering joining my Goodreads Q&A group, or posing your questions on my Facebook page!

Thank you, everyone, for your support, encouragement, and general awesomery. Here’s to seeing what things may come, and to me buckling down with book 2!

3 comments

On spreading the word

Posted by on 6:57 pm in Marketing

Hi there friend-os. So, we’re right there on the cusp of almost being a full month past Terra’s release! Crazy! I gotta say, I have already been blown away with the amazing support I’ve gotten, and I am so, so excited to see things grow. I’m also trying reallyreally hard to get kickin’ with book 2, but I have to admit, it’s hard. I am continually distracted by any little Terra-related news mention or if I’m lucky, new review, and am obsessively checking my sales reports (like, seriously, it’s a sickness) and I have been finding it hard to make myself buckle down and just FOCUS.

Now, that said, I do have pretty much the entire book (plus a lot of stuff that will seep into book 3, slash maybe not make it in book 2 just because there is a LOT OF CRAP ABOUT TO GO DOWN, and I have probably around 5,000 words actually written. Hahaha, so only, like, 80,000 more to go. NBD.

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting for some of you folks to hear about the various ways I’ve been going about trying to market and spread the word. For those of you who are writers yourself, I’d love to hear your own stories for comparison, and for those of you who aren’t, maybe you’ll find it interesting nonetheless. Maybe.

What I’ve Done Already

This is a list of ways I have already gotten some of the word out on Terra, and that have been successful for me thus far.

Blogs

First and foremost, my #1 way of spreading the word so far has been through my blogging connections. For those of you who are unaware, I write a moderately successful healthy living blog over at http://honeyishrunkthegretchen.com, and I have a lot of blog-friends who have VERY successful blogs of their own. They are really awesome, and several of them have been willing to write reviews or mentions of my book. So in addition to the superfantasticamazing readers that I have from my own blog, I am very fortunate to be reaching a pretty gosh-darned-tootin’ decent-sized audience through all of that.

Book Blogs

Now, book blogs are a category all of their own, because while it is totally awesome to get my book talked about on any blog, with any readership, um, ever, book blogs are specifically where people who are interested in books (and certain categories of books) are going for recommendations and reviews. This is a really highly-saturated market, which means there are both a lot of book blogs out there, but also a lot of authors, marketers, and publishers who are trying to get their books ON those blogs. So it’s definitely not an easy egg to crack.

I spent a lot of time prior to Terra’s release researching and reading book blogs that are targeted towards YA books. I went through the backlog of reviews, found whether they liked books that I deem similar to Terra, to get a sense as to whether they’ll actually enjoy the book. The last thing you want is to send your book to someone who hates your kind of book, haha. The books I tended to look up for comparison to Terra were The Hunger Games, Divergent, Delirium, Matched, Partials, and so on.

I’ve been very fortunate in getting Terra featured on a few awesome book blogs so far, and will hopefully continue to as word spreads and my book is being read by bloggers who deem it good enough to post about, haha. Reaching out to book bloggers can definitely be an investment, as many prominent book bloggers live overseas and you should be providing personalized pitches to each and every one. But they also usually cross-post their reviews to Amazon, B&N, and Goodreads, so there is lots of great exposure there, should you find someone who agrees to give your book a read.

Of course, the flipside of book blogs is that you very might well end up sending your book to someone who does NOT like it, and book bloggers are generally not afraid of voicing their displeasure. Obviously, no book is going to be for everyone, but the difference between utilizing your friend-blogger connections, and sending your book off to be reviewed by legitimate book bloggers, is that your friends probably wouldn’t post a scathing review–if they didn’t like your book, they might not say anything at all, which would be a blessing in disguise. So, just be prepared to take the good with the bad (something we all have to do anyway, since, you know, we wrote books and stuff for people to read in the first place, hahaha).

Social Media

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest… the actual usefulness of social media to SELL books is pretty hotly debated. I know that I have lots of friends who bought my book because I told them about it on Facebook, but as a lasting marketing technique? It still remains to be seen. However, marketing is so much more than translating exposure into direct sales. Social media platforms provide a means for authors to connect and communicate with their fans in a new, exciting way. So yeah, it’s awesome when people tweet about your book, or share a Facebook post of yours, and it leads to more fans and followers. But what’s MORE awesome is getting to engage in conversations with fans about what they loved, what they didn’t love, what they’re excited for, etc, etc. Because of my other blog, I already used Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on a regular basis, and I feel like I have a good handle on how to use them appropriately (note: it’s never appropriate to use your Twitter feed to spam your followers with nothing but “Buy my book” links, haha) but it’s never too late to start!

