Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Publishing as a Hybrid Author


 With Virginia Carmichael.

  Hello, everybody! Big thanks to the Seekers for asking me to come to Seekerville and talk about being a hybrid author.This will be quite a weird little ride, so buckle up and keep arms and legs inside the blog at ALL TIMES.



 If you’ve been watching the publishing world at all, you know things are getting a bit more… fantasticulous. (That’s my word for it. Write it down.)

 Some see the current publishing climate like this: 

 Incredibly dirty, messy, and ugly. Agents are becoming authors. Editors are becoming agents. Authors are becoming their own publishing companies and saying ‘so long’ to the small royalties and stringent rules. Everyone is trying to reevaluate. This isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, I think this can be a perfect time for us all to take a good look at where we are and where we want to go. Are we fighting through mud to get our stories out? Are we being shot down again and again? Is there a better way? 

And once we find that way, is there any going back?



This is where the term HYBRID comes in to our lexicon. A hybrid author is one who has self-published and traditionally published. Three years ago, the most successful traditionally published authors were jumping ship and heading for self-publishing because of the huge amounts of money they could make. They had the following, they had the skills, they had the platform, and they often brought their own editors with them. Marie Force, Courtney Milan, even Stephen King, all decided that they could do BETTER than what they were doing with any of the Big Six.  

Besides the question of money (article and article, blog after blog, study after study show self-publishing can be much more lucrative than traditional publishing so we don’t need to argue the point, I hope), there was a bigger worry. Was the traditional publishing bridge burned, never to be crossed again? Once an author left the fold, could she ever come back? 

And then the answer arrived. Just as everyone was jumping ship, those same people were signing new (and usually quite significant) contracts with the very same industry they left! Some outspoken authors (JA Konrath, Barry Eisler) have written about how the decision to go back to the ‘slavery’ of traditional publishing can do nothing except harm all authors. I don’t agree. I think that the freedom to choose our own path can only benefit us.

Courtney Milan explained her decision to sign a traditional deal after self-publishing success: 

“I haven’t given up self-pubbing at this point, and I won’t. But I do think that traditional New York publishing has value. I believe in diversification, and I wouldn’t have a problem signing a New York contract for a limited number of books under a limited set of circumstances. After all, book sales multiply with the number of books out. Having more books out–and having paper copies of books on more shelves–would grow my audience so that even if I make less on those books, I could actually make more money in total. So I am perfectly open to the possibility of a NY contract as a method of diversifying myself. That’s a business decision. You might disagree with my reasoning, but I’m surely not oppressed.

 I have friends who have worked with utterly magical editors, who would sell books to those editors any chance they get. It’s a business decision to get a smaller percentage for the chance to work with someone who will help you produce books at the height of your capacity. I have friends who do not have the time, inclination, or patience to self-publish–and self-publishing requires a very distinct skill-set. It’s a business decision on their part to focus on writing.”



Things are moving so quickly that some people are feeling a bit of a whiplash effect. They’re getting frustrated. Tensions are high. I hear grumbles and mumbles. Snark is the tone of the day on blog after blog. There is talk on all sides of how publishing is going down the tubes, the quality of literature has dropped into the cellar, readers are being short-changed, and careers are being doomed. 

There are serious concerns about readers being damaged by independent publishing. ("But, the books may not be GOOD.") As if readers are forced to read, as if books are shoved down our throats, as if the fate of mankind depends on whether Fifty Shades was a fan fiction or if the writer is a marketing genius. And there is deep, deep concern over “indiscriminant” and “hasty” Kindle publishing by those who have “not paid their dues”! 

 The sky is not falling. If a book is good, it will rise to the top. If it's bad, it will sink. Or not. Sometimes good books don't get noticed. Sometimes junk books make bazillion dollars. It's the way it's always been. Self-publishing did not change this. Honey Boo-Boo still got a multimillion dollar book deal from Neil Gaiman’s publisher and I have very talented writer friends who can't get an agent to answer their queries. 

To those who are panicking,  I offer this quote: “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.” –Cicero, circa 60 B.C.  Take heart! Times have been “bad” for a very long time and we’re all still here.
   


But beyond the hand-wringing, there are those that are finding new ways of working within the changing industry. Jane Dystel, agent at Dystel and Goderich Literary Management, has done very well for herself by picking up self-published authors and working with them (and for them) in a way that’s mutually beneficial. She says this:

"I think that this whole thing is a very exciting time in publishing but we don’t know what’s going to happen. The indie authors don’t know what’s going to happen and the publishers don’t know what’s going to happen. The publishers spending a lot of money on these indie authors have every reason to want what they’re buying to be successful. On the other hand, it’s a whole new ballgame here. If it doesn’t work out for the indie authors who are making these deals, they can go back to self-publishing. They have great followings, they know how to do social media very effectively. It’s very early days. There are some people who you see on the best-seller list who used to be self-published and are now on best-seller lists and who have done well but there are others who have not. It’s so early and everybody is trying something new. That makes what we’re doing very exciting. And we’ll see if it works. If it doesn’t work, we’ll do something else."

This is from an interview she did over at Digital Book World in JANUARY! Almost a year ago! And things have gotten even crazier since. Crazy in a good way. 


There are a lot of people trying to catch up right now. Some are getting there slowwwly. Some are seeing their mistakes and jumping in fast. (Some toppled into the deep end and, after dog paddling for a while, have decided it isn’t too bad.)

I can give lots of links to other examples, but why do that when I can just use myself? So, without further ado, let me give a quick run-down on the why, the where, the what, and the how I became a hybrid author.



I started writing in 2009, when I was pregnant with my fifth child. I was working at Whitman College’s Penrose Library and had an awful lot of time at the front desk. I’d just read ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ and LOVED it! Hilarious! Of course, I knew it was a Pride and Prejudice redo and that just added to the wonderfulness. But… it was… sort of crude. Okay, a lot crude. I loved it but couldn’t really give it to everybody I knew. It got me thinking about a sweet P and P take off, set in academia. So, I started writing.


Fast forward two years and I’d found the Seekerville blog. I’d finished my first book, written a second and was trying without success to get an agent. I won a query letter contest in Nov. 2011 and got a full request from editor Melissa Endlich of Love Inspired. Three weeks later I got a call! YAY! First book sold!!!

Here it is, in all its glory, my first baby.




It released Nov 2012. Yes, that’s a full YEAR from the book being submitted. If you don’t know this yet, traditional publishing moves slowly. Not quite glacier-slow, but maybe molasses-slow.

The whole process of writing and selling books is an odd one. We work so hard, write so long, give up so much time only to wait. And wait. And wait. If you’re a slow writer, that can work in your favor. Sell one or two books a year? Yay! Right up your alley! But if you write more than that a year, you may be left with extras. Add in all the books that get a pass, and you’ve got a hard drive full of stuff.

I wasn’t sure if self-publishing was a good fit for me, but I’d been thinking about it for a long time before I took the plunge. You know those little diagrams where you follow the arrows?




Well, let’s imagine one for writers who are thinking of self-publishing. A lot of people talk about being a square peg in a round hole. Or round peg in a square hole. Whichever. You’re there, you’re working to fit in, but it’s really not comfy. There are gaps and drafts and your edges are getting a bit raw. You just feel… off.

THE SQUARE PEG

My experience of being the square peg was the gaps between books. The gaps between contracts meant gaps between checks. I know some people consider their writing career a hobby. I don’t. A hobby is knitting. A hobby is collecting bottle caps. My writing is a business and I treat it like one. (Wait, don’t tell me you don’t care about money and you’ll always write even if no one buys your work. You wouldn’t commute to a day job every day for free. Nobody does that.)  Of course, we’re talking money. The creative side is a whole other story. I would write even if I knew I’d never sell another book. I just love it. But, for the sake of this post, let’s talk about money.

So, there I was: six kids, a whole bunch of books and a whole lot of time between checks. I was putting in the hours, getting myself to the job day after day (night after night), and there wasn’t any paycheck, really.

I could either change jobs (get a real job in the outside world) or take a closer look at self-publishing. (On our flow chart, if you’re not feeling those drafts and gaps. Stop right there. You’re good for traditional publishing. If you’re feeling the breeze, we’ve headed to step two.)

DO YOU LOVE TO SHARE?


With traditional publishing, your name is on the book, but there are dozens of people helping you with the process. This is one of the strengths of traditional publishing. You have assistant editors, editors, copy editors, and line editors. You have cover artists, back cover writers, blurb writers, and promotional assistants. You have agents and professional reviewers.

You go through hours and hours of editing as a group effort and must collaborate. You get your author copies and open this book you’ve written… and it’s pretty much yours. A lot of people helped make it happen. That can be very good. Season of Joy was nominated for Romantic Times’ Reviewer’s Choice for best debut in a series for 2012 and received 4 ½ stars. I have NO DOUBT it was due to editor Melissa Endlich’s awesome work. No doubt at all. 

Can you be happy with someone else’s fingerprints all over your baby? Are you happy with sharing the vision, the work, and the pay?  (Remember your agent is getting 15% of the 6% your publisher is giving you. Did you follow that math? ) If you’re good with this sharing, excellent. Traditional publishing is a good fit for you. (I’m okay with it, too, so that’s why I still submitted to Love Inspired after my first book.)


If you don’t feel comfortable with that process for any reason, follow the arrow to the next box.

YOUR WRITING IS A HOBBY

There are people who write to publish but also it’s a hobby. As I said before, that’s not me. My husband works a hard job and we’ve got these kids who want to eat every day. If you’re independently wealthy, don’t need the income, or plain don’t care about money, this step doesn’t really apply to you.

If you write as a business, then sit down and look at how much you’re earning. Will selling one or two books a year be enough? Remember, this isn’t how much you can write. Don’t care about money? You can choose whether to keep going on our flowchart.

