Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kipped 3: Indies - shooting yourself in the foot?

Getting shot is painful.
I've never been shot in real life, but I have in dreams (I've also hit the ground after a fall, so nix the theory that you die if this happens). 

Indie authors are sprouting like weeds because of the easy-to-publish formats we are blessed with.  Unfortunately, some of them never learned to write and are polluting the system with the idea they can get rich quick by offering a 99 cent book.  Vultures are also emerging from this era of epub.  They are the people that steal others people's work, cobble it together, and resell it under a different title.  I resent these kinds of authors because they are giving ebooks a bad name.  The only way to clear it up is personal responsibility: when you release a book, make it your very best work.

Here are some ways to avoid shooting yourself.

1) READ
Before I set my goal of 12 in 12, before it was even a vision, I loved reading.  I was/am a voracious reader.  Focus on the genre you like and choose its best selling books - study them.  However, expand your mind and your talent by reading other kinds of books.  You may be surprised where ideas can come from.
 
2) Edit...Edit...Edit...repeat
I usually go through 5 drafts of my work before I let anyone read it and after they read it, I edit at least one more time.  If you can afford one, hire a professional editor (their prices vary, but $3 a page is the 'norm' the last time I checked).  Do NOT trust your spell checker.  Get a dictionary, a thesaurus - tools for grammar, etc.

Here is one of my personal reasons for needing an editor:  As a young adult, I intended on becoming an Executive Secretary and among my courses: Speed Reading.  The first day they tested us to see where we were.  I was already at 700 words per minute.  When I finished the class, it was well over 1,000 - not a large jump, but speed and retention (remembering what you read) are two different animals; one is a cheetah, the other is a domestic cat.

One thing you're taught in Speed Reading is to ignore small words (if, and, but, for...).  Because my eyes  are trained to ignore small words, when I edit, I tend to skip over ALL 2-3 letter words.  This really becomes apparent to my pre-readers.  I'm getting better at it, but a far cry from perfection.

3) Amputation:  what you do for dry rot
During my 12 in 12, I probably cut 300+ pages of unusable material.  That may not seem like a huge amount to a non-writer, but that's an entire book (months of work).  I toss all my cuts into a junk bin to use later, perhaps in the same series, or another book.  Just because it doesn't fit into one book, doesn't mean it won't work in another.   If you get stuck, you can always go to the junk bin and see if there is an idea with merit, dust it off, modify, etc.

4) Cool off
While the manuscript(s) are in the hands of pre-readers/editors, I'm usually writing another book.  When your work returns and you re-read it, mistakes can jump out at you and you can take an axe to them, tighten loose nuts, or laugh at yourself and make a few quick changes. 

5)  If it's not fun, don't do it!
One of the first things I do every day is turn on my computer.  Now I write 5 days a week instead of 6.  Sometimes I only get 2 hours in, most of the time, its 8.  No matter the number of pages, this is a business for me.  It is a privilege to have the freedom to delve into the world of imagination and I intend to make the most of it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kipped 2: Traditional or Indie publishing, that was the question

Another question I've been asked:  Why not traditional publishing?

I tried traditional publishing.  I had no idea at the time that it was going to fade because of the advent of eBook (which was being touted as a fad and no match for tradition).  

My efforts to query were successful with more than one publisher, but because of the rumors that were already flying on the net and in the market place, I was already taking a serious look at Ebooks.  After a lot of prayer, research, and my gut feeling, I opted to go Indie.  Now, a year later, while traditional publishing is going the way of the Dodo bird, I see divine intervention again. 

Here's one personal example of why the current/traditional system doesn't work: 

8 months after I had sent the email query for 5 Blanks to multiple sources, I was called and a publisher wanted to know if 5 Blanks had been sold yet.  No it wasn't, I told her, but I had already self-published 5 books; ironically, the very first to be published was 5 Blanks.  The publisher was disappointed, but assured me the query was good enough that she wanted to try. 

I had wondered why it had taken them so long to contact me and I was told my query had ended up on the slush pile.  Some may ask by accident or design?  In hindsight, I have to say by design.  The traditional market, as most people are coming to realize, is losing its monopoly. 

I informed the publisher about what I was currently doing.  They assured me that they would be very interested in looking at anything else I wrote.  In a way, the call was a verbal nod to my talent - a tender mercy of sorts that reaffirmed my faith that what I was writing was good enough for publishers. 