Goodreads

So, technically Goodreads probably counts as social media. But since it’s so much more pertinent to authors than any of the ones mentioned above, I figured I should separate it out. So, Goodreads is actually something I wish I had known about far earlier than I did. I only signed up for my own account back in October, but it is an AWESOME site if you love to read (which, I have to assume you do, if you wrote a book, haha) and it really has helped me make informed decisions about books I want to buy and read for myself. Plus, there are a lot of really awesome people on Goodreads, including a lot of awesome book bloggers. (See how it all comes full circle?) My recommendation is to create a Goodreads account ASAP, and start being active on it! Set up your book and author information, of course, but engage with readers. Write reviews of your own. Join groups. Be awesome. GR gives authors a lot of cool options, too, like setting up Q&A groups and offering your book for giveaways.

Ratings on Goodreads are probably equally as important as Amazon reviews, in my opinion. Also, WARNING: even though Goodreads does allow you to rate and review your own book, my personal recommendation is NOT to do so. I know that I am personally turned off when I see an author has given their own book a rating, even if they already have lots of reviews and are super popular and it doesn’t really affect their average (Jennifer L. Armentrout is one example that comes to mind).

On the Docket

These are some things that I have coming up, so I couldn’t tell you how effective they are but I’m STOKED about them!

Book Blog Tours

I was recently (like, super recently, as in today) given an opportunity to participate in a book blog tour. These services exist all over the interwebs, and is basically like a middleman between you, the author, and the book bloggers themselves. A blog tour service usually has a bunch of blogs already in their database/as members, and will do the orchestration of getting bloggers to read and review your book–or, at the very least, offer a small promotional blurb–in exchange for a fee. I’m extremely lucky that I’m going to be working with a group that is providing their service to me for free, but I think this is a great option, especially if you don’t have time to individually pitch bloggers over and over again. My book tour is going to be coming up in February, so I’ll be sure to update you all on how that goes.

School Outreach

I’m pretty fortunate to have a lot of friends who are excited about this book, and I’m extra fortunate to have friends who are TEACHERS who are excited about this book. At the end of the month, I’ll be speaking to a local high school English class and a creative writing group at the school. I’ll discuss being a writer, and talk about self-publishing, and I’m really excited to get the opportunity to answer any questions that potential aspiring authors might have. This should also hopefully be a great way to tap a market I don’t normally have access to, since I am sadly (gladly?) no longer a teen, and I don’t work with teens, and I don’t have teens (thaaaank goodness). I would love it if this turned into a reoccuring thing where I have the opportunity to talk about my experiences with youths who might dream of one day doing something similar themselves!

Events

One thing I haven’t done much of is any kind of book-related or author-related events. I never had a book release party, I haven’t had any book signings, nada. I think partially it’s because the idea of throwing a book-release party for myself seemed kind of vain (even though I am totally, 100% vain, haha), but I’m certainly open to the idea of doing them, if the demand was there. I think part of the problem too is that I just don’t have any real ideas for what events might entail, aside from the two I’ve already mentioned. So right now, I’m actually trying to work with a local bookstore to see if there are any promotional events/opportunities available, but this is definitely something I’ll need to think about some more.

So! There you have it! Obviously, it almost goes without saying that the #1 thing that’s going to spread the word about your book is… people spreading the word about your book. And of course, that is something we have absolutely NO control over. We just have to hope that people enjoy the book enough to tell their friends, family, coworkers, classmates, whomever! But it is nice that there are at least some things we can put effort into in order to get our hard work out there.

Aaaaand since this post has ended up being about 4x as long as I originally intended it to be, I’m going to cut myself off now. Again, if you’re an author, or maybe just someone who has ideas about self-promotion, I’d love to hear your take!

3 comments

Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Posted by on 1:11 am in Book Reviews

So I’ve decided that since I’m posting reviews on Goodreads anyway, I might as well start posting them to this blog. Especially since I’ve got a nice fat stack of books (both digital and hardcopy) to make my way through (all in the name of research! I’m so dedicated, aren’t I?) and also because with every review that I write, it helps me become more critical and constructive with regard to my own work.

