Cover Reveal: Lower Education by A. M. Leibowitz

One of the great things about the internet is that it makes being a writer a lot less lonely. Over the years, I’ve met many, many other writers, some of whom now are among my best friends. Communities are established, we read, we critique, we help each other out. One of those virtual communities is the WIPpeteers, a group of writers who share snippets from our WIPs every Wednesday. And one of us, A. M. Leibowitz, has a book being published soon, and a cover reveal today!

Lower Education Cover

Here’s the synopsis:

Phin Patterson is an educational consultant dissatisfied with his job and his life. On a mission to complete one last assignment before escaping his unfulfilling career and figure out what he wants, he accepts a commission from Donald Murdock at the New York State Education Department. Suddenly, he finds himself on his way to evaluate a tiny school in New York’s Southern Tier, not far from the town where he grew up. Now his only goal is to get in, do his job, and get out before anyone from his past remembers him.
That turns out to be easier said than done. Dani Sloane, the sharp-witted administrative assistant to the principal, learns the truth about why Phin is really there. With the help of her friends, she sets out to unmask him and force the local board of education to stop the plans that could ruin their school. Discovering that her sometime-lover is an old business associate of Phin’s only complicates both the situation and their relationship.
Meanwhile, Phin, who has committed himself to keeping his emotional distance, can’t resist the charm of the town and its residents—especially the school psychologist, who turns out to be an old friend he hasn’t seen in over twenty years. While Dani works to take him down and save her school, Phin wrestles with learning how to do the right thing, including telling the truth to the man with whom he’s already falling in love.

Lower Education
By A. M. Leibowitz

Publisher: Supposed Crimes, LLC
Publication date: November 1, 2014

If you’re interested in pre-ordering the book, here are the links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Lower-Education-M-Leibowitz-ebook/dp/B00NCA48TE/

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/473664

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lower-education-a-m-leibowitz/1120325979?ean=2940046149760

More about A. M. Leibowitz:

A. M. Leibowitz is a spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. She keeps warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing romantic plot twists and happy-for-now endings. In between noveling and editing, she blogs coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, writing, and her family.

Web site: http://amleibowitz.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amymitchell29 (personal profile); https://www.facebook.com/UnchainedFaith (author page)

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amyunchained (@amyunchained)

Third quarter stock-taking, a Glassmakers excerpt, and a request

It’s that time of year again, time to take a look at the original list of goals and analyze how things went. I’m pretty pleased with this quarter. Here’s the breakdown:

Writing

My original goal was to get 2500 words a week written. At the moment I am regularly producing more than 4000 a week, a definite improvement from my original goal. Another writing goal was to write a detailed outline of Facets of Glass — I am now over 11,000 words into the writing of the actual novella. Of course, I also had a number of goals where I made no progress. For example, I still find it hard to work on any of my collaborations with Jay Lake, so those goals remained untouched this round. Nor did I finish any new short stories. But with the serious progress I’ve made on Facets of Glass and several other longer projects, I’m quite happy with the way things have gone this round, writing-wise. I’m also having so much more FUN than I’ve had in a long time!

I met my blog goals as well. I wrote the blog posts about my research trip to Britain this summer, and I have written several installments of my new series “Starting out as an indie author.”

Writing Business

My batting average on the business side wasn’t quite as good, but I also had quite a few goals. The things I got off of my “writing business” list:

- Started splitting Yseult into episodes and publishing individually
– Got Amazon to price match “The Leaving Sweater” for free
– Edited blog, added ebook as incentive to join mailing list
– Found some reviewers for Chameleon in a Mirror
– Uploaded Island of Glass to Amazon for pre-order and set a publishing date.

This is where I need your help! Island of Glass is now scheduled for publication on Oct. 28, so I’d love some volunteers to help me get the word out. That includes any of the following options:

- Participate in the cover reveal on October 14
– Do an interview with me on your blog
– Have a guest post from me on your blog

Also, if anyone is interested in an advance copy of the novella to review, please let me know! That’s one of the hardest things about new releases, getting the reviews needed to be able to promote it on other sites. (I’m not aggressive enough about this, which was why CIAM was reviewless for months.)

