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Guest post: Should I Self-Publish? by Sheron McCartha

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of self-publishing is brought to you by sci-fi time-travel adventure author and interviewee Sheron McCartha.

Should I Self-Publish?

So you’re thinking about self-publishing? Right? You just read that list of those authors who have made more than a million sales at Amazon.

You know that most likely it won’t be you…but why put up obstacles? Who really knows? I would settle for just a nice living from my writing. I would love to do what I am passionate about and have fun every day…well almost every day.

Still, you run into them, you know, the writers who angst about not getting a response from their 200 query letters and can’t imagine not formatting and sending in a killer synopsis, and first three chapters all doubled spaced in Times Roman font. All following big publishing rules for submission. And then waiting forever.

Or, the person who mumbles, “Oh you’re self-published? I heard that authors that self-publish write terrible books.” …as if they had statistics and accurate knowledge that would validate such a conclusion. As if there has never been any poorly written books put out by legacy publishers. As if.

Millions of readers say otherwise. Millions of readers are reading ebooks and ordering paperbacks. I doubt they check who is publishing the book they read. Does a publisher’s name influence your choice? Is that how books are bought? I don’t think so.

You’ve heard the naysayers who cling to the old ways like a drowning man onto a plank of wood in a tossing storm.

So why should you self publish?

  1. Times are tight and publishers are even tighter. It’s getting hard to get in with any fiction unless you’re Amanda Hockings with a million books sold already and a fan base, or Steve Jobs, and he’s dead. Reality check time. Big publishing houses have missed the boat sometimes on figuring out blockbuster hits. Scholastic picked up Harry Potter for crying out loud after big publishing houses turned it down.
  2. You’ve tried for ten years to publish and you know you have a book that people will like. Get it out there. Let the readers decide rather than a few gatekeepers who often choose at a given moment and then never reconsider their decision. No second chances in that game. And the rejection may be not because it wasn’t good, but just because they accepted a similar one last week and that slot is now filled.
  3. People ask me if I’m making money. I answer, “More than gathering dust on the shelf” that made me $0. What have you got to lose? Just be wary of the scams. Yes, another blog for another day, but so far all revenues have covered any expenses. So it can be done, but it does take work.
  4. Maybe you are retired, currently unemployed, or have time on your hands. Or have room for a part time side job. I worked full time for years and wrote on the side. Then, they closed down the art gallery where I worked and the economy was terrible. Finding a new job where I wanted to work wasn’t easy. Okay, I was picky. Now, instead of depression and feeling useless, I’m learning exciting new skills and getting paid for the experience. My life has purpose and I’m having fun. There is a psychological side to it—a sense of purpose…a sense of accomplishment.
  5. You are your own boss and set your own schedule. You decide on the cover, what your write, how you price it and no one else tells you what to do.  I don’t have big gas bills and I have a short commute. No stop lights. Plenty of coffee in the morning.
  6. You have exciting conversations at parties about your book and you give speeches and show what you have written. Long lost college roommates e-mail you and tell you how much they liked your work. You amaze your mother who is astounded that her own child has written a novel, or two, or more.
  7. You love to write and your dream is to see you book in hand. Now. Facts: It takes a long time to get published. It took eighteen months to get Baen books to ask for my entire manuscript after countless other queries to other publishers and then a year after that they said, “No thanks”. I wasted two years because they said, “No simultaneous submissions.” They make up all these rules and like sheep, wannabe authors follow them afraid to rock the boat or ruin their chances. Even if you were accepted right this second, acceptance in hand today, it takes a year or more to hit the shelf. Most likely two. Will those shelves be there in two years?
  8. What is everyone getting for Christmas? Most likely a Kindle Fire, an Ipad2, a Nook, or an iphone. Why am I a self-published, Indie author? It just makes sense for me in my place and at this time. Why not? Why wait any longer?
  9. And if you are successful, didn’t a big publishing house offer Amanda Hockings an amazing contract? You can put both oars in the water if you want. You can do both and no one will arrest you. Ask Dean Wesley Smith about that. It isn’t an “either, or” situation.

If you’re smart about it, you have nothing to lose. Hey! Don’t these babies look great and fun to read? Why don’t you try one? An ebook is $2.99-$3.99. Less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Think about it.

I do… on my iPad2. 🙂 Thank you, Sheron!

Science fiction has been a passion of mine for many years. I graduated from the University of Florida with a Masters degree in Education specializing in language, speech and journalism. I taught creative writing and literature for eight years at the high school level.

