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Will You Take a Moment to Bask with Me?

August 1st, 2016 No comments
Book cover of J Bennett's Flying

FLYING has launched!

We are not supposed to bask. We are not supposed to be outwardly and unapologetically proud of ourselves. Even in the face of great deeds, humility is still called for. We are supposed to say that we couldn’t have done it alone, or that it’s not a big deal, really. Well, watch me offend the world’s delicate senses, because I’m going to bask for just a little bit, and I want you to bask with me.

I just sent out the email to my reader list announcing the publication of FLYING, the fifth and final book in my Girl with Broken Wings series. Seven years ago when I started scribbling out those first few scenes in the first book, FALLING, I wasn’t even sure I was capable of writing a complete book. (Learn the full story behind FALLING.)

The scenes piled up, and eventually a messy, terrible manuscript was born. I worked and worked and worked on the manuscript. I scrubbed it up and down. I found critique partners and beta readers. And finally, I took the deepest, biggest breath possible and published FALLING.

That was pretty freaking scary.

In 2009, I wasn’t capable of writing one book. In 2016, I’ve written five books and two novellas for the GIRL WITH BROKEN WINGS series. I’ve carefully guided my characters and my story to a conclusion. I didn’t do it alone. My critique partners and my beta readers made my story better, and my fans inspired me on all those days when I felt too tired or uninspired to write. I also know that I still have a long way to go as a writer as I continually work to improve my craft.

Just for today, though, I’m going to bask.

Come tomorrow, I’ll start freaking out, convinced that the GWBW series was a fluke, that my next book will suck, regardless of what it is. And what will it be? I’ve got a dozen ideas all fighting for dominance in my mind. How to choose? What if I pick wrong and then end up stalling halfway through? What if FLYING is the last book I ever write?

Hello, anxiety. I will hang with you tomorrow, but today I’m busy. Dear reader, if you’ve read the GWBW series, then we’ve gone on a journey together. We’ve melded minds in a way that’s kind of magical. I hope that you will take a moment and bask with me whenever you read this. Bask for FLYING, for a seven-year journey, for characters that we loved together, and for a shared story finding its completion.

Ahhhh, basking.

The True Story Behind FALLING and the Girl With Broken Wings Series

April 30th, 2016 1 comment

A.K.A., a Long-Ass Post on How I Wrote and Published My First Book

Girl With Broken Wings series

Worth all the tribulations? Definitely!

I am, right now, putting the finishing touches on FLYING, the fifth and final book in my paranormal series, Girl With Broken Wings. This is kind of a big deal for me. Not just finishing another book – which is awesome – but putting this series to bed. When I started writing the first book in the series, FALLING seven years ago, finishing it felt so hard. That was the beginning of my journey within the world of Girl With Broken Wings and my journey into publishing as well. As I gear up to complete the series, I can’t help but feel a little nostalgic about those early days. If you’ve ever been curious about how the GWBW series started or about evolution as a writer and self-published author…well, here are a lot of honest words about it.

FALLING into FALLING

I mostly wrote FALLING by accident. At the time – this was back yonder in 2009 — I was actually struggling to write another book. As a writer, I had floundered for years with trying to complete a full novel. Looking back on it now, my problem was really obvious. I would get inspired by a scene in my head, start writing, and then pray to the universe that the story would just somehow work. This is known as the “seat-of-the-pants” writing method. Some writers (pantsers) do well with this method and somehow manage to cobble together something worth reading. I am not one of them. Too often, my characters would just lurch blindly from one crisis to another or spend scenes just shooting the breeze with each other, because I couldn’t think of what to do with them. My plots would either run out of steam or just hit a wall and combust.

This is exactly what was happening with my novel. I was stuck. So was my plot, my characters, and basically everything related to the book. At the time, I was watching a lot of my favorite show, Supernatural. (The most supernatural thing about the show these days is that it is somehow still on.) One episode in particular captured my attention, and from the seed GWBW would eventually be born. The Supernatural episode that changed my life was Episode Four of Season Four (Metamorphosis). In the episode our hunky heroes Sam and Dean come across a man named Jack. Jack has kind of a big problem. He is a pretty decent normal guy…who (through no fault of his own) just happens to be turning into a Rugaru, a creature who is irresistibly drawn to feeding on human flesh.