Anyway, first book on the docket is Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I’ve had this book on my to-read list forEVER, ever since I first heard the concept, and I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to read it, frankly. It was a quick read for me — finished in a couple of days. I did have quite a few qualms with it, and couldn’t really decide how I should rate it for a little while, but in the end I figure that the fact that I was thinking about it so much after I was done was a pretty good sign. So it gets a 3.5-star review from me.

Need to process my thoughts a bit before I can rate/review. I will say the last 1/4 of the book was really riveting stuff… Torturous but delicious ending. Although I seriously cannot get over how many times the author used the word “swath” — seriously, what kind of 17-year-old uses that word so regularly?!

Okay. So. I guess in the end I really did like this book, but I had to think about it for a little bit, haha. This is really more like a 3.5 star book for me, and I’m going to tackle this in pieces, because again, I’ve started to promise myself to be more critical and constructive in my reviews–since that’s absolutely what I would want for myself!

Main Character: I had a hard time connecting to Lena as a protagonist in the beginning, partially because her issues with self-confidence and her self-image (I’m soooo plain, no boy would eeeeever like me, except this totally hot guy is obsessed with me and thinks I’m super beautiful so no big deal didn’t seem realistic to me. I mean, I guess they were, but I guess it’s also been a really long time since I was 17. Anyway, I liked how her character developed at the end, and when the big bomb was dropped (SPOILER ALERT!) about her mom still being alive, I thought she handled it very realistically without being annoying or superior about it. Also, and I know this is mostly credit to Lauren Oliver’s writing, but man, this book is really beautifully written. So many vivid, picturesque descriptions… really, really lovely stuff.

Story: I thought the story was good. As mentioned in my status updates while writing, the book itself starts off strong in the first couple of chapters, then I quickly found the pace slowing a bit. Of course, the last 1/3 – 1/4 of the book is extremely fast-paced, and once I hit the 60-something-percent mark, I couldn’t put it down.

World-building: This is probably where I had my biggest qualms. A lot of the world-building seemed very bare-bones. I know that this isn’t a hard-dystopian or anything, but all the circumstances surrounding the setting seemed very loose. This takes place, what, 60-some years in the future? And yet technology seems not to have advanced at all. And while I really loved the concept of love being identified as a disease, the control of information and access didn’t really seem that realistic–the inability for people to ever leave their cities, and the (SPOILER ALERT!) the existence of the invalids living SO CLOSE. I mean, it’s walkable soooo… how have they not been discovered/raided/torn apart by the government? It’s not like Portland, Maine is a bastion of farms and industry, right? How are they getting their supplies? How are they getting anything? The government would have to have a way to bring things in and out, and unless I just glossed over some detail where Alex explains how the settlement is hidden away and whatnot, I just don’t see how they wouldn’t be discovered and their settlement decimated. Anyway, I digress.

Romance: I’m such a sucker, what can I say? I know this book has a serious case of insta-love going on, but I can’t help it. By the end, I was just as smitten with Alex as Lena was, reveling in his perfection (though a few more flaws would’ve been nice to see in terms of character layering, of course), but c’mon. I mean, who doesn’t want to be loved like that?

This book is obviously a romance, with a dash of dystopia tossed in as the setting. It was an engaging enough read, though it definitely dragged in the middle and I found myself glossing over some of Oliver’s more descriptive (but again, beautiful!) paragraphs just so I could see what was going to happen next. I thought the character of Hana was particularly strong and well done, but I do wish there were some more secondary characters. And that we had gotten to see some grown-ups who weren’t just all awful, haha. I guess that’s what future books are for though, eh?

0 comments

On a signed copies giveaway

Posted by on 4:19 pm in Marketing

GOOD NEWS EVERYONE (said in my best Professor Farnsworth voice — a reference that, if you don’t get, means you need to head to Netflix and watch all available episodes of Futurama STAT).

