Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What Everyone Needs to Know About Self-Publishing

Sandra here with a good friend, Ann Lee Miller from my local chapter of ACFW.  Our group is CWOW Christian Writers of the West and you may recognize us because we sponsor the Phoenix Rattler Contest.  

Ann Lee  became our president and innovated some great projects and formats for our meetings.  CWOW grew under her leadership and she has been a wonderful inspiration for all of us.

Ann Lee is joining us today in Seekerville and will be talking about her experience in self-publishing her four novels.  She is also offering a free e-book copy of her first novel Kicking Eternity to all of you who request a copy.  A generous offer Ann Lee.   We hope you enjoy your day with us. 

[Note: Anyone who who would like to receive a free e-copy of Kicking Eternity, you may request your book at AnnLeeMiller.com and click on Contact button.]

Grab a cup of coffee and some pastries we have laid out on the sideboard and let me introduce you to Ann Lee Miller.

Three months ago I would have been the last writer on the planet to self-publish e-books. Now, after hearing the voice of God and choking down a hairball of pride, I’m a lot like Paul who persecuted Christians, then became one.
I was the 2011 president of the Phoenix chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. My BA in creative writing swung discretely from my belt beside the inscription of my highly respected literary agent. I’d notched a long list of writers’ conferences into the leather. My backpack was stuffed with worn out copies of Donald Maass’ books, Jack M. Bickham’s Scene and Structure, and Renni Browne and Dave King’s Self-editing for Fiction Writers. Indie publishing was fine for people who were impatient or not quite ready for “real” publishing. If anyone could land a traditional publisher, I could.
The ten year anniversary of when God called me to write loomed in January. The popularity of e-books and e-readers had started the book industry down the same road the music world had plummeted when people started downloading songs from the internet. E-books sold cheaper. They could be published by authors without the aid of a publishing house.
Publishers’ revenues shrunk. They laid off workers, published fewer books, stuck with well-established authors, and took risks on fewer new novelists. Even literary agents struggled to stay in the business. My agent of two and a half years let go all her unpublished clients, including me, to pursue more lucrative business ventures.           
On February 17, at the lowest point of my despair, my son, who followed the decline of the music industry, suggested I indie e-publish my four completed novels. At that moment, God infused me with hope and directed me to do something I never would have considered without His prompting. Since then, I feel like He is jostling me forward, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”
Seekerville’s Sandra Leesmith asked me to lay out my indie publishing journey for those of you who are considering taking this road.


  1. I pray for God’s enabling each day before I begin my day. Then, I pray through each obstacle I encounter as I write.
  2. Robin Lee Hatcher inspired me to recruit friends who might be willing to pray for my writing and publishing long before I published.
  3. I update my prayer team with specific requests and keep them in the loop of my progress.


The cover is the single most important advertising element you have. Hiring a graphic artist to do your cover can cost $50-$1,000. Ask your friends for recommendations. I would be less concerned about whether they have done book covers in the past and more concerned about whether I liked their portfolio.
I used Robin Roberts at RedRedDesign.com and was very happy with the result. I sent Robin a synopsis, head shot of my heroine I had clipped from a magazine, photographs of the town where the book is set, detailed descriptions of each character, and a file of book covers I liked.
He did three rough sketches for me to choose from, or he was willing to start over if nothing caught me. Next came a detailed pencil sketch. I made suggestions. He painted an oil painting (which I get to keep!), and e-mailed me a photo of the cover with text. I told him I wanted more girly looking text. He wasn’t satisfied with the color of the ocean and fiddled with the painting. The next day he sent me a new shot of the cover. I approved the new cover and noted that the ocean really did look better. He had to let the oils dry for several days before the painting could be scanned and a final cover jpg e-mailed to me.