Dean, at this point in the series, is the bad ass, straight-up killa’ of the pair. He’s all for blasting Jack’s brains out. Sensitive Sam sees Jack’s humanity and wants to try and find a way to save him. Seeing any similarities between this conundrum and another set of vigilante brothers who have to decide if a certain someone is too dangerous to live?  Yeah, that episode really got to me. I wondered what it would be like to be Jack; to try and fight against terrible urges to hurt others. I also liked the difficult choice Sam and Dean had to make. Could Jack be saved, or by sparing him, were they putting other innocent people at risk? Yummy, yummy tension!

Several months after watching that episode of Supernatural, I had one of those wonderful moments when a scene just flashes through my brain. I saw a girl in a hotel room trying desperately to control her urge to drain the life out of her trusting brother who was sleeping in the next bed. (Here’s another Supernatural influence — Sam and Dean travel the country fighting evil and end up sharing a lot of hotel rooms.) I was fixated on this scene, on the girl’s struggle and the brother’s slumbering innocence. Since I was getting absolutely nowhere with my work in progress, my fingers started typing, and what came out ended up being the prologue to FALLING.

FALLING is Born…and Then I Have to Edit A Lot

As soon as that first scene was down in pixels on my computer screen, I had to know how Maya got into that room. (Fun fact: Maya’s original name was Misha before my sister forced me to change it.)  How had she been turned into an energy-sucking creature? Writing FALLING became about answering that question. It was rocky. It was messy, but the words kept coming. The scenes piled up. Somehow, I managed to do something I had never done before – I made it to the end.

Because I was a pantser, the book’s plot had more holes than a colander, but I knew I had something special. How? Because I absolutely loved the characters of Maya, Gabe, and Tarren. Each of them felt real to me, and I cared deeply about their mission. Even as I was writing that first book, I started to understand Tarren’s deep internal struggles and Gabe’s desperate optimism. I began to fill out their backstories and discovered that Tarren had quite a few skeletons in his closet (some of which will finally come out in FLYING).

I had to work that book to the bone, scrubbing and scrubbing, to get it into decent shape. It took me over a year just to edit (compared to the roughly three or four months it takes me to edit a full novel now). Looking back on my files, I realize that I eventually went through ten separate drafts of the book! Compare that to the four drafts that will take me through FLYING (first draft, first edit, beta edits, grammar/final polish). This terribly long and arduous process along with the fear of repeating it all over again when I started on LANDING is what finally helped me shift from being a pantser to an outliner.

It’s ALLLLIVE…but Unloved

In 2010, I completed what I considered to be the final draft of FALLING. It was still early days for the Kindle and, more importantly, for Amazon allowing authors to self-publish their works. At the time, self-publishing had an incredibly bad reputation. It was considered by many, including myself, to be the last refuge of the author who wasn’t good enough to get an agent and a traditional publisher. In my view, self-publishing meant epic failure.

So, for over a year, I worked to get an agent. I sent out dozens of carefully crafted query letters and attended writing conferences. The first chapters of FALLING won top pick from an agent at one of the conferences. I got a cool certificate. That agent, along with two others showed a lot of interest in the book. Here’s the problem though, the pitching process is SLOOOOOOW. If an agent likes your query, you might hear back from her in a month or two requesting the first few chapters. Now, wait another two months or so, and she might request the full manuscript. Only a very small percentage of authors get this far. When/if you do, most agents request exclusive rights to consider your work, which means you don’t continue to query other agents. I got to this stage three times. In one instance, the agent declined. In another, the agent informed me that she had taken on as many new authors as she can handle. (I realize that this is basically the agent equivalent of the “I’ve decided that I’m not really ready to date anyone new right now and just want to work on myself,” classic dating rejection.) In one instance, I waited four months until the agent came back and told me she was leaving her job.

It was extremely frustrating and disheartening. Each time an agent requested my full manuscript for consideration, I felt like I was on the brink of achieving my one true dream in life, only to get that terrible NO and have to start all over again. In the year that this process was going on, I felt paralyzed. Should I start on the next book in the series? Maya, Tarren, and Gabe were chattering non-stop in my head wanting me to continue their story. But if no agent loved my book, then wouldn’t it be smarter to write something totally new that I could pitch?

Self-Publishing to the Rescue

At the same time I was bogged down in agent-pitching limbo, something curious was happening in Kindle World. Some of those loser self-published authors were actually selling a few books. Okay, not a few books. A lot of books. Amanda Hocking was one of the first self-published authors to sell a million copies of her books. This was also the time that a handful of brave traditionally published mid-list authors decided to experiment with self-publishing. A lot of authors were writing about their journey, and as I read more about their experiences, my mind began to change.

