Today’s guest blog post is brought to you by non-fiction author, poet and novelist Marianne Curtis.
Scroll down for details of Marianne’s rafflecopter.com giveaway. Marianne has also kindly offered to provide a free eBook to five people (at her discretion) commenting or leaving a question for her within the comment section below. So, do leave a comment or question for Marianne and I shall forward them on.
Self-publishing can be a great experience, but authors need to watch the details.
I find myself writing this post after receiving a book to review for my blog, Moondust and Madness. I’ve been excited to see this particular book, ever since I heard it was released. It was a self-published book by a local author, consisting of a collection of poetry and short stories about her life after escaping domestic violence. I was thrilled and very proud for her. It takes guts to share a story like that (I know).
The first thing I did was crack it open. Unfortunately, my next reaction was to gasp. I was confronted by page after page of white-space. There was writing at the top, nothing for the rest of the page, followed by several pages of stories, without a single indent. I was shocked it was actually justified. The writing was good – the layout was horrendous.
Before doing the review, I Googled her publisher. It was a well-known name in the business. I read page after page of mixed reviews; most were from authors complaining they did not get what they’d paid for. Being curious, I decided to investigate further. I was an author, I had manuscripts – let’s see what happens if I send one in.
I submitted my finished, self-published memoir Finding Gloria for their consideration. Within 48 hours I received an email saying the company wanted to publish it, and within another 48 hours, they were calling my home number. I got excited – briefly. Then reality hit – how many authors do not second-guess this stuff? Based on the twelve-page contract they sent me, I had to send them over $4,000 and they made a list of promises. I could get that money back, IF I sold over 1,000 copies. I have already sold over 30,000 copies after self-publishing. I was not confident they could do better. Yet, I was hopeful (like any author staring at an email from a ‘legit’ publishing company with an attached contract). The fact was I refused to pay $4,000 for someone else to do what I have already done – even though it meant a new marketing plan for a two-year-old book. Basically, it is a scam – NEVER pay a publisher for their services!!! If they ask you for money, RUN!
Back to this particular book ~ I am not one to give bad feedback; you never know if someone is going to take it badly. However, I feel horrible – this poor author was ripped off and I think that she should know. Using Createspace.com, through Amazon, she could have created the exact same book (with much better layout because obviously this company prints what you send them, and does not copy edit or address any layout issues) for about $2 a book. No need to invest $4,000 – which based on the little I know about her, must have been difficult for her to raise. Unfortunately, many readers are going to pick up this little paperback and put it back down; unless they are looking for an extra note pad (you could write another book within the blank pages).
Self-publishing can be a great experience, but authors need to watch the details. Writing your book is only 1/3 of the work. Your layout, covers, and marketing plan are just as important as your story. You want it to be a good read, and you want it to look good; aesthetics matter.
This is not the first time this has happened. Two summers ago, I picked up a local hot seller; I also put it down three pages in, because it was nearly unreadable. When I spoke to the author, she said her printer/publisher said it was fine the way it was. Sorry, but she did not even have street names capitalized.
There is also the matter that self-published authors who don’t pay attention to those kind of details, which makes it harder for those who know the business better. Indie authors have a heck of a time getting proper recognition as it is. Bad indie authors make it harder for the rest of us.
The moral of the story? Beware of publishers who accept your book, yet do not offer any change suggestions. I have seen too many books that look like someone just printed a word document. It is disappointing for both the author and for readers. A good self-published author needs to pay attention to the details, because you not only want to sell this book, but every other book you write too. First impressions can make or break an author’s career.
Morgen: They can, absolutely. Thank you, Marianne. That was really interesting.
Marianne Curtis is a well-respected newspaper journalist from southern Manitoba, Canada with nearly twenty years of media, publishing, and freelance writing experience. Her first book, a personal memoir called Finding Gloria hit the bestseller list at McNally Robinson Bookstores in Winnipeg, and on Amazon in Canada, United States and the United Kingdom. Curtis’s other published titles include: Moondust and Madness: a collection of poetry, Behind Whispering Pines, Brian’s Last Ride and A Discreet Betrayal.
In 2013, she received a YWCA Woman of Distinction nod for inspiring others by sharing her story of struggle and survival after recovering from childhood abuse, bullying, and sexual assault.
More recently, Curtis has started Emerald Publications, a self-publishing company that specializes in helping authors prepare their documents for publication. She provides professional layout and design, cover design, and mentors authors on marketing and publication.
About Rae of Hope: Stories from Survivors
Rae of Hope: Stories from Survivors is a collection of real stories, written by real people who have suffered at the hands of bullies. In each story, contributors dig deep into their own painful memories, to vulnerably expose their horrors with the hope that their survival will inspire others to fight.
This collection includes contributions from across Canada, the US and UK. Read stories of bullying survivors, including submissions from Leah Parson’s, whose daughter Rehtaeh was bullied to suicide in 2013 in Nova Scotia; Jenna Nickie, the “Warrior Mom” from Saskatchewan; Evan Wiens, who fought successfully for a gay-straight alliance within a Christian-based school district; and Candace Maxymowich, a budding politician subjected to international online bullying during a civic election campaign also contributed to this project. Also, Gina Dickason, founder of Families Impacted by Bullying shares her daughter Jade’s story for the first time ever.
Along with real stories, Rae of Hope: Stories from Survivors includes vital information that could help readers identify and stop bullying in their home or community.
Marianne Curtis, author contact information:
- Author website: http://mariannecurtisauthor.wix.com/mariannecurtis
- Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/Marianne-Curtis/e/B007U67YGK
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/author/show/6443352.Marianne_Curtis
- Review Blog: moondustandmadness.wordpress.com
- Publishing site: emeraldpublications.wordpress.com
- Facebook: facebook.com/FindingGloria
- Twitter: @writerchick68
- Rae of Hope: Stories from Survivors Fan page: facebook.com/RaeofHopeStoriesFromSurvivors
- Dawson Trail Dispatch – http://dawsontrail.ca
- First prize: Autographed copies of Rae of Hope and Finding Gloria by Marianne Curtis
- Second prize: 1 of 4 autographed copies of Rae of Hope by Marianne Curtis
Details from http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/cfd1de2817
**** Marianne has also kindly offered to provide a free eBook to five people (at her discretion) commenting or leaving a question for her within the comment section below. So, do leave a comment or question for Marianne and I shall forward them on. ****
- and from this blog, my guests who have written on the topic of self-publishing are… Andrew Crofts, Annie Ireson, Bill Munro, David Coles, Ethan Jones, Jane Davis, Jean Henry Mead, Sandra Miller, Sarahjane Funnell, Sheron McCartha, Tad Wojnicki, TJ Perkins, and Tracey Sinclair.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. Guidelines on guest-blogs. There are other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
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