I'm really grateful now I didn't succumb to the temptation of going with a traditional publisher.  I read in David Farland's Kick in the Pants articles that some traditional publishers are heading for years of litigation because they are not paying their authors the royalties earned.

Bottom line:  God understood all of this before it even happened and gave me a heads up and set me on the right path. He has been good to me.

Kipped 1: How I released 12 books in 12 months

The question I am asked most often from both readers and writers is:  HOW did you do it?

My best and most simple answer for that:  with God all things are possible.  Most people believe there is something bigger than themselves out there and I would be foolish not to recognize the divine intervention I experienced; some of those experiences too sacred in nature to share.

Along with that inspiration, I was blessed to have a lot of support from family and friends.

Also, it took LOTS of hard work and painful stretching of my soul and brain.

Many claim hindsight is 20-20 but when you have a vision the size I had, I promise that you must keep your eye on the end result or you're going to stumble over the path when it gets hard and, people, it got hard!

At the beginning of my journey, when the way was still crystal-clear and my characters were still behaving themselves, I was wrapped in ignorant bliss of exactly how much it was going to take to release 12 books in 12 months.  My vision seemed to skip the part where I would be spending 12 and sometimes16 hours a day at my computer, typing, thinking, creating, and, oh, the tale-twister that kipped me:  EDIT. 

The simplified process goes like this:

1) Idea - make that a Mind-blowing, fantastic idea. 
2) Write
3) Edit
4) Rewrite
5) Edit
6)...repeat all 5 steps until the book(s) is/are done

Stay tuned for more of the insiders story.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

3 books 3 awards: Readers Favorite!

May I humbly screech:  I won!  I won!  I won!

There, now that the 'humble' part is over, I will now proceed to blow my own trumpet and proclaim that Chest of Souls Book One, Klaus, and Pic Jump, all won awards in the 2011 Reader's Favorite contest.  WAHOOOOO!  These awards provided validation for my long journey/goal of becoming a multi-award winning author.

To purchase or read exerpt from COS 1 go here:
http://www.amazon.com/Chest-Souls-Book-Michelle-Erickson/dp/0557680026/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319285923&sr=8-1 

I must get a grip on myself.  Okay, screeching and horn-blowing aside, it was also a deeply humbling experience and I must recognize the divine hand and tender mercies that brought it all about.  I'm  grateful I had divine guidance along the way and the perk of getting to know more quality people.  The miracles that brought me and my family this far belong in a book.

Hmmmm....maybe down the road you will get to read about the trials/inspiration/divine intervention that kept us afloat.

To purchase or read of Klaus go here: http://www.amazon.com/Klaus-Michelle-Erickson/dp/0557756243/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2 

In the meantime, celebrate with us.  In honor of the awards, I have reduced the price of my EBOOK versions (on ALL 12 ebooks) to $4.99 - and I added the award-winning digital 'sticker' proclaiming me a winner!  I love the sound of that word...

To purchase or read exerpt from Pic go here: http://www.amazon.com/Pic-Jump-Michelle-Erickson/dp/1257654624/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_4

Cover art for indie authors

For indie authors like myself, there is a critical step that we cannot forget in order to make our books a success and that is COVER ART.  In the big houses, they have book cover artists that are paid four figure fees for one piece of art. 

I can't do that on a baby shoe-string budget.  David Wolverton/Farland (best selling author) mentions in his kick-in-the-pants (KIP) articles to hire the best - $5,000 or so if you can afford it.

I couldn't. 
So, like David, I recommend either finding someone in your circle of influence/friends that can do it for you (and please be realistic - don't settle for soothing the feelings of a budding artist who really doesn't have any talent but you're related).  Keep in mind that it is your work and your name will be on the cover.   

Another alternative for reasonably priced cover art: http://deviantart.com/  For me, the name of the site is a big turn off, and  I found some of the art is very graphic or sensual and is not for children!

However, there are a lot of VERY talented young artists with galleries of samples of their art.  You will have to wade through those that are just beginning, but many have a lot to offer.

Be warned:  I wanted to commission a piece of work based on a unique twist in the art of one young artist.  However, upon contact, he was balky and wouldn't cooperate.  He was, frankly, unprofessional (in part due to his age) and, in the end,  I chose another artist even though I really liked what the first artist had.