Are You Querying Too Early? How to prepare yourself for the trenches.

Though I ultimately chose to self-publish, I did take a run at the query trenches. There are a lot of reasons for agents and publishers to reject a book, even if it’s a good book.

One thing you can do to up your odds of getting your manuscript accepted by an agent or publisher is to make sure you’re actually ready to submit it to them.

How do you know if you’re ready?

Here’s a little checklist.

Finish your book first.

Partial books and outlines are not ready for submission. (Not unless you’re already famous for something else.)

Almost every writer I know has unfinished books lurking on their computer that may or may not ever get finished. It happens. A lot.

Sometimes the author loses steam with the project. Sometimes a new story idea distracts them. Sometimes the aspiring author just decides they don’t want to write at all anymore.

And agents and publishers know this happens.

They will not accept submissions for incomplete manuscripts because they don’t want to even risk wasting their time.

Do a couple of rounds of self-edits.

Submitting a completely unedited manuscript only hurts your chances. You need to look through it, make sure your characters are consistent in their behavior and appearance through the book, check for plot holes, that sort of thing.

Anything you can fix before submissions will only up your odds.

Have beta readers go through it.

You need other people to look at your book. After spending tons of time in that world/with those characters, you know exactly what’s supposed to be on the page. Your brain will fill in the gaps.

A beta reader can find those gaps, those places where you didn’t explain a concept that you understand (because you created it). They’ll find plot holes. They’ll find things that your characters do (or don’t do) that just don’t feel consistent with their personality.

And it’s so much better for them to find these things (so you can fix them) than for an agent to find them (and reject your book for something that could have been addressed).

Research Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing.

Traditional publishing is not for everyone. It works for many authors, but not all.

Querying is a grueling process. Going through it only to realize months (or years) later that self-publishing is the better route for you personally… is a waste of time and effort.

Do some research before submitting to any agents or publishers to make sure this is the right path for you. Weigh the pros and cons of both.

For me, self-publishing makes more sense, but that may not be the case for you.

I’m willing to take on the extra work of formatting and metadata and copyrights and lining up editing and cover art in exchange for the creative control allowed by self-publishing.

But if the idea of that extra work makes you cringe and you just want someone else to handle it (even if it means they get the final say over what they book looks and reads like), then traditional might be better for you.

Look into it for yourself.

All of the above steps are necessary early steps whether you go with self-publishing or traditional publishing, but from here on, it’s specific to the query trenches.

Research publishers and agents.

There are so many out there, but they don’t all want your book. Each publisher and agent has a network in place for books of a specific genre, a specific age group, specific tropes, etc.

Furthermore, they don’t always accept submissions.

Many have specific dates/times of the year where they open for submissions. Agents can only work with so many authors at a time (varies from agent to agent), and publishers only publish a certain number of books a year (varies from publisher to publisher depending on the size of the company).

Some publishers only accept submissions from agents, not directly from authors.

So do your research here. Compile a list of places to submit that accept your genre, age range, level of gore, level of sexiness, tropes, etc.

Submit to the ones you can. Set reminders in your phone to submit to places that open later in the year.

Prepare your submission materials.

Every single agent or publisher has a whole slew of things they want submitted alongside the manuscript (or a portion of the manuscript). Take the time to get these right.

If you don’t include a cover letter when they specifically requested one, they might not even bother to read your first page.

If you don’t format your manuscript how they want it formatted, they might not read the first page.

If you give them a three page synopsis instead of a one page synopsis (Because you already had a three page one and surely that’s good right? That’s giving them extra.) they probably won’t read the three page synopsis. Or your manuscript.

These submission materials are basically like a job interview. They’re seeing how well you pay attention to basic guidelines, how much you’re going to fight and try to slide by with stuff they don’t let fly. After all, anyone they offer a contract is going to have deadlines and things they have to do (to the agent/publishers standards) within that time.

But these materials are also meant to show them if your book is a good fit for them and make it as easy to digest as possible. They look at thousands of manuscripts, and they have to be able to pick out the ones they want relatively quickly.

Making their lives difficult probably won’t get you a book deal.

Personalize the submission materials.

Show them that you actually looked at their website, their catalog of books, the authors they work with. (Which you should do to see if your book is actually a good fit for them.) Show them that you did some research, that way they can take your submission seriously.

Check out Query Shark.

This website has a lot of help for getting a solid query letter. Don’t just submit yours to them for critique though.

