My Publishing Story-Sarah Doughty — September 17, 2018

My Publishing Story-Sarah Doughty

 

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My origin story is much like anyone else’s, I suppose. I turned to writing because it helps me feel better. It’s what I’ve always done. When it came to a point in my life that I desperately needed something to help me deal with traumatic memories of my childhood, I turned to writing. Not only for the therapeutic benefit, but also as a means of proving – not just to myself, but as a middle finger to my abuser – that I was capable of doing something I loved and could do it well. Sure, it took time to grow and evolve, but that’s how writing is supposed to be. A constant evolution over time. It was the best decision I ever made. And I will never look back.

What is the name of your work and via which format (online, small press, e.g.) did you publish it?

I self-published all of my books (you can read more about them on my author page) for free through Smashwords. They don’t charge to distribute to retailers, and except for Amazon, all the major retailers carry my e-books on their digital shelves. (Mobi files, however, are available for Kindles through Smashwords.) I chose to do this because writing is therapeutic to me. Reading, for many others offers the same benefits – the escape. I didn’t want money to come between someone finding an escape in my books. That decision isn’t what many authors would do, and that’s okay. It works for me because the writing itself is reward enough. It’s icing on the cake to know that people are continually downloading and enjoying my books – just as I’d hoped.

What made you decide to self-publish/publish through a small independent press?

When I wrote my books, I did it with the intention to help me therapeutically – to escape into my heroine’s mind (or a temporary moment through my prose poetry). In many ways, my heroine saved me. I’m far from fully healed, but I was faced with a dilemma. Would I publish my books online for free so that others could read them and benefit from the story as I did, or wait until I was better to go a more traditional route? Considering the extent of the abuse I endured as a child and how long it lasted, I didn’t know when, if ever, I would be capable of the stresses of the book industry. So, I elected for option A. I would much rather share my words for free to help people than wait. As long as my writing helps me, I want to keep it free to help others as well.

Did you face any challenges in the publication process you chose, and if so, what advice can you give aspiring writers who are interested in taking that route?

My decisions aren’t what most writers would do, and that’s okay. But if anyone does decide to go that route, there’s very little stress involved. And once the books are published, that’s it. You don’t have to worry about advertising or trying to get books sold so you can take a vacation this year – unless, of course, you want to. Publishing was easy. Smashwords made it clear and simple and I don’t think I would go any other route for my e-books again in the future.

Many writers struggle with the question of when to publish their work. How did you know the time was right for you?

Just Breathe was my first novel in a lot of ways. I had never – not once – finished writing a novel successfully. I would always get stuck halfway through the story and have no clue where to go next. When I set out to write for its therapeutic benefits, I wasn’t going to let myself fail again. I found that carefully plotting was the right course for me. And I wrote my book from start to finish, coincidentally during National Novel Writing Month (November). The first draft was admittedly a mess, and it took twice as long to finish the first edit. But it was worth it. The story was important to me, and I finally wrote it out. I was determined to release it to the world.

When you write, who is your intended audience?

For many fiction writers, there’s a target audience. For my genre, since it’s a rather specific one (urban fantasy romance), my target audience is adult women, ages 18 and above. My books aren’t erotica, but they have some scenes in them that wouldn’t be appropriate for minors without an adult’s prior permission to read. My prose poetry is mostly for all ages, any gender, though some of the more sensitive subjects regarding my abuse, or romance might be better suited for people that can handle the content. But, more importantly, I write for myself. If I hadn’t written my books, I would put them among my favorites and go-to rereads.

Indie Blu(e)’s mission is to promote independent/divergent writers with an edgy ethos. What does being an indie writer mean to you?

I write to heal. It helps me feel better when I write, and I genuinely love what I’m writing. If you don’t, you’re doing it wrong. I had so much faith in what I was doing that I felt compelled to share my books as they were completed, for free of course, because I didn’t want anyone to be deprived of the escape or experiencing the kind of story I loved so much. I also write for the community. So many people have stories of their own that mirror mine, likewise for many other writers. So not only have I found some forever friends that are also badass writers, but I’ve found people that have connected with my words so deeply, that they feel as though I’m writing about them. That is truly better than being a bestselling author.

What and who do you most like to read?

I’m not sure why, but I’ve always loved urban fantasy – an often-secret supernatural world within the real world (often with a bit of steamy love interests involved), and horror. Stephen King made me fall in love with horror when I was maybe 7 years old and I watched It for the first time. To this day, Pennywise is by far the best antagonist I’ve ever read (or more recently, seen on the big screen). From Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress world, Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series (True Blood fans, anyone?) and many more have captured my heart over the years.

In your recently published work, what is your favorite piece and why?

The last book I published was the most recent in my series. I think my favorite part was finally introducing a character I’ve teased about since Just Breathe. But I won’t spoil the fun. I’m currently working on a new poetry book that will cover the last few years of writing, as well as new pieces. Hopefully it will be released in 2019.

My Publishing Story-Nicholas Gagnier — September 10, 2018

My Publishing Story-Nicholas Gagnier

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I wrote my first novel in 2008, at 23 years old. It was called Harbour City Story and, despite being light years short of publication worthy, it would lay the groundwork for the years to come.

After the death of my friend Michelle in that same year, it would take 3 years to write what would become my first published novel, released summer 2018. After it was finished in 2011, parenthood pulled me away from novels for six years. It sat in a drawer, unedited.