Manuscript Prep

  1. Edit: I felt like one of the most important things I could do to insure the success of my book was to hire a freelance editor. Editing prices range from $800 to $3,000. Every manuscript can benefit from line editing (grammar, punctuation, wording), and most need substantive (plotting, characterization, big picture issues) editing to some degree. Editors I have used are C.S. Lakin (LiveWriteThrive.com) and Christina Berry Tarabochia (ChristinaBerry.com). There are many other excellent freelance editors who can be found through AmericanChristianFictionWriters.com or by asking your writer friends for recommendations.
  2. Fix: I tend to make every change my critique partners and editors suggest, so I tried to weigh each comment carefully to determine whether it would improve the quality of my story.
  3. Proofread: After implementing the changes, I had my manuscript proofread. I didn’t want to risk typos in the final copy. Proofreading starts at $400.
  4. Add Additional Content:
  • Endorsements—I asked a couple of writer friends if they would endorse my book because I wanted to make my book as much like a traditionally published book as possible.
  • Statement that this is a work of fiction. (The events and characters described herin are imaginary, etc.)
  • Copyright—copyright is established by inserting “Copyright © 2012 Author’s Name”
  • Copyright statement—“This book remains the copyrighted property of the owner and may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical, without the express written consent of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.”
  • Note from the Author, if you have one. Example from Kicking Eternity: “For you turtle enthusiasts—I am aware that fires are outlawed on the beach during turtle nesting season. I hope you will cut me some slack for burning imaginary fires in the middle of nesting season. I assure you, no turtles were harmed in the course of writing this book.”
  • Author info—To learn more about [Author’s Name]’s books and what is coming next from this talented author, visit [Author’s website], Twitter [name], or Facebook Author Page at [Author’s page address].
  • Dedication Page.
  • Title Page.
  • Acknowledgements—Not all authors write acknowledgements, but I read other authors’ acknowledgements with rapt attention, so I was thrilled to write my own. I placed them at the end of the book out of personal preference, but they often appear at the beginning.
  • The following are usually placed at the end of the book. Author photo, brief bio, and other titles from this author. Because my books will be coming out within the next year, I added the release dates and short description of each book.
  1. Format: Smashwords.com gives detailed instructions on how to format a manuscript for e-publishing. It took me (actually, it was my fantastic husband) approximately four hours of work. For $100-$200, an expert can be hired to do the job.
  2. Upload: My husband uploaded my book to Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. Each site walked him through the process. There are many more sites where you may upload your book for sale.


  1. I formed an LLC. Each state has its own application process. In Arizona, the form is about a page long and LLC status is granted three months after applying. This protects me from being sued and enables me to keep my business and personal finances formally separated.
  2. Since I went the LLC route, I needed to apply for an EIN number from http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=102767,00.html. This was a very simple task.
  3. When attempting to open a business bank account, I discovered my bank requires waiting until the LLC status has been granted. Also, my bank requires a $1,500 minimum balance for business accounts. Failure to maintain this balance will result in my being charged $7 per month.
  4. I am considering opening a business Pay Pal account, but I will only need this if I sell books directly from my Website.
  5. Since I have earned $2.10 so far, I have not yet opened personal and business freshbooks accounts for free at https://ardg.freshbooks.com/refer/www. I will need to affix my business e-mail to the business account and my personal e-mail to the personal account. I will be able to send my business invoices for personal expenses to reimburse myself, versus paying myself for expenses out of profits (this avoids double taxation).
  6. I also will need to open an Expensify account to keep track of my expenses. This will keep things clean and put the most money in my pocket. I will then need to link that to my personal Freshbooks account in order to invoice my business for my expenses.


  1. Blog Tour: I contacted as many bloggers as I could who might be interested in promoting Christian contemporary romances and offered to do an interview or guest post (like this one) and giveaway. I scheduled a different blog stop each day for the month of June. Most bloggers ask for a head shot, jpg of the cover, bio, and book blurb. I recommend creating a spreadsheet to keep all the details in order.
  2. Facebook: I wrote to friends and asked if they would like to help me by reading my book, posting reviews and passing my book on to their friends.
  3. Twitter: Tweet as often as you can with the goal of building relationships and occasionally advertising your book. I highly recommend Joel Comm’s Twitter Power.
  4. Speaking: I arranged speaking engagements in the two colleges I attended, the town where the books are set, and my hometown.
  5. News Releases: I am sending news releases about my book to the above locations.
  6. Kindle Select: Amazon’s three month long marketing program I plan to participate in.

This is more of a beginner’s testimonial than the last word on indie publishing. My favorite book on the topic is Jeff Bennington’s Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on e-publishing. 

If you’ve read this far you deserve a free book! Contact me through AnnLeeMiller.com, and I’ll send you a free e-copy of Kicking Eternity.  (click contact button)

Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives. Ann’s Kicking Eternity launches June 1; The Art of My Life, September 1; Avra’s God, December 1; Tattered Innocence March 1, 2013.