Read through the ones that have already been critiqued/revised and apply the advice to your own query letter.

You can find those here.


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IngramSpark vs. KDP: Which Publishing Company is Best for You?

Last week, we talked about the dangers of vanity presses. This week, I want to discuss a couple of legitimate self-publishing companies.

There are many options, and I’m sure more crop up by the day. But KDP and Ingramspark seem to be the front runners. As they’re the two I have experience with, those are the two I’ll be going over.

That doesn’t mean they’re the only options, and it doesn’t mean they’re who you have to choose. There is no one size fits all option here. Everyone has different needs, different desires for their books. What’s best for one author may not be right for another.

All I can do is put my experiences out there for you so you have a little more information to make your choice.

Formats

Both offer ebook and paperback options.

Ingramspark also offers hardback. They even have a few different cover types: cloth with a dust jacket, case laminate, or case laminate with a dust jacket.

If you’ve never heard of it, case laminate means that an image is printed directly onto the binding of the book. You can have that with or without the dust jacket. If you get the dust jacket, it means that you can have a second piece of art on the case of the book (hidden beneath the dust jacket) or have the same cover so that readers can remove the dust jacket, leave it at home for safe keeping, and still show off that pretty cover art while reading on the go. Either way, this requires an additional file, in a different size, something that may incur extra charges with your cover designer.

Print quality

The books that Ingramspark produces are beautiful. They feel good in your hands, and they look stunning.

This isn’t to say that KDP doesn’t print good books, they do. Just not as good as Ingramspark.

Print speed

I can’t be sure, and of course time of year affects this (the time leading up to the holidays is always a longer print time), but it seems as though KDP is quicker.

Shipping of Author Copies

KDP charges normal Amazon shipping rates to send copies of your book to you. Ingramspark… *sigh* They have a basic, uninsured, no guarantee, “it’s not our responsibility” shipping option that starts at around $5. But if you want any kind of insurance or tracking at all, shipping (even for a single proof copy) is going to cost you about $20 or more.

Wholesale Distribution

Ingram is one of the biggest wholesale distributors in the world. They’re trusted by bookstores across the globe. Publishing with them does not guarantee that your book will end up in stores (you still have to approach them about carrying your book), but it gives you a chance.

KDP has an expanded distribution option, but what’s the point in taking the hit to royalties? They’re an Amazon subsidiary. Bookstores aren’t exactly likely to buy from their competitor.

Direct to Consumer Distribution

KDP (as part of Amazon) obviously has this. And with Prime shipping, readers could get your book quickly.

Ingramspark does not ship directly to consumers or handle sales directly. They print the books and ship them when a retailer like Amazon or Barnes and Noble places an order.

Tech support

KDP wins this, hands down. Ingramspark used to have passable tech support, but since last year (something I’ll cover more under the next category), they’ve taken a nose dive.

When I uploaded A Heart of Salt & Silver last November, I had nothing but problems, and getting anyone to actually address them was like pulling teeth.

KDP, however, is timely with their responses and makes uploading, fixing problems, or adjusting book listings very simple.

Ease of use

KDP wins this one, as well.

Early last year, it would have been a tie. But last summer, while the whole world was shut down and everyone that could work from home was doing so, Ingramspark did a major overhaul to their entire system in an attempt to make it more “user friendly.” But all it accomplished was breaking their system.

There were bugs.

A lot of them.

And since most people (especially tech people) were working from home on limited hours, the whole “fixing them” process dragged on and on. Meanwhile, tech support for authors was minimal and… rough. Long wait times to receive an email (7-10 days), long queue times for the online chat support (hour+), long wait times on hold (hours).

That is, until they did away with the phone option for support, making everyone use the email or chat, making wait times even longer. And the hours for the chat are highly inconsistent, not always lining up with the hours posted online.

I’ve had several issues with them since their “user friendly” update, several of which dragged out for weeks.

I’ll be uploading Allmother Rising to their site soon for that magnificent hardcover option, so we’ll see how much has been fixed.

Sales dashboard

KDP reports sales quickly and in an easy to read bar graph that shows how many copies sold each day.

Ingramspark can take up to 90 days to “gather” sales data, then reports it in a rather lackluster format. On the dashboard, it says how many of each book you’ve sold, but with no dates (which complicates the process of honing ads since you can’t get an accurate picture of their performance).

