4 Things I Learned while Self-Publishing

TUWcover2#1 Outsource your cover design; however, be mindful about how much you pay. The same person who designed the Kwoted cover also created The Unhappy Wife cover. This time around, she charged $265. This is not what I expected for a simple eBook jpeg. But instead of complaining, I paid her for it and then learned about a site called Fiverr. On Fiverr, you can find anyone to do anything digital for you. By the time I was ready for a cover for the paperback, I simply signed up, listed an ad with these words: I need a 6×9 paperback cover for Lulu specifications, and then narrowed my choices down from international graphic designers. Someone I didn’t know produced the paperback cover in less than 48 hours for $15.00!!!

img_1603#2 Outsource your editor. I started to ask an English major friend to proof and edit The Unhappy Wife, but everything I’d read stated that this should be completed by a paid professional. I used a book called 2015 Guide to Self-Publishing in order to find an editor. The book lists several different editors by state. I vetted a few Florida ones through email in order to determine cost and efficiency. Each one offered a free/sample editing of the first 500-1000 words. Once I emailed the story, I compared editing style, personality and expertise. For example, the editor who charged $700 had a lot of industry knowledge and mentioned book characteristics that I wasn’t familiar with. Another editor who charged significantly less didn’t notice things like number formatting. I decided to go with someone in the middle, Erin Foster Books. She had a great personality, didn’t charge an arm and a leg, and offered two passes (read and edited twice).

#3 Outsource the formatting because it has to be precise. You probably can figure out the formatting yourself, but by the time I’d written a book, revised a book, and edited a book, the last thing I wanted to do was format a book. eBook formatting is so very finicky. It has to do with styles, style changes, making the book reflowable, etc. (big yawn). Paperback versions have to be formatted totally different than eBooks because whatever you send to your distributor is what will be printed, exactly as is. Take it from me; just have someone else do it. In my case, I asked Erin. She was wonderful and both books were published with no issues.

#4 Choose your publisher/distributor wisely. I chose Amazon because it’s the largest retailer of eBooks and authors earn 70% profit, which is the highest in the industry. But because I’m also not a fan of having all of my eggs in one monopoly basket, I chose Lulu.com to publish/distribute the paperback. Again, Lulu is known for paying the largest profit (as long as you sell from their site). This site also offers mass distribution to places like Barnes & Noble. Finally, Lulu prints books that look and feel like traditional books. I’m sure you know what I mean.

If you’re planning to self-publish a book, then I hope this information helps you in some way. If you’ve already self-published a book, then what else would you add? You know I’m all about helping one another!

Happy Halloween and Good Luck w/NaNoWriMo!

raven-988218_1280Happy Halloween Everyone! That is, if you celebrate that type of thing. As for me and my house…just kidding. Halloween is fun. I will probably pass out candy because I LOVE seeing little kids in their costumes. 👻🍬👀

 

 

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AND…Good Luck to all of you participating in NaNoWriMo! I hope you meet all of your November writing goals 🤓✍🏾️📖

Art Inspired

Last year, I listened to Kendrick Lamar’s How Much Does a Dollar Cost? over and over again. I tried to exhume every bit of meaning from the words. And then, I was inspired to write Transient, my perspective on giving to the homeless. That’s how art works, right? You inspire me; I re-shape it and inspire someone else.

A month or so later, Dwight and I saw the amazing recreation of Unconditional Surrender.

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Some of you might remember its iconic newspaper image from V-J Day. Since capturing the sculpture, I’ve learned that this same statue lived in San Diego and then New York. You can find replications in New Jersey, Hawaii and France! Art inspired art times three. Wait! Times four because my photo prompted Juliet Q. to pen Sweet Surrender, a Haiku!

I continued to document life with a full moon post and I’ve shared how the image moved Authenticitee to write a new poem. Consequently, inspiration continued to flow to another continent. Mek wrote an amazing environmental post based on my Shared Space picture.

These connections have helped me see the intricacies of life. I met Authenticitee, Juliet and Mek through blogging, but like tapestry, our lives were woven together because of the distinct ways we express our views of the world. I’m amazed by how art inspires art and how it provides a dimension to being human that other interactions sometimes do not.

Does art inspire you? If so, let us know how. If not, how do you maintain creativity?

By the way, T.Wayne gets an honorable mention. His blog inspired me to begin with an embedded video. He blogs about music and its influence in his life by using a similar format.

Four Considerations as you Publish Beyond your Blog

 

Image. ©2016 All Rights Reserved K E Garland

Do you want to publish outside of your blog? If so, then here are four things that might help as you journey down that path.

Check Publication Requirements Research the publication’s rules about previously published stories. For example, an editor loved my Gratitude article but his strict no prior publication rule meant the original, which was featured on my blog, was a no-go. He, like most editors, wanted first rights. And even after he published a revised version, I had to wait 30 days before I could share it publicly. Other places won’t consider your stories, even if they’ve only been on your personal blog. So, if you plan to write for someone else, be discerning. You might want to start saving those really great pieces for other opportunities.