I have a giveaway going on over at Goodreads for three (count ’em–1, 2, 3!) signed hardcopies of TERRA! The giveaway ends on January 31st. Even if you already have a copy, who can really resist a shiny new trade paperback decorated with my John Hancock, hmm? Ahaha. Plus, if you win, there might just be a little something extra in your mailing envelope… so head on over to the site now, or simply use the widget below, to get your entry in!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Terra by Gretchen Powell

Terra

by Gretchen Powell

Giveaway ends January 31, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

0 comments

On my brain being a douchebag

Posted by on 6:09 pm in Writing

Well, friends, I have good news. Well, good news and bad news. The good news is that the writing of Terrestrials, book 2, is officially underway! I wrote a few scenes last night, as well as an opening line that I’m already pretty sure I’m going to change, haha. But this one scene… oh man… I mean, I’m the one who wrote it, and it still had my heart racing and blood pumping. It is goo-ood stuff (is that super conceited-sounding? Bahahaha.)

Of course, I already mentioned that there’s a second, less happy part of this announcement. So, the bad news isn’t really bad news. It’s more like… a revelation of douchbaggery. Because, yes, I have discovered that, truly, my brain is a douchebag. Why do I say this? Well, I say this because even though I sat down in front of my laptop in the afternoon yesterday, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to write my little heart out, I didn’t actually do any writing… until after 1 AM. Yep, as I was laying in bed, having not written a single word despite my best intentions, a scene started to play itself out in my head. And yeah, as mentioned, it was a good scene, too.

I knew I couldn’t just go to sleep and leave it for the morning, for fear that not only the idea itself, but the motivation to write it would be gone by then. So I sat up, pulled my laptop back out, and started to type. Flash forward two hours, it’s 3 AM, I’ve written something that is, in my opinion, pretty banging (I really hope I don’t need to change it too much as the book comes together, as it’s a scene that takes place pretty far into the book), but it’s THREE FRAKKING AM and I have to go to work in the morning. Le sigh.

Oh well. C’est la vie. The burden of having the tortured soul of an artist, or some crap like that, hahahaha. Thankfully, this late night spurt of writing has really invigorated my drive to get book 2 going, and am really excited to keep going with writing. So I guess the ends justifies the means in this case. I’m trying out Scrivener for book 2, a novel writing software that has been getting super high praise from authors–self-pubbed and traditionally-pubbed alike. Sean got me the software license and a “Scrivener for Dummies” book as one of my Christmas presents, so I’m slowly working my way into it. It’s definitely a different way of working than my old open-multiple-windows-in-Microsoft-Word-and-do-tons-of-copy-and-pasting method… and by different, I absolutely mean better. It’s just taking me some time to take full advantage of all the functionality and whatnot.

And now for a semi-exciting, semi-announcement: book 2’s working title! Terra was originally the working title of book 1, and I ended up sticking with it (I just loved the double meaning too much to let it go, y’know?) so who knows if this will end up as the final title, but it most certainly works for now. Drumroll? No? Oh, fine.

underground

Yep, Underground. Are we starting to sense a theme here? Hehe. Well, I’ll just let you all mull over that as I get back down to work, hehehe. Allons-y!

5 comments

On the true cost of self-publishing

Posted by on 11:42 pm in Publishing

Hi dee ho everybody! I hope you are all enjoying your final days of 2012. As a sobering New Year’s treat (pun totally intended), and inspired by Lena’s guest post which detailed all the work that goes into self-publishing, I’ve decided to get down to the facts with you kind people. Terra has almost broken even in terms of the monetary investment that I’ve put into the book so far, so I felt it was an apt time to discuss exactly what that monetary investment was. After all, I’m nothing if not honest with my blog readers (as those who read my personal healthy living blog can attest). And I did a lot of research into what self-pubbing would actually cost me prior to taking on the task, so I feel it’s only fair that I pass on my own experiences as well.

Right from the get-go, I will tell you that the total amount of money that I have spent (thus far) on Terra comes to a grand total of $1,064.97. Not a fortune, by any means, but for a decidedly UNrich 20-something, it was still definitely an investment. It helped that the costs accumulated over time, rather than being a sum I had to pay at once, and that a lot of the things I paid for were one-time items that I won’t need to pay again for book 2. However, I also have to acknowledge how very, very lucky I am to have a lot of VERY talented and generous friends, who helped me keep costs drastically down, too.

For the sake of ease and understanding, I’ve broken up that cost into five distinct categories, and I will explain what all was involved that added up to that final sum.