Even their monthly statements for royalties lack dates, showing only which book and which format sold. And you’ll get multiple statements. One for Apple ebooks, one for Amazon US, one for Amazon UK, one for the print distribution in the US and one for print in the UK. So the data is a bit… all over the place.

Royalties

This one really depends, honestly.

KDP offers a 70% royalty option (less print cost), but if you go with their expanded distribution (why?) you’re only eligible for 35% after the cost to print the book.

Ingramspark does 60% (I think) of the profit. But since bookstores demand a discount (a hefty 55% is preferred, but you can lower it to 30 or 35% depending on the market), you’re getting 60% of what’s left after that massive discount and the print cost.

Start-up Cost

KDP is completely free. There are no up-front costs or fees. They make their money off their portion of the profit when a book sells.

Ingramspark charges $49 for a thing they call “Title Setup,” which is basically the fee they charge to list your book in their massive wholesale distribution channels. It irritates me that it’s a thing. But as discussed above, their distribution channels are very widely used, so they can get away with it.

You have to pay that for each print format, but you can pair your ebook with one of them for no additional charge. If you’re only releasing an ebook, you still have to pay the $49.

You can revise and resubmit your files as many times as you need until you’re happy with them and hit approve. However, if you wish to do any additional revisions after approving all the files, there’s a $25 fee. Per revision.

So if you want to change the cover and have an ebook, paperback, and hardback version of the book, that means $75 to fix all three covers, even if the ebook is linked to one of the print formats.

The good thing is that they frequently release discount codes to waive these fees in their Facebook group, release some for Nanowrimo, and often provide these codes at writing conventions. (20booksto50k on Facebook has a convention coming up with a code associated)

Advertising

Ingramspark has an option to promote your book by listing it in their catalog. I think it’s under $100, but I’m not sure. I’ve never done it, so I have no idea how effective it might be.

KDP is part of Amazon, and we’ve all seen the sponsored product ads when looking for books on Amazon. They have their own marketing thing, linked to- but separate from- KDP. Many authors have found success with Amazon ads. I’m not one of them. I’ve tried a few, but since I’m still learning about ads, I haven’t gotten an Amazon ad to actually be profitable yet.

As with any type of advertising, there are a lot of metrics and a lot of things to experiment with, a lot of demographic research and keyword research to be done. Ads need honed in, and of course, it’s easier to turn a profit advertising a series than it is advertising a standalone.

(You can afford to lose a bit of money advertising book one with a higher cost per click, so long as your series hooks readers and pulls them to book two and three and ten. Standalones… you can’t afford to lose on book one because it’s only one book. This is another problem for me, as I usually write standalones.)

Kindle Unlimited

Obviously, this is a strictly Amazon thing, thus only KDP has it. If you upload your ebook ONLY to KDP and enroll in KDP select or kindle select (I forget the name, it’s a little check box during the upload process), that puts your book into the Kindle Unlimited program. People who pay monthly can read as many KU books as they want, and the authors get paid per page read.

If you don’t have many books in the program or don’t get a lot of reads, it might not add up to anything. But there are several full-time authors in the 20booksto50k group on Facebook who attribute half their earnings to KU.

That doesn’t guarantee that you’ll go full-time or be a best-seller, but the vast majority of ebooks are read on Kindles or in the Kindle app. And KU is a massive market.


Now, as I said above, there is no one size fits all publishing solution. Authors have different skill sets, resources, and needs. So, it’s natural that not every author will choose the same publishing path.

You can use either of these publishers. You can use neither.

If you purchase your own ISBN, you can use both.

I do. My ebooks are slowly being moved to KDP to take advantage of the higher royalty and the Kindle Unlimited program. My paperbacks are split between the two, and of course, I will always have hardbacks. Which is only available through Ingramspark.

The blessing (and curse) of being an indie author is that you can pick and choose whatever methodology you want. Don’t be afraid to play around with this to see which one you like best.

This is a process, not an instant, get it right the first time, always be satisfied with the first thing you try type of dream/hobby/career.

Mistakes happen. Things don’t always work.

But as long as you keep trying, you’ll find what works for you.


Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

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Why my book title had to change…

Hi, guys!

I finally announced the official title for World for the Broken this past week, and today, I thought I’d explain why I changed the title, to begin with.

Originally, World for the Broken was called After.

It was simple and easy to remember. It fit with the post-apocalyptic theme as well as the themes of coping and resilience.

But then the After series by Anna Todd hit it big. Then, it became controversial and absolutely blew up.

