Category Archives: publishing
It’s getting close now. In The Blood comes out July 1st. I’ve been working on this series for so long, and it’s down to the final few days before it comes to fruition.
I suppose I’m like a lot of authors, alternating between extreme excitement and panic attacks.
I go through all the “What Ifs” that plague every introverted creative person. What if no one likes it? What if there’s some horrible error I’ve overlooked? What if my best isn’t good enough? What if it isn’t perfect? What if on the morning after, I feel the way Victor Frankenstein did, looking on his creation not with love but with horror? That is the grown up voice of worry, born of a lifetime of self-doubt.
But then there is the excited childlike part of me that just wants to let it go with joy and wonder at having created something out of nothing, a world born of “what-if,” peopled with characters that leapt out of my brain fully formed. That child in me hopes other people will go along for the ride, suspend their disbelief and play the game of make-believe that I’ve created.
It’s the child in me that daydreamed of being a writer. That inner child is fueled by curiosity and enthusiasm and imagination along with a desire to share and find others who will join in for the love of story.
All my favorite stories were about imperfect people who stumbled and fell and lost their way on their journey. People who suffered and fought and loved hard and took risks, facing danger from overwhelming obstacles and foes. I sometimes felt sorry for the villain, even when I hated their actions. The best stories, for me, were ones that invoked empathy, that brought me to tears, caused me to shout in frustration, made me laugh out loud, and if I didn’t smile at the end, still I felt a sense of completion and satisfaction in the way the story reached completion. I didn’t need happily ever after as long as it brought a sense of closure to the experience.
That’s what books should be, after all. An experience.
There is a give and take between the writer and the reader. A shared collaboration between their imaginations.
When I read Jane Eyre, for example, though nearly two hundred years separate me from Charlotte Bronte, I’m still bringing my imagination to mesh with hers. I’m playing her game of make-believe. Letting her lead me into a world where a naive young governess and a lonely but rich gentleman who’s been disappointed by love and life can find an understanding between them, a kinship of spirit, that transcends the darkness they find in the world around them.
I don’t make any pretense to that sort of greatness. But the same basic rules of the game apply. I, as writer, create the story, while you, as reader, agree to believe the impossible and to care about people who never were.
I hope that I’ve made a good one. I hope you find it entertaining. I hope that when you finish In The Blood, you’ll want more. That’s the best that I can hope, and it’s certainly good enough for me.
So to quiet the negative “what ifs,” I fill my mind with hope and with story, planning for the next adventure and trusting that you’ll follow where I lead.
That’s all any author can hope for.
Book Two, Out For Blood, is being edited with the plan of publishing this winter. Book Three, Trial By Blood, is partly written, and I intend to finish it sometime this summer so it can be published next year. I have several more outlined with ideas and possibilities for all these characters long into the future. But all of that depends on my book finding readers who are ready to join me on the ride.
I hope that you are one such person.
In The Blood
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-947181-00-7
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-947181-01-4
Available for Pre-order from your favorite online outlet
Autographed Paperbacks can be ordered directly from Eagle Heights Press.
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When my review copy of In The Blood arrived, I was a little overwhelmed by holding it in my hand and seeing it in person, feeling the weight of it, breathing in the new book smell of paper and ink.
Those of you who know me and have followed me for a while know that I was devastated last fall by the loss of my former teacher, Nicki Alexopoulos. I had already intended to mention her in the dedication to one of my novels, but I knew it had to be this one after the events of last year. I hope to present a signed copy to her daughter, and I do hope that she would be proud to see the work I’ve put in to make this book happen.
I started writing the book back in 2012, and in the spring of 2013, I made a first attempt to self publish it. After meeting with an editor at the World Horror Convention, however, I was convinced to take it down and do some major revision. He was right. The book was pretty good, but it wasn’t fully ready to be out there yet. Over the four years since then, I reworked the manuscript and spent time learning about the business side of being an author. I took some online classes, went to some writer’s retreats, and even took a course in forensics so I could bring that knowledge to bear in the novel as well. I also quit my job as a library supervisor and adjunct English professor in order to focus on my writing full time.