Writing

For any of you future self-pubbers who may be experiencing heart palpitations at the thought of forking over a grand or more to get your book into the hands of the public, fear not! I spent a grand total of $0 on the actual writing. Crafting my book was, for all intents and purposes, free! Of course, if we were to assign a monetary value to my TIME, then of course it wasn’t free-free. But we’re talking strict dollars and cents here, so we won’t worry about that. I”m also very fortunate that I do have a separate day job that allows me to pay the bills, and thus do not count any potential lost income by having only writing as my job. All you really need to start writing your great American novel is to actually sit your butt down in front of a keyboard and start typing. No down-payment needed.

Total cost of writing: $0

Possible cost of writing: $0 – however much you might be losing out on if you prematurely quit your job to become a writer, hahaha.

Editing

This is one of those categories where I must (I must, I MUST!) acknowledge how very fortunate I am. See, I am lucky enough to have a very close friend who is ALSO an absolutely fantastical editor. And no, that’s not a mistyping of the word “fantastic” because I literally meant fantastical. As in, I’m not sure how she exists in reality, because she is surely some sort of magical editing creature sent from the heavens. Aileen Brenner put so much loving and tender care into Terra, and infused her literary prowess and wordsmithing into every page of the book, and she did it for the cost of a couple of dinners and a very fun, Hannukah-themed thank you basket that I gifted her at our celebratory dinner. So yes, she basically did it for free.

The kind of editing that Aileen provided for me would easily cost many, many hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of dollars if you were to source someone on eLance, or a similar website. I say this based only on the amount of time she dedicated to the book, since many freelance editors charge by the hour. So my experience was absolutely blessed by the frugality gods, and I fully appreciate how lucky I am for that.

I did hire a copyeditor to give the book a final read-through and catch any strictly grammatical/typographic errors that were present. Again, however, I recognize that I am very fortunate, because I also was able to use a friend for this. A blog reader from my other blog reached out to me, working as a technical editor for her dayjob, and offered to edit Terra for me. She edited the first-draft for free, and then we agreed on a (exteremely reasonable, I’m-taking-total-advantage-of-you) price for the final draft read-through. She only charged me $75, but I paid her $100 because she’s awesome and I know how easy she was letting me off.

Depending on whether you hire an editor, get a friend to edit, or choose not to have an outside editor at all, the cost for editing will vary a LOT.

Total cost of editing: $100 (Plus additional $$$ in dinners/thank you presents as Aileen’s “payment,” but for our purposes here, we won’t count those.)

Possible cost of editing: $0 – $2500

Design

it’s cliche, but true. People judge books by their cover. Thus, there are few things more important to your book’s success than getting the cover, interior layout, and other aesthetics to be as attractive as possible. For some talented individuals who have sweet Photoshop skillz and are able to create these items themselves, then you are very lucky. While I was able to teach myself via the great tutor that is Youtube to design the interior layout of the paperback book in Adobe InDesign, my Photoshop prowess is certainly not up to a professional standard. I had two pretty distinct ideas for the cover, and so went with a two-pronged approach by beseeching both the help of an incredibly talented (and, again, generous) friend, and by outsourcing on eLance.com.

This is where I ended up with an extraneous cost. If I had just stuck with what I knew, which was how incredibly talented my friend (and fellow blogger) Cassie is, I would’ve have even needed to bother trying out my other idea for a cover. As it was, however, I did end up paying $125 for a cover that I never ended up using. Oh well, you live, you learn. Cassie designed an incredible cover for me for free, other than the costs of the stock photos I had to purchase for her to manipulate, which were $59. I was able to have my brother (who is a photographer) take the photo of the main model on the cover, so that saved me some money there. And as mentioned, I did the interior layout myself. Cassie also graciously designed all the blog batches and banners/headings for me, because she is a rockstar.

If you have the ability to everything yourself, including using your own photos and whatnot, you can spend $0 on design. However, if you pay someone to do everything, you can easily work your way into the multiple hundreds.

Total cost of design: $184

Possible cost of design: $0 – $500

Publishing

So the cool thing about self-publishing is that it’s pretty much free. Long gone are the days when you need to order 10,000 copies of your book and house them in your garage to mail off one by one. Print on demand services like CreateSpace (what I used) allow you to upload your book templates and have them printed as they are ordered. Technically, this can cost nothing at all. However, if you want to have a physical proof of your book to ensure that everything looks how you want to, then you will need to pony up the money to purchase those before you approve your book for publishing.