And I knew my novel would be buried under the avalanche of posts about her books.

I wen’t back and forth on whether to change my title or not. I toyed with the idea of keeping the title simply to have it show up in the same searches, but the people looking for her books (contemporary romance, possibly YA)…probably aren’t looking for a visceral, intensely dark post-apocalyptic romance.

Then, when I came up with World for the Broken, I fell in love with it. This title stands out quite a bit more. Obviously, it still fits the post-apocalyptic narrative.

And I’m so glad I changed it.

I had a similar thing happen with Salt and Silver. Not exactly the same, because the title wasn’t exactly the same. And the other book has yet to be released.

But I want my books to be unique, just like any other author.

So, here are a few quick tricks for making sure you have a good title for your book.

First of all, get feedback.

Just like every other aspect of writing, working in a vacuum without any outside influence isn’t the best idea. You need more eyes on your work and more opinions than just your own.

If you have a few potential titles in mind, don’t be afraid to ask other writers or perhaps book club members for their opinion. They know books. Of course, it’s best if they know the genre you’re working in, but ask away.

Second, think about which one embodies your book best. Genre, themes, and all.

Abandon catchy and trendy for just a second and dare to twist words around for effect. Words are so versatile. Double meanings abound. Maybe use a contradictory double meaning to your benefit, if both meanings fit your book.

Swap words around. Try synonyms. Try different variations of whatever you’ve come up with.

Okay. It’s time to go back for the catchy, trendy shit. Consider it briefly. After all, trends are trendy for a reason. People like them. And they work. Look at titles within your genre. Is there a pattern that tends to pop up a lot?

There are a lot of books out there that are “blank of blank” (City of Ember, Crown of Conspiracy, House of Night). Lots of book titles lately have just been a list of three things in the book, often with the first two obviously fitting together but the third being “random.”

Do those formats fit your book? If they do, use the shit out of them.

They obviously work.

Now, the advice lots of writers hate when it comes to the actual book, itself. Cut unnecessary words. For the love of everything good, there’s a reason book titles aren’t usually a full paragraph. It’s too hard to remember and no one wants to type a 14 word title into a search bar to pull up a book they heard about and were sorta interested in but wanted to look it up to learn more about it.

There’s a good chance that’ll drive away buyers that were on the fence.

Last but certainly not least, type it into amazon or google. Make sure there aren’t an absolute fuck ton of results. If there are, I don’t care how good your title is…you probably need to change it.

If a couple hundred things come up, your brand new book is not going to be at the top of the results. Not without a shit load of work on search engine optimization, a ton of build up before launch, and probably some paid ads.

Believe me.

I didn’t think about it when I titled my novella, Annabelle, and it DOES NOT show up unless it’s typed in with my first and last name.

Because…well, you know. Ghosty-possession movies or something. Some doll. I don’t know. Lol. I don’t watch horror movies often, so I haven’t watched them.

Anyway.

Picking a title is hard. I know.

But it’s important. Which means it’s worth doing it well.

Now, to hold myself accountable for the past week…

I’ve been alternating between knocking out some more edits on Where Darkness Leads and writing my new novel. I think I wrote about…3,000 words? So, nowhere near as much as I wanted to. That was only two good writing sessions.

But I have to keep editing so I can get these other books out. Lol.

I also sketched a quick map for the new story, made a gif and a trailer for The Gem of Meruna. I’ll be unveiling the trailer soon. I already posted the non-looped video from the gif.

All in all, not a bad week.

For now though, I’m exhausted. Work was…well, exhausting. Lol. It’s time for me to sign off and get some sleep.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

A different path, perhaps?

Hi, guys!

So, I figured I’d get back to writing related topics today. I don’t know if you guys will be relieved or disappointed by that (let me know in the comments below), but that’s what’s happening.

I been trying to make a pretty important decision regarding publication, this week. I think I’m going to publish my books through Ingram Spark instead of KDP.

Now, that may not sound like it would be make a difference to anyone but me. But it does mean something important to readers.

Ingram Spark allows the option of… *drum roll* …

Hard back books!

KDP doesn’t have that. At all.

Ingram Spark also allows me to do a couple different types of ebooks. So basically, I can offer my book in more formats, so people can read it however they want. Now, to save myself some money, I’ll be using KDP specifically for the Kindle ebook.

That brings me to the impact for me.

Amazon KDP generates its own ISBNs and Barcodes…for free.

