Embracing Self-Publishing

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I promised myself that I would blog about the benefits of self-publishing just as soon as I had passed what some sources cite (Forbes article ) as a benchmark – the selling of more than 250 copies of my self-published novel, Disappearing in Plain Sight.

Well – I’ve made it past the average and I feel pretty good. Heck – I feel totally pumped and I just had to get up and do a happy dance around the room before I could go on.

P1090669A big shout out to all the wonderful people who stopped by my table to chat and purchase a copy of Disappearing in Plain Sight, at the Thunderbird Mall Christmas Craft Sale, over the past weekend. You certainly helped push me over the top of that magic number. Santa had a longer line-up but I had great fun talking with people about my book and about self-publishing in general. And thanks again to my friend Marion who sold her wonderful crocheted hats and scarfs right next to me. I think we make a great team!

Speaking of statistics, here’s another interesting one. (Jan. 2011)  Most (95%) traditionally published books sell no more than 500 copies. I’ve also read that traditional publishers won’t even look at an author who doesn’t already have a solid social media following and that any author signed is expected to take on the lion’s share of his or her promotion responsibility.

IMG_6005A traditionally published author recently told me his story. He wrote a book that was accepted for publication. The book took forever to come out and the author was required to do massive changes that, even to this day, he is not thrilled about. Finally, his book was out! The novel received a great review by a major source; the author was invited to be a guest at a prestigious conference. He toured the book around real brick and mortar book stores. The book sold more than the magic number 500 copies mentioned above. Then the buzz died. The book is available as an e-book on Amazon but the price is set so high (by the publisher) that the book will never sell. The author has no copies of his book – he couldn’t even sell one on his own if he wanted to. This promising first novel is basically dead in the water. What a sad story. Probably more common than many of us realize.

By choosing self-publishing, I take on a lot of responsibility. On the up side, I retain control. I work with a wonderful editor who helps me make my novel the best piece of writing I can manage. She doesn’t try to change my work to make it fit a certain market niche. I control how my book cover looks, based on what I want people to feel when they pick up my novel. I decide the price that I think will sell. I can sell my books, anywhere and anytime. Because the books are print-on-demand, they won’t go out of print. The e-books are out there forever (or as long as cyberspace lasts). There is no limited time frame in which I must shine or be relegated to the publishing trash pile. Check out Indies Unlimited for another author’s thoughts on why self-publishing was the obvious choice.

Self-publishing isn’t easy (but it seems traditional publishing isn’t either). Those of you who follow my blog know that last time around, for Disappearing in Plain Sight, I made use of an assisted self-publisher. For The Light Never Lies, I plan to do much more of the work on my own. I expect to be writing post after post on the challenges – please stayed tuned.

As I sift through my own experience, what other authors tell me (self-published and traditionally published), and what I’ve read, I no longer see any reason to run after a traditional publishing deal.

So, that’s me embracing my experience of self-publishing!

Tell me what you think. Are you ready to give self-publishing a wholehearted endorsement? If not, what are the things that hold you back? What does that little voice that wakes you up at 3:00 a.m. say, one way or the other? And don’t pull any punches – let’s get an honest dialogue going. If you think that self-publishing is vanity press dressed up anew and you’re waiting for one of the big publishing houses to come calling, then say so. Or maybe you know of a better route to get to a better deal with traditional publishing. What about the smaller presses? All thoughts on this issue are invited.

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Anti-Bullying Week Plea

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In my debut novel, Disappearing in Plain Sight, sixteen-year-old Lisa-Marie has been bullied. As her character wove its way into my writing, I discovered that I was exploring two predominant themes – how a small incident could grow exponentially to become a degrading, daily reality and how the experience of ongoing bullying could lead a young person to desperate measures.

Lisa-Marie’s first day in a new high school became the setting event for years of bullying.