I realized something really important. I had put my writing on hold for an entire year waiting for an agent to tell me that FALLING was worth publishing. I had given them all of the power just because I was afraid that self-publishing was a cop-out. I asked myself one simple question: Do you believe FALLING is worth reading?

The answer was yes, and so the path forward was obvious. I wasn’t going to wait any longer for someone else’s approval. I was going to put FALLING into the world and let the readers decide if it was worthy. I doubt FALLING will ever top any best-selling lists, but since I published it in 2011, it has been downloaded over 10,000 times, reached the top ten ranking in Amazon’s New Adult book category several times, and generated some amazing and heartwarming fan mail. (Which I love getting and always respond to, by the way!)

The decision to self-publish also meant that I could write LANDING, RISING, LEAPING, and finally now FLYING. I could tell the story of Maya, Tarren, and Gabe.

I had that first epiphany of Maya struggling not to kill Gabe in the hotel room in early 2009. Now, seven years later, I am about to say goodbye to these characters for good. It’s been a long journey, but I’ve grown significantly as a storyteller, as a craftsman, and as a person. Thank you so much for coming on this journey with me. Don’t worry, this is only the beginning. Saying goodbye to Maya, Tarren, and Gabe will be hard, but there are many story paths yet to walk, and I hope you will walk them with me.

Read the Full Behind-the-Scenes Series

Ten Reasons Why Writing and Self-Publishing a Novel is the Coolest Thing I’ve Ever Done

February 22nd, 2015 No comments
young child drawing

My first novel

Like many authors, I knew that I wanted to be a writer from a young age. I wrote “novels” with crayons on big pads of paper and then in dark ink on “secret” notebooks. I even pecked a few shaky stories out on a typewriter as I was growing up. I always had this vision of myself as a writer, even if I wasn’t exactly sure how that was going to happen or how shy little me would ever gather up the courage to put my words out in the world.

Fast forward a decade. I’d spent two years tapping away on my laptop and ended up with a stack of paper filled with my words. This was Falling, the first novel that I felt was actually good.  I spent another year getting close, but not close enough to snagging an agent. At the end of that year with nothing to show for a hundred query letters sent, I was done waiting for validation from someone else. Despite the fact that my heart wanted to jump out of my chest and go running for the hills, I self-published my book and it was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Here’s why:

1. I am an author!

Writing makes you a writer. Publishing your work and allowing the world to see it makes you an author. When I finally gathered the courage to self-publish, I wondered if I was a “real” author since an agent or a publisher didn’t give my book approval. Over time I’ve realized that validation comes from my readers not agents who only take on a handful of new clients a year in genres they think have the greatest market potential. I write, publish, and sell books. I am an author. Awesome-sauce!

 2. My choice, my way

The beauty of self-publishing is that I get to make every major decision related to my book. I guide my cover artist, I decide which platforms I want to publish on, and I decide how to price my book. Last year after publishing the third book in my new adult paranormal series, Girl With Broken Wings, I decided to make the first book in the series, Falling, free. This is the same book I spent two years writing and another year pitching to half-interested agents. A publisher would never let me give this book away for free, but I love its zero price tag. I am giving a readers a risk-free chance to try my writing style and fall in love with my characters. Thousands of readers have downloaded Falling, so I think it’s working.

 3. I had to face my fears

For a long time I didn’t think my book was good enough unless an agent or publisher ultimately decided to represent it. Several agents showed a lot of interest in Falling, but in the end they passed on it. It felt like they were passing on me as an author. After a year of wasted time when I could have and should have been working on the next book in the series, I realized this was my moment of truth. Was I going to keep waiting for someone else to tell me my writing was good enough, or would I listen to my heart? Self-publishing was scary for me. I was putting my words – a little piece of my soul – out for the universe to judge. What if readers hated my book? What if they laughed at me, skewered my writing, or worse…ignored it completely?

Publishing felt like a big leap, but it was also very freeing. After I published that first novel, I was hooked, and I never looked back.

 4. I made some new besties

Writing is not a solitary endeavor as many people believe it is. Over the last few years, I have built a great team of wonderful people around me. At first they were critique partners, beta readers, fellow authors asking questions on forums, and members of my author group. Over time, they became friends. I entrust them with my newborn novels and listen carefully to their feedback. I care about their progress and celebrate their writing success as if it were my own.