One night while riding home from a weekend vacation, I passed a billboard with the name Penryn on it. Out of boredom I began to create a story. Out of that one name, a whole world and generations of exotic characters and places developed.

Over the next few years, I held day jobs as banker, stockbroker and art gallery manager while still writing. My husband and I moved all over the United States from Miami, Florida to Portland, Oregon where we now live. I have a beautiful twenty-six year old daughter who is now buying her first home. I have published four science fiction time travel/adventure novels in this universe and have four more to be polished and edited for the series.

Currently: Caught In Time: a romance time/travel story in Medieval Alysia

A Dangerous Talent for Time: A time travel/adventure a generation later.

Cosmic Entanglement: An alien probe crashes on a twentieth century Alysia opening up a space race. Mystery and romance.

Past the Event Horizon: Space adventure and first contact thriller

Space Song: coming early 2013

***All are available on Amazon, both paperback and ebook. The first few also via Smashwords, ibookstore, Nook, Sony and other ebooks.

Blog on great science fiction/fantasy reads: http://www.scifibookreview.com

Twitter: Sheronwriting

Facebook: Sheron Wood McCartha

You can find Sheron’s books at http://Amazon.com/author/sheronmccrtha.  Also at Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Smashwords multiplatform formats including Kindle.

Caught In Time: an exciting time travel adventure about Rowyna Grae, a clone who goes back in time a thousand years to her medieval past in order to save the future, not to change it. But does.

A Dangerous Talent for Time: What if you could control events and change time? What if you were that future and whoever was changing time, changed your now? What would you do to stop him or her?

Also at Amazon, Smashwords, Kindle, Apple ibookstore, Kobo, B&N.

Cosmic Entanglement: An alien probe crash lands on the planet Alysia.  What do they do? Outer space is no longer safe. Amazon, both digital and paperback.

Her Blog is at www.scifibookreview.com to discuss all things in science fiction and fantasy, and http://www.AlysianUniverse.com for further information on her books and the world of Alysia.

***

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. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with children’s / YA author Gigi Sedlmayer – the five hundred and eleventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

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Author Spotlight no.43 – Joseph V Sultana

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the forty-third, is of medieval post-apocalyptic novelist, fellow Radio Litopianinterviewee (and friend :)) Joseph V Sultana.

Joseph V. Sultana was born to a Maltese father and Scottish mother and hails from London’s East End when it was not known as Canary Wharf. He is proud of his mixed roots and heritage, and has taken to writing as a cure for a midlife crisis that did not happen (yet).

His first novel, Three of a Kind, is the first in his planned Unsceptred Isle series and was published as an ebook by Book Sanctuary in June this year. It has so far received several five star reviews on Amazon and he claims to have once spotted someone reading it on London’s underground.

Whilst Three of a kind is not winning any records or out-selling too many others, you can hear the pride in him about his accomplishment of not just writing a book and getting it published but mainly that other people, complete strangers, have read it and enjoyed it.

Joseph is a straight-talking kind of a man whose cockney accent loses his sounding of ‘aitches’, but this “rough exterior” (his words :)) hides the warm and helpful chap he really is.

He openly admits of his love of helping people where he can and is often found twittering advice or telling about other people’s writing and that could be why book 2 will be later than his self-imposed deadline of December 2011.

Nowadays he is an erratic visitor to the Litopia website to join in with the chat and being somewhat of a maverick, he will often go off in a direction way off topic, but always in the hope to bring a smile to anyone’s face.

And now from the author himself:

I know it’s been said many times and by more important people than myself, but nonetheless, I have a dream. A dream where I am like Ian Fleming sitting in my summer retreat drinking a soft drink while tapping away at my worn keyboard on the latest in the Unsceptred Isle series. Alas that dream is no closer than me winning the lottery. I have however, made a start by writing and getting Unsceptred Isle – Three of a Kind published.

I am not a purist, nor am I traditional in my writing or my approach to the industry. And at times I have been accused of breaking the rules and therefore I am somehow not seen as published. My reply is, ‘Thankfully we all have opinions and I happy you are exercising that right.’ To which I ignore any further comments and continue bashing at the keyboard as a child would while playing the whack-a-mole machine at the seaside.

In recent years there has been a global technological revolution and with the advent of eBook readers I think it is really important to understand about what’s happening to the publishing world. In my eyes these little gizmos are causing the same stir as the printing press, the custody of the written word has fallen back to the people.

Formula writing, sales models and demographics are the babies being thrown out with the bath water and I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing. All I see though is writers springing up everywhere, all vying for a piece of the action, and all being published along the way.

People like Colin Barnes and his co-published Killing my Boss or Minnie Lahongrais and her novel Sinners ride are only two of the many amazing books I have recently read. Neither will likely win a Booker or Costa but the stories are well-crafted by unknown writers who may have never had this chance without eBooks.

The development of the eBook must come from the publishing world though, because we are like children let loose in a sweet shop. Rules need to be in place, guidance is to be given because it’s a real free-for-all out here.

We need ePublishers, eAgents, more online outlets in place for us to be organised, else chaff and wheat will remain unsorted. If it was not for eBooks, Amazon and Book Sanctuary (my ePublisher), I would be an unpublished author, but what I’d like to see is the whole industry adapt faster, the British Library and others acknowledging that eBooks will be accepted as legal deposit and finally that eBooks are sold for a reasonable price, much less than their printed counterpart.

I don’t believe eBooks are going to replace the paperback like CD replaced tape, but there are here to stay, and will compliment what for me is an exciting and vibrant industry.

But that is just my opinion.

And mine. Thank you Joe. Lovely to have you back. You can find more about Joseph and his writing via… his website (http://www.unsceptred-isle.com) and Twitter.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with novelist, playwright, short story author and blogger Stella Duffy – the two hundred and twenty-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can read / download my eBooks from Smashwords (Amazon to follow).

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2011 in ebooks, interview, novels, writing

 

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Guest post: eBook publishing by Joseph V Sultana

I’m especially delighted (because he’s a friend :)) to bring you this guest blog post, today on the topic of eBook publishing by medieval post-apocalyptic novelist Joseph V Sultana.

Working with an eBook publisher

With nearly 90,000 words burning an impatient hole into my hard drive and time ticking away to 2012, I needed to get published urgently. I tried the traditional route and although I hadn’t met with anything overly critical, I also hadn’t met with any success either.

While doing lots of research into self-publishing I found Book Sanctuary. I studied the website and did a bit checking on the business and like me it was a start-up. I did some simple background research which checked out. So a quick email, and soon after, a telephone conflab with Thomas Whitehead, one of the directors of the publishing house, it soon became evident that their business model appealed to me in a huge way.

And I assure you that I looked at every reason why I should not go with them.

I then thought that I too am a start-up and so for me to ask for a risk to be taken on me, I was willing to take the same risk on them. Soon an agreement was met and after I approved their edits… the rest is history or rather this story.

So ‘Unsceptred Isle – Three of a Kind’ was quietly published on the 1st of June on Amazon, globally, and has been getting some brilliant reviews.

To my amazement it sold, not by the bucket-load but certainly more than the ten I was banking on.

So what have Book Sanctuary done for me since? Difficult to quantify when comparing these guys to, say, Bloomsbury.

Firstly they do not have the big advertising budget and their whole ethos really is about the digital age. They use Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook to get the message out. But for me that allows me complete freedom to get heavily involved in the marketing too.

I designed the cover of ‘Three of a Kind’, not sure I would be allowed under normal circumstances and they’ve kept me up-to-date with sales.

This year they are one of the sponsors for the Linlithgow Book Festival, north of the border. I am over the moon ‘Three of a Kind’ is being presented within the literary world at a festival no less, albeit a small one.

It’s not self-publishing, I have not had to pay for anything up front. We have a 12-month deal with each other whereby either one can walk away after that period. Within that year they have first ebook rights and that’s it. All other rights remain with me including territory, paper, film and television etc.

Look, it’s not for everyone but it suits me down to the ground. I have even made several sales around the world. Now I’m not sure if that is possible through normal publication.

Of course I’d love to see it in print, and on a shelf in Waterstones, Foyles or other booksellers and who know maybe that will happen. Till then I keep plugging ‘Three of a Kind’ and continue writing the sequel.

I would certainly recommend it but for some it may be better to go it alone. You won’t know until you try it. Have a look and see for yourself.

Thank you JVS. Oh and he’s seen someone reading his book on a train. How cool is that? 🙂

Based in Essex, England, Joe is an Assurance / Handover Manager in the UK rail industry by day and at night, when he’s not on Facebook or Twitter (12,442 tweets and counting) or being taxi service to his family, he’s planning his ‘Unsceptred Isle’ series and if there’s any time left, he appears in the Radio Litopia chat room – which is how we met.

Joe’s website is http://www.unsceptred-isle.com where you can read about the series (Joe plans at least four), Joe himself, Maltese Cuisine (his motherland), sample chapters and even Cockney Rhyming Slang.

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. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

 
 

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