Thursday, 18 August 2011

I've written the book. Now what?

Aside from catering to my three cats' daily wishes for a thorough petting, I've also completed further research in my self-publishing journey. I published my last novel, Death in the Forsythia, with iUniverse, but royalty options are now better through different options, which I am now investigating.

I will probably upload my recently completed novel, Grounds for Death, at, which will take care of reaching what is likely the biggest readership in English-speaking North America. To do that, though, I've learned that self-publishing without the assistance of a self-publishing house like iUniverse means I take on the responsibility for everything myself.

As a result, I've learned that self-publishing a la Amanda Hocking consists of 4 parts (aside from actually writing the manuscript): editing, cover art, cover design and e-book formating/uploading for various platforms. I've set myself a budget of $3000, of which I've almost spent half on editing (yes, I signed with a local editor that I met with last week. Yay!).

Now I'm learning that probably the most expensive of the four parts is the artwork, at least the artwork I'd like to have. So far, quotes are coming in at $1800 to $3500. Even the lowest of these will blow my budget out of the water without my even having sourced cover design and ebook formating, which I understand can be had for a total of $500.

If you're looking for cover art for your book or novel, I recommend checking out,,, or

I might have to rethink my cover art ideas, though, if I ever hope to fit it into my budget. If anyone has other suggestions for artwork, or can recommend someone for cover design or e-book formating/uploading, please share it here. Thanks!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

On Editors and Book Covers

I've spent the last week researching. Researching editors, book cover illustrators, and how to publish and market my books, in other words, the entire gamut of what needs to be done outside of actually writing.

One thing I have learned is that it takes volume. You can't just write a book or two and then start focusing on marketing your works - you need to produce a slew of books so that your readers know there's more where that came from.

The exciting news is that I'm meeting with an editor tomorrow morning. This will be my first experience of its kind. I'm not quite sure what to expect, and I haven't prepared as yet, but I did receive estimates of cost and timing. It's not quite the $500 in editing that J.A. Konrath listed in one of his 2010 blogs, so we'll see where this goes. Certainly it is worth having one's work edited. (This morning I looked at a bestselling Kindle e-book and was astounded to see three spelling errors on the first page! Yikes.)

I also researched book cover art. First, I did it the hard way, googling various terms and making my way through the search results. I had long ago determined how I would approach this particular task, but had stupidly decided it wouldn't work. Finally, late yesterday, I decided to put original plan to the test. I went to the library, looked at the book covers I'd like to emulate, and looked at the inside information to identify who did the cover illustration, then googled them. Voila, there they were, and I've since contacted a number of them to see if they're interested in my project, which is, after all, a series, and would add to their portfolio if it takes off. And it appears that book covers greatly influences readers' buying decisions. I should note that this approach is likely a more expensive one, since these artists are already well known, and I may very well go back to my original list of potentially less expensive artists.

Through this process I also learned that the actual book cover does not solely consist of the cover illustration. Cover design is an important part of it. Cover design includes the type of font used for the book's title and author's name, as well as its size and placement. Further, it includes layout of the spine and back cover as well, all of which are important visual cues readers will use to decide whether they will buy your book.

The research is a lot of work but also a lot of fun. Looking at the various artwork sites is like being a kid in a candy store. The diversity is fascinating!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Need an ISBN? Here's where to get one

It is not yet clear to me whether an author would ever have cause to obtain his/her own ISBN, but I did the research anyway. I published my first novel, Death in the Forsythia, using a self-publishing company. The self-publishing company secured both an ISBN and bar code for my novel.
Now that I'm on the verge of publishing my second novel, Grounds for Death, I'm investigating alternatives. Interestingly, e-books do not seem to need an ISBN, so publishing your work is as simple as providing the book seller with your completed work (ie I have yet to figure out how this works with
The link to finding the ISBN issuing organization in your geographic region is here.
If anyone has done further research to find out how to get a bar code for the back of a tree-book, or whether there is no situation in which an author must obtain one on his/her own, I would like to hear about it.
If anyone knows how an author can get a e-book/tree-book novel listed with Chapters, B&N and Borders, please share.

Is Self-Publishing good for a writing career?