Naturally I’m not asking you to do all these things — I’m grateful for any help at all that I can get. I got some inspiration from Amy here and would like to return the favor too. :) I’d be happy to feature all of you on my blog in upcoming weeks — with the caveat that interviews and guest posts should be about indie publishing, given the slant of my blog. But if you’re not an indie writer, I’ll still be happy to post a plug to your book.

If you can help, please let me know either in the comments below, in email, or on Facebook. Thanks!

On to WIPpet Wednesday. For the first time, I’m going to post an excerpt from the second book in The Glassmakers Trilogy, Facets of Glass. Today’s date, the 24th, gives me 2+4 = 6 short paragraphs, which I hope will pique your interest:

Dowager Princess Zilia of House Foscari gazed at the apple of glass that had come with the invitation from Prague. It had little resemblance to the typical art of Bohemian glass, usually thick goblets decorated with deep cuts that reflected the light like the facets of diamonds, or somewhat finer works enhanced by detailed engravings.
This apple was different. She admired the nonchalant artistry, the combination of realism and artifice, the delicacy of the glass — as thin as the cristallo of Murano. The kind of glass that had not been seen anywhere in the world before, other than from the glassmakers in the service of Venice.
The Bohemian glassworks had never before produced glass as thin and delicate as this. Nor had they ever worked in colored glass in this way, at least not to Zilia’s knowledge.
She held the apple, one half red, one half green, up to the light, examining the way the colors flowed into each other almost as naturally as a real apple. The brown stem and green leaves at the top completed the illusion. She turned the apple in her hands, only to discover a small hole, around which had been placed brown residue like that from a worm.
Zilia stared at the wormhole of glass, and all she could think of were a pair of glass slippers with their carelessly tied ribbons. Shoes of glass so strong and so fine, they had captured the heart of her son, Prince Vittore.
Those slippers had been made by a young maestra from Murano, Chiara Dragoni — who had disappeared over a year ago in the lagoon of Venice.

Glass Apple by Bill Brooks on Flickr
Glass Apple (c) Bill Brooks on Flickr, cc license

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Starting Out as an Indie Author: Getting Your Books into Google Play

Starting out as an indie author

In an earlier post in this series, I mentioned that since I’d heard so many horror stories about Google Play randomly cutting prices of indie books, and Amazon subsequently following suit — with serious consequences for the incomes of the writers involved — I decided not to try to sell my books through that venue.

But then I learned (on Kboards of course) that the stories I’d heard, while true, could be avoided with creative pricing. Apparently Google discounts all books in pretty much the same way. But while the percentages hover around a 23% discount, the discounts jump around a bit, and don’t apply to the lowest price points (supposedly). Luckily, the smart folks on the Internet have figured out what you have to do to get your book priced the way you want it. This in turn will keep Amazon happy and they won’t discount your book below the 70% royalty sweet spot of 2.99.

Here is a compilation of some of the suggestions I’ve found around the Internet for how to price your book on Google Play to make it end up the price you want:

Desired price / Price you need to enter on Google Play:

99c / 99c
1.49 / 1.49 (Apparently Google does not discount these)
1.99 / 2.54
2.99 / 3.93
3.99 / 5.18
4.99 / 6.48
5.99 / 7.78

I don’t know if all of these are actually 100% correct; you might need to experiment a bit within the price range to get the results you want.

Becoming a “partner” on Google Play

You cannot publish with Google Play without a Gmail account, so if you don’t have that yet, it’s the first thing you need to do. Once you’ve signed up, you can go here to get started publishing:

https://play.google.com/books/publish/

The Google Play dashboard is much less intuitive than Amazon, B&N, Draft2Digital and Kobo, the sales sites I have primarily used until now. On the left you have the following options: book catalog, analytics & reports, promotions, payment center, and account settings. Today I will only be going into “book catalog” and “payment center” since that is what you need in order to publish a book. (The “account settings” automatically gets populated with your Google account info and any publisher info you add when you sign in.) You do the actual publishing from “book catalog”:

Google Play

But although it is farther down in the list, I suggest starting with the item “payment center”: if you don’t, your book will not be published. The fist couple of times I tried to publish Part I of my serialized version of Yseult, I kept getting the error message “PRICE MISSING OR NOT APPLICABLE” which didn’t make a lot of sense to me, since Google allows you to set the price to free. Finally, I googled the error message and found out that Google Play would not allow me to publish until I entered my payment info. So maybe that should be first in line … ?