Ingram Spark does not provide free ISBNs. And let me tell you, they aren’t cheap. I never expected a little number on the back of the book to cost so much.

But, at the end of the day, it’s an investment in the career I want, an investment in my dream. And if that’s what it takes to get my book out in every format (fucking hard back books, guys!), then so be it.

Another plus side to Ingram is that they offer preorder for all formats. Amazon KDP only allows preorder on ebook. :/

Which is dumb.

Ingram Spark also seems to concentrate more on expanded distribution (bookstores, libraries, etc.), which is nice.

With Kindle, it’s just kinda…there. Lol. Just an afterthought. It’s an Amazon company after all, and brick and mortar stores are the competition.

Amazon keeping their competitors afloat by having their stuff sold in stores? Stores keeping their competition afloat by selling Amazon stuff? Not super likely.

So, while this did just become a much more expensive endeavor, I’m psyched to get a hard back option for my books.

And I’m glad I made this decision now, because I’m almost done with the final edits of Soul Bearer.

I’m within 20 pages of the end!

Granted, there’s an adjustment that I need to make which may add a page or two, but still!

It’s so close!

I got to this point a couple days ago, but I had 12 hour shifts both days since. They were only 12 hours apart, so I had to go to the store, eat, take care of animals, shower, and sleep. I never get to do book stuff on weekends.

(Side note, don’t work in a tire factory over the summer. It’s fucking miserable.)

So, all day at work, today and yesterday, my head was stuck in the ending of my book, circling, waiting, begging me to get back to it…

And, tomorrow afternoon (I still have yet to sleep since getting off work and have to run errands in the morning), I’ll have it finished.

Then, I just have to do formatting, make final adjustments to the cover, and learn how to navigate a new publishing process. Lol.

No big deal. Just a bunch of shit that’s gonna be difficult and tedious.

The formatting is what I’m looking forward to the least. KDP has these helpful little plug-ins for Word…Idk if Ingram has that. We’ll see what happens, there. Lol. But I’ll figure it out.

I always do.

Anyway, after that, I’ll be looking for ARC readers. (I have a list of reviewers to ask.) Then, I need swag for giveaways.

Yeah, you heard (saw) that right. Every book release will have giveaways. I’ll choose winners from IG, FB, and from my email subscriber list. (Participate/subscribe on all three platforms for extra chances to win.) A grand prize winner will be selected from my subscribers, btw. So make sure you subscribe. Don’t forget. (It’s down at the bottom of the page, btw. Lol.)

I’ll announce more details on the prizes (and subscriber grand prize) closer to time.

So, if you’re an indie author trying to decide between the two, maybe this will help. Maybe not. You may like ebook better, and not care about hard back books at all. Maybe you don’t want to buy your own ISBN for your book, which makes complete sense.

You may have stock in Amazon. I don’t freaking know. Lol.

If my post wasn’t thorough enough for you, or didn’t hit the points you were curious about, there are plenty of reviews out there.

But for now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

It’s a Trap!

Hello, all!

So, you’re probably going to think I’m being wishy-washy, but I swear, I’m not. I’m going to have to edit The Gem of Meruna.

Now, hear me out.

Last week, I said I would only edit it if I found a lot of grammar errors or problems, and I cannot, in good conscience, rerelease it in its current state.

Not that it’s bad, but I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing over the past five years, and the state this book is in just…falls way short of the mark.

For those of you who’ve read it, don’t worry. The story isn’t changing. It’s just sentence structure and stuff like that. It needs tightened up. Honestly, it could probably stand to lose about 5,000 words, over all, just by fixing the lengthy sentences and losing the few instances of passive voice.

But this is a good thing.

It means that I’m learning more and more about writing as time goes by.

Which, in my opinion, is how you tell a good writer from a bad one. Good writers keep trying to improve.

Bad ones…think they don’t need to. They think their work is the best in existence, a gift to the world, and to edit or tweak it, or change their process at all is tantamount to blasphemy.

But that’s bullshit.

Bad writers can write good stories, and good writers can write bad stories. That’s not what I’m getting at, here.

The day you stop learning and growing as a writer (or as a person) is the day that you become a bad writer. Even if your stuff is gold, there is always room for improvement or experimentation.

And there is always room for editing.

Of course, at some point, you have to pull the trigger, and release your work upon the world, but it needs polished, first. I’ve read several books lately that could have stood to undergo one or two, or five, more rounds of edits. (I won’t name them, because I’m not here to trash talk other writers. My point is…edit your fucking books. Lol.)