Money is one of those things in short supply at your house? Go on to the next box.

YOU’VE GOT GUTS

Someone asked how you get over the fear that no one will read your books if you self-publish. I sort of laughed at that because NO PUBLISHER can guarantee that someone will read your books. You get a contract, go through the above process, and… your book may not sell. You may get four reviews and three of them are ‘meh’ comments. 

I’m not sure about you, but I battle that fear every time I put my fingers on the keyboard. What if I write it and nobody likes it? HUH? What THEN?

If you’re gutsy enough to claim the title of writer then you’re gutsy enough to get past the fear. 
I mentioned the guts as near to the end of this flow chart as possible because guts matter. You can hate everything about traditional publishing, but if you don’t have the nerve to do it yourself, better stay where you are. It’s not easy. There’s nobody holding your hand. If it fails, you can’t blame your editor, your cover artist, your publicist, or your cat. You’ve approved every step of the process, no matter how many people you paid, so the failure (and success!) will fall on you.

Got guts? No? Stop where you are. Nothing is going to get you past the hurdles of self-publishing if you’re not brave enough to try it. People are going to look down on you. People are going to tell you that you’ve doomed your career. You’re going to get snide remarks and eye rolls. IT WILL HAPPEN.


No one is going to be patting your back. (But people will certainly be patting you on the head as they make ‘tut tut’ sounds!) No one is going to support you except the people who were supporting you all along- your friends.

Feeling GUTSY?? Awesome! Let’s keep going.

All of those boxes on the flowchart led me to this point in January 2013. My husband had been laid off for a few months and although we had a wonderful Christmas because it’s about family and not presents etc., etc., etc. it was still sobering (okay, it was downright frightening) to look at our non-existent bank funds. It was almost an entire year since I sold my debut book to Love Inspired. And I had more. Lots more. But it wasn’t happening. For a lot of reasons. I was the little hamster in the wheel. 

I prayed that God would give us what we needed and He said, “You’ve got it.”

I waited, confident in that answer.

He said, “No, you’ve really got it. Already. In your hands.”

I stared around a little. (You can imagine God heaving a big sigh.) Then I clued in. RIGHT! I had books.

So, in January 2013, I didn’t know anybody who was self-publishing (besides just a few names on facebook). I didn’t know anything about formatting or getting a book ready to submit to Amazon. I didn’t know about platforms or file sizes or covers.

Sounds like a recipe for success, right???

Hm. Well, on January 1st  of 2013, I put up a book. My kids were watching a Christmas movie. My husband was taking a shower. I wasn’t nervous about putting it up on Amazon because I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT I WAS DOING!

I’d created a terrible little cover from a free site. (This is not it. I won’t show you that one.) You could hardly read the title. I’d formatted it with Calibre (which apparently has the worst record for formatting anything, although it’s free). I didn’t have it edited because I didn’t want to pay anything out of pocket.

Are you sensing a theme? I did it all for free, because basically I had no money.

Cool. There it was. And no one was buying it. So, after a week of no sales, I checked out some sites like J.A. Konrath’s blog. He talked about free runs. Oh! I didn’t know I could do that! I enrolled in KDP (Amazon’s exclusive program) right away.

On the next weekend, it was downloaded two thousand times and I actually got a good review!! And then I got bad reviews. The formatting was terrible. There were typos. The cheese grits never really appeared in the story.

So, my little book nobody loved started to sell. Not really quickly, but in the next few weeks I made about $400. To me, that was HUGE. Why? Because I did it myself. And it felt really, really good.


A month later, I put up a historical called All The Blue of Heaven. I wrote it back in 2010 and it had never found a home. It had a terrible cover (again, I didn’t want to spend any money yet) but I had better formatting, my sister edited for free (love her!!) and I put it up for free right away since that seemed to be the right way to start sales.

That first run it was downloaded 15,000 times. When I put it up for .99, it went right to the top of the historical Christian fiction charts. COOOOOL! As I write this, it’s #2. That’s eight months on the top of the charts. Besides the obviously much needed income, I feel like this book finally got a chance. The message I wanted to give, of strength after tragedy, is reaching the people who needed it the most. The notes and letters I get from readers have touched my heart in a way that is hard to describe. They tell me the book has blessed them, but their notes have blessed me.

In March I got call from Shana Smith of Love Inspired, offering to buy the second in my series (and another book, unwritten), the sequel to the book that came out Nov. 2012. It’s set for Nov. 2013. 

Cool! 

In April, I joined the self-publishing loop on Yahoo and learned there was a method to this madness. Beyond the usual ‘write a book and publish it’, there were all sorts of tricks and tips to sales.
What did I learn? I’ll condense what I know so far, which is a very tiny part of what the really big movers and shakers know and practice on a daily basis. You can say this is just an opinion, but every time I’ve tried it, on every book, it’s worked. I have five books now on the top Christian fiction romance lists, and it’s not by accident. What Marie Force has shared ( along with many other NYT bestsellers) on that loop has been nothing short of a crash course in how to market and sell your books. 



 A side note: If you don’t believe this will be helpful because you’re going to traditionally publish your book, you might want to stick around anyway. A lot of the self-publishing tricks are being picked up by traditional publishing, including have a perma-free first book and using Bookbub ads.

 For example: recently literary agent Janet Kobobel Grant blogged about how free doesn’t sell books. There was a lively discussion in the comments, with a lot of self-publishers weighing in, and a lot of other authors claiming that free books devalued their content.  But then she attended a meeting with one of her client’s publishers and changed her mind

She wrote, 

“I had a recent conversation with individuals in a publisher’s marketing division that has given me whiplash. They generously shared charts, graphs, and details about how their free digital marketing functions, and the statistics are downright impressive. This department has worked the analytics masterfully. I found myself wishing other publishers devoted the same attention to what works and why. So you may consider this is my official recognition that, when it comes to this publisher, I was flat-out wrong. And  happy to be so.”

I found this very interesting. Self-publishers use free book runs to sell books. People who can’t see the sales for themselves don’t believe it’s helpful. In fact, other authors feel it is lowering the value for their own books. Traditional publishing houses (which are in the business of selling books) try the practice and find, when done right, it works, and works really well. Agents are confused about why their client’s books are being given away and object. Publishing houses put in the time to explain the marketing behind it. Meanwhile, self publishers are… giving away free books in order to sell books.

 
Gratuitous picture.


LOW PRICE:  You can make much more by selling two hundred copies a day of a .99 book that sits on the top spot, than by selling ten copies a day of a 5.99 book that is invisible. You keep .35 (about what I get from my Love Inspired books) of .99 but that makes $70 a day. You can’t imagine giving away your baby for less than $3.99? You keep $3 of $3.99 but you’re only selling ten, so you’re making only $30 a day. People talk about fair price. I like to look at the bottom line. Unless I’m famous and a NYT bestseller, I’m not going to get away with pricing my book above .99. 

And since I actually make more that way, it’s all good. See how this works? I don’t feel like I’m giving my book away. I’m feeling… like I’m making some money.

Update as of 10/25: I’m finding I can keep a book at 2.99 if it’s the second in a series and has only been out a few months. This is good news. This means my sales are getting stronger and my series’ can support a higher price. Yay!


  • GOOD EDITING: I still get slammed when people get around to reading an old copy of that first book. It’s cleaner now, but that won’t help those one stars. Once I had money coming in, I paid for editing. Every book still has typos. Even my LI books have typos. But it’s cleaner than trying to find them with just me and my old eyes. Kathryn Frazier edited my historical series and she did an amazing job. She caught things that I looked over a dozen times, and never saw. It’s worth the investment and I wish I had done it sooner.




  • RE-INVEST: Whatever you make, take 30% and put it back into your business. Maybe that means your office, supplies, chair, massages, lattes, whatever. For me, it meant great covers. (Mine are done by The Killion Group.) They cost about $235 a cover and I love them. LOVE. I don’t think my books would have gotten to the top of the charts (free or paid) with the old covers. Despite what you hear, people will not download just anything that is free. It still has to look good. Kindle space isn’t infinite. You put your book up for free and if it has a bad cover and typos in the blurb, you’re not going to crack that all-important top 100 Free list.



  • SERIES: set the first for free WHEN you put out the next in the series. Really, it works. The second time I put up a book for free in March, I paid for a Bookbub ad. It was $120 and I had 70 THOUSAND downloads. You read that right. That’s like a Times Square billboard. And on the self-pub lists, they say you’ll get about 1% of those reviewing. I went from 28 reviews to 210 in 3 weeks and they’re still coming in. The book sells about 100 copies a day at .99 so I can’t tell who’s reviewing a free book and who’s not, unless they say that, but I’m just glad I’m getting any reviews at all. With self-publishing, reviews are gold.


In May, I released my second Austen Takes the South book. I posted the question on the self-publishing loop and the seasoned professionals were very happy to tell me how to time the release. It was a huge success, debuting in the top ten of contemporary Christian fiction the very first day it was for sale. For a book by an unknown author (truly unknown, since they’re under a pseudonym) it was a testament to how this method works.

There’s also a certain percentage of those downloads of the first book, that will buy the second in the series.

You see the method to the madness? I was starting to clue in. I needed to work on these series but I also had books on the hard drive that I needed to get off my mind. So, I’m alternating between putting up books in a series and stand-alone books from the hard drive.

My traditional contract has a non-compete clause, so all of these recent books had to be passed by my Harlequin editors. So when the next title was sent back as not quite right for 

Love Inspired, I was free to put it up on Amazon.