Today during Blog Jog day I came across an article by Tiffany Jansen about whether self-publishing hurts chances at a traditional publishing career.
It's an interesting question and here's my take. As I do, I'll take you back to the 1970s and 1980s. At that time I was just a youngster, and everyone was buying LPs. I never ended up buying a lot of records. Why? Because I didn't agree with the idea of having to buy a whole LP just to get the title track. I felt that it was somehow forcing the consumer to buy more than they intended. And then Napster and others came along to provide individuals with the tools to be able to share music, making much of the music sales cycle instantly obsolete. The music industry started making a stink, and I thought "Serves you right. You've been gouging people for decades, and now you don't like the decrease in sales resulting from people who have figured out how to get only the song they're interested in." Let me clarify that I don't agree with people getting for free what others have worked hard to produce - that's not my point. My point is that an industry shouldn't be holding consumers and producers hostage by claiming that the only valid way is their way. I didn't like it when the industry concerned was music, and I don't like it now that the industry concerned is written works. I for one am thrilled that resources are now available to regular people to get their creations to the markets that want them. (And individual songs can be bought for a dollar - gees, how long did that take? 30 years?)
Interestingly enough, I was watching a program recently in which the interviewee said that, at traditional publishing houses, decisions about what gets published are made by accountants. Exactly my sentiments. Unless you're a well-known celebrity like Tom Cruise, or already a prolific author like J.K. Rowling, publishing houses don't want to talk to you because there's no guaranteed profit - they have to figure out what the probability of financial success is, and fewer and fewer publishers want to take that risk. So, just as music has begun to be published by independent resources, I say publishing should follow the same route. Traditional publishers are grasping at the ever disappearing reins of the power they once wielded. And they had authors begging to be signed on (same idea goes for agents, by the way). Authors are the creators, and let's not be deceived that publishers and agents should be revered and pursued to get that elusive deal. For some reason, the balance of power has shifted away from where it should reside - with the author.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who read the story of Amanda Hocking's A-to-Z self-publishing success and said "Aha! I thought so." And the fact is that the connected world is now so huge and full of diverse interests that everyone's written works have markets and no publisher or agent should be touting themselves as the gatekeeper to success.
So go and publish traditionally if you wish, but celebrate also the freedom to do so independently through self-publishing. Success is all in the effort you expend, with some skill thrown in.
Happy publishing!

Blog Jog!

Welcome to Blog Jog Day! Please enjoy my site then click over to to see what the next Blog has to offer! Lost in the links? You can always go back to the main Blog Jog Day Blog at and find a new link to jog from. Thank you for stopping by my site!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Blog Jog: August 7, 2011

On Sunday I will be participating in my first Blog Jog.

Blog Jog Day is a one-day event where Bloggers are joining together for a pyramid effect promotional rally. We all post on the same day with each post leading the visitor to the next Blog, and so on full circle. Visitors explore your Blog, and then click on to the next one bringing potentially thousands of unique visitors to your site. Nearly 2,000 joggers showed up last November!

Bloggers can sign up at Join us!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

2011 Giller Prize

Hi everyone,

Us regular people may not qualify to submit an entry for the Giller Prize (only publishers can), but we can add our vote for the Reader's Choice Award and Giller Prize long list. Submit your nomination by August 28, 2011 and become eligible to win prizes. The Giller Prize long list is announced September 8, 2011; the short list is announced in Toronto on October 4, 2011.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Big news, Blog Tours, Google Blog Search and New Canadian Publisher Seeks Authors

Hi everyone! Sorry I've been away for over a month. During that time I finished my second novel, Grounds for Death, and now I'm working on hiring an editor, researching cover art and determining my marketing plan.
I recently learned about blog tours, in which an author sets a timeframe during which s/he arranges for book reviews and does Q&A sessions with bloggers, in advance of a novel's release. (Here's a great link explaining blog tours.) It sounds like a fantastic idea, so I'm planning to arrange that as soon as I 1) figure out how long the editing process will take, and 2) who all those bloggers might be! Another strategy is to set a specific release date and solicit pre-orders to cause opening week sales to spike and hopefully cause a book to hit bestseller lists. Okay, this might be beyond my reach, but I can always dream.
Google has a blog search tool (click here), so I'm easily able to locate suitable bloggers. The trick is in identifying those that review cozy mysteries, and what their review policy is - yes, bloggers actually have rules they go by for reviewing novels, who'd have thought?
Also, I want to let you know that The Workhorsery, a new Toronto-based publisher, is looking for authors to represent. Here's the link for more information.
But the past month hasn't been all work. I recently took these pictures and wanted to share them with you. 

A female gold finch sits on a clutch of eggs
in a Red Maple on my front lawn. Five babies
hatched last week. It seems late in the year
(end of July) but I trust they know what they're doing.

A male grossbeak eyes me suspiciously
from an Austrian pine outside my breakfast
nook to determine if it's safe to visit the feeder.