Anyway, this will be the last rerelease I do. Any future books will be edited, published, and left the fuck alone.

The first time around for Meruna was a train wreck, though. Lol. (And I need it rereleased under my married name so it’ll be on my Amazon Author page with the rest of my books.)

You see, I went through a vanity press, because I didn’t know better. At that point, I didn’t know what that meant. I assumed it was a normal publisher, and that everything they did was, well, normal.

But…no.

Not at all.

They did no professional edit.

I arranged the cover art myself. (A.K.A. My husband, an incredibly talented artist, did it.) A traditional publisher (what I thought I was doing) would have done editing and had a cover done by their own artists.

They formatted and printed the book, and charged me for their services. Since I didn’t know that isn’t how the publishing industry is supposed to work, I gladly signed and paid.

Then, I regretted it when…nothing happened.

Because, unless I paid them more money, they weren’t about to do any marketing.

All this was in the contract, of course, making it completely legal.

But I didn’t know, at the time, that that wasn’t how it would have happened with a traditional publisher.

The big difference is that traditional publishers and self publishers make their money off sales.

Vanity presses make their money off the authors.

Which is why I still get calls from them, five and a half years later, trying to talk me into paying them for more (subpar) marketing, primarily by talking over me and not letting me get a word in edgewise.

The worst part is that…once I realized my mistake, I was super embarrassed. I didn’t know any better. I was just a noob, trying to get a book published. But I was mortified. I didn’t want to tell anyone. I was terrified that someone would ask how I got published. But I should’ve talked about it.

I’m certainly not the only person who’s done this. I know of others who’ve had much MUCH worse experiences with vanity presses than I had. So, I’m definitely not alone in this. I could have been commiserating with them so much sooner, helping myself to feel less awful about it, and actually dealing with the problem.

Now, this isn’t where I intended to go with this blog, but I think people need to know that vanity presses are not the same as self or traditional publishers. People need to know how/why they’re different. (I’ll talk about what I was going to talk about next week.)

So, learn from my mistake.

If a publisher requires money upfront, run.

They should pay you, not the other way around.

Of course, if you self publish, the cost of editing, cover design, formatting, and a copyright is on you. Some of those things, you can do yourself, but the cost is on you regardless. But the printing and distribution costs come out of the purchase price of the book. Not your pocket.

Keep that in mind.

For now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

P.S. – Fun fact, for those of you who came here via my IG or FB…The picture I chose for this is especially fitting for me this week. I got bit by either a tick carrying lyme disease or a brown recluse spider…eight goddamn times. Two of the bites did that whole…bullseye thing. Red ring with bruising around the outside (one the size of a fruit can, and the other the size of a half dollar coin). Feels great…

Antibiotics are helping, though. So, yeah.

But yeah, the two things have the same symptoms, apparently, and look pretty similar. The main difference is that tick bites usually have a tick in them, and brown recluse bites usually happen in pairs (at most) and turn necrotic. None of those things happened. I found no tick. There was no necrosis.

So…who fucking knows. All I know is that I want to rip the skin off my legs to stop them from itching. Yay!

Bye.

Lol.

*waves*

Decisions…

Hello, all!

Since I know the aforementioned announcement is what likely brought most of you here, I will, of course, keep you waiting.

Lol.

After all, what writer in their write (see what I did there?) mind would give away the goods at the beginning?

None. Not a single one.

So, I’ll start with a progress report. The rewrite of the first half of Salt and Silver is done, and I have officially moved forward into writing the rest of the story. This supernatural romance has taken a lot of twists and turns that I did not see coming. But I love it.

When I started the rewrite, I had roughly 40,000 words across 100 pages (ish). Now, I have 49,547 words over the course of 128 pages. ­čÖé

I’m pretty happy with how it’s going, and I’m super excited to keep pushing forward.

I also managed to do the alchemy photo shoot I mentioned last week. If you haven’t seen it, head over to my Instagram or my Facebook author page, and check it out. (Links for both are at the absolute bottom of any page of my website.)

Anyway, I really like how it turned out. It took so long to do, but that’s okay. The sigils on the necklaces (which I sculpted and painted) took about an hour and a half to make, and turned out awesome. Set up for the shoot took about an hour and a half, maybe two hours, and the shoot itself took maybe an hour?

But it really brought Ness’ potion making livelihood right into my living room (literally). It brought her to life even more than she already was. In doing so, it contributed to Salt and Silver in a more…ambiguous way. Because now, I’ve been in her “home.” Lol.

Now, though, to bring this around almost to the main topic.

Over the past week, I’ve been doing more research into the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing, as well as the pros and cons of each.

Some of these things are obvious.

Traditional publishing means you have teams of professionals doing some of the work for you, which is nice, especially when it comes to marketing (which I suck at). It also means unbearably long wait times.

The query/submission stage of any book project is maddening. Each agent or publisher has their own list of things they want you to write about the book to send along with the manuscript, and they all have their own formatting requirements.

Some want a one sentence summary, including the ending, of the story you’ve just spent 70,000 to 120,000 words telling (which is incredibly difficult), along with a query letter, and the first three chapters of the manuscript. Another might want a three page synopsis, a cover letter (yes, this is different from a query letter, though in very small ways), and the whole manuscript. Others want all of the above, as well as market research, and five year plans.

And every single submission item, be it a one sentence summary, a query letter, or a synopsis, is both an art and a science, in and of itself.

Needless to say, submitting to one agent or publisher can take hours. And all of this is after you’ve compiled a list of people to submit to who are, at that exact moment in time, accepting unagented submissions in that genre, with no theme or subject matter restrictions which would eliminate your work.

Then, you get to wait.

Anywhere from two weeks to an entire year.

Some of them require that you submit nowhere else while they consider it.

So a manuscript can just be placed on hold in someone’s inbox for a year, and you can’t do a thing with it.

Then, there’s the fact that offers are only made on 1-2% of submissions at any given publisher…

All told, the submission process is riddled with grueling hours in front of a screen and waiting and rejections and waiting and heartache and yes…more waiting.

Then, more rejections…

And, for a while, I thought it would be worth it.

Not for the prestige of being picked up by a traditional publisher. Don’t get me wrong, getting an offer for a book deal would be fantastic. The validation of it would be magnificent.

But I just kind of assumed it would be better. I assumed that my work would do better with a traditional publisher, and that the money would be better, thus I’d be able to be a full time author much faster.

Over the course of my research this week, though…I discovered that this isn’t really the case. I was watching a video on Youtube by Alexa Donne called Traditional Publishing Book Money 101, and learned some rather shocking things about the publishing industry.

Apparently, advances (predicted royalties paid ahead of time in good faith) are paid out over the course of a couple years, not all at once. As of 2017 (when she made the video), the average advance was between $1,000 and $10,000. Sounds good, right?

Except, that it’s then halved by agent fees and taxes (which are 40%, because Uncle Sam treats it as freelance/contractor work). So…$500 to $5,000…over the course of a couple years…

Not quite quit your day job money.

And since it takes so long to get a book deal, often years, there aren’t going to be many of those small checks coming in.

So…it seems…far less worth it to wait out the submission process.

Now, self-publishing can work very well for people who write quality books quickly, and who can market themselves.

I suck at marketing, but I learn fast.

And I write quickly, with high standards.

So, if you haven’t guessed where this is leading, I’ve decided to stop putting time into submissions. Instead, I’ll be focusing on the final rounds of edits, formatting, arranging cover art, and self-publishing.

I’ll be re-releasing The Gem of Meruna (likely first, because it needs updated and I can assign a lower price on kdp than that assigned by the original publisher).

Then, I have three standalone novels to release. Where Darkness Leads is dark fantasy romance. Soul Bearer is sword and sorcery/fantasy romance. After is post-apocalyptic, and a bit of a roller coaster.

By the time all that is done, I hope to have Salt and Silver done, as well as The Regonia Chronicles. And the thriller I got an idea for over the past week, tentatively called Second to None. Plus all the other ideas I have, and the stories I’ve begun, but haven’t had time to finish just yet.

So, long story short, the decision to self-publish is a very exciting one.

After and Soul Bearer are each still submitted to a couple agents and publishers, so, of course, I’ll await their responses before moving forward with this. It wouldn’t make sense to throw away the work of submitting, my time, and the time of the people reading through them.

But, given the 1-2% odds, they’ll likely be self-published. Lol.

Anyway, the future looks rather promising. I’ve got a lot to do, and I can only hope that my day job doesn’t mandate me for too much overtime. :/

But, for now, I’d better be going. I’m off work tomorrow, but I have an unfortunately early morning calling my name.

So…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.