 
In July, it started with a free run. It’s a single title, not part of a series, so after two days and 12 thousand downloads, I put it up for .99. It sold 150 copies a day, from the very first day. On July 14th, it was number one on the Christian romance charts and sold 600 copies. (Right now it’s #13, almost four months after it came out. It would be higher if RUTH LOGAN HERNE would get out of the WAY.)

 
In September, I put up the second in my historical series, called Purple Like The West. It’s selling well, and I haven’t dropped the price yet. More than this, the messages I’ve received from readers have truly touched my heart. It’s a story of courage and owning up to our mistakes. It was a very important story for me to tell, and I’ve been thrilled that the story has helped other people find their own courage to be what God has called them to be. 



(While this is all happening, I’m also working on my contracted titles for Love Inspired. I think hybrid is Greek for “juggler”.)


So, here we are, back again at why I’m doing what I’m doing and if it’s right for you. (Are you a square peg in a round hole?) There are many kinds of self-publishing, but this is the one I chose. I’ve never regretted it. Not for one single moment. It’s been life-changing for my husband, for my kids, for our family, for my extended family and for myself. I can see this as a business now. I can see a lot of things that I just couldn’t imagine even ten months ago. 

 I’ve earned ten times what I earned last year alone, only counting self-publishing. No waiting six months for a royalty check on numbers of sales I can’t see. No more wondering how much the check will be. I can see my sales in real time, and get a monthly accounting. 

    But besides the money, it’s opened doors that were closed before. It’s given me the freedom to look at traditional publishing again and make an informed choice. As a hybrid author, I’m free to move back and forth, to weigh offers, to choose a deal or to say ‘no thanks’. 

(I was hoping to make an announcement today but it will have to wait a little longer, even though I’m bursting with excitement.)

But let me just say that being a hybrid author means trusting your story and trusting God.  When God is nudging you to write a story and bring it to the world, don’t listen to the negative voices. As someone on here said, ‘ignore the noise’. Do what you need to do to bring your story to life. And the only thing that will keep you from making a traditional deal, or self-publishing, in this business, is yourself. It’s your decision. And that’s the way it should be.




 Thanks for having me on Seekerville and I’m offering two copies of my Love Inspired November 2013 release, Season of Hope! 


You have to comment to for your opportunity to win a book! Winners (two of them)  announced in the Weekend Edition


The Party Ends in three days!


Virginia Carmichael can be found on Facebook, Twitter, her blog The Things That Last and she is also the Fresh Pioneer at the Yankee Belle Cafe.

236 comments:

1 – 200 of 236   Newer›   Newest»
Jamie Adams said...

I stayed up late so I could be the first to say great post Virginia! It's a lot to take in but so true. I've had wonderful results with self publishing.

One week after I took the plunge my first book started selling 100 copies a day. I'd been warned that as an unknown I shouldn't expect more than a couple sells a week.

It's important to have a good cover, know your audience and a blurb that hooks.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Jamie!! I remember eating your wagon dust for WEEKS. I'm so thrilled you've decided to publish over on the country western lists. I don't know how much dust I can beat from my fancy dresses... :D

Thanks for stopping by!

Helen Gray said...

Virginia!

I've been wanting to hear your story. Thanks for sharing it.

I'm pondering what to do with some of the manuscripts on my hard drive. Got too much going on right now to make a decision. But this post is for future reference.

Coffee and milk enough for everyone.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Oh, and I'm bringing these delicious quick and easy crescent Danish rolls that Tina shared. I made them with lemon curd and they were AMAZING!

http://yankeebellecafe.blogspot.com/2013/10/tina-radcliffe-bakes-easy-crescent.html

Christina Rich said...

I never get enough of hearing of your success in both worlds! Soon, I'll be chasing you down on those lists. You just wait and see. :)

Thank you for going before us and leading the way in the Christian market.

Tina Radcliffe said...

This is just so inspiring.

I'm proud of you for being a poster child for


WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TODAY TO MAKE YOUR DREAM COME TRUE?

THOUSANDS OF READERS CANNOT BE WRONG.

Melissa Jagears said...

Um, I totally remember what that first cover looked like, if I knew you better back then I would have PMed you and offered help! :) I play pretty darn well with the photoshop!

I have to say I'm amazed with the 6 kiddos and homeschooling and the actual COOKING you do that you write so fast. I've got 3 and I'm treading along with the trad deadlines. I have several off the wall ideas that I'd doubt will find a home traditionally that I'd like to write and could see me doing this with lots and lots of editing outsiders (I'm not that brave), but um, WHERE DO YOU FIND THE TIME!! YOU'RE ON FB as much as me!

And I'm pretty darn sure I know what that announcement's going to be and can't wait to hear it!

Lyndee H said...

Virginia,
Very cool! That's the phrase that kept coming to me as I read your story. I have a history of getting bogged down with too many things going on. Too many manuscripts in the works, too many contests, random ideas...I think that's why self-publishing seems like a far away option right now. Thanks for your perspective.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring. But I will be writing...not hobbying...

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Melissa!!

Your 'pretty darn surety' is correct!

And that first cover of the contemporary series was a pile of books and it was really cute.

But the SECOND home made cover was HORRIBLE. That was the one I posted on facebook with the girl holding a stalk of wheat between her teeth. I was hoping for fun and sassy but it looked...weird and wonky.

I told Kim Killion I wanted something elegant for these, something that said romance. She got it!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Tina!!

I love your book The Rosetti Curse but you know what I love even more? Your book of romantic shorts!

I don't usually read romantic short stories, so why would I be more thrilled when you released 'Love in Bloom'? Because that is a niche market that hasn't been tapped. I know friends who are making a real living off their short story collections, when they weren't before, because NOW they can find the readers. And the readers can find them.

There is something for everyone out there... I suppose I could say there are readers for every writer, we just have to find them! And digital publishing is making that very easy right now.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Lyndee!!

I think Courtney Milan said it best when she said it takes a 'distinct skillset'. I find self publishing to be a total blast! It's a lot to learn, and I have tons more to truly internalize (like the metadata that Tina talks about and I have the very vaguest idea how it works).

I think having a choices for our writing careers (not hobbies, NOT!) is the beautiful thing about publishing today.

Melissa Jagears said...

Woohoo, even more excited than when I was pretty darn sure. :D

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Oh, Christina, I have NO DOUBT! All I can hope is that you'll be slotting yours into the Biblical Pirate Steampunk Cowboy area and you will leave me alone!


Seriously, in the end, all the Christian books are thrown together at the top and I LOVE seeing friends on there. I always say it's like riding the bus. I sit next to a different friend every day, or sometimes weeks at a time!

Speed of releasing the books isn't just the area of self publishers any more. I noticed Bethany released several of Janette Oke's older series (2003 and on), to give them new life and they've taken over the historical list. When Bethany released old Michael Phillips books (some from all the way back in 2004) it was the same. It's hard to compete with a well-known author whose publisher can drop the price on an old series and release 7+ books at a time.

But I've also seen authors like Samantha Jillian Bayarr find her niche readers to the tune of half a million books sold in 2012 and she has a series of 7 books on the charts.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

And thank you to CHRISTINA RICH who hosted the majority of the blog post original over on the Writing Prompts, Thoughts and Ideas blog!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Melissa... You have no idea!

And I'm excited that you're excited! I don't how it is at your house, but my kids have gotten over the 'big news' moments. Now after a few minutes of listening to me babble, they asked, "Can we go to the park?"
And hubby just nods and smiles. :) If I told him I'd won a truck he's be wayyyyyyy more excited!

Mary Cline said...

So much information so well said and so well put together. Thank you Virginia.
I have read a couple of you books and loved them.
Keep on Keeping on.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Welcome to Seekerville and thanks for sharing this info. I think the world of publishing is exciting right now. Great going Virginia.

Melissa Jagears said...

ha! My oldest wants to sell my box of books for 20 cents each at a garage sale....

And my hubby thinks that I owe him a firearm purchase for each book contract for putting up with the messy house....I actually think he does kinda deserve that, my house is a total wreck!

So watch out if I get on a roll!

But right now, my hubby is totally more proud of me than I am of me, but I've only had one "big news" so far so we'll see how it goes...

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Thanks, Mary Cline!!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Sandra!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

LOL, Melissa!

We were already headed to Mexico for a wedding, but now it might be a more extended stay. I suppose that would be my present to hubby for putting up with the chaos??

I just have to make sure I can bring the laptop and be able to work. I can't go on vacation and not write at all. (Firstly, it would drive me BONKERS.)

I just need to connect with someone who has taken their laptop out of the country and learn the tricks of charging/ keeping it safe and clean. It's a VERY rural area but they are getting some phone service so that will be a plus.

Kelsey Alford said...

Season of Hope looks like a great read for the holidays! Can't wait till it comes out!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Thanks, Kelsey!

Melissa Jagears said...

An extended stay in Mexico sounds like something to do for the memories as well. I'd definitely consider it if I were you. Night.er. Morning!

Cindy W. said...

I would love to read the entire post this morning but I must get ready for my day job. But I will be coming back tonight to read your post in depth.

I must say, for me, book covers are important. They tend to draw me in but if the cover is bad and the author's name is someone I've read before and enjoyed, I will take the plunge and buy the book.

Have a wonderful day! I'll be back at 6pm.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Cindy!
Looks like I'm headed to bed as you're getting up! Have a good day!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Melissa, I think it would be a great way to get the kids' fluency up and we definitely have the freedom to pick up and go, since we homeschool.
Homeschooling is also getting a little more traction there as an informed choice.
They only problem would be... Franny Billingsley lives in the neighboring state in MX and she will think I'm stalking her! :D :D

Annie Rains said...

Wow, Virginia! Just, wow! I'm going to have to come back and read this again later in the day because it was so crammed full of information. And so inspiring! Congratulations on all your success! It sounds like you've been on a truly amazing journey with all of this!

