WisRWA Write Touch Conference – The Experience

This year’s theme for the WisRWA Write Touch Conference was Publish, Polish, and Promote. The sessions for the conference fulfilled all three “P’s” and then some.

Publish
I learned about the trends in publishing. Contemporary is waning, paranormal is dead, and SciFi is taking off. Right now there’s displacement in the market due to everyone in the world self-publishing. Saturation is coming next, we haven’t hit it yet, but it’s coming. Once the playing field evens out again, it’s the hybrid authors, both published and self-published, who will be the most successful.

Polish
I learned how Liz Pelletier, founder of Entangled and an editor, will read a manuscript for edits. There’s three passes that include the full read, the line edit of the story, and a line edit of the craft. She went through the detail of what to look for in each pass. There was a lot of detail.

Promote
I learned about street teams and how important they are to the success of an author. Street teams are not just for spreading the word about you or your next book; they are about relationships and having fun. Gina L. Maxwell has a street team called the Maxwell Mob and she has fun with her romance mafia. She’s also a great speaker.

The conference began Friday evening and ended Sunday afternoon. Not only did we learn how to publish, polish, and promote, we also learned how to use the Myers Briggs personality profiles when building characters, how to plot for the heart of romance, and what’s needed for a self-publishing business.

My brain went into overload, and I’m still processing all that I learned. Some pieces I take with a grain of salt and others are like “Oh yeah, I can’t wait to try it!”

But for all conferences, the best part is spending it with friends, meeting new people, and being aspired. I’m looking forward t next year’s conference. WisRWA has something fun in the works.

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RT Convention Day Two

The conference has started and in full bloom. As one person stated, “The lobby is like a swarm of bees… a lot of bees.” I’ve connected with friends, readers, reviewers, and bloggers.

This year Tina and I are giving away a tote filled with our books and Wisconsin goods. We had some issues with trying to wrap the tote but we managed. Our tote will be raffled on Friday afternoon.

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After the day events of learning craft and social media, we went by busloads to Mardi Gras World. Our first event was the Grand Oaks Mansion for the Pirates, Scalawags and More party.

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Next, we followed a New Orleans second-line band to the warehouse where they store the Mardi Gras floats. One word…. amazing!! We lined up in front of the floats and watched a mini parade with, of course, beads tossed to all of us by the sponsors of the event. We finished at the hall where we sampled different New Orleans foods and listened/danced to a live band before heading back to the hotels.

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Second day was great. I heard a lot of people wonder how they (RT) were going to top this event. Thanks to all the sponsors – what a wonderful night!

Lessons Learned: Two Goals for “Gitana – Life Plan”

One of my goals for this year was to publish my first book. In March, I published Gitana Life-Plan in electronic format. The eBook is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, iBook, and other outlets. A second goal for this year was to publish in print format. Drum roll…I’m happy to say that Gitana Life-Plan is now available through Amazon in print format!

When seeing Gitana Life-Plan for the first time on Amazon in March, I was thrilled to no end. I immediately went to my Kindle and bought my eBook. I clicked through the pages with a big smile. I did it! I was a published author.

Front Cover

Front Cover

However, being old school, I knew there was nothing like holding a real book in my hands. I decided to wait at least six months before publishing in print. I began the process in October, using CreateSpace (Amazon) for my POD (print on demand). Again, I was thrilled to no end when I opened the box that held my proof for review. I loved feeling the book in my hands. I loved how the cover, spine, and back turned out. I read each cream-colored page (and so did my husband!) to make sure all was correct before clicking on the “Publish” button. I’m still smiling to know that I’ve accomplished my two goals. I can’t wait until my next one comes out 🙂

Back Cover

Back Cover

Lessons Learned: Heavy Sigh Moment

I am close to publishing my contemporary romance Gitana – Life Plan. I planned to work hard this weekend to add the final touches to the manuscript document and to upload to the sites. However, the only “finish” I completed on Sunday was to shut down my computer after a frustrating few days.

On Friday, I had trouble with my work computer and my personal computer. This should have been a sign for the weekend, but I was ready to tackle my list. I went on to Amazon and set up my account and upload my nicely formatted manuscript. The good news is that you get a chance to preview what your eBook will look like on an eReader before published. For mine, the paragraph indents were too long at .5 as instructed. I now have to go back and reformat the manuscript (hoping that I don’t mess up anything else) and then upload again.

I started working on the manuscript document when suddenly my computer security software flashed a warning sign that something/someone was trying to get into my computer. Immediate shut down occurred. I stared at the black screen with a sick feeling in my stomach. My book was inside of it. I pushed the power button. The machine crackled to life, and I mean literally crackled like static. I held my breath, then swore. It shut down again. After two tries, I resuscitated my computer. Needless to say, I took the time to back up all my documents and pictures to an external drive…just in case.

Back to the book. I decided to wait on the manuscript formatting and went to upload the book cover. I wanted to see how that would look once on Amazon. I had used the size and options recommended from the class I took. Shouldn’t be an issue, right? Wrong. I couldn’t read my name or the book title. It would have been okay if it were blurred or hard to read since it is a small picture, but I couldn’t make out any of the letters. I went back to work on the photo. I stared at the picture as if it would magically correct itself, because I couldn’t remember how I managed to create it in the first place. I did a lot of guessing and now nothing worked.

So yes, this is my heavy sigh moment. I’m on the home stretch of getting my book published, but I’m tripping over my shoe strings as I run to get there. I have to stop, concentrate, and work on one issue at a time.