5. I got in shape

Sometimes the things you learn as you write change your life. When I first started working on my novel Falling, I needed my vigilante characters to be in fantastic shape. I did a lot of research on the most effective fighting methods and fitness routines and decided my characters trained in Krav Maga for fighting prowess and did CrossFit for overall fitness. At the time, I was plateauing in my own gym routine. After a lifetime of being an athlete, I was losing my edge. I did a search and found a local CrossFit “box” near me. It was love at first nauseatingly difficult workout. I’ve been doing CrossFit for over four years now, and I’ve never been in better shape.

 6. I’m actually making money!

The first month Amazon deposited a royalty payment in my business checking account was one of the most amazing and coolest moments of my life. It didn’t matter that the amount was about $50. I was making money…from writing books. It was a dream come true! What was even more amazing is that the small payments kept coming month after month, which meant that people who were not my family members and friends were paying money to read my book. I still don’t make enough to be a full time writer yet, but my royalties are growing, and I feel so proud that I am earning money for my writing and that readers are voting for my skill as an author with their dollars. Readers have millions of books to choose from, as well as endless movies, television shows and video games. Every download I get and every dollar I make is a personal victory.

7. My friends think it’s pretty awesome that I’m an author

Your real friends, the ones who truly want you to be happy and succeed in life, will think it’s really, really cool that you have written books. They will beg to read them and generously write reviews. They will call you up and want to talk about the characters and chide you for making them cry. In essence, they will understand how much writing means to you and they will celebrate you for completing each novel and publishing. It’s the same way you will support your friends as they train for a marathon, start a new relationship, or decide to throw caution to the wind and start their own business. You recognize how much this new goal means to them and you feel excited for them as they get closer and closer to realizing their dreams. It is an amazing feeling knowing your friends support your endeavors and that they think you are awesome for writing and publishing books even if you never become the next Stephen King.

8I’ve received fan mail

Nothing can describe the feeling of receiving a note from a complete stranger that says, “I loved your book! When is the next one coming out?” No matter how much I told myself that I thought my book was well-written and worth publishing…. No matter how much my critique partners and beta readers told me it was ready….I don’t think I truly believed I had written something good until I heard from my first fan. Every single interaction with a happy reader is a treasure to me. Like I’ve mentioned, the royalties of my books don’t pay my mortgage yet, but every time I get a fan letter, I feel renewed. My purpose and my motivation to keep writing spikes to the moon. I keep every fan letter. They are my inspiration and my remedy for my worst moments of doubt.

9. I found the best office mate in the world

Black bunny with white nose

Avalon

In my novel, Falling, one of my characters, Gabe, adopts a pet bunny he names Sir Hopsalot. When I first wrote this scene, I had to spend a few hours researching rabbits as pets. I found out that they could be litter box trained and that many owners allowed their bunnies to roam free around the house.

Personally, I come from a long line of crazy cat people. One night a few years ago, I felt that genetic stirring in my soul to get a pet. Unfortunately, at the time my roommate was allergic to cats and our small apartment wasn’t a good environment for a dog.

That’s when it hit me – a bunny! I quickly logged onto the local Humane Society’s website, and there I found a picture of an adorable black bunny with a white star on his nose named Avalon. It was love at first sight.

Sure, Avalon occasionally eats my shoes…while they’re on my feet, and he hasn’t figured out that digging in the carpet won’t accomplish anything, but he is an amazing and wonderful office mate. I love that he is a fun and frolicking part of my life…all thanks to my character Gabe and his fictional pet, Sir Hopsalot.

10. I get to do it all over again

I have to admit that after I self-published for the first time, I got a little addicted. I realized that publishing a novel wouldn’t kill me. In fact, it made me stronger and more confident. I was on my right path, and I felt that deep in my bones. My mind is always buzzing with stories, and I feel an incredible rush when I write tight and exciting scenes that challenge my characters physically and emotionally. Since I published Falling, I’ve written two more books and two novellas in the Girl with Broken Wings series. I’ve also just completed the first draft of the fourth novel in the series. I’ve also published a compilation of short, humorous vampire stories in a series called, The Vampire’s Housekeeper Chronicles. I love writing. It nourishes my soul. Thanks to self-publishing, I don’t have to wait for someone else’s approval. I can just keep writing, keep publishing, and keep loving every day I get to be an author.

