Monday, March 5, 2012

Why I've Done What I've Done—And How

I was asked recently how I chose an editor, and why I made the decision to go indie. Here's  pretty much the verbatim email I sent:


I approached a few editors, got some sample edits, and tried to get a feel of whether or not we might be a good fit. That's my best advice. It's a little bit of a crapshoot, but at least it's not like being "assigned" an editor when you're with a publisher. You may or may not know this, but I have met and become friends with a few editors. I elected not to pursue a working relationship with them simply because of our friendship. I ended up choosing Harvey Stanbrough. I was totally impressed with his few-page sample edit and believe I'll be able to learn a lot from him. 


Why I decided to go indie: There are a few reasons. On one hand there were those hoops you're required to go through on the traditional side. I began to wonder what those "hoop-masters" knew that I didn't, and just who gave them the power to decide. And began to realize that I would be at the whim of both a publisher and an agent—not to mention the tremendous changes occurring in the industry. I've known more than one author who has been "laid off" even in the middle of a contract with a publisher. On the other hand, a year ago this month, I shared a room with L.J. Sellers at the Left Coast Crime conference in Santa Fe. At that time, I'd gone from having my nose in the air about becoming an indie to sitting on the fence. After listening to L.J.'s experience, and learning that she's able to make an actual living off of her writing now, without dealing with any of the traditional middle men, I decided I'd rather take my chances more "face-to-face" with readers. I know some will not like my writing, but I'm hoping others will. There is no gatekeeper. I like that. The readers get to decide. Not some person who has to figure out how to "sell" my story. 

There was never any doubt in my mind that I'd want to hire a professional editor—one who can evaluate characterization and plot and any other areas I'm weak in, not just grammar and punctuation. I believe Harvey will fill that bill. Even editors need editors, and writers who think they can just throw something up for sale (even if they think it's perfect) won't succeed in the long run.

With respect to a cover . . . you and I have both seen the homemade covers. They scream amateur and lack of editing. A cover, in the little tiny thumbnail picture that Amazon provides, can make the difference between someone checking out your description or moving on. That's our shelf space. Some people are able to create their own covers, and that's great. I'm creative enough that maybe I could figure things out at some point, but not without a lot of time, effort and potential disaster. So I hired Patty Henderson, at Boulevard Photografica, who has designed some absolutely compelling covers. She's also an author (as is Harvey), and designed both of Andrew E. Kaufman's covers and I fell in love with both of them. Oops . . . all THREE of Drew's covers. He just came out with a short story that I'm betting Patty designed as well. Check out Drew's website at http://www.andrewekaufman.com/ I'm over-the-top excited to see what Patty will come up with for RED TIDE.

One more thing, while I've got your attention. Make your book available in trade paperback. I'm told, but can't confirm it yet, that it's pretty easy through CreateSpace. L.J. tells me that she sells one paperback for every hundred ebooks she sells, but it's still the reader who matters. Through CreateSpace, once she's set up, it doesn't cost her anything additional to sell a book, although her royalties are much less. Still, there are readers who either can't afford an e-reader, don't like reading on their computer, or insist the only way to hold a book is to turn the physical pages.




CR: Darkness on the Edge of Town by J. Carson Black.

It's all better with friends.

13 comments:

Kaye Barley said...

Hey, Sweetie!

First - Yay, You!!!!!! I'm excited about all you're accomplishing and all you've already accomplished. I am SO proud of you.

Second - I thank you for your constant generosity of spirit. You so freely share your writing and now your pubishing experiences, and it means a lot to the rest of us who are finding our way down these same roads.

I count on you to answer many questions you don't even know I have 'cause I can come right here and find some answers, which is lovely beyond words.

And finally - I wish you all the luck in the world with your writing and I know we're going to see great things from you, and for you.

Hugs!!!
Kaye

Jess said...

Great post and so informative. thanks for all your help!

Peg Brantley said...

Somehow, this comment came to be via email, but hasn't shown up on the blog. And I'm loving that Kaye Barley stopped by:

Kaye Barley has left a new comment on your post "Why I've Done What I've Done—And How":

Hey, Sweetie!

First - Yay, You!!!!!! I'm excited about all you're accomplishing and all you've already accomplished. I am SO proud of you.

Second - I thank you for your constant generosity of spirit. You so freely share your writing and now your pubishing experiences, and it means a lot to the rest of us who are finding our way down these same roads.

I count on you to answer many questions you don't even know I have 'cause I can come right here and find some answers, which is lovely beyond words.

And finally - I wish you all the luck in the world with your writing and I know we're going to see great things from you, and for you.

Hugs!!!
Kaye

Peg Brantley said...

Jess, who inspired this post, you're more than welcome. I just know you'll be making some of your own progress soon. If there's anything I can do to help, let me know.

And Ms. Barley, who is writing another manuscript (and is already published, just so you know), I treasure not only our friendship, but what you have done for the writing community through your own blog, MEANDERINGS AND MUSES, and beyond. Talk about generosity!

Peg Herring said...

Great post! Having gone through the same process, I agree that indie is possible--just not the way so many do it (as in "My mom says my book is great, so let's toss it onto the Net!")

Carolyn J. Rose said...

You'll love working with Patty. I'll be sending her two manuscripts this spring and know she'll do the same amazing job she did on the three already in book form.

Peg Brantley said...

I think the thing that held me back the most from publishing myself was the fear that I couldn't do the job right. And it was a justified fear. What I didn't know is that I can have a team of quality people who can help me to this the right way.

I want my books to provide a quality experience to readers. I think they will. I'll just be doing it a little differently, thanks to the input and suggestions of people like L.J. Sellers, Lala Corriere and Andrew E. Kaufman.

Susan Lohrer said...

Peg,you're a huge inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing your journey into self-publishing. I can't wait to see the amazing things you'll do.

Donna Fletcher Crow said...

Congratulations, Peg! All the best!

jenny milchman said...

Peg, I for one am awfully excited to read your book the second it's available!

Jaden Terrell said...

Congratulations Peg. You're taking a big step and a brave one, but one with so much potential. I wish you all the best with your new adventure; I know you'll do well because of your professionalism and your generosity. Keep us posted!

L.J. Sellers said...

Congratulations on reaching this critical point. I'm so proud of you, and so pleased that I inspired you to take charge of your own career. I think you'll love it. Best wishes!

Peg Brantley said...

Ssuan, you were one of my early encouragers, and I've learned so much from you. Talk about an inspiration.

Thank you, Donna. I appreciatae you taking the time to comment here.

Jenny, you are amazing. You are everywhere! And right back atcha. I can't wait to read COVER OF SNOW.

My friend Beth (a/k/a Jaden), I loved RACING THE DEVIL and can't wait to read your newest. I still remember sitting reading that story while I should have been doing other things.

LJ, you have set the bar. You have coached writers, tested them, guided them, and as far as this one is concerned, been incredibly gentle. I don't think I'd be here were it not for you. In other words, if it all goes south, I blame you. JK.