Short Blurb on Kicking Eternity:
Fresh from college, Raine scores a teaching job at New Smyrna Beach Surf and Sailing Camp. A crush on the camp rebel/art teacher threatens to derail her plans to teach orphans in Africa. The broody recreation director spots her brothers meth addiction and Raine's enabling. Raine believes she is helping her brother--until lives are threatened. 

Back cover copy, Kickin Eternity:
Stuck in sleepy New Smyrna Beach one last summer, Raine socks away her camp pay checks, worries about her druggy brother, and ignores trouble: Cal Koomer. She’s a plane ticket away from teaching orphans in Africa, and not even Cal’s surfer six-pack and the chinks she spies in his rebel armor will derail her.
The artist in Cal begs to paint Raine’s ivory skin, high cheek bones, and internal sparklers behind her eyes, but falling for her would caterwaul him into his parents’ live. No thanks. The girl was self-righteous waiting to happen. Mom served sanctimony like vegetables, three servings a day, and he had a gut full.
Rec Director Drew taunts her with “Rainey” and calls her an enabler. He is so infernally there like a horsefly—till he buzzes back to his ex.
Raine’s brother tweaks. Her dream of Africa dies small deaths. Will she figure out what to fight for and what to free before it’s too late?

Thanks Ann Lee.  What a great outline of the self-publishing world.  If you have any question, Ann Lee will be here today to respond.  Enjoy you day with us Ann Lee.  


Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome, Ann! Wishing you lots of luck in your new venture.

I'm curious about purchasing an ISBN.

I know Bowker has a service that allows you to do this. Does Smashwords?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh, here's the link to Bowker.


Ausjenny said...

Good to see you here Ann, Its interesting reading what you wrote. i am going to send this link to a friend who is self publishing to maybe give her a few ideas (publicity wise).

I have a copy of your book to read by next week when you are on my blog.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Thanks, Tina. :)

Smashwords gives you a free ISBN number, but it is only valid for books you post on Smashwords.

Since it is not mandatory to have an ISBN number to sell books on Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com, I did not purchase an additional number.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Jenny, nice to run into you again! Thanks for sending my blog to your friend. I'm a newbie, but it will give her a starting point.

Hope you enjoy Kicking Eternity! And I'm so looking forward to visiting you--although in person would be better. :)

Iola said...

Awesome cover - I think that was well worth the investment. It looks really professional, which is important as a lot of self-published (and even small-press published) books are really let down by their covers.

Iola said...

Also... note that if you do sign up for Amazon's KDP, your book can't be for sale on any other website during that time (so you can't have it in KDP and on Smashwords at the same time).

Sally said...

Hi, Ann! I am a freelance editor and I have a question about the editing part of e-book publishing. Do you find that authors tend to not have their books edited like they would be if they went through the normal publishing house route? Thanks for the great info on this blog!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Anne, I hopped over to your beautiful website (drooling, because it is so professionally beautiful!) and then to Amazon to sneak a peek at the latest book...

The formatting is different than I expected. There's no indent or spacing for paragraphs in the sample. Is this how it comes through on an e-reader?

I'm learning my way around all of this stuff (like any author these days) and that surprised me. Is it by choice?

Thank you for a great tutorial on the step-by-step process. It puts e-publishing into perspective and makes it look doable.

Even for techno-challenged geeks like me!

So tell us why you made the jump into e-pub/indie pub. Did you get tired of waiting for that first contract because we understand that side of things! And would you classify Raine's book as Young Adult or romance or Women's Fiction? Or just plain, good fiction?

Thanks for taking the time to answer these and welcome to Seekerville!

Ausjenny said...

Ruthy I have the kindle version of Ann's book and the paragraphs are indented but there is no space between paragraphs.
but unlike a netgalley the speech has its own line and its set out well.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Good morning and what great questions for Ann and I am going to wait and let her answer them.

However I can answer Sally. Authors SHOULD have their self-published books edited. Ann mentioned two types of editing. Publishing houses use two types also. Both are very different skills so you need both. The first editor checks for content and the final editor is a copy editor and they check spelling and grammar.

I'm sure Ann will agree with me on this.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Waving at Jenny.

I would love to visit in person also.

But isn't it amazing how we can chat from clear across the world as if we were right next door?

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Iola, Sounds like you've done some self publishing yourself or worked with someone who has.