Happy Tuesday, Seekerville!

Debra E. Marvin said...

Hey Mary Virginia Ginny! I just adore you and I'm so thrilled for your success. I think Seekerville and Seeker Followers have turned this indie pub thing on its ear. THank you for such details and encouragement. I also thinks it helps to be someone who does not sleep (I go to 1k1hr about the time you are going to bed and Ruthy is getting up. Your energy level amazes me!

WIll you tell us the word length on your Ebooks?

Jackie said...

Wow Virginia,

That's so much good information my head's spinning.

Thanks for sharing. This is definitely a keeper.

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Oh, this is a dissertation on how to persevere. Learning something new takes work and you have done it!

Go you!!!!

Peace, Julie

Ruth Logan Herne said...

First, I have so much to owe this woman because Virginia and Cheryl St. John acted as independent tour guides for my ventures into indie publishing and if this were a traditional venue, I'd step aside from the mike and have you all give them a standing ovation.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, but this amazing opportunity to publish books rejected by traditional publishing for various reasons....

This rocks the big Kahuna. This is having my cake and eating it, too. This is gearing toward readers from multiple directions, and I took Virginia's advice about keeping prices low... because isn't that what we should do when we remove the "middleman"?

Pass the savings on to the consumer.

Thousands of new Ruthy readers.

Huge upswing in e-book sales on Amazon for my out-of-print Love Inspired books. THOUSANDS.... that's huge.

That's money that would not have existed before e-readers. People would have hunted used book stores and because I did just that when I was broke, I respect it. Used book stores and libraries = Ruthy got to read and study with no money.

Passing savings on to readers was a huge part of why I love working with Love Inspired. Scoff if you want, but the thought of all those young mothers on budgets, grabbing a great read at Walmart for $3.99... that blesses me because I've lived the scenario.

God bless Virginia and Cheryl and the absoluteness of numbers. I'm a numbers gal, always have been, blame Aunt Isabelle. That numbers side has done nothing but help my creative side because the sky is the limit now.

And I'm having the time of my life.

Bless you, Mary Virginia! Love you!

Sally said...

This post is so full of information and encouragement! Thank you. I would love to win a copy of your book! This line spoke to me this morning: "When God is nudging you to write a story and bring it to the world, don’t listen to the negative voices." When God tells you something, you go do it! Thanks for this great post! One question from your post: When you said you had no idea how to put a book on Amazon or to handle formatting, how did you put your first book out there? Is it just a click of a button on Amazon? I've never done it and just wondered about the process of getting something from manuscript stage to seeing it in book form on Amazon. Congratulations Virginia! I would really love to win your book. I love snow! The cover is beautiful!
tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net

kaybee said...

VIRGINIA, this is the most comprehensive explanation of indie publishing I have heard. (I call it that rather than "self-publishing" because "Self" has a weird connotation, rhyming poetry and old ladies writing about their cats. I prefer "indie" for professionals.) Wow. You have given me a lot to think about. Please enter me in the drawing, I love Christmas stories!
Kathy Bailey
Thinking it over in New Hampshire

kaybee said...

RUTHY, I agree with you about the cost of books. I'm not a young mother, far from it, but I still don't buy a lot of books at full price. I love to pick up a "Love Inspired" when I'm at Walmart, which is almost every day as my husband works for them and we have a discount. I like to buy them and put them in little "goodie bags" I make for women who need cheering up along with a Yankee candle, tea and -- drum roll -- chocolate. I also get Christian fiction from my library. And when I win the drawing at Seekerville.
RUTHY was right again. Really, who knew? :)
KB

Missy Tippens said...

Virginia, what a wonderful post!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your wisdom. I've been so excited to watch your success all along (traditional and indie). It's so cool to read the story step by step.

You inspire me!

Missy Tippens said...

Jamie, congrats on your success as well!

Missy Tippens said...

Virginia, I agree on Tina's books! I just finished Rosetti. And also loved the shorts!

Bridgett Henson said...

Virginia, I love reading your success story. Just out of curiosity, are your books in print?

I'm an indie author as well. I only have one book out and I'm experimenting with different marketing techniques. Is Bookbub the only advertising that you do? Do you run your ads when the book is free? Or priced at 99 Cents?

Mary Hicks said...

Virginia, thank you for an encouraging and enlightening post! I'm so happy for your success.

I'm printing your article to have in my 'For When' file.

I bet those little people at your house are very proud of their mom!!! :-)

kaybee said...

YES, but does it work for someone who isn't published yet?
KB

kaybee said...

MARY H, love the idea of a "For When" file. One thing Seekerville has taught me is that there's a whole other set of circumstances "for when."
And we need to be ready.
KB

Mary Hicks said...

I found your comments on book covers interesting. I'm drawn in by the cover probably more than I should be...but I've always been that way. :-)

I've been playing with book cover designs—practicing for someday. It's fun and relaxing.

Mary Hicks said...

For sure, Kaybee! I love my 'For When" file!

I plan on using all this good info someday.:-)

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, Virginia, what an information-packed post! As a traditionally published author on the verge of testing the waters of indie publishing, I was hanging on every word! It's scary, but you and Ruthy and others I've heard from make it sound so appealing--and doable. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Cindy Regnier said...

I want to be traditionally published first before I look into other options. I want someone to affirm that someone in the business thought what I wrote is worthy of sale. After that, the hybrid thing sounds pretty appealing. Thanks Virgina. Yours is such an inspiring story. Excited to watch your success.

Jeanne T said...

Thanks for sharing your insights, Virginia! It's fun to see what you've been able to do! You shared a lot of great insights.

I loved your quotes too! So good!

Piper Huguley said...

Whenever I think I am tired, I think of people like you Virginia, and then I'm not tired anymore!

This post is amazing, but what is even more amazing is your bravery and courage in paving the way in indie publishing. I know you've said (and repeated it here) that it isn't difficult to do, but not everyone has the same learning curve (or guts) to try it. Your words here inspire, because it makes your approach accessible and that is so kind and generous of you.

Thank you!!!
Piper

Sherri Shackelford said...

Wonderful article--and timely too, I must say :)

Julie Lessman said...

VIRGINIA!!! I soooo agree with Tina and everyone else ... this is SOOOO inspiring, truly!!

What a gutsy move on your part at the beginning of this year (BEGINNING OF THIS YEAR, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE!!!), because WOW, WOW, WOW, this is SUCH a blessing for you and your family AND for each of us who read this blog. Thanks for sharing the wealth of info, my friend, and HAPPY HYBRIDING!!

Hugs,
Julie

Susan Codone said...

This was very reassuring. I've studied the self-publishing process on Amazon, particularly the profit part, and thought it might be scary, but you made it realistic. Thank you!

Susan Codone said...

This was very reassuring. I've studied the self-publishing process on Amazon, particularly the profit part, and thought it might be scary, but you made it realistic. Thank you!

Joyce said...

You gave me hope today. Thank you for being willing to do it differently.

Linda Finn said...

I think your words ring true to me. I loved hearing your story and gaining knowledge from it. Would love to win a copy of your book to read and review.
Linda Finn
faithfulacresbooks@gmail.com
Faithful Acres Books
http://www.faithfulacresbooks.wordpress.com

Connie Queen said...

Virginia!
Very Inspiring!!!

I wouldn't trust myself to self-publish at this stage. I think I need the help traditional pub. offers.
One day in the future I think I'd like to try it.

Rogenna Brewer said...

Thanks, Virginia for sharing your journey. I became a hybrid at the end of May with a short story, but still find it difficult to strike a balance.

I'm either writing and neglecting the publishing end or doing a myriad of things and neglecting the writing. And I don't have five little ones needing attention (although, I do have three big ones who've all moved back home recently :)

Any advice on striking that balance?

Valri said...

Virginia -
HELLO FELLOW OREGONIAN!!!!

This was interesting even though I'm a reader, not a writer! I just like to hear how you writers go about things! I've imagined how scary it would be to write and wonder, "what if no one buys my books?" I think that would be scary! You know, because I've told you, that I enjoyed your first book, Season of Love....looking forward to your new one! I enjoyed the setting and the characters so can't wait to visit that shelter again!

Courtney Phillips said...

Wow, lots of information here! :-)
Honestly, I would like to be traditionally published first before trying anything else. I want to be able to stick my book in certain people's faces and say, "See, so-and-so liked my writing enough to publish it!" LOL!
I guess I need the affirmation. But hey, we'll see what happens.

Marianne Barkman said...

Virginia, you encourage and inspire me. Yes, I will look for your novels even if you self-published. That's come along way in just the last few years where if I picked up a self-published novels I just knew it wouldn't read like a traditional novel from Bethany. Great post and thank you for sharing! I'm a reader....but found it fascinating!

Connie Queen said...

Oh, and please toss my name into the hat. I'd love to win a copy of your book.

Thanks.

Janet Dean said...

Welcome Virginia! Your post is fascinating, mind boggling, just plain inspiring. Mega congrats on planting your feet in traditional and indie publishing and finding success in both!!! Thank you for sharing your journey with us today. Definitely a post I'll return to.

Janet

Sara Ella said...

I never knew all of that about self-publishing. It's given me a lot to think about in terms of my future as an author. Thanks!

Heidi said...

Thanks for sharing your eye-opening post on publishing! As a reader I like learning more about the behind-the-scenes of the writing world :)

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

hi DEBRA!

It's funny. I don't consider myself a very energetic person. I'm more of a slug. I just have things I can point to and say, "I did that".
I have friends who run marathons (and train for miles and miles every day) after working full time day jobs and taking care of their families.
Now THAT is energy!
I just hang out with my kids and write...

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Jackie!