Though I could have gone the traditional route with an agent, there are very few who are willing to take a risk on a first time author who approaches them with a series rather than a standalone novel. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever be interested in submitting a manuscript that way, but for this series, starting my own publishing house and doing the work myself was a better choice.
Book Two, Out for Blood, will come out sometime next winter. The book is written and is in the process of being edited. Book Three, Trial by Blood will come out in 2018. I don’t want to make people wait too long for sequels. Those three books finish a story-arch. However, I have ideas and outlines for several more books beyond that, so if this series takes off, then I’ll definitely be working on those stories for a long time to come.
There isn’t room in the book to list everyone who’s helped me along on my journey. I’d like to list a few of them here, though the list is by no means complete.
- My coworkers at Smiley Library – Cindy, Leasa, Carrie, Crystal, and John – who put up with six years of me talking about what I wanted to do and who were supportive throughout the process. They were inspiring, helpful, encouraging, and understanding, and they never made me feel that I was making a mistake when I decided to go pursue my dream. Thank you.
- Crystal appears as a character in my novel, and I mention her in the afterward of the book. She asked to be in the book, and after I made the character and gave her life, it turned out she has some pretty tragic things happen to her. Sorry Crystal! I swear, the characters made me! And I promise, this won’t be the only time she’s mentioned. What happens to her will have a ripple effect in later books.
- The students who became like my children were also a great inspiration and encouragement. John, Stazhia, Cameron, Denise, DaSean, Kelsey, Brenna, Cortney, Thomas, Jordan, Kayla, Jessica, Geofrey, Lindsey, Kelly Jo, Eldar, Megan, Tyler, Bailey, Cecilia, Mariah, Roger, Aubrey, Ginney, Wynter, Dani, Danielle, Shamika, Marco, Vin, Drew, Angelica, Darrell, Jane, Adam, as well as my fabulous student intern assistant Miranda….THANK YOU! I love you all dearly.
- Keith Abernathy taught my forensics course and never failed to come by my desk just to chat and invite me to things. He passed away last month, and I miss him very much. He was so encouraging and helpful and such an inspiration to all his students. I intend to dedicate Book Two to him. I will be forever grateful for the things I learned from him.
- My online friends are completely amazing. Those I met because of True Blood or through writing amazing characters together are truly some of the best people in the world. Thank you to Julie, Jenny, Louise, Emily, Susy, Shanda, Melissa, Mayra, Shawna, Shyanne, Suzanne, Cassy, Sharon, Joie, Jyoti, Michaela, Elizabeth, Sha, Latoya, Catherine, Tammy, Geena, Anitra, Kristie, Frank, Missy, Kim, Cyndi, Dawndela, Holly, Maxine, Misty, Rima, Rachael, Mimi, Sara, Tiffany, Renee, Dawn, Kira, Sarah, CeCe, Jennie, and especially Wendy and Andrea who are gone far too soon and I miss horribly. These are only a few. There are many more on Twitter, but I think they know I adore them. I try to tell them as often as I can.
- My muse and favorite writing partner Bekah who makes me shine and feel inspired all the time, thank you for putting up with me, for supporting me, and for being so completely amazing. You make me look forward to every day.
- My writing friends through conferences, retreats, and FB and Twitter groups, I thank you. You’ve taught me about craft, and you’ve been a constant source of help, inspiration, and encouragement. My writing buddies from Room 217, THANK YOU. I love you guys. You are all completely amazing. And thank you to the Horror Writers Association for being such a great organization. I’ve learned so much from all of you, and I couldn’t have finished this project without the connections I’ve made there.
- My friends Erin and Anthony at Vamped and The Vampirologist, who have known me now for over five years, have been fantastically supportive throughout this journey. Thank you for the laughs, the research material, the help, and the friendship.