Thanks for the heads up. (Although I must admit I have no clue LOL) Good thing Ann Lee is coming.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Ruthy, I'm with you. Self-publishing has always sounded so daunting, but Ann Lee makes it sound doable.

I have some of my previously published books that I have wanted to self-publish. Ann Lee gives me courage. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Tina, thanks for the link.

Annie Rains said...

Wow! What great information. I'm sending your link to my critique partners today. Thank you so much for your openness and I wish you all the best with your books and career!

I can't wait to read your book :)

Ann Lee Miller said...

Morning, Girls. [Yawn.] It's only 5 a.m.ish in Phoenix. I'm sitting on my back porch feeling glad visiting with you rousted me out of bed. The temperature climbed to 109 yesterday, but it's absolutely lovely at this hour.

Iola, thanks for the compliments on the cover. Even though Robin has been a graphic artist and painter for decades, this was his first cover. He was really excited about this project. I'll pass your praise on to him.

You're correct about Amazon's KDP exclusivity policy. But, once the KDP program is over (I believe it lasts three months), we may repost our books for sale on other sites.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jenny, thank you! I wondered if it was an Amazon glitch or if it delivered that way...

And if it was deliberate.

Have I mentioned how happy I am to know you, kid????

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...

Welcome to the dark side...


Ann Lee Miller said...

Hello, Sally. Here's hoping the burgeoning e-publishing trend brings you lots of business! Jeff Bennington in The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe harps on the need to purchase freelance editing. That doesn't mean every author will do so. Indie vetting systems are springing up all over the internet, and I'm eager to discover which ones hold the most clout. No reader wants to wade through an ocean of sub-par books to find a gem. In traditional publishing, readers count on the publishing houses to do this for us.

Even with a degree in English, I need an editor. I'm too vain to want my books to go out with spinach in their teeth!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Good morning Ann Lee and welcome to Seekerville.

It is lovely at this hour. I'm yawning too, but I just love this time of day, especially when we have the triple digits.

You have so much info for us. Thanks again for coming.

I just added a bowl of fresh strawberries and whipped cream to go with the pastries.

Don't forget to go to Ann Lee's website and order a free copy of Kicking Eternity

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...


Sounds like you did it the right way, Ann! Congratulations on getting these done! It's a great adventure...

I've not jumped into the e-reader pool, but have thought about it. Since kids are most of my audience, I wanted them to experience the joy unplugging, of a book in hand and physically turning pages.

The sequel comes out this fall sometime, and once that happens, I might consider it.

ISBN - yes - Bowker is the way to go. We formed a publishing company (already had the LLC) and so we bought 10 ISBN's. Be careful about using someone else's because of rights issues. Bowker also sells bar codes you'll need too.

And there's the Library of Congress too, if you want to be included... :)

Your cover is lovely, Ann!

I recently entered it into a contest for independently published books. We came in about middle of the pack overall. We were marked down on the cover and first impression - by these judges. However, many have said they quite like it, especially when they discover our cover model, May, really is our dog. So... It's one of those subjective things.

The gentleman who did the illustrations and book design on our book also did the cover. The judges highly complimented his other work. He has been a dream to work with and we are gearing up for book 2 as soon as the edits come back from my writing coach/editor. (Sometime within the next week or so - YAY!)

Independent publishing is not difficult, but it is a business and that part is quite time-consuming. If you've not run a business previously, I wouldn't recommend it without talking at length with several small business owners.

But... I love it. There are so many positives! Right now, I can't imagine publishing traditionally.

Praying for your continued success, Ann!!!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Ruth, thank you for the kind words about my web page! I've always thought it would be wonderful to have a professionally done page someday. I built my own site using Weebly.com's free service. It was simple enough even for my very limited techie skills. And I can make changes in seconds.

You format your book once and Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes And Noble sites convert it into the various files needed for each type of e-reader (Kindle, Nook, iPad, PC, etc.). So, your book will look different on each e-reader.

Yes, I was motivated to indie publish by despair over not landing a publishing contract after ten years of trying. I was patient and put those years to good use in critique groups, studying craft books, and attending conferences, but the 10-year mark hit me hard.

Kicking Eternity is a Christian romance set at a summer camp with characters in their early twenties. Because of the setting and my voice, the book has a YA sound. This was one of my roadblocks to traditional publishing. I straddle the fence between YA and adult.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Thanks for cheering and praying me on, K.C.! You're blazing the trail. I'm right behind you.

Thanks for adding your expertise to the conversation!

Lyndee said...

Fun to see you here, Ann! Love the photo of you. And I'm enjoying Kicking Eternity. Expecting to finish it this weekend, but I've already told a bunch of people about it. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Ann, and welcome to Seekerville. I was in Scottsdale yesterday morning and it was WONDERFUL in the morning. I sat outside in the shade until about 9:30. Heavenly!

This is great info you've shared and I think you did it the right way--taking your time, learning the craft, then learning the e-ropes.

I've read way too many self-pubbed books in need of a good editor, a copy editor with thorough understanding of spelling, puncuation and grammar, and an eagle-eyed proof reader. So you've made some very wise choices and invested your money where it counts.

But there's so much to do in self-pubbing! YIKES! When do you find time to WRITE!? :)

Missy Tippens said...

Welcome, Ann Lee! Thanks for this great layout of your plan! Very helpful.

I'm still trying to figure out the financial part though (the paying of yourself vs billing for expenses). Gosh, I hope I'm doing all that stuff correctly! But maybe I don't have to if I don't have an LLC.

KC Frantzen and May the K9 Spy said...

Expertise? ;D

Maybe... Experience? School of Hard Knocks?

I hear ya on the fence... Mine isn't Christian enough to be a Christian book, and not secular enough to be secular.

But the Lord seems to be blessing this path we've chosen and so we forge ahead!

May is definitely on her way!

Well I'm off to the races, to sell some books this afternoon, and we have a 2 day festival this weekend. Y'all stop by if you're in Fairfield Glade, TN!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hey, Annie, thanks for sharing with your critique group. My daughter's name is Annie. I figured after three sons, I could name Her Royal Highness after myself. Ha!

Lyndee, thanks for stopping in! One of these days we've got to meet in person. :) I'm so tickled you're reading my book.


Glad you had such a relaxing morning in Scottsdale. :) You are so right that there is no time to write! Usually, I get crabby if I go more than a couple of weeks without writing. But I've been too busy to get crabby. Ha! All I know is that God is leading me down this path. I've had a huge learning curve since indie publishing was a surprise. I hope to write the book I have plotted in lulls between launching my other four books. Maybe I'll check back in this time next year and let you know how it's going. How's that for finagling a return visit?


The financial end of things will be a big challenge for me. Notice I haven't actually done much of the business items I mentioned. Of course, I could just keep giving my books away. Problem solved. Ha ha!

Debby Giusti said...

Ann, great info. Thanks for filling us in on the details. Certainly a cut and paste post that I'll save. Not thinking of e-pubbing right now, but you never know what the future will bring.

Love your cover, the Florida coast and your blurb.

Wishing you abundant success!!!

Julie Lessman said...

ANN!!! I cannot tell you HOW thrilled I am to see you on Seekerville, my good friend, and WOW, what an insightful blog you've brought to us today!

Today, with all the frenzy over self e-pubbing, there isn't one published author who hasn't entertained the thought of e-publishing on their own, whether it be the book for which rights were returned from a publisher, the excerpts that hit the cutting room floor from your last novel (raising hand here!!) or the book of your heart that's been under the bed and never saw the light of day in the publishing world. NEVER has the time been better for this route for those who want to publish for whatever reason, pubbed or unpubbed.

So I applaud you for taking the bull by the horns and paving the way for those of us who are toying with the idea and I wish you a thrilling ride on this e-book journey.


Ann Lee Miller said...

Thanks, Debbi. I told my artist he better hustle over here to collect his compliments. :)

Julie, ha ha, you are so enthusiastic. You make me sound like this gutsy entrepreneur instead of someone bumbling along with God's elbow jostling me forward.

Digging for Pearls said...

Thanks for the detailed look at self-publishing. May God bless your writing endeavors.

Jodie Wolfe

Mary Connealy said...

Wow, Ann, that is a long list of things to do. Thank you so much for laying it all out like this and some honest listing of what it might all cost.
This is helpful, and a bit intimidating. I've got a fair sized chunk of unpublished books on my computer that I'm always tempted to publish ebook only.
It's great to talk with someone who knows what's in store for me.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Thanks, Jodie :)


I know, it sounds like a huge list, but you should just check off all the stuff you already do like praying, marketing, and the business tasks. Unless you're artistic, you hire someone to deal with the cover. That just leaves manuscript prep, and that's the easiest part of all (especially if you get your husband to do it for you. Ha!)

Virginia said...

WOW!! This was truly in-depth. I think e-pubbing is really moving into the realm of possibility for people who need editorial help and formatting because now there are those you can HIRE to do the work if you can't.

Thanks for sharing all this hard-earned knowledge! Every time I see another post like this I wonder... MAYBE...

Ann Lee Miller said...


That's funny, whenever you hear about self-publishing, you wonder, maybe? I always thought, no way!

Well, the thermometer only reads, 87 at 9 a.m., but I know it's creeping toward 108 today in Phoenix. Time to head indoors to my office to sit under the ceiling fan in 80 degree air conditioning. Ah, lovely. Iced coffee next.

CatMom said...

Welcome Ann! Great post with lots of easy-to-read information (being a former Kindergarten teacher I like things that are easy to follow!). I love how you sought the Lord's leading and felt His nudging. Even though I haven't seriously considered epubbing yet, I might one day---so THANKS again for this post! Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo p.s. I brought a freshly-baked Georgia Peach Cobbler to share today--Enjoy! ;)

Ann Lee Miller said...

Peach cobbler is one of my favorites, Patti Jo! Thanks for bringing it. And those virtual calories are guilt-free. I was just thinking about a second helping of Sandra's strawberries.

I grew up in Florida and always loved the rolling hills of Georgia. Waving across the country at you!

Jan Drexler said...

Welcome, Ann! And thanks for the great insider's look at self-publishing. The whole business has seemed so daunting to me, but now I think I can talk semi-intelligently about it if someone asks.

Enjoy your day in Arizona! We have similar weather here in the Black Hills of South Dakota, except about 20 degrees cooler.

Mary Connealy said...

Ann, I know you're right that I'm already doing most of that. I mean, write a dedication, that kind of stuff. It's a lot, all listed like that, but when you break it down it's not that much more.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Jan, I'd love to visit South Dakota some day. My friend Roxy Henke sets her books in North Dakota where she lives, but so far our visits have been at writers' conferences and in Arizona.

Mary, I don't think you can go wrong by asking God if He wants any of those books to be read, and if so, to open doors--whether to a publishing house or to indie publishing.

Because you have published traditionally, you have a ready-made fan base. That would give you a leg up.

Sandra, I think a chunk of time has passed since your books were published and your fans may have moseyed along after other authors. But you still have the credibility of having been published traditionally. It's like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Don't overlook this asset. :)

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Ann Lee! Your post is full of great information, which I found fascinating, if not a little daunting.

Love your cover! I'm amazed that the artist actually painted it when covers can be computer generated.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

I've got a really big question....

What if you don't like the editor's edits?

What if you're that sure you've done it better?

I wonder if that isn't slightly epidemic in self-published books because the ones I've read (Annie, I haven't read yours, so you're excluded here) are truly in need of an outside mind to cut/dice/slice.

But if you don't HAVE to take the editor's comments to heart, I wonder how many authors really do?

Pam Hillman said...

Ann Lee, we're so glad you stopped by and gave us step-b-step instructions on your path to publication.

I learned a ton of great stuff today! Thanks!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Janet, I think the graphic artist I chose, Robin Roberts at RedRedDesign.com is unusual because his first love is painting--thus the painted cover. I think the paintings will be beautiful standing stones in my life.

Ruth, you've got plenty of experience working with editors, so I'm sure you've learned how to suck it up and make changes you're not thrilled with! The plus about hiring your editor is that you get to pick out who edits your work. I know there are lots of excellent editors who do not write, but when I'm shopping for an editor, I look for one who writes better than I do and who has the big picture skills I struggle with. When I am working with an editor I respect and admire, I am very willing seriously consider her suggestions.

Pam Hillman said...

Indie vetting systems...what a novel idea!

I like.

Pam Hillman said...

Mary doing business stuf???


Forgive me, I'm okay now. I think...

Ann Lee Miller said...

Pam, you are cracking me up. It sounds like Mary and I have something in common. Mary, are you allergic to numbers, too? Nasty things.

Pam Hillman said...

Oh, no, Mary likes numbers.

In duplicate.

And sometimes triplicate.

2 plane tickets
2 registrations
3 hotel rooms

Right, Mary?

VerdeValleyGreyhounds said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandra Leesmith said...

Pammers, I'm snortling too.

But she does have a fan base.

Great info here Ann Lee.

I love peach cobbler Patti Jo. Thanks

PatriciaW said...

Ann, I love posts like these because they offer the benefit of one author's learning experience, from which I can soak up needed knowledge.

Glad you moved according to the Spirit. Look forward to reading your book.

Virginia said...


Snortling!!! I am so using that in my next conversation. *looks around for a victim*

Sandra Leesmith said...

I'm hiding Virginia,

Hey Ann Lee, I do have a question. I heard that Smashwords doesn't use word. Did you run into that problem?

If they don't use word, what word processor do they use?

Ann Lee Miller said...

GREAT NEWS for anyone looking for an excellent freelance editor. Author Susan Meissner did an all-day workshop on Saturday for the Phoenix American Christian Fiction Writers chapter. She is hanging out her editing shingle.You may check out her services and fees on her website at SusanMeissner.com.

Patricia, I'm glad I helped. :) And thanks for requesting a free e-copy of Kicking Eternity.

Anyone who wants to participate in my wacky marketing plan, please ask for a free book. Next time I visit Seekerville, I'll let you know how it worked.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Just rumor, Sandra. :) Smashwords adores Word. Well, at least I had no trouble using Word with them.

And you better save me some cobbler. I've been working hard!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Okay, I'll save you some cobbler. Its hot out. Would you like some ice cream with it?

And thanks for smashing the rumor about smashwords.

Okay,corny, I admit. What can I say, its my down time. I should go take a siesta. LOL

Nancy C said...

Ann, what a generous spirit you have sharing both your experience and your talent. Thank you!

I wasn't into ebooks until several years ago when I found out I would be doing a face-to-face critique with an author I'd never read. How to know if I would value her opinion? I went online and quickly downloaded two of her shorter books. Read them, was impressed, and had the critique with her before print books could have arrived in the mail.

I'm loving what ebooks have done for readers with visual difficulties particularly.

My western historical romances are somewhere between Christian/inspirational and 'sweet' so yes, self-publishing is appealing.

Nancy C

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hello, Nancy! Yes, I think indie publishing is a good option for those of us who seem to fall through the cracks between genres.

I've heard that agents and editors do not view e-publishing as a strike against an author who desires to publish traditionally. One friend's agent asks how her e-book sales are doing. Her agent encourages her e-book efforts because a large sales volume (I have no idea how many books would be considered impressive) will spark the interest of a publisher. If this is the pervasive opinion of publishers, it's good news for those of us who don't want to let go of our traditional publishing dreams.

My understanding--correct me if I'm wrong--is that self-publishing print books continues to be frowned upon by agents and publishers. That sounds like a double standard. But it's one I'm willing to live with because I can't afford to publish paper books at this stage in my career. Successful thriller author, Jeff Bennington always prints books for his own satisfaction, but he sells far, far more e-books than print books.

Audra Harders said...

Hi Ann Lee! What a wonderful topic to share with us.

Isn't it amazing how only 10 years or so ago the mystery of publishing boggled the mind? Now the process has experts behind it every step of the way.

I loved following your path to publication. Thanks for sharing so many details and options open to the writer.

What did you find to be the most surprising element in your journey? I couldn't begin to guess, LOL! You've covered so much!!

Thanks again and here's to super success for you!

Ausjenny said...

Hi Sandra yes chatting is as good as visiting in many ways.

I am hoping to get to the states next year and catch up with a few people. Mainly eastern side and maybe Seattle area.

I will admit a couple of books I read that were self published had some glaring errors like wrong person, wrong word, I notice all the errors but these stick out, I have noticed it in a few other books also. I know there is a book someone asked our bookshop to sell its non fiction and christian but the beliefs are a little off. but it is full of errors, spelling, grammatical etc. One lady bought it just so she could be armed when members of the church questioned about it and was so shocked with the errors in it. Its a book that probably no christian publishing house would ever print cos of the content let alone the editing.
So I can understand where self published people need to have editors check there work and be prepared to accept the suggestions.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Hi Audra! The biggest surprise was that I'd ever self-publish at all! I've only ever dreamed of holding my book in my hands, and that's not to be, at least not in the immediate future.

And I'm surprised at how happy I am about the whole thing. Deep down, I'm an Eyeore. But even Eyeore would cheer up if he felt God elbowing him down the path.

Ann Lee Miller said...

I'm with you, Jenny. If we put on nice clothes and make up before we go out, if we clean our houses before company comes, why wouldn't we want to look our best when we go out in public in a literary way?

Now, if any of you find errors in my book, you better tell me my slip is showing so I can hike it up! Ha!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, I'd like cobbler with ice cream!

Ann, I do have experience with editors, you're spot on...

And they'll beat me senseless if I argue too much.

But I wonder if authors jump to change things when the editor doesn't hold the purse strings???

Whaddya think?

And I'm mighty happy about the cobbler and the wealth of info today.

Ann Lee Miller said...

Ruth, I think it's more about personality than anything. My agent really got after me for listing too much to my critique partners. She made me write a whole book w/o anyone kibitzing because I always think everyone else knows better than I do. So, now, I'm very selective about who I let critique or edit me. I keep it to a bare minimum.

On the other hand, one of my friends thinks she knows better than any of her editors. She's a traditionally published author. Needless to say, she's not very popular with her editors.

There's got to be a happy medium for both our personalities. I need to have a little more confidence in myself. She needs to accept objective help on occasion.

I hear what you're saying about the purse strings, but I can't address it because I have only lived on one side of the fence. I still think you would take advice from an editor you picked out even if she didn't have the power to pull your book for non-cooperation. If you ever decide to give indie publishing a try, let me know how you respond to a freelance editor's suggestions. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh, my, Ann, I can so relate. I had to stop critiquing with a critique group because my writing would be the voice of the loudest person in the group and NOT MY VOICE~~

Tina Radcliffe said...

And Ann, your cover is really beautiful as other have noted!!

Ann Lee Miller said...

Tina, I'm so glad you like my cover. I'm gong to tell my artist to come read all his compliments!

So nice to meet another insecure writer. :) I heard a quote once that all authors are insecure! I take it that getting a publishing contract didn't make you confident overnight. I wonder if what they say about marriage is true about publishing? Whatever state of mind you're in when you marry/publish only intensifies.

Tina Radcliffe said...

It's not so much insecure as easily drowned in the strong voice of others. LOL. I swim fine when left to my own devices. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Truth be told, the editors at Love Inspired are amazing. Now, I don't have to say this. I can just keep my mouth shut if I don't think so. But truly, they help you to grow as a writer in ways that little ole' critique group could never imagine.

The first time I experienced this was when I paid a former editor to look at my work. Caroline Tolley from Pocket. Now what she looked at was not for the inspy market, but more RomCom.

A good editor knows how to make YOU dig deeper, think outside, and find emotion. It's quite a skill.

Julie Lessman said...

ANN SAID: "You make me sound like this gutsy entrepreneur instead of someone bumbling along with God's elbow jostling me forward."

LOL ... I actually do like your take better, girlfriend, because THAT'S the path of success ... ;)


Ann Lee Miller said...

Tina, you're so right about a good editor making you dig deeper. My agent didn't edit me, but she saw more potential in me than I saw in myself. She kept saying, "Ann, you have a deeper book in you." So, I keep dredging deeper to find it.

Seekers, it's been so much fun hanging out with you all today! Thanks for making me feel so welcome. It's been such a privilege to play "expert" for five minutes on my favorite blog!

Sandra, I seriously should have let you have the last piece of cobbler. You were so kind to give me your turn on Seekerville! Hugs! [As Julie would say!]

If anyone missed getting a free e-copy of Kicking Eternity, just let me know, and I'll be sure you get one.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Ann Lee, thank you soooooo much. You have been a wealth of information.

Your journey helps us to understand the whole publishing process a bit more,

Hope all of you enjoy Kicking Eternity.

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Thanks for that wonderful summary about your self-publishing experience.

I used to think I'd NEVER self-publish, but, over the last year or so, my opinion has been swayed..a lot!!

I think self publishing can be a good route for many unpublished as well as traditionally published people, depending upon the circumstances of each author.

~Cecelia Dowdy~

Cecelia Dowdy said...

Thanks for that wonderful summary about your self-publishing experience.

I used to think I'd NEVER self-publish, but, over the last year or so, my opinion has been swayed..a lot!!

I think self publishing can be a good route for many unpublished as well as traditionally published people, depending upon the circumstances of each author.

~Cecelia Dowdy~