Who Can’t Use More Grouchy Vampire In Their Life? J Bennett Publishes “Death in the Family”

March 13th, 2014 No comments

A New Short Story in The Vampire’s Housekeeper Chronicles

Post Update: The short story Death in the Family has been bundled into a two-part novella, When Vampires and Ninjas Collide, available on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and BarnesandNoble.com 

Nathaniel has been grumbling for some time that I haven’t been writing about all his thrilling adventures, prowling the night, sipping his prune juice, and driving his poor housekeeper, Deidre crazy (which is technically allowed in her employment contract, btw).

 

Well, here we go. I’m happy to announce that I’ve just unleashed…er, released a new hilarious short story in The Vampire’s Housekeeper Chronicles. You can read all about Death in the Family below, but before you do, here’s a cool quickie announcement:

 

The Story Will Be Discounted To $0.99 On Amazon Until Friday, March 21st

 

That’s right, I want to reward Nathaniel’s most loyal fans with a price even that penny-pinching vampire couldn’t refuse. After the ten days are up, the story will go to its intended price of $1.99. Click the image above to immediately go to Amazon.

 

Okay, here’s the short story blurb. I think you’ll like it!

 

Some Family Feuds Last Beyond The Grave…

 

Life as a vampire’s housekeeper is rough. Try cleaning a haunted mansion when spider webs reconstitute every hour, or keeping a positive outlook when the ghosts put tarantulas in the morning coffee. Then there’s the boss, who gets a little savage when his prune juice runs out.

 

Deidre’s life is no walk in the park, but with the impending arrival of Nathaniel’s sister, things go from crazy…to crazy plus some extra deadly fun thrown on top.

 

Tiffany arrives in high fashion, amazing curves and sharp fangs on full display. Her posse includes a zombie husband who smells like the city dump is his bathtub and a chilling ghost. As Deidre struggles not to burn dinner, impress Drew (hunky wereferret with a capital H), and stay one step ahead of an insane ghost who delights in dropping chandeliers on heads, she discovers Tiffany has an ulterior and vengeful purpose for her visit.

 

Nathaniel has put on his very best cape just for this story. (He does love his capes!) Join him, Deidre, Drew, and a growing cast of colorful characters in this new and hilarious short story in The Vampire’s Housekeeper Chronicles series. Can Deidre stop the powerful, evil, not-even-fair-how-good-she-looks-in-skinny-jeans, Tiffany? Or will Nathaniel learn that death can’t solve all family disagreements? Find out!

 

Here’s what readers are saying about The Vampire’s Housekeeper Chronicles Series:

 

>>> “A very funny short story that gives reading about vampires a delightful and refreshing twist.”

 

>>> “Although undead, Nathanial is a fresh take on the genre, and the Chronicles are quite enjoyable.”

 

>>> “I would recommend this short story to anybody who is tired of chick-lit vampires and appreciates a large amount of wry sarcasm.”

 

###

 

Don’t forget that Nathaniel has plenty of other adventures available. If you haven’t read about Deidre’s infamous job interview, Nathaniel’s not-so-nice vampire hunter visitor, or his duel with a werefrog, check out those stories in Employment Interview with a Vampire. This may just be my completely biased opinion, but I really think each story gets better and better.

Behind the Scenes of Self-Publishing

March 11th, 2012 No comments

This post was originally written for and hosted on “Book Savvy Babe“, a fabulous book review blog written by Heather. 

Intro:

I thought it would interesting to write about the self-publishing revolution that’s going on in the writing world as we speak…er, as I type and you read. Specifically, I thought readers might be intrigued to learn about my self-publishing process. Unfortunately, what started out as a perfectly normal little blog post somehow got hit by some gamma rays and turned into a huge monster blog post. Hopefully it won’t terrorize the Japanese population or knock over any buildings.

 

This blog post

How Things Used To Be

Long long ago, (we’re talking about three years), the only realistic chance most authors had of getting any reader love was to go through a well-defined and traditional publishing process that involved sending out a flurry of query letters to literary agents, praying, sending out more query letters, praying even harder and rinsing and repeating.

A lucky author would get “The Call” from a literary agent who wanted to represent their novel and shop it around to publishing houses. If a publisher bit, the author was expected to drop their baby at the publisher’s doorstep and let the experts take over.