You just reminded me! My friend Christalee said she got a friend request from someone on my friends list... She didn't know them. I said, "Don't do it! They're probably scammers!!!"
Then she told me your name and I thought... OH. 1k1hr! I had just added Christlaee to the group.
I love that place. Such a warm welcome to all. It really touched her to think she'd made a new writing friend!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi JULIE!

How's your migraine?? Loved your post on the NC fair! All that yummy food....

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi RUTHY!

Of course you use a French phrase to express it perfectly! Love those French! (Ok, maybe I just love the language...)

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Now HOW did you find that about the sales on your traditional ebooks?? You must tell me! I have no idea what my sales are. And I haven't seen a royalty check for half a year. Aren't we on some kind of different system? LOL! So confused. I keep e-mailing the person in charge and get no response. Or maybe it's the wrong person. My accountant is getting frustrated with me.

Ah, well. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

P.S. Ruthy, you kept your prices low but you still were able to sit up there with a good price for several months!

I hope that I can do that sometime soon!!!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi SALLY!

https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help

This is a good place to start. You can read through the basics. I did, just to figure out the cover specs and the formatting. But there were things that the pros knew and I didn't. This is a good place to start. A lot of people use the eformatting fairies and I've heard great things about them. When I started this in Jan 2013, I heard Calibre was the best system for formatting. Now everyone agrees it's a hot mess.

Live and learn and pass on the info, right?

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi KAYBEE!

great question! I actually addressed this in the blog post but the post was SO LONG that we decided to cut that part.

Self-publishing: I’m going to say this for a book I put up for sale (on a digital platform, paper platform, or in audio) without the help of any other publishing entity. Some call it indie publishing, but since that term is also used by smaller, private publishing companies, I’m going to say self-publishing when I mean the books that I… well, published MYSELF.

Traditional publishing: This will be for the books that are for sale (in all the ways mentioned above) through a publisher that has paid me an advance, and through which I receive a royalty rate after the advance has earned out. I know some small presses don’t offer an advance and those are also considered traditional (but independent) so I could specify my publisher as one of the ‘big six’… except there are now only five… For the sake of simplicity, traditional publishing for me is when I have sold a book, in exchange for an advance. After it has been edited, given a cover, and otherwise prepared, the book is then put up for sale under the name of the publisher, while I am given credit as the author .

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

A good example of an INDIE independent book is 'Low Country Boil' by Susan M. Boyer, published by Henery Press. It was a runaway hit and a huge money maker for this small, independent press.

I know the term is being adopted by the self-publishing industry and maybe that's a good thing for true indies, because there used to be a stigma attached to the term. Now they're all 'traditionally published' with no distinctions!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Thanks, Missy!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Bridgett!

yes, they're in print through Createspace, which is the Print on demand arm of Amazon. That was the funnest part for me, because I LOVED getting a box of these!

I actually just received a royalty check for the paper copies yesterday (the funds aren't deposited directly into my bank account like the digital sales are) and I'd completely forgotten about them.
But lots of people still prefer paper. There's a bit of a lag on getting the paper out after the digital, usually 50 days or so, but there's nothing like holding a real book in your hands!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi again Bridgett!

Sorry, forgot your other questions! I don't do much advertising. I tried a lot of things in the beginning and they didn't work. Or not very much. Marie Force says she didn't start to see real sales until her fifth or sixth book, so I knew the number of books really mattered.
I had good sales before my fifth, but I did notice that my fifth self published book has good sales at 2.99, which I couldn't do before.
And yes, I advertise on Bookbub with the free run. They want at least a 50% reduction in price, and it can't have been free in the last 90 days. So, I've never timed it quite right to get .99 cents as a promo (it would have to be the one that is currently at 2.99 and then set for sometime in Jan, since it was just free. I've heard of friend who have had tens of thousands of sales at .99 but I just haven't been able to try that yet.

Maybe in the next year!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Mary!

My little people are too little to understand all of this. But my older kids are 13, 12, 10 and they know that sales equal fun things like vacation!

They do love books, so I think they were most impressed with my first sale to Love Inspired. To see their names in the front, in the dedication, was such a thrill!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Kaybee (again!),


I was told (like Jamie, in the first comment) not to expect any real sales.

The first book I put up was under a pseudonym and I made sure there was NO LINK to my name under Love Inspired. They're all Christian fiction, but I didn't want readers to get confused, and I wasn't sure if it would even matter, in the end. I decided to just keep everything completely separate.

And that series did very well!

So, I would say 'yes, it does work for those not traditionally published'. I heard a lot of nay-saying about nobody having sales unless they were well-known or had a huge backlist.

I know people who tried self publishing who were very successful traditionally published authors and.... nada. Because they were putting up books the old fashioned way. It's a whole different ball game and I think if you play by 'the rules' you can do really, really well.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Myra!

You, too??? Didn't you just sign a huge contract with Bethany??

It will be a blast to see you up on the charts!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Cindy!

I know how you feel! A friend just reminded me of a time when she said she'd read a book and I pointed it out it 'wasn't real'. She said, 'It was on Amazon and had an ISBN number and everything!' I snorted. I knew the REAL books and they weren't on Amazon!

Ok, so I was a little snooty about it. She loves to remind me of that now.

But I do understand the desire to be recognized as worthy.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Jeanne!

I see you over and the Books and Such blog a lot. Are you agented there? What do you write?

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Thanks, PIPER!

That means a lot! And I wouldn't say it's courage and bravery. more like POVERTY, hahaha!

If anyone would have told me five years ago that I'd self publish and be happy about it, I would have told them they were out of their minds.

Things have really changed. My own perception has changed. It's a great time to be a writer!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Thanks Sherri!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi JULIE!

Hybriding? That totally looks like breeding to me! Happy breeding!! HAHAHA!

I keep trying to convince my husband to have one more BABY, but he says he's too old. Forty five is not too old! It's the prime of life!

Hm. Not sure how I got to babies from your comment, but there it is, the biological clock ticking away.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi SUSAN!

I think when your expectations are in line, it can really work. I had zero expectations, so I was thrilled those first months when I made $400 and then $1800. I was just floored that I could make money off books nobody had wanted.

Then I found the self publishing loop and learned I wasn't even doing it right. I got motivated and learned as much as I could. I still didn't have any real expectations because I know plenty of people who aren't making much, even though they've got two or three books out.

But I think having the books similar and in a series really helped. Amazon tickers are organized by genre, so if your books are all in a different genre, your sales will be lower. If they're connected, readers will see all the books lined up nicely in the 'also bought' area at the bottom.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi JOYCE!

Hope is a powerful thing! So happy to have given you a lift today!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Linda!

You're in the hat!

(LOL. I just thought of a foreigner reading that. "In the hat? Why is she know in the hat? Is that bad or good?" They would have an even harder time with Tina's phrase of being 'thrown in the cat dish'.
Foreigner: "Is that like being in 'the dog house'? Are they in trouble?"

Lol. I need more coffee.)

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi CONNIE!

Traditional publishing really offers so much.

I know there are very successful authors who are signing traditional contracts just for the benefits of having wide print distribution.

For me, it's much more complicated. I've seen how much of a mess I can make (and have to clean up) when I try to do it all myself. I also like having a partner I click with. Kathryn Frazier made me laugh all the way through the edits of my historical series, and that's saying something! The editorial process is distinctly un-fun. You have to really mesh with your editor, they have to like your writing, or it feels awkward.
Going forward, I've put a lot more energy into seeing whether I click with my editor. I'm learning that having a good relationship with an editor is one of the really beautiful things about traditional publishing!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Rogenna!

It's actually SIX little ones! ha! And a few of them are slipping to that teen and tween area. YIKES.

I hear you. I know we need to protect the writing above all, because if we don't write, the readers can't buy our books.

On the other hand, I try to think of it like this...

That quote Tina put up at the beginning of the comments: What have you done to make your dream come true today?

I was always feeling guilty about cutting writing time to read publishing blogs or research something that was mentioned on the loop. I got really frustrated thinking there was NO WAY I could do it all.

Then I realized, every small thing I learned, every post I read, every advertising site I clicked to check out their rates and whether it was worth it, every time I visited Seekerville-- it all mattered.

When I caught myself feeling frustrated at the word count being lower than I wanted, I looked at what I HAD done. Lots of reading. Lots of editing work. Lots of listening to opinions and checking agent blogs and watching industry insiders fight (haha!). Those all contribute to the knowledge I need to be successful.

So, it's definitely an adjustment. In traditional publishing, we used to just write, edit, turn it in, edit some more, turn it back in.

Now, everything we do is related to selling books, so that 'myriad of things' is actually building your platform, so when you have to change or make a decision, you think, "oh, I remember that article I read on this".

This doesn't apply to facebook, though!! I do love facebook. I love my author pages and connecting with friends and seeing funny cat pictures (I can't help it!!). But hey, we all have our weak spots.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Valri!!!

*waves to the west side*

I bet it's raining buckets there. I went to college in Eugene and remember the rain fever. Months and months and months of rain. I loved it, but I sure was glad to see the sun in May!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

LOL, Courtney!

Revenge is a powerful motivator, I agree!!

But I have to say, in the end, the person you want to impress will NOT be impressed. People who have been mean to you, told you your work is worthless, will still believe that. It's a hard truth.

Letting go of the 'how do you like THEM APPLES' desire has been very hard for me... but pay day helps a lot, hahahahahahaha!

Now, for me, I've moved beyond trying to impress a few people who never liked my work anyway, to thousands of people who love my work. And that makes me write better, gives me confidence, gives me back the energy that I was spending on that bitterness. I don't forget, but I don't spend time on them, either.

Success is its own reward. And I agree, having a traditional publisher (especially a big one!)say your book is worthy, is a VERY GOOD FEELING.

But if that doesn't happen, I hope you'll still believe in your story. Write on!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Marianne!