Anyway, in the payment center, click “Payment Profiles” and enter your bank account info. GP does not allow PayPal, unfortunately. If your bank is in the US, for Sales Territories select “WORLD – US/USD” and under “CURRENCY CONVERSION” TURNED ON.

Once you’ve saved your payment information, you can go to “Book Catalog” and actually publish your book. Click on the “Add book” button. If you already have an ISBN for your book, enter it here, otherwise check the box that you don’t. The “Book details” pane opens, which should be largely self-explanatory. One thing that bears mentioning, however, is that for GP you have to enter you bio for EVERY BOOK. Interesting, huh? The leading search engine in the world can’t find the biographical info for for a single author account …

Once you’ve entered the book details, in the next pane you upload your ebook and cover. The book itself can be either EPUB or PDF. In order to save yourself grief and repeated uploads, if you are uploading an Epub file, I suggest testing it with EPUB Validator first:

http://validator.idpf.org/

The next pane is for pricing. No dropdown menu for the currency, unfortunately, so if you’re in the States, enter USD manually. The box after “for” should be WORLD. For the price, see the list above. :)

The “Settings” pane is for metadata. The format is of course “digital” and for the subject, enter keywords that will get your book into the appropriate categories, such as “fantasy” and “historical.” The form then makes suggestions that you can choose from. For most of the other options, you’re fine with the defaults, at least as far as I could determine.

The final pane is for publishing, where you can decide whether to publish only to Google Books or also to Google Play as well. Seems a no-brainer to me to choose both. :)

I have only just started publishing with Google Play, so I can’t say yet whether all the work will actually be worth it. But it was fun finding the free book with my smartphone and downloading it. If you have Google Play, please do so as well! There don’t seem to be any Nestvolds other than me in the GP store, so the free book should be pretty easy to find.

Once I’ve been on Google Play longer, have published a few more things, and understand the system better, I will post more.

Other posts in this series:

Starting out as an indie author: preparing your manuscript for ebook retailers

Starting out as an indie author: Using distributors for getting into online bookstores

Starting out as an indie author: Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Xinxii (Using distributors, part 2)

Starting out as an indie author: The costs of self-publishing

Starting out as an indie author: Why editing is important — and who can skip the expense after all

Starting out as an indie author: Creating your own covers

Starting out as an indie author: Interview with Kate Sparkes

Late update and #WIPpet for Wednesday (Thursday …)

Can you say tomatoes? That’s one of the reasons I’m late this week. Big fat tomato harvest and the need to make stewed tomatoes and spaghetti sauce and tomato consomme and freeze a bunch so it won’t all go to waste! Add to that the fact that I’m on my own little personal writing roll, and yesterday I just didn’t feel like interrupting that for an extended blogging session … So far this week I’ve written 2300 words on Facets of Glass. For about the last month, I’ve been consistently writing at least 4000 words a week, even taking a day off for marketing each week — AND with a glut of tomatoes. :)

I know that for some people that’s a daily word count, but I’ve been stuck for so many years at 500 words a day, five days a week, that for me this is starting to look like the beginning of a breakthrough. I’m not going to celebrate too much yet. First I want to see if it really does become a habit — and maybe even something I can improve on!

Anyway, on to your WIPpet for Thursday. WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

This week I’m going to inflict another book description on you guys. Today I’ve been working on getting Book II of Yseult ready for publication, so that’s how it relates to the date. *g* Here’s the cover I have:

Yseult, Part II: A Man and a Woman

And here’s the blurb:

The second book of Yseult, a #1 bestseller in Arthurian and Historical Fantasy!