- To the friends and family who have known me in the years before the internet and who have backed me up as I tried new things, THANK YOU! Your support means everything.
- And to my parents for whom there are not enough words of thanks. I have been truly lucky in my life to have parents who understood and believed in my dreams. Thank you.
And with that, I’d like to thank you. If you’re reading this, you’re part of my journey too. Even if your name doesn’t appear above, I am no less grateful for you.
If you’re reading it, I’d love to know! Find me on Goodreads!
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So you’ve written a great book. You’ve had a good editor go through it to make the manuscript the best it can be. You’ve bought a fabulous cover from a graphic artist. You’ve uploaded the book to CreateSpace, Smashwords, Kindle, Nook, Kobo. It’s there, ready to be read. Only problem is, you are afraid of the whole selling aspect of the process. Facebook and Twitter and blogging seem like distractions from what you really want to do, which is sit alone in a quiet space and write your heart out.
I know a lot of authors who are introverted people. That makes sense, really. Writing is primarily a solitary activity. That personality trait is an asset to writers in that respect. However, there are some serious downsides to being an introverted author as well.
Just the other day, I saw an author post on her Facebook page “I’m not really comfortable with self-promotion,” and then she proceeded awkwardly asking people to sort of, kind of, maybe look at her book if it wasn’t too much trouble.
I understand wanting to seem humble, but this sort of approach to the situation only made her seem to have no confidence in the quality of her work. No one will buy a book from a person who seems to feel that they’re not offering anything of value. If you’re not certain of yourself, no one else will be either. And if you’re not comfortable telling people about your work, then maybe a career in writing is not for you.
Yes, being an author is about writing. But you also have to think about the business end of the process too. You’re creating a product. That product won’t sell if you’re not willing to put yourself out there and promote it.
Even famous authors who “have people for that” still do their own promotion in addition. They go on book tours and to conferences. They make speeches. They make commercials. They blog about their projects. They tweet about their work. They are interviewed by journalists. All of that is self-promotion. And that is half of the work of being an author, if you plan on making a career out of it.
You are not just selling the book. You’re selling yourself. You’re selling your name as a brand. And people want confidence in the product they’re buying, whether it’s a novel or a pair of pants. Coke didn’t become a household name without the executives being willing to promote it. The same is true for authors.
The main problem seems to me to be a matter of confidence and of not wanting to seem like you’re an egomaniac. But it’s important to remember that being confident does not make you a braggart. Unless you plan on just passing around a copy of your book for friends and family or are content being the next Emily Dickenson and waiting to publish after you’re long dead, you’re going to have to get over the fear of self-promotion.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Who else knows your story better than you do?
- Who else understands your vision completely?
- Who else do you trust to fully express those ideas to others?
Even if you’ve got a publishing contract with a top agency, you are going to be expected to step forward and say “Hey! I wrote this thing, I’m proud of it, and I think you’ll like it because of X, Y, Z.” And if you’re self-publishing, there is just you as a one-person show to sell others on your work. So stop selling yourself short and get busy!
Having an online presence only works if you make it work for you. That doesn’t mean posting “BUY MY BOOK” over and over. It means building a rapport with people who are interested in the same things you’re interested in. It means networking with other authors in your same genre. And yes, occasionally saying “MY BOOK IS AWESOME, AND YOU SHOULD BUY IT!” Your writing should make you excited. And excitement is infectious.
If you think your work isn’t good enough, work harder. Make it better. It’s that simple.
If you’ve done your best, then get busy telling people about it so they can be as energized by what you’ve written as you were when you sat down in that room by yourself and let your imagination go. You’ve got to be passionate, head-over-your-heels, bursting-at-the-seams excited about your story to carry it through to the end when you’re writing. Let that passion drive you and guide you to then share your creation with the world. Because that is what is at the heart of self-promotion. It’s not begging for money. It’s giving readers all of the emotion and effort that you put into what you made. It’s sharing your imagination with the world.