Bad publisher stereotype

Makeover big time. The publishers created the book’s cover, determined the book’s release date, suggested editorial changes and even developed the back cover copy. Sometimes the author got a say. Most of the time, not so much.

What’s not to love about that situation?

A New Day Rises

Now leap forward to the present day, and we’ve got a touch of anarchy going on in the publishing world. With the advent of the (amazing, wonderful, life-changing) Kindle, Nook, iPad, and other eReaders and tablets, authors suddenly have a half-decent way of getting their books out to readers without the whole querying, praying, rinsing and repeating process.

Authors have power. Life is good. Kinda.

This unruly mob of authors is drunk on power and will viciously beat down any innocent bystanders with heavy metaphors

That’s what this blog post is about. The publishing world is changing…a lot. We’re talking monumental shifts in how readers find and consume books and how authors get a shot at glory. We’ve practically got a revolution on our hands.

The whole eReaders part of the equation is pretty obvious (just scope out any airport longue), but I don’t think most readers have much of a sense about what’s going on in the author’s world. Well, it’s a’ spinning, baby. Big time.

Below is my self-publishing story. Readers take notice. I am not alone. You’re going to see more and more authors following this path and more and more books coming from the self-published crowd. If you’ve ever been interested to see how it’s done, then read on.

Step One: Holy Crap, Look What I Wrote!

So I had this idea about a girl named Maya who feeds off human auras. It’s an addiction, and she has to constantly struggle not to go all monster on crowds of innocent people. On the up side, she also has some pretty cool enhanced senses. Through intense, finely-writ circumstances, she gets caught up in an underground war with her two vigilante half-brothers who hunt and kill other creatures like herself. Only the angels her brothers kill don’t exactly have Maya’s guilt complex about killing innocents (yes, we’ve got some evil angels going on).

My book’s Amazon Page  [oops, how did that get in here?]

I wrote, and that was the easy part. Then I read what I had written, and, well, let’s just say I could have entered it into an ugly manuscript contest and probably won.

Complimentary matchbook included in"Ugliest Manuscript" prize package

I edited. And edited. And edited.

Around draft six, seven, or eight (I don’t even remember now), I started seeing hints that maybe there might be a diamond somewhere underneath all that rough.

It was time to bring in the heavy hitters.

Step Two: Wait, My Novel Isn’t Totally Awesome? I’m Confused

Heavy hitter number one was my sister. You may think that she would go easy on me because we share blood and have a pretty solid organ donation pact in place (we’re twins). Nope.

She thoroughly and a little too gleefully for my taste, eviscerated my novel.

Extremely accurate portrayal of my sister

Next up was my incredible critique partner, a fellow writer, who helped me iron out flow, character development and active dialogue. She was much, much nicer than my sister.

Guided by a Gypsy [Oh look, there’s a link to her Amazon novella. How do these keep sneaking in?]

There were others after that, each providing an important perspective that helped me keep polishing and polishing the rough away.

It was not a fast or easy process. It shouldn’t be, at least in my opinion.

What came out of it was Falling – Girl With Broken Wings, the first novel I’ve written that I think is actually worthy of outside viewing (there have been other novels, but we shall never speak of those). It was time to…well, that’s where things get interesting.

So far, the process of my “little novel that could” is identical to that of a traditionally published book. Next up is where the two paths diverge.

Step Three: 70% Royalty vs. 15% Royalty. So Hard To Choose

I did a lot of research, and learned all about the publishing revolution. Not that I wasn’t completely unaware of it, but I didn’t realize how revolutioney the revolution really was.

Super size my publishing revolution please.

Authors could now publish their books themselves on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and many other sites that get books into the hands of the readers. By “publish” I mean ebooks and soft covered books through print on demand (Amazon and many other online publishers offer POD services). The process was actually kind of easy (a little too easy some people think, but that’s a whole different blog post).

The traditional setback for most self-published authors was the difficulty in getting their novels into traditional bookstores. However, in case you haven’t noticed, there’s not that many bookstores left to get your books into anyway.

And those eReader thingeys and tablet thingeys? People are buying a lot of them. I mean a lot of them.

There are some downsides to self-publishing. Self-published authors have to create their own cover, edit their own book, make sure they upload the files correctly to the publishing sites and do all their own marketing to get people to actually read their book. (Apparently readers don’t just magically find your book, buy a thousand copies each and gush about it to all their friends and family. You can’t know how disappointing this realization was to me)

However, there are many upsides to self-publishing. Firstly, authors get to create their own cover and book summary. This can be a very empowering process that allows the author to keep creative control of their baby.