I've learned to peek inside the book (click the cover on Amazon) and read a bit of it. I can usually tell whether I'll like the writing and the voice. Just like browsing in a bookstore, I never know until I look inside whether I'll love the story!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi JANET!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

You're welcome, SARA ELLA!

(My great niece is named ELLA. Love that name!)

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

hi Heidi!

I think I missed your post up above! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Jackie Smith said...

I am happy for your writing success! Have read some of your books (loved them) but not the one you are giving away today...so please enter me!
Thanks!!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi JACKIE!

Will do and so glad you liked the books!

Helen Gray said...

As this "conversation" progresses, you are answering so many of the questions I have been wondering about. Thanks again.

Connie Queen said...

Virginia, since I've never worked w/an editor, I know nothing.
I dream of an easy-to-work-with editor that helps makes my story go from good to fireworks jumping off the page. I don't picture strife or her making suggestions I disagree with. (You can quit snickering.)

I like the feeling of someone being in my corner with me. Whether it's a critique partner, an editorial team, or people I would hire.

That's why your story inspires me. Great job.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

I'm so glad, Helen!

The original post was HUGE and I sent out a weepy white flag to Tina. I figured all the bits we cut would come up in the comment area eventually...

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

LOL, Connie!

You made me laugh!

And, really, I think it's very rare that you find someone that you just can't work with and who does NOT understand your writing, whether it be agent or editor.

I know we're told we can use 'stet' to keep changes from happening in our books, but I've never done that and probably never will. I sort of feel like, I'm signed the contract and I'm going to do it the way they want.

Self publishing has offered a nice balance, of being able to write without constantly lining up my vision with what I know the editor will want.

Not all books are the same, even though we romance writers are told there are 'hard and fast rules', like having hero and heroine meet on the first page or first chapter. So, it was great to be able to write the story as I saw it unfold.

One of my favorite MG books has the protagonist utter only two words the whole first chapter! It's brilliant and would never fly with our genre.

So, I guess knowing genre and editor expectations is probably the best thing you can do to smooth the way. Good luck and keep us updated!

Debby Giusti said...

Virginia...

Your success is amazing and well deserved! Congratulations!!!

Thanks for sharing the ins and outs with us today. I cut and pasted and saved your blog for future study. You've provided such a wealth of information and practical suggestions on marketing those indie books!

I'm tempted. It looks almost too good to be true, yet I know it is true. Of course, it's because you are a very talented lady who works hard and is a savvy businesswoman as well as an outstanding writer. Hard to fail with that combination!!!

I'm proud of you!!!

YAY, Virginia!!! You rock!!!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Debby!

Thanks so much, but as I said, I got it all from the self publishing loop. There's a reason all those erotica books are making the NYT list. They have a system and it works.

My audience won't be as big, writing Christian fiction, but I want to make sure our books are visible, too. If they know the way to play the game, then I'm willing to learn the rules! :D

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

All right, everybody! I'm headed out with the kids so I'll pop back in later!

I'll leave you with hot coffee and tea, freshly made cinnamon rolls and a fruit platter!

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

You da WOMAN, Virginia!!!

Thank you for sharing your story(s) and the how's and why's and what's of the journey.

And all with your signature humor. Congratulations, lady. You're my hero!!!

Yes please. may at maythek9spy dot com

And thanks for your generosity in helping other up-and-coming authors. Even K9 Spy ones. ;)

103 comments already - will take a bit to work through but looking forward to it.

Tina Radcliffe said...

There are some real advantages to working with a traditional publisher before going the self route.

(Not to cast any aspersions on folks who do it another way.)

But working with LI I really learned to dig much deeper inside myself to the point where it hurt. But that hurt was a good thing. I was touching emotions in myself and for my characters that I had no idea I could share.

I've leaned so much.

But at the same time, it is fun after writing for a line to do something crazy and funny for myself. Freeing.

I feel so fortunate to have the best of both worlds.

Bob said...

I coined the term Hybrid Author in June 2011 and defined it. Since then everyone has acted like somehow they just discovered it. I find it curious.

There are many roads to Oz and Oz means different things for different people. The publishing landscape is different than it was in 2011. And it will be different in 2015. One caveat: rights and reversion of rights is a key issue. I've had several #1 NY Times Bestselling authors discuss this issue with me and I think we'll see it become a greater issue as we move forward.

In 25 years in the business, I've never seen anything that was all good or all bad. Every deal has angles to it and every author must examine those angles and make decisions concerning there own path.

Kav said...

Interesting to read about this topic from the author's perspective. As a reader (and librarian) I have to admit to being slow to jump onto the self-pubbed bandwagon. I've always worried about the quality of work and the presentation without editors.

As a reader, I get to know a publisher and thereby know that I'm going to enjoy their books, regardless of the author. Take Love Inspired for example. They've done an excellent job of providing a variety of voices within some pretty stringent guidelines. As a reader I appreciate that. It's rare that I feel I've wasted my money on making a purchase.

I'm realizing now that I have to broaden my horizons or I might just miss out on something really good. I've started reading indy pubbed books by authors I trust...but I have to do that sparingly since they are mostly e-books and I find e-books really hard to read. I use my laptop but I have a difficult time setting myself up comfortably to read for any length of time due to a health issue. It usually takes me quite a bit longer to read an e-book compared to a 'real' book. :-)

Don't enter me in the draw because I have your book coming my way in my Harlequin order. Can't wait to read it!

Courtney Phillips said...

I didn't mean "revenge" exactly. :) More like proving that writing is a real career instead of only a hobby.
But yes, I will write on!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Great term to coin, Bob Mayer.

We follow your blog with great interest and learn a lot around here from pioneers such as yourself.

Thanks for stopping by.

Pam Hillman said...

Loved this, Virginia! So much info. packed into this post.

A-MAZING!

Thank you!

Pam Hillman said...

Bob, hybrid so aptly describes today's authors who are reaching for their dreams not only in traditional publishing but in indie.

Glad the term caught on! :)

Myra Johnson said...

Uh, Virginia, you must have me confused with someone else--Mary, perhaps? I only wish I'd signed a huge contract with Bethany!

Mary Connealy said...

Virginia this is all unbelievably interesting and I mean that. Not one bit of teasing or humor.

It is an absolute keeper.

Tina Pinson said...

I have considered going hybrid, I know several others who have, I just have to take that plunge. But I haven't yet, I self pubbed before and it didn't do as well. I used to carry around major burn residue but I find myself testing the water again.

I certainly will keep this post on file.

I've asked my publisher to release my books free when the next in the series arrives, but it hasn't happened yet. Although they did lower the prices and I have seen better traffic.

Amazing how that works.

Thanks Virginia

Blessings

Tina P.

Donna said...

Wow, Virginia! I'm so happy that you followed your instincts! Happy for us readers, too!

You make it sound very doable. Your husband was in the shower and the kids were watching a movie and you just did it!

Please enter me. :)

DebH said...

hi Virginia
Bless you for this post. The information is a gold mine that I must copy/paste and review. I'm far from being ready in the writing department, but as a graphic artist, my ears perk up about book covers.

would you happen to know people who may be able to help me move forward in that indie world of book cover creation? bad news on the "real job" front has me concerned that I may be out on the streets in less than a year. i'm considering it God's gift to me to perhaps explore a future He wants me to pursue. I turned 46 today and am too old and over educated to compete for jobs companies prefer to give to the young pups fresh out of Art Institutes/Universities.

your post is very inspirational to me. thank you so much for sharing your experience and thank you Seeker ladies for this community for opening my eyes to possibilities i'd never dreamed or considered before.

thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

oh, and p.s. : i would love to be included in the drawing

Susan Anne Mason said...

Wow, what an informative post! Haven't read all the comments yet, but wanted to say how much I appreciate you spelling this all out so clearly (including dollar amounts too!).

Definitely something to keep in mind for the future.

You're so right about the covers. I won't even consider a book if the cover is ugly! You have some great ones!

Cheers,
Sue
sbmason at sympatico dot ca

Susan Anne Mason said...

One question: How do you get paid? Does the money go into your paypal account?

Just curious!

Helen Gray said...

And how often?

kristenethridge.com said...

What a great blog, Virginia! Thanks for sharing. I'll be throwing my hat in and officially becoming a hybrid at the end of the year--largely motivated by conversations we've had, so THANK YOU! I'm looking forward to the challenge and fun of being a hybrid!

Chill N said...

Oh my gosh, look at all these comments! Must come back and read. But in the meantime ...

VIRGINIA -- This is an amazing, phenomenal, wondrous, awesome, remarkable (okay, I'll put down the thesaurus) post. Thank you for making the time to share your experiences and to guide us through the process of determining what aspect of publishing 'fits' our business plan.

..."If it fails, you can’t blame your editor, your cover artist, your publicist, or your cat. You’ve approved every step of the process, no matter how many people you paid, so the failure (and success!) will fall on you."...

And that fact is exciting -- a great way to find out the stuff of which my books and I are made :-)

Nancy C

Chill N said...

P.S. VIRGINIA ... Almost forgot -- Congrats on #2 and eight months on the top of the charts! Wishes for the best.

Nancy C

Elaine Manders said...

Thanks Virginia. So many great ideas.

I'm definitely printing out this post and putting it in my notebook of very important information. I like the idea of Hybrid, like having your cake and eating it too.

Yes, I'd like a chance at winning your book.

Clari Dees said...

Wow, Virginia. Just... WOW! I was already impressed with your writing skills in the middle of homeschooling six little ones, but now I'm floored! You've done all those books since 2009?!? You really don't sleep, do you?