In 2012, I began posting poetry on a WordPress blog. That blog, Retkon Poet, would grow to over 8,000 followers in a 3 year period. In 2015 I shuttered RKP to begin what would become Free Verse Revolution. During those five years, I released several poetry books. At War with Water, my first, was the first foray into the world of self-publishing through LuLu Publishing. As expected, no one bought it. This had to less to do with the book itself than my ignorance of how to market it.

In 2013, I assembled several writer friends I had made through WordPress to release Ground Zero, a commemorative book to Michelle. It was my biggest success thus far, garnering local media attention, decent sales and (finally!) slight validation I was on the right path. For the next three years, I opted to publish several digital chapbooks that released through my blog as free reads; THE KILLING WAGE (2014); LITTLE CITY (2015); GENERATION WHY (2016) and MEN IN PAPER COATS (2017). Through cultivating my site and several writing relationships, I put together a follow up to Ground Zero at the summit of my forthcoming mental health journey. Bringing together 22 amazing people (many of them part of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective), SWEAR TO ME included many of the people I now count among my closest friends.

In 2017, I began writing FOUNDING FATHERS, which would become my first full-length published novel. At the same time, I pulled out my novel from ten years earlier and edited it into a novella called LEONARD THE LIAR. The combination of these projects convinced me I would need a vehicle to drive these stories to market, using all the knowledge I had gained self-publishing poetry.

In 2018, I shuttered the Free Verse Revolution blog to start FVR Publishing with my friend Kristiana Reed. In summer, we joined forces with indie author Kindra M. Austin. Kristi took the reins of a six year old entity and will relaunch the original Free Verse Revolution blog where writers can contribute in a celebration of poetry. Kindra’s imprint One for Sorrow became our fiction-publishing arm and O4S and FVR merged under a new parent company, Blank Paper Press. Leonard released in July and Founding Fathers will be here in November. On the poetry side, FVR will release Georgia Park’s QUIT YOUR JOB AND BECOME A POET (OUT OF SPITE!) 2ND ED. on October 2.

My Publishing Story: Ashley Jane — September 3, 2018

My Publishing Story: Ashley Jane

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I first started thinking about publishing my poetry around a year ago. There had been people asking if I would for awhile, but I always made an excuse. “I don’t have the time.” “I didn’t go to school for that.” “I’m not good enough to publish. This is just a hobby.” But, along the way, I’ve met some amazing and supportive folks who encouraged me to stop seeing my writing as just something to pass the time. So, I decided I would go for it.

The first step was going back through all my words. I read stuff that I’ve written over the years, stuff dating back to high school, and it wasn’t all pretty. In fact, some of it was really bad! Others left me drained, because all those emotions I felt when writing the piece would come rushing back. It was a daunting task. I spent a few months wading through every poem, every story, every little quote and jotted note. I sorted everything into categories. I suppose my obsessive need to organize things came in handy there. I had already decided what I wanted for the title, so I began collecting things for that. I spent another few months re-typing everything into a word document, re-visiting and revising older poems, and writing new ones. I knew I would be self-publishing, so I created an account on CreateSpace. Due to social media, I’d met Christina Strigas and Alfa Holden, two awesome poets. They’d advised me to publish through Ingram Sparks too, if I ever wanted bookstores to be able to sell my book. I got lucky meeting them, because so many writers don’t realize the downside of using only CreateSpace.

After setting my titles up on both sites, I started piecing the book together. I did all of the setup myself, as I couldn’t really afford the extra money it would take to pay someone else. Luckily, I have amazing friends who helped me edit and proofread (thanks Alfa and Matt!). The art was trickier. I’m in no way artistically inclined. I had originally asked an old friend to do it, but that fell through and my timeline for publishing got pushed back. I think that was an important lesson for me. For future books, I’ll get the art nailed down a lot earlier in the process. I did find a wonderful artist though, and she created exactly what I wanted for the cover. With the interior art, I decided to do that myself. I searched various databases for vector graphics and art that was both free and fit with my aesthetic. I personally selected fonts to match my social media. I was pretty picky about making it look a certain way, but I think when you’re self-publishing, you have to be picky. Amazon will not accept a lot of things. The art has to be a certain dpi. The margins and art have to be formatted a certain way. It’s much harder than it seems. So, I take pride in having done it all myself. Some people will also hire cover designers to create their cover or build it. CreateSpace allows you to use their templates or upload your own cover. I chose to build my own and upload it. I was not easy, and it was definitely time consuming. It took awhile, but I was thrilled with the final result.

After several lengthy conversations where I picked Alfa’s brain, I was finally ready to hit publish. I was fortunate to have her to answer questions, because it’s a pretty confusing set up. You’ve got pricing decisions and material decisions and distribution options. And, it’s not instantaneous. In my head, I thought I’d submit the stuff, and they would be, “ok, great, you’re done.” But, no. They take awhile to inspect it, then they spit out issues that you’ve gotta go back and fix. When you finally hit publish, it doesn’t immediately show up on Amazon either. I think that’s the one bit of advice I’d remind others – with CreateSpace, it takes time for your book to show up. With IngramSparks, it can take even longer. So, be prepared for that. Don’t tell people it’ll be out on day X unless you hit publish before that. Otherwise, it may not be there.

In the end, I’m proud of the result. It makes me happy to search my name and see my book pop up. It’s cool hearing people say that they relate to my words, or that they love the look and feel of the book. Nothing can beat that feeling.

Ashley Jane
Author of Love, Lies and Lullabies

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