Drystan had imagined his homecoming very differently — not returning to a father who is breaking treaties and sleeping with his niece. In order to save the family honor, Drystan fights a duel and is seriously wounded. His only hope lies in the mysterious land of Eriu, with the famous healer and queen, Yseult the Wise.

When he sets out for Eriu, Drystan does not expect to survive the journey. Nor does he expect to fall in love with the queen’s daughter, Yseult the Fair. If only the man he had killed in the duel had not been Yseult’s uncle and the queen’s brother.

Yseult is a retelling of the tragic love story of Tristan and Isolde, an Arthurian romance with roots going back far into the realm of legend and the undying tales of King Arthur.

So what do you guys think? Is it too much reciting what happens and not enough suspense to intrigue the reader? Please do rip it apart! I was very happy with your critiques last week and completely redid the description as a result. Thank you all so much!

Part I of Yseult published – and a request

The last few days have been all about marketing, and I haven’t gotten much writing done. But I did have a fairly successful week last week, with a total word count of 4100 words. Oh, and if you haven’t seen the interview with our own Kate Sparkes that I posted on Monday, check it out!

The marketing activity this week has to do with the experiment I wrote about in my last blog post, splitting Yseult up into four parts and uploading each individually. I started on that yesterday, publishing Part I to Amazon and Draft2Digital. It is now available on Amazon, iTunes, and Kobo (hasn’t published to B&N yet).

Yseult, Part I

That is where the request comes in. Amazon doesn’t allow you to set the price to free, so I have to get them to price match. Which means I need people to tell them about a lower price. Some of you guys have helped me with this before and will know how this works. For those who don’t, here’s how it goes:

- Go to the Amazon page of Yseult, Part I here: http://www.amazon.com/Yseult-Part-I-Two-Women-ebook/dp/B00NFPE1T8/

- Scroll down to the links beneath the product details and click on “tell us about a lower price”

- In the box that pops up, click on “Website” and enter this URL for the iTunes store where the book is free:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id917430003

- For price and shipping cost enter “0” and click on “Submit feedback”

Thanks in advance!

On to WIPpet Wednesday — and another request. I’ve been messing with the description for this first installment and I’d really like some help, which is why that’s what I’m posting today. On the one hand, I need to make it clear that this is part of the novel that has already been published. On the other, I have to get something in about the main plot line of this episode. Finally, I have to let potential readers know that this is not all going to end happily — or else those who get to the fourth book might be inclined to hunt be down and shoot me, despite the fact that in all the versions I know of the legend, either one or both of the lovers dies at the end. (See some of the angry reviews I’ve gotten for Yseult if you don’t think this is necessary. *g*)

Anyway, here’s what I have right now. (It’s not the same as on Amazon, since, as I said, I’ve been messing with it.) Please tear it apart!

The #1 Amazon Bestseller in Arthurian Fantasy for 14 Weeks!

Yseult: A Tale of love in the Age of King Arthur is a retelling of the tragedy of Tristan and Yseult, a story older than Romeo and Juliet or Lancelot and Guinevere; an Arthurian romance with roots going back far into the realm of legend and the undying tales of King Arthur.

“Part I: Two Women” is a re-imagining of Yseult’s youth, never part of the legends — until now.

The tragic love story of Tristan and Yseult has been told many times and in many ways, but always Yseult is a princess of Ireland, a land on the fringes of Europe, a land that had never been conquered by Rome. But what would her life have been like in that pagan land before the advent of Christianity?

Yseult the Wise and Yseult the Fair, mother and daughter, are members of the proud race of the Feadh Ree, the Old Race in Eriu. But new ways and a new religion are coming to their land, and despite all their magic, they are powerless to stop it …

Yseult was originally published in German translation with Random House Germany as Flamme und Harfe, and followed by translations into Dutch and Italian.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

On splitting up a big book: Turning Yseult into episodes

As many of you following this blog know, I started my career as an indie author after I got the rights back to the original English of my novel Yseult, which was published in German as Flamme und Harfe by Random House Germany in 2009.