The first day of classes she was hopelessly lost in every way that a kid could possibly be lost. She was in the crowded, second-floor hallway trying to juggle books, binders, a time table and map. The bell rang and the hallway emptied rapidly with her no closer to finding her way.

She was standing in a small alcove by the water fountain when she heard voices just across the hall. It quickly became obvious to her that a girl, who looked about her age, was in the process of being dumped by an older guy and she was taking it hard – crying and clutching onto his sleeve. Lisa-Marie saw the guy jerk his arm away. As he walked down the hall she heard him tell the girl in a cold tone to grow up.

Lisa-Marie stood staring like she was watching a train wreck; she couldn’t drag her eyes away from the carnage.

She goes on to explain that this girl turned out to be one of the popular girls and that from that day forward her and her friends made Lisa-Marie’s life miserable.

The idea that ongoing bullying could be the result of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time came from a conversation I had with my daughter, years after she had graduated from high school. I asked her if she could explain to me why a certain girl had always been so unpopular. From my own memories of being in and out of my daughter’s classrooms, there didn’t seem to have been all that much to distinguish this girl from any of the others kids in the class. My daughter told me that all she could recall was that the girl had been a new kid from another province. When the teacher had told everyone where she was from, someone whispered a sly, little, sniggering joke that associated that city name with a sexual body part. And that was it. This girl struggled to fit in from that day forward and the joke followed her right through her school years.

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In this Week of Anti-Bullying, I have been thinking back to that girl in my daughter’s class and what it would have taken for the other kids to just let her move beyond such a chance event.

I think we need to help young people develop the tools whereby they can step-out of group think, give their peers second and third chances, and move beyond personal comfort zones and small cliques to include others. Young people would need high levels of self confidence to do any of the above and that’s a tall order.

In Disappearing in Plain Sight, Lisa-Marie explains that she tried to get help but no one saw her, no one wanted to listen – no one wanted to be the one who tried to help the kid everyone hated.

For Anti-Bullying Week and beyond, let us strive to be the kind of parents who build confidence in our children, let us be adults who model inclusion, the type of people who take responsibility for the power of our words, let us be the teachers who don’t turn a blind eye to a student’s suffering.

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(The photos in this post were taken at Taliesin West – architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, outside of Scottsdale, Arizona.)

Random Musings – Snippets from my Writer’s Journal.

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I carry a red notebook around with me – one of those hard cover things with an elastic fabric strap attached to the back so you can snap it around the front to keep the journal shut. In this book, I jot down things I think I want to remember. Mostly, the act of writing cures me of any future desire to know something. But every now and then, I read some of these notes and they make me shake my head. I decided to share a few of them with you today.

Sock puppet – a false persona created via social media to promote one’s own work. Tempting, but ultimately not worth the risk. If we aren’t ourselves, we aren’t anything.

Arkansas Toothpick – cool slang for a bowie knife – courtesy of Pawn Stars – one of the most ridiculous shows on TV. But valuable info is available everywhere – right?

Character sketch (sitting in the airport describing someone two rows up)

She’s in her late twenties or early thirties. Straight black eyebrows below a wide, clear forehead. A prominent ski-jump nose, a wide generous mouth, white teeth, long, dark hair pulled to the side in a loose braid, silver dangling earrings. Dark eyes – pools of darkness. Freda Kalo after a really good eye-brow waxing. She has a smile that lights up her entire face – there is confidence, freedom, an aura of strength in that smile. She’s totally hands-on. She touches the people around her often – her hand on the arm of the person next to her, a quick hug, an arm slung casually over a shoulder. She tilts her head to one side when she’s listening. When she looks over at me, I see intensity, interest, a desire to connect, as if I can hear her thinking – what is she writing? Who is she? What is she about? My pen skitters to a stop as our eyes meet and I smile back.

A great story is life with the dull parts taken out – Alfred Hitchcock.