I ended up getting a little overzealous in the proofing process, and ordered tons of proofs before the final book was even ready. This is definitely a cost that I’ll save on in the future, but given that it was my first time, I just couldn’t resist ordering multiple copies of the book to get my hands on. In the end, I ended up ordering FIVE different rounds of proofs before the book was even fully ready. Each book costs a little over $4.00 to print, plus shipping, so I ended up spending $92.48 in total for 16 physical proof copies. I know, I’m a crazy person. Luckily, many of those ended up being sent out as ARCs, but again, this won’t be a duplicated cost next time (well, probably, hahaha). CreateSpace also offers a digital proofing process, so you don’t have to order ANY if you really don’t want to. But I would still always recommend ordering just one to make sure everything (colors, bleed, etc) came out perfectly.

Total cost of publishing: $92.48

Possible cost of publishing if you’re a normal personal: $0 – $10

Marketing & Miscellaneous

As you can see from above, pretty much all of the costs so far have been pretty minimal. I was pretty surprised by all the random, miscellaneous costs that cropped up throughout the process. There were a lot that were unrelated to each other, so let me go ahead and just list them out for you.

Website domain name (5 years): $40.85

LLC incorporation fee: $100

Bowker ISBNs (10): $250

Bowker barcodes: $50

Purchasing author copies (25): $122.50

Kindle paperback: $9.99

Kindle ebook: $4.99

Shipping materials: $21.50

Shipping: $88.66

So, here is the breakdown of where the rest of my money went. Firstly, I do have this website set up, and I purchased the domain name (the actual gretchenpowell.com part) for 5 years. Then there was the cost of incorporating Hopewell Media, LLC, my publishing shell, and the costs of ISBNs, which are actually cheaper when purchased in bulk. (1 ISBN is $125, 10 is $250, 1000 is $1000.) Then I also had to purchase the barcode to put on the back of the paperback book, which is $25, but I bought two so I already have the barcode for book 2. Then there’s the actual finished author copies, and the shipping costs that it took to send them out to readers, reviewers, and the people who helped me make this book a reality.

Luckily, this is where the majority of my one-time costs came in. I’ve already purchased my ISBNs for the entire series, I won’t need to pay another incorporation fee (just the annual renewal fee, which is less), and my website is totally set for the next 5 years. I’m also a dummy and it took me a long time to figure out the cheapest way to mail things (media mail, NEVER first class!), hahaha. I also purchased a copy of the book for full price through Amazon and on my Kindle to ensure the process didn’t have any hiccups, but I don’t think I’ll need to do that again.

If you were to only pay for the cost of ISBN and barcode for a single book, you’d be looking at $150 flat, but you really should get those things if you’re serious about publishing. Everything else is pretty much optional though, considering you can set up a blog/website for free, you don’t HAVE to create a publishing LLC (I did it for legitimacy and legal reasons), and you don’t HAVE to purchase copies for yourself/mail them out (but then again, why wouldn’t you?) Some other costs that might come into play are registering your copyright (you don’t HAVE to do this, as your work is automatically copyrighted when it is created, but you can register it for extra legal protection. I think it’s like $20 or $30 — I have not done this yet) and you might also end up purchasing more of your own author copies than I did (I probably will order more).

Total cost of marketing & miscellaneous: $688.49

Possible cost of marketing & miscellaneous: $150 – $750

So! There you have it. A thousand smackers invested, but a heckuva of a lot of things to write off on my taxes this year. 😉 Of course, your individual experience with how much self-publishing costs could be very, very different. But at least you have this one author’s glimpse into the reality, thus far, eh? Haaaaappy new year!

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Guest Post: Lena Horn, Author of Forgotten Fox

Posted by on 3:42 am in Publishing

Hi all!

So today I bring you a guest post from fellow self-published author, Lena Horn! Lena and I went to college together (and actually met in creative writing class, fittingly) and she wrote and self-published her first novel, Forgotten Fox, while Terra was still deep in craptastic first draft status, hahaha. Lena graciously gave me a lot of guidance (and a general place to vent about the frustrations of eBook coding and whatnot) while I was going through the publishing process, and now has written up a post for you all about her own experiences. This is actually a great overview of the entire self-publishing process, and has inspired me to write up something similar based on my own experiences (including a cost comparison of how much self-pubbing really costs). So keep an eye out for that soon!