The marketing thing is kind of rough (authors are not typically known for their outgoing personalities), but it’s a consolation to know that many traditionally-published authors get very little marketing support from their publishers. You’ll see traditionally published authors writing blogs, going to book signings, holding library talks and generally shilling with the rest of us.

There is one more compelling reason to self-publish, and it all comes down to money.

You’d think that traditionally-published authors would get a big percentage of each book sold. After all, they did sweat and bleed and cry tears of alternating joy, rage and agony (in that order) to get the words on the page.

You’d be wrong. Authors get around a measly 15% of the profits from each book sold (sometimes less), and that’s before their agent takes out their commission. If an author doesn’t sell enough books to cover the advance the publisher gave them, they may never see a penny of royalties.

Yet another shameless publisher stereotype

Compare this with the major online publishers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords which offer self-published authors royalty rates of 65% (B&N), 70% (Amazon) and even 85% (SW) if their books meet certain pricing standards. (As of this writing)

That’s a big, big, BIG difference (assuming you can actually sell books).

In other words, not exactly a hard decision. At least not for me, especially when I learned how extremely difficult it is to get agent representation.

So, I made the decision. Falling was going to be self-published. I wasn’t letting go of my baby, and whatever happened, I’d only have myself to blame.

Step Four: The Difference Between “To” And “Too” Is Just To Confusing

One of the nice things about getting traditionally published – at least in my opinion – would be having your manuscript copyedited. No writer is perfect. I’m not even close.

You think I kid...

After I decided to self-publish, I realized that, holy cow in a barn, I was actually responsible for this thing (I make up really lame curses when I get nervous). People would one day read it and judge me for it. That means I needed to put my best face forward, or my novel’s best face forward…I mean, it’s not like my novel has a face, but you know what I mean.

I ended up hiring a professional copyeditor to go through my manuscript, and it’s a good thing that I did (you did catch the error in this headline didn’t you). My English teachers would weep if they’d seen how much red came back.

Step Five: Doing Your Own Cover Is Just Plain Awesome

I actually feel kind of bad for traditionally published authors, because many of them get little or no say in what their cover looks like.

Covers are a big deal. They are the first thing most readers see related to your book, and we all know how important first impressions can be.

In many ways, books are defined by their covers. I would hate to lose that control over something I spent so much freaking effort on, even if I did have to pay for it.

Yes, I definitely paid someone to create my cover for me.

There is no way in the world that I would trust myself to create my own cover. Maybe one day if I write a book that takes place in a magical land full of stick people I might consider it…even then, probably not.

Can you say best seller?

So, I brought in an expert. Marcella Smith of Paradigm Design did the most amazing thing during our first meeting. She listened. I blabbed. She kept listening and nodding and not pointing toward to exit

I was lucky to have found her.

The cover came together rather quickly (Marcie may disagree), and it didn’t take a lot of editing. I think it was because of Marcie’s mad listening skills.

Ain't she purdy?

I can’t describe how amazing it was to see my cover come to life. There was my main character Maya, crouching front and center, and her two brothers looming behind her like shadows. (Are they protectors or enemies…you’ll have to read to find out).

In other words, the cover was perfect. It was Falling. Money well spent.

Step Six: Uh….Can I Just Say Cool Stuff Happens?

I kind of thought that I would like writing the book summary because I didn’t have to pay anyone to do it, and I did write the entire book and all. After writing and rewriting a 70,000-word manuscript over a dozen times, a 100-word blurb should be a piece of cake…right?

Writing a summary is SO SO SO hard! At least for me.

Would rather take a swim lesson with this guy than write my novel summary

How do you squeeze the essence of a book into a few measly paragraphs while capturing the adventure, the humor, the very soul of the prose?

Easy answer, I’m still working on it. I came up with something, but, yeah, it needs work. (Suggestions anyone?)

I guess that’s another great thing about self-publishing – we’re not chiseling into stone tablets here.

Descriptions can be updated. When I do write the best summary the world has ever known, I’ll just log into my various author accounts, paste in the new description, and my book page will be updated in a few days or less.

Step Seven: Moment Of Truth (Bolting Not Advised)

To read the final step in my self-publishing process, hop on over to the full post on Book Savvy Babe.