Where is the Love – Black Eyed Peas

Present

Past

Past Participle

 

Lie down

Lay down

Had lain down

To recline

Lay down

Laid down

Had laid down

To place or put

Who am I trying to kid? – when to use lie or lay will never sink in. ***Start promoting love your editor day.

. . . and you die one chapter at a time. (where did I read this?)

Write what is, not what seems to be. It would be fascinating to do a study that examined a person’s first draft with their personality profile. I’m betting tentative speakers will write a lot of seems to be stuff.

Ten simple things that can make you happier

  1. Exercise – 7 minutes a day can make a difference – thank you researchers for that one!
  2. Get enough sleep – adding more afternoon napping should fit the bill.
  3. Have a shorter commute – distance from the bed to the desk – short enough.
  4. Spend time with family and friends – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Just joking – sort of.
  5. Go outside – sounds good to me.
  6. Help others – 2 hours a week is enough to do the trick.
  7. Smile – research shows smiling can actually alleviate pain – for yourself and others.
  8. Plan a trip – even if you never take the trip. Planning a trip is fun, taking a trip is stressful.
  9. Meditate – no-brainer – no pun intended. I’ll combine this with exercise and going outside by having a daily, 7 minute, walking meditation. How is that for efficient?
  10. Practice gratitude – simple but powerful. List three things a day you are grateful for.

****I need to make a detailed self-publishing checklist and start checking things off!!!

Well, there you have it. Random thoughts. Here’s hoping something pops out at you. And let’s hear it for gratitude. Sure can’t hurt.

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Lawson

2003 – 2013

Rest in Peace.

Time For Moving On

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Sometimes you just know it’s time. That’s the way I felt as I made the decision to relocate my writing workspace from the end of the kitchen table to a real desk.

From my first tentative exploration of fiction writing, with the early drafts of Disappearing in Plain Sight, I refused to sit at any of the lovely desks we have in our home. It was as if the very idea of a desk meant academic writing.  In the span of a dozen years I had an undergrad degree and almost seven years of grad school under my belt. I had spent enough hours sitting at a desk, working on a certain type of writing, to last me a lifetime. Or so I thought. Writing fiction was to be totally different for me – something completely new.

For a fresh beginning in fiction writing, I set myself up at the end of the kitchen table and there I stayed through the writing and multiple rewriting of two novels. Obviously, this was disruptive to the other uses a kitchen table could have. We often found ourselves eating our meals on a tiny portion of the table surrounded by a pushed aside laptop, stacked books, and multiple papers covered in post-it notes. Gradually, the piles of writing material spread from the table to the adjacent countertop.

I recently returned from a wonderful month with my granddaughters. I walked into our small home and was overwhelmed by the stacks of books, magazines, newspapers and objects piled on almost every available surface. My husband and I both knew that the time had come to deal with the clutter. I realized, quite suddenly, that I could go back to working at a desk. I was ready.

We had a couple of days of disruption as we carted things from one room to another. As is usually the case, one small move can begin an avalanche of change. Leaving the kitchen table involved reworking a space down in our old dining room. That involved moving a desk we had in the entrance which also meant revamping that area. Bonus – we cleaned up three rooms!

As I sit in my new workspace, I am ready for the tasks that will get The Light Never Lies into production mode. I feel myself gearing up for a major writing push in early 2014 – the first draft of my next novel.

Improved workspace = more creativity and output. New horizons open, all things become possible.

Moral of the story – because of course there is always some lesson to be learned – right? When it comes to being creative, don’t under estimate the psychological needs met by a particular workspace. Where you set up at any given time may be as much about where you can’t be as it is about where you want to be. Ultimately, the only yardstick is whether you can write or not.

Let me know what you think. Have you ever cleared the decks and ended up sweeping yourself right into a new and invigorated writing mode? Do you write in a less traditional space because it works for you? I’d love to hear.

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Author Wednesday – Francis Guenette

Loving P.C. Zick’s interview style.