This is definitely a keeper post with truly-invaluable information. But I'm going to have to learn how to write faster before I dabble in the self-publishing world. I'm a turtle with two broken legs compared to you. :-)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

With all the times I've read Bob's stuff, I've never picked up on hybrid author... But being a farmer, we've had hybrid everything from cukes to pumpkins to corn to squash/beans/dogs... Yes, my Goldendoodle breeding was a hybrid, too, and F1 hybrid so I guess I don't even notice the word anymore.

Virginia, I hear what you're saying about pricing. I'm not thrilled with how so many different niches of the industry want free stuff....

But with a husband in retail, I know that there are lots of ways of pulling customers in, and a "coupon" for something free is a big draw...

And then if they like the sample... Picture TWINKIES!!!!! They buy more.

That's how I assess free book downloads. The fun thing is to see my stuff done on French blogs.... or German blogs.... and that delights me!

Not long ago I heard an editor on a talk show say that the indie publishing was a "thing" for a bit, and the early folks made some money, but now everything is lost in the shuffle.

That is so beyond "not true" as to demean authors and readers alike. If that was/were the case, we wouldn't have books soaring to the tops of charts with traditional publishing after being rejected 40 times.

The reading public has a clue... and they like variety and bargains. Well...

Me, too!!! :)

I'm thrilled that both my editor and my agent see this as a win/win for all of us. I'll keep producing fun traditional books.... and I have an outlet for things that skate the edge of what traditional publishers might be looking for, that brand of Romance Realism I fell in love with from LaVyrle Spencer. That way, everybody comes out ahead and the real winners are the readers. And that's huge in my book!

Pat W said...

What an interesting post! I've wondered about the "how to" aspect of indie publishing. I'm nowhere near ready for either type of publishing so I've never looked into it. You've given A LOT of information, so thanks!!

No need to enter me in the drawing as I have your book coming my way.

Jenny Blake said...

im late again. been a bad few days but at least now I know whats causing my headaches.
Love the info and I do have at least one of your self published books.
I have bought a few books that were cheaper and have bought books because of the author or having loved the first book. This year I haven't read alot of books like normal. the book I am on have been for 3 weeks and haven't read a word for 2 and a half weeks. With the headaches just haven't had the energy. (Now we know what it is and different treatment hopefully will be back to reading soon).

Pat W said...

What an interesting post! I've wondered about the "how to" aspect of indie publishing. I'm nowhere near ready for either type of publishing so I've never looked into it. You've given A LOT of information, so thanks!!

No need to enter me in the drawing as I have your book coming my way.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi KC!

Tell May we said hi!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

TINA-

I think what I learned from writing a book for Melissa was to 'focus on the romance'.

REALLY.

You'd think I would have known that.

But I was writing all women's fiction-y, with all sorts of supporting characters and sub-plots.

Now that's fine for a 100K word book. It's not okay for 60K word book.

After cutting a lot of it, I still had great supporting characters that didn't overwhelm the simple romance.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi BOB!

Wait, you're not saying I'm acting like I coined this term, correct?

That would be really funny, since it's in every other blog post right around now. Even on Seekerville they've already had someone talking about hybrid authors.

But congrats on the term (the best 'new' term comes from something everyone will recognize, although from another area, which is botany for us now).

And excellent point on the rights revision. When I negotiated a recent deal, I had great input on what rights are worth from Courtney Milan (she directed me to this post http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/2013/08/19/know-what-your-rights-are-worth/).

I liked her caveat at the end: what they offer, what the rights are worth, and what you'll accept are going to be very different. It's up to you to decide how much it's worth it to publish with them.

That was very helpful.

As for reversion of rights, I'm not sure if LI books are that much of an issue, but I do know as I move from self-publishing back to traditional, I pay extra attention to any and all rights and their reversions.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi KAV!

Did you know I worked in libraries for over 20 years? And my own library has none of my books, traditional OR self published.

As the director told me: 'we don't do little paper backs'.

So, for him, the best way to know if a book is good is whether it's in hardback or it's a well-known author.

My books are in other local libraries and bookstores, but I haven't even bothered trying to get them in my local library.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Courtney-

I know. I was more thinking of myself. :)

You probably don't have a vengeful bone in your body.

Whereas I... *searches around* I think that's all I have!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi PAM!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

No, Myra, you have a series coming out. It's the first thing I see when I click on Seekerville.

The one with the train at the bottom? (Of curse, Melissa J's has a train at the bottom, too. I probably have the publisher wrong. But you have a series coming out, I know it!!!!! If I could hold open two tabs at a time on my phone, I'd tell you the title...

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Mary!

Thanks for stopping by!

Jackie McNutt said...

As a reader your article has made me more aware of some of the problems, disappointments and struggles that writers go through. Thank you for interesting article.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi TINA!

I thought you were a self-published author! Now I have to go and check your books on Amazon.

I think something that's very difficult for self publishers might be finding out they don't have a lot of the control over pricing and marketing that they used to have. It's a wonderful thing.

Going forward, I want to make sure the publisher and I are on the same page about marketing and price. Most really big publishers are not in the business of putting out a book and letting it sink. Some have very, very good track records for putting everything they have behind a series.

But we're talking about going the opposite direction, right? I'm sorry you had a bad experience, but maybe things have changed. I certainly wouldn't have considered it four years ago. Mostly my own issue, but also the fact that nobody really knew how the system worked yet.

Tina Radcliffe said...

We send Bob money every time we use that word. So no worries.


Oh, I just spoke to our accountant. We have forgotten to send him money.

We will take care of that right now.

Unfortunately Captain Jack is our accountant. It was part of the lease with Unpublished Island.

So we will for sure send Bob RUM!

Tina Radcliffe said...

I will stick a few coconuts in the box too.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi DONNA!

Well, and then there was the rest of the story.... :D

But yes, it's pretty streamlined, especially if you have a recent word program. :)

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi DEBH!

I was just saying to a friend of mine that the really successful people will be able to tap into the self publishing vein, even if they're not writers.

Cover artists, freelance editors, formatters, etc will be able to make a decent living from providing quality products to people who are self publishing.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'knowing someone'. Are you thinking of doing your own business? Or being hired on as a cover designer? I don't know anybody in the cover design world, but if you look around, there are tons of sites that sell pre-made covers. My best advice, if you're going it alone,would be to set up a nice website with several hundred covers, good prices, and advertise over on the self pub loop.

Otherwise, if you're wondering if there's a place on a team of professionals I would.... advertise over on the yahoo self-pub loop!

There are so many people there who wear more than one hat, or know others who do those jobs. You could list your credentials and a contact e-mail.

Best of luck and with a talent like cover design, you're going to do well!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

hi SUE!

The payments start 60 days after the first is accrued and then come in every 30 days, right into my bank account. Usually it's a few days from the end of the month, but I get a 'remittance' notice through my e-mail about a week before with the act date (which for this month, is tomorrow).

The paper comes in every 30 days by mail. My audible payments come in every 30 days by mail.

Maybe there's a setting I can use to put it into my account, but I haven't looked yet. I set up a separate bank account for depositing all the book earnings because the accountant said it was easier.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Helen!

And I meant the print royalties come in every 30 days by check, through the mail.

I'm starting to sound like a telegram. Short and confusing!

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Congratulations on your writing success, Virginia. I admire your initiative. So much information you've given out for me to consider and a post to save for future use. Many thanks.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi NANCY!

I put that in there because I'd heard people say that they would hire the best NY editor to be SURE their book was a success. There is no guarantee, although a great editor goes a long way.

When you self publish, no one will look at them. It's still your name on the book. If a book sells badly in traditional publishing, everyone looks at the publisher. Not so with self publishing. You're still the person in charge, because you've HIRED THE HELP.

And thank you! I can't wait to see what happens next for people in this business! Best of luck!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Elaine!

It seems just when I decide I want to one or the other, everything changes. So, I guess I'll just do both!

Carrie Turansky said...

I Loved this Virginia! Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience. Blessings, Carrie

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi CLARI!

As I said, I think speed has something to do with how successful it can be. (LOL. I just got up three times during that sentence. It's crazy dinner time here and I've got a potty trainer. Fun times!)

Anyway, if you're not a speedy writer and still want to self publish, someone was talking about the "30-60-90 and one in the hole" method. I would swear it was Courtney Milan but I can't find a link. Anyway, this person suggested getting all your books written first. Speed of publishing matters in the digital world, it keeps momentum. So, she says spend a few years and get your books ready, even five, if you can. Then release them in a staggered way so that they get the most exposure for the longest amount of time.

That's a serious commitment! I wish I'd known that. I might have released different books when I had them, instead of flopping back and forth with series. Or not. I'm not sure!

Hard to say what I would have done if I could do it all over again!

Cindy W. said...

Okay. I said I'd be back to read Virginia' post at 6pm but stuff happened...but I am here. I read her post and I am so glad I did. Thank you for sharing your journey Virginia.

Also, thank you for the statement near the end, " When God is nudging you to write a story and bring it to the world, don’t listen to the negative voices. As someone on here said, ‘ignore the noise’. Do what you need to do to bring your story to life. And the only thing that will keep you from making a traditional deal, or self-publishing, in this business, is yourself. It’s your decision. And that’s the way it should be.

I'm having a difficult time turning off some of the negative voices. I am working on 'muffling' them.

Thank you again for the post today Virginia.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

Tina Radcliffe said...

No, it is Liliana Hart who does talks about that method. "30-60-90 and one in the hole"

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Ruthy!

I've just heard the term for a long time in the publishing world. Long time meaning... a few years!

But hey, I'd have to be really, really, really gutsy to pretend I'd coined a brand new term!

Next time I could pretend to coin "self publishing"!!! Do you think that would fly with the blog readers?

LOL!

And yes, readers will decide. And I love that!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi PAT!

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you like the book!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi JENNY!

So glad they know what the problem is! I would be a terribly unhappy person if I couldn't read...

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

LOL, TINA R.!!

We better check to make sure rum and coconuts are sufficient royalty for term use. He's a smart man, that Bob.

Cap'n Jack can work it out with him...

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Jackie!

I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Pat Jeanne!

You're welcome and you're entered!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Carrie!

Glad you enjoyed the post!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi CINDY (again!),

It's so hard, isn't it? Even when I say I'm tuned out, I find my writing times drop, my excitement is in the basement, and I have to force myself to write.

That's when I pray for blinders. Some good spiritual blinders so I can focus on the story and now what I'm afraid people will say about it.

Best of luck!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

RIGHT! Liliana Hart!!!! Thanks, Tina.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Virginia, that constant up-and-down motion of a young mother with a houseful....

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

:)

's all I'm sayin'! I love that my six are grown... no one's in jail... and they all like me MOST DAYS!!!!

I think we're in the best of times right now...And I like that.

The dark cloud on the horizon is the thought of Amazon Total World Domination... because I think they'd be happy runnin' the former big boys aground.

And that scenario leaves the door wide open for other changes... Giving anyone total world domination over the bulk of publishing is short-sighted, but.... I MIGHT BE DEAD THEN!!!

:)

In the meantime, B&N won't carry my books, neither will the local Christian book stores, and I'm not sitting around waiting for them to see the error of their ways (and yes, I sell a lot of books, SILLY THEM!!!!) so if Amazon wants to play nice in the "let's help the author" world, I'm willing to have fun with them.

Life's too short to not eat dessert now and again. (Grabs ice cream from Abbott's Frozen Custard and DIGS IN!!!!)

:)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh, and you wondered how I checked my sales for e-books...

I use the Harlequin Author Network and kept records from the early spring/summer.... then compared those to my current sale of e-books. BIG DIFFERENCE which means the folks that liked my indie books have gone back (I'm assuming!!!) and bought e-versions of the Love Inspireds.

And no bad reviews on the crossover, which is huge... no one reading the LI's has balked at the indies, or vice versa. And that was my goal, to make sure that if someone liked one.... they'd hopefully love the other. And you know, that's not an easy ridgepole to walk. (Anne of Green Gables!!!)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

And I like that Liliana Hart idea...

Go in, guns blazing. (books written) :)

Madeline Hunter said that to me years ago when she spoke at a local meeting. We had some downtime together and she asked how many books I had completed. I said eight. She said, "That's what you need to do. Just keep writing, writing, writing. When someone is finally smart enough to catch on to how good you are, you'll have lots to offer them."

It made perfect sense to me, so I kept on.

The more you have, the more options you control. And anyone running their own business, needs to be able to exercise those options.

Plan your work. Work your plan.

Cara Lynn James said...

Great information, Virginia! This is a keeper.

Melissa Jagears said...

what;s the link to the yahoo self pub loop, did i miss it while reading and playing pacifier catch?

Naomi Rawlings said...

Wow, Virginia! I know I'm late to this party, but this post was really encouraging. If only I could write books as quickly as you do!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Melissa, or if anyone else is till around, the link to the self pub loop is here.

Some of it gets very complicated. I don't stress it. If it's a thread that makes no sense to me, I just pass it by. Today everyone is talking foreign translations and how to find translators. WOW! Great idea!

http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/selfpublish/conversations/messages

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Ruthy, I think iTunes has really held some ground against Amazon and that's been a good thing for everybody.

A concentration of power is never a good thing, and competition is always a good thing, and somewhere the authors will find the sweet spot.

CatMom said...

This post was GREAT, Virginia---thank you!! Reading about your journey was amazing (actually, super-amazing given the fact you have a houseful of kiddos!).

You've given me lots to think about, and some great information.

CONGRATS on your success (which will continue a long time, I'm sure!) and please put me in the drawing for a copy of your book. LOVE that cover!

Please enjoy the warm Georgia Peach cobbler I just baked--with vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream, if you prefer. :)

Blessings, Patti Jo

Natalie Monk said...

I had heard of hybrid authors, but never understood the term. Thanks for giving us a look into the hybrid publishing world!

Tina Radcliffe said...

OR just send an email to subscribe:

selfpublish-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Debra Ullrick said...

Well said, Virginia! Thanks for sharing your journey. Can't wait to hear your news, whatever that may be!!!! ((hugs))
One definitely needs to weigh the pros and cons of self-pubbing and traditional or both. Congratulations on your success!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Patti Jo, what kind of vanilla ice cream???

Walt Mussell said...

Virginia, I keep thinking I will need to self-publish my Japan-based novels. I need to bookmark this.

Boos Mum said...

This was a very eye opening post on self publishing. I actually enjoy the self published books sometimes more because the author can stay true to their story. Thanks for the giveaway.

sweetdarknectar at gmail dot com

Mary Curry said...

Hello, Virginia.
Great discussion here today. It took my entire subway trip home to read all the comments.

The one thing you're too humble to say is that it really helps if you're a naturally talented author with a real gift for writing entertaining storiesm- and doing it quickly.
You're writing pace has always left me with jaw hanging. I remember weeks when you were writing the pages faster than I could read them!

Congrats on all your success and more to come. Thanks for sharing so generously today.

Tina Radcliffe said...

"The one thing you're too humble to say is that it really helps if you're a naturally talented author with a real gift for writing entertaining storiesm- and doing it quickly.
You're writing pace has always left me with jaw hanging. I remember weeks when you were writing the pages faster than I could read them!"


YEAH!!! WHAT SHE SAID!!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Mary Curry! Alive and well and on the subway. How the heck are ya, kid?

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Loved the quote by Cicero and congratulations on all your success!

CatMom said...

TINA, um...."what kind" of vanilla ice-cream?? Well, you can have some of Patti Jo's homemade (*opening freezer to take out tub*) OR you can have Breyer's---your choice! ;) PJ

annalabno.com said...

This post went for so long that I couldn't finish it. I love you all, but please we writers have to write! :)

Christina Rich said...

I'll be snoopy dancing when the announcement comes out, for sure. I have no doubt.

annalabno.com said...

Okay. I have to take my last comment back! And I'm so glad I finished reading this post. You have inspired me to write!
There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Thank you for visiting.

Blessings!

Tina Radcliffe said...

HOMEMADE!! ICE CREAM!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Like that Anna.

Fish gotta swim.
Writer's gotta write.

Dooby dooby do.

annalabno.com said...

How much time you should leave between books when you selfpublish? You said you asked other writers, but you didn't tell us. I'm dying to know. :)

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Holy smokes! Are you all still here??? :D We're just now back from a party at the LIBRARY.

Are you jealous??

Don't be. 200 kids. Lots of noise. Lots of glue. My friend Lili (she's in every book I write) knew better than to use glitter, so at least we didn't track that home.

And got free books! That was a good thing. But tired kids on the loose... Blowing bubbles at 9:30 PM. YEEHAW!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

CATMOM!!

Warm peach cobbler??? I'm kissing your internet feet. :D

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi Natalie!

Well, the way things are going, it might mean something totally different in a year, but we're going to use it right now because it makes sense!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi DEBI, my friend!!!

I can't wait to see that new debut! Love the cover, just LOVE. And all your story ideas make me want to dig deep into the romance genre.

Thanks for being an inspiration!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Walt, I saw some books the other day that were set in Medieval Japan and I thought of you. they were from a big publisher... Avon maybe? Mira? I can't remember.

But now is the time, my friend.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi BOOS MUM,

Amen. I completely agree. I've seen more twists in self published books because they can push past the boundaries.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Hi MARY!!

I've thought of you a lot this week, with the Sandy anniversary upon us. Thinking of your students and your community.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

Thank you, EVA!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

And thank you, Mary, for that sweet compliment.

I think Christina Rich has me beat. She can write AND critique faster than I can do both. And she doesn't skim. I asked her to read a few chapters and she was making notes every few lines. WOW! I told her people pay big money for that, hahahahaha!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

ANNA- so true! We all have to make choices and protect the writing before ALL.

Every now and then, a writing blog post will spur me to write something that I wouldn't have thought of before, and to do it RIGHT NOW.

But most of the time, I have to put on the blinders. There is so much information and we all have other obligations.

Best of luck and write on!

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

ANNA- if I had ten books on my hard drive, ready to go, I'd probably stagger them 30 days apart. Seriously. The way the Amazon ticker works, with hot new releases and other 'wish lists' you have 30 days to make your mark. Any longer and you're dropping out of site. So, for biggest impact, I'd put at least 3 up, 30 days apart. After that, if all was going really well, I'd stretch it out and have blog tours and giveaways and raise more interest between releases.

but this is starting from zero, of course.

If I already had a readership, I'd probably have them 2 months or so apart for the first 3, then 3 months apart.

In a series, mine came out to be about Jan to MAy and Feb to Sept. I just couldn't write them any faster with the other contracts.

Terri said...

Wow, my head is spinning. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Preston said...

Such a fantastic post. I always wondered about the books that went up for free.

I'd love a copy of SEASON OF HOPE thank you.

Hilleary Peterson said...

Ok wow that was quite a post. As a reader it is great insight into what author go through. Personal opinion here but ya'll deserve to earn more on your books, all your hard work you deserve all the success you want. I personally can see how free books lead to sales. If I find a free book that I fall in love with generally if it is a series I will buy the rest of the series. And it allows you to read new authors that you have never tried before to find those new favorites. I actually read a lot of indie authors and see how much time they devote to advertising. It really is a lot of work. One thing I tend to like about indie authors though is they seem more reachable. They interact with their fans to the point where you feel like your friends. Some of them have books that I don't like but I still help promote them because of how they have interacted with me in the past. It makes a huge impression on the reader

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