Prepare for Editing This might seem like common sense. Publications have editors and editors have processes. I guess what I wasn’t 100% ready for is someone else rearranging the beloved words to which I was inextricably tied. Also, unexpected was how one publication chose to run my entire moniker, instead of my pen name. I was like what the what? But I inhaled and exhaled. The message was bigger than the byline. Another publication asked for edits that took a few hours on top of the weeks that it had already taken me to research the unfamiliar topic. But again, I revised because the point of it all was greater than the extra time it took to double-check information.

Roll with Rejection Rejection is a huge part of writing. Although I’ve secured a few popular publications in the past, I’ve also counted twice as many rejections. And depending on where you submit, that’s what they’re called, rejections. But I don’t get caught up in them. Blogging helps with this part. Take that Breast Cancer Awareness article, for example. I was prepared with images and a publication date to post here. If the newspaper declined, then it would have been shared with each of you anyway. That’s how I roll with it. The comfort of having a blog allows me to go with the flow. No matter the outcome, I have a medium and trusted community.

Remember your Purpose What’s your purpose for writing in a public forum? My purpose is explicit. I want to use written words to promote discussion and nudge readers to think outside of societal boxes. One way to do that is to publish with bigger venues. They provide a wider audience. However, it’s super easy to get caught up in accumulating bylines. That’s not my overall goal. Reminding yourself of your specific purpose can keep you grounded and also connected to the larger objective.

Hope these help as you navigate the public writing terrain. Have you published beyond your blog? What else would you add?

Be Mindful

Hate to gross you out but you know I can’t pass up an opportunity to share a lesson learned. What you’re looking at is my burned hand. It’s in process of healing. On December 30th, I held a convo with my oldest daughter, Kesi, while simultaneously pouring boiling, hot water into a mug. Because I was listening to her and not paying attention to how the scalding water got into the cup, I totally missed the destination and emptied it over my left hand.

Here’s why I’m sharing.

A lot of my writing is about being mindful and paying attention in grandiose ways: yoga, eating, working, relationships. Really, we should be mindful in each moment. Either I should have poured water, or I should have finished my conversation. As simple as it seems, I shouldn’t have attempted both. But I’m a product of my environment. Our culture values multi-tasking. However, it didn’t serve me well here. Once my hand was on fire, whatever we discussed turned insignificant. Cold water. Neosporin. Gauze. Holding back a teardrop. That’s where my attention shifted. And trust me, that’s all I was focused on at the time.

It’s really hard to be mindful in each moment. Today, I’ll just start with paying attention to how I pour hot water.

*Honing One’s Craft

Hone (v). refine or perfect something over a period of time

My editor and writing consultant suggested that I start a blog to “hone my craft.” I figured she meant that I needed to sharpen my skills. You know learn creative ways to introduce content, like how to begin posts with definitions. Cause you know those definition introductions can be cute and engaging, but beginning a story this way could also be rather trite. I assumed this was the type of thing she wanted me to refine. Don’t judge. It’s the English teacher in me.

Similarly, a couple of writer friends suggested blogging as a way to sell my book. As it turns out, this is a lot more challenging than one can imagine. Especially because I’m not sure if I should do a hard sell, kwotedor an implicit sell. In a way, this too, includes honing one’s craft, as you have to cleverly use words to self-promote. And I’ve decided I don’t wanna necessarily be that blogger. Well, not all the time.

So I joined a couple of Blogging U classes.

Writing 201: Poetry helped me to hone my innovation. It lasted 14 days and I’d promised myself that I would participate each night and finish each challenge. Haikus, sonnets and acrostics got my left brain flowing. Do you know I even wrote a concrete poem shaped like a house that professed love for my toy poodle? Now, that’s some honing. These challenges helped though. I’ve even considered interspersing poetry throughout another book I’m writing. Equally important, Writing 201 introduced me to the blogging community at large and helped me to gain a bit of blogging confidence.

I figured that if I could do Writing 201, then surely Writing 101 would be just as breezy. I was wrong and I misread the directions. Instead of 14 days, this one lasted 21 days and occurred right at the end of my university’s semester. Still, I honed my niche: creative nonfiction. I practiced telling authentic stories without offending the other people who are involved. This is no easy feat. And I’m not entirely sure I’ve done well with this self-imposed task. But it’s something that I have to do well because I’ve only tipped the iceberg describing the people who have impacted my life, both negatively and positively. Again, all of this helped me wiggle a little farther into the blogging community.

Ultimately, I’m grateful that my editor suggested a blog to hone my craft. I’ve not only learned how to improve my writing, but I’ve also become a part of a group of supportive bloggers who seem to genuinely have one another’s best interests at heart.

*This was written as a part of the Creative Blogger nomination from Marquessa.