Launching a Book! (Panic Room to the Left)

My first book is releasing in ten days.  TEN DAYS!!!  I think it’s safe to confess that I am completely and totally freaking out right now!   I still have to reformat my manuscript for distribution on Smashwords.  (Apparently, e-books don’t do tab indents.  The only way I start a new paragraph is with tab indents!  Maybe it’s my academic background, but tab indents are like breathing to me.  I don’t think about it; I just do it.  And now they all have to come out.)

It looks like my print copies will be arriving on the actual day of my release, so that’s a load off.  I’m doing a release party and book signing that Saturday here where I live, and it kind of helps if you actually have books to sign…at a book signing.  But now comes another problem–I ordered 30.  (I have to pay for this upfront, and I am NOT Bill Gates, you feel me?)  I figured that would be enough for my friends and family to get one to Oooh and Aaah over for a couple days and leave me a few to send out for promotion.  Well, since announcing the event, I’m getting a lot of great response. Even people at my day job that I wouldn’t have thought would be interested are saying they’re coming–and want a copy.   Is 30 enough?  Should I get more?  If so, how many more?  (Wait–how much money was in my checking account again…….)

Promotion.  This, I feel, is quite possibly going to turn out to be the bane of my existence.  I have a FB account and only FB for years.  I now have an author page on FB, this blog, and a Twitter account (when I swore for years I would NEVER “tweet”.  I have now had to eat those words in a very large slice of humble pie).  I don’t feel like I’m on any of these nearly enough. Not like all the other authors are.  Is this bad? Does it make a difference?  Heck, is anyone even reading this post out there?   I have no idea…the indie world is now a vast ocean filled with hundreds upon thousands of great books and crappy books and kinda-good books, and I’m over in the corner going “PICK ME!  OO! PICK ME! (For some reason, I saw myself as Donkey from Shrek just now.)  Then, comes my other fear–Dear God, what if they pick me, and they HATE IT.  Most people assume that authors fear not making any money.  I’m not afraid I won’t make a million dollars–I KNOW that won’t happen. My absolute fear is that this story I have enjoyed for 18 months won’t resonate with anyone.

The upside to promotion– a wonderful book blog I follow, Book Club Gone Wrong (check her out, she’s awesome!), was celebrating 1,000 likes on their Facebook page with a 12-hour author take-over.  I figured “what the heck” and submitted an interest form.  I really didn’t think she would select me to participate since I’m virtually unknown and am “technically” still not published yet.  Lo and behold, a couple hours later I got an email asking which time slot I wanted on the event!  I couldn’t believe it!  Turned out I was going to be the closing author.  Wow!  Then, the panic set in.  What was I going to post about?  What if everyone dropped off when my turn came up? (Boy, my mental panic room has been getting a lot of use lately!)  I did two giveaways, and let the rest of my posts be about letting the lovely folks know about Seeking Solace and about me.  They threw me some really great and serious questions about my writing process, how I’ve managed self-publishing, what inspires me to write.  It was a great conversation with people from all over the globe!  (I felt like a pin-ball machine at times trying to make sure I kept up with all the comments, but I loved it.)

The other thing I’ve been freaking out about–smut (or the lack thereof).  It feels like all the book teasers you see for contemporary romance are RACY.  Which, let me clarify, is NOT a bad thing.  I read those books.  I love those books. Here’s my thing–my books (at least so far) really don’t tend to get that explicit in the love scenes.  There’s physicality, but in the end, I leave the really good stuff to your imagination, not in black and white on the page.  So, the visuals on my teasers are rather tame.  My panic about this— are readers going to bypass my book because there isn’t some almost naked couple on a bed in the teaser or a naked male torso on the cover?  I hope not.  (The semi-pathetic flip-side to this panic— my mother is going to have a stroke if she ever reads this book. For her, my tame little book would be the equivalent of reading erotica.  At least in her mind.)

So there’s the freak-out going on in my head.  It will likely continue for some time.  Heaven help me!  In the meantime, I’m going to leave you with my 2 tame, but lovely (I feel) teasers.

Teaser 1

Teaser 2

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Love Your Beta (and Other Thoughts on Self-Publishing from a Whirling Mind)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my writing blog.  I find that I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to juggle this writer thing with the day job and still finding time to just “be me” and “have a life”.  Hopefully, one day I’ll get it all figured out, but until then, I hope those of you who are reading bear with me.  🙂

Since I’m going the indie route, I’m finding that I have to be all things to all people as I work towards publishing the first novel.  I am author, editor, secretary, finance manager, public relations staff, social media analyst, CEO, and I don’t know what all!  I’m in the middle of final edits to my debut novel, and in and around finishing those, I am also researching blog tours, who will take an ARC to review my book, which site is the best distributor for ebooks, Kindle Select—Do I?  Don’t I?, planning a release party, setting up my business name so I can collect royalties…. “ET CETERA, ET CETERA, ET CETERA (**cue Yul Brunner from The King and I here).

More often than not, I’m left just wondering if I’ll ever get it all figured out.  The successful indie authors I follow and love make it all look so easy and effortless, although I am positive they’ve been where I currently am at some point when beginning their life as a publisher/author.  The one thing I can say is that many of them have been so very kind to share their insights and tips and tricks with newbies like me out here.  That means the world to someone carefully inching their way down the path to publication.

The other thing I am finding is my life preserver in the ocean of self-publication—my beta-readers.  Do not underestimate the contribution of an excellent and thorough beta-reader.  At this point, two of them are more like critique partners than betas.  Line by line, page by page, chapter after chapter—copious notes and markings indicating what is working and also what isn’t and habits I tend to have with phrasing.  (Apparently, my characters were tending to blink and wink a LOT, also cocking/raising/lifting/wagging/shifting eyebrows.  I’m guessing when I was writing the original draft during NaNoWriMo I was giving them temporary Tourette’s or something… )

For a long time, I’ve been very apprehensive about giving my drafts away for first-looks and/or beta-reads.  You spend countless hours over many months crafting and writing a book that feels like it has become part of your soul, and you don’t want anyone else telling you it sucks (or your characters have so many facial tics going on that people will think they’re tripping on some kind of experimental drug).  It’s scary revealing this deeply personal work of art to the world.  It’s your baby, your “precious”, and you don’t want it harmed.   So I put it off for as long as remotely possible, afraid of what people would say about it.

Nevertheless, if I want to become a published author, then I have to eventually let people read my book.  So I finally sent it out to my betas.  Surprisingly, when I got my draft back, marks and notes on every line, I found that my feelings weren’t hurt.  I found that I was excited!  I was dying to clutch those pages to my chest, speed away home, and begin working on “my precious”.  Why?  Because I knew that going through the feedback would only make my story better.  The notations weren’t only just corrections or negatives; they were also positive comments on what was working or what my beta was liking.  I also found that many of the second thoughts or changes I had already been thinking about myself were often being confirmed by my beta’s notes.  That made me feel secure in the knowledge that I was in tune enough to the story to know what needed shifting and confirmed my hope that I wasn’t so attached to the story “as it was” that I would be too obstinate to make it better.  That in itself was quite liberating.  I have embraced completing this final revision of my novel and know that in the end, this story and these characters will be even more engaging and touching than I had originally conceived them to be.  Don’t be afraid of your beta-readers!  Love your betas!  (Especially if you have awesome ones like I do!)

 

**Publication update:  Seeking Solace now has an April 2015 release date!  Stay tuned for cover reveal and release day announcement!

**Meme credit to compositionatthebeach.com