And now, without further adieu…

Lena’s Recipe for a Self-Published Book

Ingredients:

Paper
50,000-90,000 Words
1 Editing Processor
1 Cover
Various formatting
A Pinch of Punctuation

Steps:

1. Arrange the Words neatly on the Paper, adding bits of Punctuation where necessary.
2. Find the Editor and allow him/her to thoroughly process your Paper and Words.
3. While the Editor is working, decorate the cover with pictures, a title, and your name.
4. Once the Editor is finished, put the newly processed words, with the Paper, inside the cover.
5. Profit.

That’s it!

Well, actually… I take that back, my recipe was actually a bit different. The ingredients you really need:

Passion
Motivation
Commitment
A little bit of money
And a bunch of slightly more technical things I will list for you below

There is a great stigma against self-published authors and I did not want that title at first, but I realized there’s much more to it. Self-publishing was not my last ditch effort to get published, it was my choice. And I knew that choice had to come with a commitment to make a book worthy of publishing.

tcs1

As such, I spent a lot of time perfecting my story and my writing. Like… this many drafts –>

Ingredient: Editor

And I got myself an editor afterwards since, well, even professional authors have one! This was probably my only large expense. It took 6 weeks and when I got my manuscript back… I almost fainted. My editor had cut about 30,000 words and the pages were just red. I went through it, making changes, and when I finished, I read it and let my mom (she’s a harsh critic…) read it. We both realized, to my dismay, that something had been lost, and after a depressing slump, I went back to work on it. It took extra time, but the book came out stronger for it. Having had an editor, I did learn a lot about writing, more than… dare I say… I learned in college.

Lessons I learned about having an editor:

You want an editor you can have a conversation with about your book.
The editor should LOVE your book.
The editor (and you) should strive for perfection.

Ingredient: Copyright

Next, I put a copyright on my work. Also highly recommended and the process is quite easy and pretty cheap (like $35). You worked hard on it. It’s your idea and your story. Protect it!

Ingredient: Publishing Company

turtle2I opened up Turtle House LLC, my own publishing company. Why? Well, for one, legal protection. And two, it makes taxes and keeping things organized much easier. Plus I plan on publishing more than just one book. I do recommend doing some heavy research into what it means to have your own company. You want to know what rights and responsibilities you have and the legalese can get quite confusing.

Ingredient: ISBNs

I used Bowker’s Identifier Services to grab my own ISBNs. I knew I could do it cheaper by getting ones from Amazon for free, but those come with restrictions. I still wanted to be able to distribute my book wherever I want, like Barnes & Noble or other bookstores. This gives me more rights.

I also learned that each format of the book (paperback, ePub, mobi, hardback) will need its own ISBN. So I just bought a pack of 10 ISBNs since that’s cheaper than buying 3. Yep.

Ingredient: Printer and Distributer

I think I did some pretty good research into every potential (at least the big ones, and a few smaller ones) places that would print my book. CreateSpace, Lulu, and Lightning Source came out at the top, but since CreateSpace is an Amazon company, it made sense that they would take less of the royalties away if I used them to distribute to Amazon (which is pretty much a must nowadays!) Lulu had nice prints, but they ended up being far too expensive.

Example:

For a 300 page book, B&W Interior, 5.5” x 8.5” trim size.

CreateSpace: $4.45
Lulu: $7.20

That’s just the printing cost. Now remember that you want to distribute it elsewhere so you’ll have to bump up the price just to make a little money. Use Lulu to distribute to Amazon, and they’ll BOTH want their cuts, same with CS + Amazon combo, but with Lulu you’ll have to put a greater retail price just to get the same royalties.

Lowest printing cost, highest royalties, and good quality books: CreateSpace.

Ingredient: eBook Code

If you have a Nook or Kindle you’ve probably come across a book where the formatting was screwy. The sentence stopped halfway and started on another line is one I’ve seen a lot. Too much. When I started coding my book, I didn’t want those hiccups. I wanted to be more professional than the professionals! It can get tedious, and downright frustrating. This is one area you could consider outsourcing, especially if you don’t get along too well with computers.

But I love computers. I hug computers for fun, I’ve built my own since I was… um… well, like 9 I think? So this, to me, was a moment where I said, “Challenge accepted.” You know, before realizing what I was up against and whining about it and then sitting down and spending a week Googling what I was actually doing.