If you hear any grumblings, it’s probably me.

Lesson learned: Writing or Publishing – which takes longer?

I’ve been asked which one takes longer, writing or publishing a book.

My first response is to say publishing. The learning curve is huge when you do it yourself. Yes, you can have your fiction or nonfiction work uploaded within a few hours. Just follow the instructions that each distributor provides. But what if you want to be professional, polished, and serious about the success of your work? A few hours won’t do it and not the route I chose to take.

First, I wanted to make sure that ePublishing was the direction I wanted to go. I researched. I went back and forth on traditional versus independent. I continued to research, and I listed the pros and cons to each option. I attended conference sessions to hear others and collect information from their experiences.

Once I decided to be independent (self-publish), I chose to have an editor content and copy edit my story. I had to find an editor and then work within their time constraints. I had to create a book cover, format the document, create the Table of Contents, and add the copyright information and author bio. I had to learn about ISBNs, Sigil, and Calibre. Not to mention, my novel isn’t published yet…but I’m still looking at this month for the launch date.

And then I listened to the analyst in me and wondered if I should have said writing took longer. I’ve been writing for decades with the wish to publish, but I never hardcore pursued the dream. I’ve written four other stories, with only one making it to a first manuscript draft.

The first three didn’t count. Let’s just say Starsky and Hutch, the Monkees, and Elton John were main characters, and the stories should have stayed in my head. The fourth, the manuscript draft, I’m going to revisit. Next, I wrote my current story Gitana. The first rough draft took 30 days to write. The next 11 months were used to edit and polish the story (with two rewrites and family health issues to contend with). When I thought I was done, I did another edit before sending off to the editor. So if you add up the years that I’ve been writing and editing, you could say the writing takes longer.

So now which one do I believe takes longer? What comes first, the chicken or the egg?

Steps to ePublishing

This month is a heavy hitter for me in terms of getting my novel ready for publishing by the middle of March. I have a white board posted in my office with the following February tasks:

Week 1
Take author photos
Complete final edits

Week 2
Size cover photo and author photo
Format document to all eReader formats
Add cover, front and back pages, and author bio to document

Week 3
Scan the documents for a final quick read to make sure everything looks good
Order promotional materials

Week 4
Write book blurb
Finish what I hadn’t completed in the first three weeks.

I’m not sure if this will be a heavy load or not, but we’ll soon find out. I think back to the past year when I first started the process to publish my manuscript. In April, I wasn’t sure the route I would take, either solicit to agents or ePublish. I leaned toward ePublish and that’s why I went to the RT Booklover’s Convention in April, 2012, to learn more about it. I think I was overwhelmed because a little bird sat on my shoulder and pushed me in the direction of trying for an agent.

By June, a wise old owl swished that little bird off my shoulder and stamped “ePublish” into my forehead. I decided my goal was to publish by the end of the year. However, the first editor that I hired didn’t work out and caused a delay. In September I was extremely happy to find my new editor, and her first availability time to copy and content edit was in December. Her second and final round of reviews ended last month. Last month I also bought my ISBN numbers and created my cover.

I’m probably taken longer than the average new author to get her book out to the public, but I want to make sure that the final product is professional and polished as if printed by a distinguished publishing house. Next book will be a little easier.

And tonight, I introduce to you the cover to my novel Gitana – Life Plan.

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Publishing – Now versus Later

The internet created the NOW effect. The concept of multiple screens, wireless, and streaming still amazes me. What was once a dream is NOW a permanent fixture in our lives. Within seconds we’re able to communicate with family, friends, and strangers. We can research topics, watch videos, and take classes. For me, I love what it has done for the writing world.

After completing my first manuscript, back a few years, the only option available for an aspiring author was to submit query after query to agents and editors. Mainly agents. Most publishing houses were ‘agent only’ submissions. There were vanity presses hovering for your business, but those were frowned upon. Today, self-publishing is not the ‘bad’ word it used to be. And E-publishing tops the ‘in’ chart.

With my current manuscript completed, I’m ready to publish. I went to the RT Convention to learn about self-publishing (see my blogs under Conferences/Retreats). I teetered on going the traditional route versus self-publishing. I had two agents and a publisher request my manuscript. I submitted the fulls and the partial with ‘Requested Submission’ in the subject line. I haven’t heard back. I know I should have sent a follow-up email, but I wasn’t sure if that was the route I wanted to take. When I submitted, I thought I’d play the wait and see game. But then I thought…why should I wait until LATER? Get feet wet. Go for e-publishing.

The deciding factor for me was the WisRWA conference that I attended in June. I discovered that more and more authors are turning to e-publishing. Some want their books published sooner than LATER. Some have written manuscripts that do not fit the genre they write in. Some want to publish their out-of-print books, making them available to their readers. Whatever the reason, they understand that life includes the internet and that is a powerful tool.

One book can take a year to publish through the traditional route (agent/publishing house). For some, it can take longer based on need and schedules. E-published books can take a few days to a few months (based on size and quality). Now, mind you, I’m not ripping on the publishers. I think they are a great way to go…if you have the patience to wait. Actually, I’m thinking more and more that publishing houses are like fishermen. They wait and see which e-books are successful and then hook the sale for traditional print. LATER I may have the opportunity to publish traditionally, but NOW the internet offers a great opportunity that can’t be ignored.

And guess what…NOW I’m excited.