P.C. Zick

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Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I’m happy to introduce you to my guest author interview with Francis Guenette, author of Disappearing in Plain Sight, modern fiction with a splash of romance. Francis told me that Disappearing in Plain Sight “shows the characters grappling with the realities of grief and desire only to discover that there are no easy choices–only shades of grey.Disappearing in Plain Sight - cover

Hello Francis. I’m so happy to be able to introduce you and your first novel. This is a very exciting time for you, I’m sure. I’m always curious about when authors first allow themselves to say, “I’m an author.” So how about you? When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”

Being able to self-identify as a writer or author has definitely been a process for me. And like so many identities I’ve assumed over the years, it’s about becoming comfortable…

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The Rotary Auction and Disappearing in Plain Sight

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The Rotary Club recently held their annual Auction. Bruces Sunrise Contractors donated three copies of local North Island author, Francis Guenette’s debut novel – Disappearing in Plain Sight. Bruce (who, for those of you who don’t know, is my husband) usually donates energy-efficient light bulbs so this year’s donation was really stepping out Open-mouthed smile 

 

 

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BRUCE’S SUNRISE CONTRACTORS
Novel “Disappearing in Plain Sight” by Francis Guenette (a little snippet from the 12 page list of donations.)

Here is the blurb I wrote up for the auction:

The North Island Gazette recently called Guenette indefatigable in her efforts to promote her work, writing that, while the book might be called Disappearing in Plain Sight, author Francis Guenette seems to be doing anything but, as interest builds in her debut novel.

The novel follows the stories of a close knit group of people who live on the shores of a Northern Vancouver Island lake. The characters are forced to grapple with the realities of grief and desire to discover that there are no easy choices – only shades of grey.

This book would make a great Christmas gift for a friend or relative – a few reviewers have said reading Guenette’s novel made them either nostalgic to return to the North Island or anxious to visit for the first time.

The novel has over 15 four and five star reviews on various Amazon sites.

Bruce heard back from one of the Rotary Club Auction organizers the other day. The first two books went for close to the retail price and then a bidding war got going on the last one. Wow. That is exciting! According to the organizer, the books generated a lot of interest and they were one of the more interesting donations.

Once again, I can’t emphasize enough how important advertising in your local community can be. The Rotary Auction was covered extensively in the local paper as well as on the radio station with detailed lists of all donations. The actual Auction was held at the Thunderbird Mall with donations on display. It turned out to be a great way to create some buzz around my book.

So – thanks so much to those who bid on Disappearing in Plain Sight and I hope the buyers enjoy the read. And a big shout out to The Rotary Club who remains active on so many fronts in our local communities. Their motto is – Service above Self – and they walk the talk.

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Dia de los Meurtos–Day of the Dead

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Today’s post is a photo montage dedicated to Dia de Los Meurtos. During our five-week road trip to Southern California last year we were fortunate enough (due to Bruce’s brilliant on-the-road research skills) to attend a community Dia de Los Meurtos celebration in a real graveyard in the community of Camarillo.

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The afternoon was hot, the colours brilliant and the communal nature of the celebration was breathtaking. The order of the day was food, vendor booths and entertainment.

 

We watched as family after family, loaded down with picnic baskets and stunningly bright marigolds, were transported by motorized carts out to various grave sites. Once there, they ate and celebrated the memory and spirit of those family members gone before them.

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I bought a beautiful necklace from a booth specializing in Mexican Folk Art – Yolteutl Art by Elehuiany Law – she is also an awesome face painter!

 

 

DSC_0356Soon after we arrived at the Celebration, we met Xavier Montes – a man well over six feet tall dressed all in white. A striking man, he seemed to be a Camarillo ambassador of some type. He made a point of checking out the strangers in town – introducing himself to us and making sure we found our way to his booth. He plays the harp for weddings and parties and also turns his hand to original artwork.

 

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Thank you to the community of Camarillo for your warm welcome as two strangers from Canada wandered through your celebrations finding so much to enjoy.

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