Ingredient: Book Cover

cover

I was really really really lucky to have a family friend who is an awesome photographer/videographer give me a fox photo he took. For free! He’s awesome. I used this photo as the basis for my cover. If I had a spare $500-1000 around, I would have loved to hire an illustrator, but I’m on a tiny budget, and I used most of it on that editor.

Most people judge books by their cover, at least to get the first impression, and I wanted to make a good, professional impression. It took a lot of tinkering but I’m quite proud of the result (especially considering my poor Photoshop skills). The first reactions I got from people were that they didn’t realize it was a self-published book. Yay me!

Ingredient: Friends and Family

It’s really important to get feedback, especially on things like editing and cover design. So ask your friends, your family, a total stranger on the street what they think. Okay, careful with those strangers. But really, if you have friends, acquaintances that know how to use Photoshop or Illustrator? Ask! It can’t hurt to ask and self-publishing is a huge undertaking. Yes, you can do it alone, but you will come out with a better result if you utilize people with the skills that you may not have fully optimized yet. 🙂

Then there’s marketing! But that’s a whole nother post.

So, just remember these things:

If you’ve written the book, you’re already a lot further than most people!
You CAN do it, no matter your proficiency with a computer or your knowledge of the process.
Google (or another search engine of your choice) is your best friend
Use your friends, and also say thank you!

Stay foxy my friends!

You can check out Lena’s blog at http://blog.GeorgeTheFox.com and purchase Forgotten Fox on Amazon.

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On being a published author

Posted by on 1:05 am in Publishing

So. My book is published. I’m a published author. And yes, I indie published/self-published but that in no way negates the fact that I have a book out there, that people are reading–and actually seem to be enjoying, according to the 20 (!!) reviews on Amazon thus far! Sooooo, that’s pretty flippin’ cool, if you ask me. Heeeeee. 🙂

Launch day was seriously awesome. I mean, that probably goes without saying, but it was. I was floating on a cloud of disbelief and surreal-ness the entire time, and by that evening Terra was already carving out spots for itself on the best-seller and hot new releases lists on Amazon. It even climbed all the way to #3 in HNR for its genre a couple days later! Something that was absolutely thrilling to see.

hnr numba3 teen sci fi

Screengrab taken 12/14/12

Of course, nothing lasts forever, and since Amazon’s rankings are updated hourly, it’s always a crapshoot as to where the book is going to fall at any given time. I’ve been doing a lot to try and temper my expectations, since I’ve been feeling a little bipolar about the book’s release over the past week. On the one hand, I am flattered, honored, and amazed that it’s gotten the positive reception it has. I’m constantly amazed at who is crawling out of the woodwork on Twitter, Facebook, and IRL to tell me that they purchased my book, read it, loved it, etc. And then there are my diva-tastic moments (set up by a lifetime of being the baby of my family) where I’m like “WHYYYYYYYYY IS NOBODY BUYING MY BOOOOOK?!?!”

I know. I’m ridiculous.

So I’m absolutely focusing on the positive–as well as digging my heels deep into planning and outlining for Terra’s sequel. I haven’t started writing yet, but if how things went with book #1 is any indication, things are likely to go a lot faster than I expect. I’ve got some AMAZING ideas brewing, as well as expanding upon the ones that were already in place when I started writing the first book, and I am super psyched to get back into writing, though I can’t imagine I’ll have penned a single word until after the holidays. ‘Cause, you know. Christmas.

And anyway, even without the rankings or the sales (by the way, almost-real-time sales reports are totally NOT good for my obsessive personality, haha), there is still just something about getting to see my name on the spine of a book. Almost like it belongs there. That’s still the most exciting and rewarding part of this entire process, you know. The whole I-wrote-a-book thing. The part where people are buying and, y’know, enjoying the story I’ve crafted is really just the icing.

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As always, thank you SO much for your love, encouragement, and support. For those of you who have already bought the book–THANK YOU! And for those of you who are waiting, I am so excited for you to get a taste of the world I’ve created soon. Also, if you have read the book/are reading it, would you maybe consider leaving a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or Barnes & Noble? No pressure, of course, just if you’re up to it! Every review that you write helps make someone else decide if Terra is his or her kind of book.

Happy Holidays!

 

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