Flamme und Harfe, Ruth Nestvold

I published the English original in January 2012 on my own with this cover from the talented Derek Murphy of CreativIndie Covers:

Yseult, Ruth Nestvold

Since the original publisher of Yseult / Flamme und Harfe, Random House Germany, told me they were interested in a sequel (which they decided they were not interested in after all), when I published Yseult, I already had the next doorstopper waiting in the wings, Shadow of Stone, which I published in June of 2012.

That too sold quite well, and I began to imagine that I was on my way to a wonderful career as an indie author.

Halt.

Readers started wanting to know when the next “installment” would be available. Of books that were both close to 200,000 words, or over 500 pages long. Unfortunately, I don’t write fast enough to produce novels of that size every year, and I lost readers.

I started writing a prequel to The Pendragon Chronicles, Ygerna, hoping to make it free and attract more readers that way, but I soon noticed that the story of Arthur’s mother was too complicated for me to finish off in a couple ten thousand words, and it ended up on the back burner. I do have a free short story from the second novel available, Gawain and Ragnell, and that has helped my sales somewhat, giving potential readers a taste of the world of The Pendragon Chronicles. So I know for a fact that permafree can help your sales.

Then at some point I started noticing something new happening in ebook publishing: it seemed as if a lot of the most successful indie authors were publishing their ebooks in episodes or as serials, in chunks from between 50 to 200 pages. Like with a TV show, each episode might bring a single plot thread to a conclusion, but there was also often some kind of cliffhanger to make sure the reader came back for the next installment. An added advantage of the episode format is that the author can make the first “book” of the novel free in order to entice readers to give it a try.

Slowly an experiment started to take shape in my mind. I had these two Big Fat Fantasies, after all, together close to 400,000 words. But in the era of ebooks, when the reader can’t judge a book by how heavy it is in her hand, books seem to be getting shorter. And while the true short story has yet to make a comeback, readers appear to be increasingly accepting of novella-length books. (This is all totally subjective and unscientific, so don’t quote me on it.)

Anyway, as a result of these observations, I have decided to launch an experiment. I am going to take the four books of Yseult apart — which, btw, is how I organized the novel long before the advent of ebooks — and offer them separately. I will try to make the first book free on Amazon as quickly as possible. Here is the pricing structure I’m considering for the serial version:

Part I: FREE
Part II: 99c (my take, 30c)
Part III: 2.99 (my take $2)
Part IV: 2.99 (my take $2)

My goal is not to make more money than with the complete novel, although that is what would happen if readers were only to buy the individual parts. But when I do this, I do not intend to unpublish Yseult. That will still be available for 4.99 for anyone who is enjoying the series enough to want to buy the novel. Mostly I’m just hoping that with parts 1 & 2 at free and 99c respectively, a few more readers will try out the series.

So recently I’ve been working on a template for the covers of the individual episodes. I wanted to use the cover of Yseult as a basis, to make sure that no one bought any of the episodes thinking it was a new story in The Pendragon Chronicles. At the same time, the covers should be distinctive enough to stand out from each other. Given those considerations, here’s the template I came up with for the series:

Yseult template

And here’s my first attempt at a single title:

Yseult-Part-1

My thought is to use different colors beneath the “celtic fringe” *g* on the left / west side of the cover as a visual signal of the differences between the books. And now, as I write this, it occurs to me that the color for the first book, which takes place in Ireland / Eriu, should be a dark green rather than the dark purple I have now. *g*

Anyway, I welcome any thoughts / feedback you have in the comments below!

I might land flat on my face with this experiment, but I’m not out of much more than a couple days worth of work making the new covers, formatting the individual sections, and uploading them to the various venues. Wish me luck. :) And do please let me know what you think!

Starting out as an indie author: Interview with Kate Sparkes, author of BOUND

For this week’s installment of “Starting out as an indie author” I offer you an interview with new writer Kate Sparkes, who — to judge by her rankings in the Amazon store — “did it right.” She published her first novel, Bound, in June 2014. The novel is a YA fantasy and the first in a trilogy – and has a beautiful cover that makes me drool. :)

Kate Sparkes, Bound

As of today, the book already has 88 reviews with an average of 4.7. The rankings in the Amazon US Kindle store are also impressive:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,212 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery
#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Coming of Age
#17 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

Especially for an author just starting out, those are excellent numbers. I think we can all learn from Kate on what and what not to do when self-publishing. On to the interview. :)

Welcome, Kate, and thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. First off, please tell us a little bit about your work.

I write stories.

More specifically, I write stories that I want to read, and that usually means there’s a good dose of magic or other-worldliness in my stories. I’m easily bored by real life, so I write Fantasy and Urban Fantasy. The first series I’m publishing is the YA Fantasy Bound Trilogy. Bound (book #1) came out at the end of June, and Torn (book #2) should be out in late February or early March.

How do you go about plotting and world-building?

It took me years for “my” world to come together in my mind. For the physical aspects of the world, I used a heavy dose of Earth, and Newfoundland specifically. It’s not my home province, but it’s where I live and where it feels I was meant to be. The landscapes here are rugged and beautiful, and seem to already be filled with magic. Geography doesn’t translate directly, but people from here who read Bound sometimes comment on how familiar the land seems. Things like cities, the Grotto, buildings and such come from my imagination. Often it feels like I’m exploring them as I’m writing, which is fun. As for the creatures in that world, I use many that are familiar from our legends and stories, but try to put my own unique twist on them.

What kind of magic systems do you use?

I suppose I use something between a hard and a soft magic system. Things tend to be well-defined, but there’s still a sense of mystery and wonder. Magic as it relates to humans is something like electricity. It’s there and available to be drawn on, but the amount a person can use and what they can use it for depend on the individual. Most magic-users will have at least one natural gift, but they can work and study to learn other skills. They do have to be careful, though; trying to work unfamiliar magic can lead to unexpected and even deadly consequences.

I could go into a lot more detail about ways that magic can be used and controlled, how Potioners differ from Sorcerers, how lineage affects power, and the effect of ambient magic, but it would take forever! And that’s just humans. Creating the magic system was a huge challenge, but a rewarding one.

Do you have a writing routine?

I hope to soon! Up until now, my routine has been “fit it in whenever I can.” I have two kids, and even during the school year always had at least one home most of the time. It made it difficult to set a routine. Starting this month, I hope to write in the mornings (plotting, drafting, revising, editing), and work on business and promotion-related things in the afternoons. My routine could also use a tweak in that right now it tends to start with WAY too much distraction before I get down to work.

What made you decide to go indie with your first book?

A lot of things factored into that decision. I thought I stood a better chance of finding an audience and making decent money by publishing independently, even if it meant never seeing my books in stores. The odds of getting an agent and a good contract were just too slim for me to invest time into that path. It was also important to me that I have full creative control over my work, that I be able to choose the cover and decide which advice to take from an editor. I also knew that as an unproven author I wasn’t likely to get a big advance or much promotional help from a publisher. There are risks and benefits with any road to publication. It’s a personal choice, and indie isn’t right for everyone. I respect and support writers in whatever path they choose. I certainly have no regrets about my choice for this trilogy.

How did you prepare for getting ready to publish a book on your own, i.e. what resources were most helpful for you in learning the ropes?

Ooh, big question! I list a lot of resources on my blog that helped me make the decision to go indie and that taught me the ropes. I read a lot of blogs and a few books, listened to podcasts, and asked experienced authors questions when I needed to. I didn’t focus on publishing too much while I was drafting. In fact, I didn’t know anything about indie publishing until less than two years ago, and assumed I’d go the traditional route. The information is all out there, and I’ve found indie authors to be incredibly helpful.

What services did you outsource before publishing Bound? (editing, formatting, cover) Were you happy with the results? Would you do it the same way again?

I hired an editor (Joshua Essoe) for developmental and line editing, and I will absolutely be using his services again. I knew I had a good story, and my beta readers were amazing, but I also knew it could still be better. My editor saw opportunities I had missed, helped me get my magic system in order, pointed out errors and character inconsistencies that I and others had missed, and slapped my fingers when things got too melodramatic. I’m glad I went for the full editing package, even though it was a bit of a financial gamble at the time.

My cover artist, Ravven, was amazing. I had no idea of what I wanted, except that I didn’t want a character on the cover. We tried to find something symbolic that worked, and she did mock-ups, but it just wasn’t working. She suggested a few ideas and we talked about how character covers might sell better, and worked together to come up with a cover that I love. I’ve lost count of the people who have said they gave the book a chance because of the cover. Obviously it was money well spent, and I’ve already asked her to do Torn.

I was going to do my own formatting, but when the time came, the learning curve was just too steep and I couldn’t get the professional look I wanted. Colin F. Barnes is an author and a friend of a friend who stepped in and gave me a beautiful book for a reasonable price, and I’m so grateful for that. I still want to learn the skill some time so I can go in and make changes myself (adding links, fixing typos, etc), but for now I’m happy using someone else’s skill.

The one thing I’ll do differently next time is that I’ll pay a proofreader. ARC readers were helpful with that, but a few typos still slipped through.

What steps did you take leading up to the book launch of Bound? Did you contact book reviewers? Use Facebook? Twitter? Blog? Did you organize or book a blog tour?

I didn’t plan a lot of promotion. Bound was my first book, and it didn’t make sense for me to put a lot of money into promotion when I had nothing else to offer to people who loved the book, or a lot of time that I should have spent writing the next one. I contacted a few reviewers, but most advance copies went to blog readers, book-loving friends and acquaintances, and fellow authors. Several wonderful author/blogger types helped host the cover reveal and announced the release to their blog followers, which was wonderful. I posted chapter one on my own blog, and set up a Facebook author page about a month before release. I shared that first chapter and cover image on Twitter and Facebook (and the cover copy when I finally had it), but was careful not to spam.

There was no organized blog/book tour. I think the best promotion was word-of-mouth recommendation from people who read the book early on and loved it. I frequently thank those people, but it never feels like I manage to express just how grateful I am!

I did have a launch party, just for fun. I live in a tiny town and don’t have enough local friends to have an in-person party, so Facebook it was. We had a great time, I gave out some e-books and a signed paperback. It might not have led directly to sales, but I think it helped drum up some interest in reading the book, and got the ball rolling on recommendations and reviews.

I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway for a signed paperback now, and that’s got a bunch of people to add it to their TBR list, but I’m not sure whether it’s had an impact on e-book sales. I think reader awareness is always a good thing, though.

What are you working on now?

I just sent Torn (Bound Trilogy book #2) out to beta readers. Now it’s on to planning and drafting Book #3, which is both exciting and terrifying.

What advice would you give to an author considering going indie?

Do your research, and then follow your instincts. I did a lot of things “wrong” (I actually have a blog post about that), but it has all worked out so far. I didn’t let myself feel pressured to do it anyone else’s way, but I did keep my eyes and ears open to learn from other people’s experiences. I would also say to try to put out the most polished, professional work you can, out of respect for readers if nothing else. This is your career, and it’s worth investing in.

Thanks for the informative and inspiring interview, Kate! I wish you the best of luck with Torn. :)

Kate Sparkes

How to get in touch with Kate Sparkes:

Blogs: – Disregard the prologue- http://disregardtheprologue.com
– Sparrowcat Press- http://sparrowcatpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katesparkesauthor
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8282527.Kate_Sparkes
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kate_sparkes
Google+ page: https://plus.google.com/+KateSparkes
Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/KSparkes
Pinterest board for the Bound trilogy: http://www.pinterest.com/k_sparkes/bound-trilogy/

Other posts in this series:

Starting out as an indie author: preparing your manuscript for ebook retailers

Starting out as an indie author: Using distributors for getting into online bookstores

Starting out as an indie author: Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Xinxii (Using distributors, part 2)

Starting out as an indie author: The costs of self-publishing

Starting out as an indie author: Why editing is important — and who can skip the expense after all

Starting out as an indie author: Creating your own covers

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,232 other followers

%d bloggers like this: