Monday, December 26, 2011

Sneak Peek: On the Bright Side

Here is a sneak peek at the first two chapters of my tween angel book, On the Bright Side.

You can add it on Goodreads now and sign up for a free arc/blog tour here.

For more about this story's journey, go here.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cover Reveal! Kate Hawkings

The Sphinx Project By Kate Hawkings


Not many people can say their entire existence has been one big lab experiment: poked and prodded by scientists, genetically modified to be the best and endure the worst, subjected to daily tests and trials that would kill a normal human. All Michaela wants is her own life, to be able to go to school, flirt with boys, maybe eat ice cream now and then. So when the chance to escape finally comes, Michaela and her sister grab it, taking their friends with them.

But they weren't the only ones to find their way out of those labs. Following close behind are another breed of creature, one that doesn't know the difference between right and wrong, who exist only to feed their own hunger. The appearance of a strange boy who seems too much like them to be a coincidence makes things even more confusing. But as the world begins to literally fall apart around them, Michaela must accept his help, especially when she could lose the very thing she holds dearest: her sister.


Add it on Goodreads
Follow Kat's blog

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bookanistas: Cover Love

Two books standout this week:


The first is If I lie by Corrine Jackson.


A powerful debut novel about the gray space between truth and perception.

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.
Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

I love black and white photos. So I like the monochrome with the splash of bright color in the title. This cover also gives me the feeling that this girl is sorry about something and sad. And for some reason, her boyfriend is turning away from her.

You can follow Cory on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook
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The next is a relaunch of a cover for Sleepers by Megg Jensen. Now on sale for only $.99

To celebrate the re-launch of Megg's bestselling novel, SLEEPERS in January of 2012, Megg is giving it a new cover with artwork from the incredible PhatPuppy.

Synopsis: An adoptee raised in a foreign land, sixteen-year-old Lianne was content with her life as handmaiden to the queen, until a spell cast on her at birth activated. Now she's filled with uncontrollable rage and access to magic she thought had been bled from her people years ago. Even her years of secret training in elite hand-to-hand combat and meditation can’t calm the fires raging inside her.
Her heart is torn between two boys, the one she’s always loved and the one who always ignored her. But when the kingdom threatens to tear itself apart due to rumors surrounding the queen’s alleged affair, who will Lianne protect and who will she destroy?
  

This is the old one

This is the new one.




What do you think? I like the new one better. The black and blue is much more mysterious than the red and orange.

You can follow meg on her blog, Twitter or Facebook.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

IndieView: Magan Vernon

Magan Vernon is the author of the newly released book "How to date an Alien"

High school senior Alex Bianchi's estranged father gets her an internship at Circe Operations Center to pad her college applications. But Circe isn't your typical military base. It's an alien-run operation center and not all of the aliens are friendly, especially the one that tries to kill Alex on her first day. When Ace, a dark-eyed Caltian, enters and saves the day, she can't help but be drawn to him. Can these star-crossed lovers survive when they're on the brink of intergalactic war?

Today, Magan stops by to tell us about her journey down indie lane:

=====================

The story gets told many times, how I went from a contemporary romance writer to an Indie published YA author. But what most people don’t know is how Shelli’s marketing helped me along on my  journey.

It was last January/February, I was just finishing up on my final edits of How to Date an Alien when Shelli ran a contest on her blog. She had people post a pitch and ‘Pay it Forward’ blog post to the people that had helped us out on our writing journey. I did both of these things and ended up getting an honorable mention on Shelli’s blog.

I didn’t get the attention from HER agent, but I did get the attention from another amazing agent who emailed me right away to say that she saw my entry and wanted to see my manuscript. I was floored. I thought ‘this is my big break!’ I sent off my query and first five pages and almost immediately she asked for a partial. Soon that partial turned into a full and I thought things couldn’t get better.

Unfortunately, that full turned into a rejection. She said she loved the story, but it just wasn’t right for her client list. I still admire this agent very much and she became my "kick in the pants" to know that my story was good and I shouldn’t give up.

So I sent out more queries. I was getting tons of requests from different agents and even interest from editors, but then the rejections started pouring in. I knew the story was good (I’d had many agents tell me that), but it just wasn’t right for what they were looking for right now or not what editors were looking for.

I wanted to give up, so I started on another science fiction story and brought in a few pages to my local RWA group. That is when I first met GP Ching. She read the first two chapters of the new story and kept saying, “You need to come to the Darkside Publishing.”

I was leary. I dreamed of the whole agent-publishing house- journey to publication. But when I got home that night I received another full rejection. I didn’t know what to think, so I talked to my husband. He looked me right in the eye and said, “You have been trying to get published for two years, what is the harm in trying a different route and submitting to Darkside? It isn’t going to hurt anything.”
So I did it. And now four months after submitting to Darkside I have my debut novel out for the world to enjoy. I don’t regret a single step of my journey and am grateful to everyone who helped me along the way.


Monday, December 19, 2011

A tween marketing experiment

History
As most of you know I wrote a funny, adventurous "tween angel series" called On The Bright Side that my agent started submitting to editors in Oct 2009. The book went to acquisitions at a couple of the Big 6 houses and I even completed a couple non-contractual revisions for editors. Unfortunately, the book STILL ended up not selling and was pulled in early 2010 for revisions.  


At the time, I was devastated and had no idea stuff like that even happened in the industry. That you could go to acquisitions and do non-contractual revisions for nothing. In the end,  it didn't sell - primarily because editors felt the tween market didn't really exist and my book either needed to be aged down to MG (12) or up to a low YA book (15). Even though I considered aging it up to 15, the option never panned out for me.


If you are interested in more of the deets - here are a few past interviews about On The Bright Side's journey:
  • Realm Love Joy did a beautiful art rendition of my character in On The Bright Side, Gabby
  • Beth Revis and I talked about On The Bright Side 
  • Chuck Sambuchino asks me about my agent and On The Bright Side
Tween Market
Well lately, people have been talking lately about the tween and middle grade market saying ebooks have still not popped in that market yet.


I personally think the ebook market for middle graders and tweens is about to pop. Not only is JK Rowling launching Harry Potter ebooks with Pottermore this year; but now that ereaders are so cheap, I think tweens will be getting Kindles and Nooks this holiday season. If they do, I have found that there are not many affordable ebooks (2.99) out there for that age group. 


On The Bright Side
So guess what? *waits for groans, shaking heads, and "you are crazy" chants to subside.*


Yes....I have decided to go ahead and publish my poor little tween book from 2009 on January 31st, 2012! You can even add it on Goodreads.


I plan to dive head first into the question of "are tweens online and do they have ereaders?" I know, I probably seem crazy and trust me - my husband is shaking his head at my next move. 


But you know what, people thought Einstein was a little off his rocker and look what he did. Okay, bad example, but my marketing mind cannot resist the urge to investigate and poke around. And since my tween book has been edited and ready to go for a couple years... and since it is collecting dust on my shelf of "all the books I have written that ALMOST got bought but didn't", I've decided to take another chance in the indie pubbing world.


I've had SOOOO much fun putting out Untraceable and so much wonderful support from everyone that I have nothing to lose. Bright has no life left in traditional publishing since it went on submission to pretty much every BIG house there was and I personally think it's too cute to just push aside and forget. I don't know about you - but I kinda feel like my books are my kids and to turn my back on them doesn't feel quite right. It feels like I'm abandoning them just because SOMEONE else said they were not quite good enough. And that feeling sucks.


So over the next month - I'm going do some blogging not only to continue talking about the self-pubbing industry, but also to talk about "how can we can market to tweens - especially online" and "do they need their own books?"  Where do they hang out? How do you reach them directly? Do they like ereaders? Can "tween" be a new market outside of middle grade? A market for those kids who have outgrown Harry Potter, but are too young for Twilight and Hunger Games.


On the Bright Side pitch
Tomorrow I will release the first chapter as a sneak peek of On The Bright Side.


On the Bright Side is a hilarious road to guardian angeldom paved with so much drama and due-paying that it makes middle school look painless.

As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, Skyphones and InnerNets are all the rage. Until Gabby finds out she has to protect Angela, her school nemesis, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven. Problem is, Angela is now hitting on Gabby's should-have-been boyfriend. (awkward!)

Instead of protecting Angela, Gabby pranks her (like tripping is a sin?) at the hopes of cooling off the new couple. At first, they seem harmless until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, her Celestial Sky Agent, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, puts Gabby on probation, threatening her eternal future. 

Determined to right her wrongs, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to Earth for just one day. Without knowing, she kicks off a series of events and learns what can happen when you hate someone to death. 


If you have a TWEEN/MG blog or would be interested in signing up for a blog tour and free ARC, please complete this form for me. 


What do you guys think about the tween market? Is it different than MG and YA? Does it deserve its own spot on the shelf?

Friday, December 16, 2011

DejaVu Blog Fest

Housekeeping Stuff
  • All giveaways from the Untraceable launch will go out on Monday. Sorry but it was so much, it took me a few weeks to get together. :) You know who you are.
  • Untraceable was listed #77 in action and adventure last night. So thanks for your continued support. If you want some extra copies - the ebook is on sale for the holiday - limited time only. It will be $.99 cents until Jan 1st and then it will return to $2.99. So how can you pass it up?? ;)
  • The winner of Megg Jensen's book (Anathema) and swag is Hannah Hale. send your address to shelli@srjohannes.com and it will go out with Monday's massive batch.
  • BIG announcement and mega giveaway on Monday - come back and see :) Let's just say it is another experiment. Also I will talk through my lessons learned in self pubbing next week too to hopefully help others on this journey. I will give you an update on sales.
  • Here is a marketing series I've been doing on Daphne (KT Literary's blog) part 1 (kickoff), 2 (Branding) and 3 (Platform). Next week part 4 and 5 will finish the series from branding all the way through creating a marketing plan. Stop by and let me know if you have questions!

DevaVu Blog Fest


Today I am joining in to my friend's  DL Hammon's Deja Vu Blog Fest where hundreds of writers/bloggers are posting your favorite post of all time.


I had a hard time choosing. In the end, I did not choose my favorite but it was certainly the hardest for me to write in the 3 years I've been blogging. It was also the first time I had really felt a ton of support. And at the time I needed it.


=======================


Sept 2011


Yes, I'm slowly returning from the cyber dead.

And I've missed you guys. As weird as that sounds.

To be honest, I've had a few publishing world setbacks over the summer that I haven't really wanted to be honest, I've been hiding out. Embarrassed, sad, excited about new opportunities and projects, relieved, mad, frustrated, hopeful and yet totally discouraged with this industry overall.

Over the last 2 years, I've moved out of ignorant bliss into a confusing reality.
That's not to say it's bad but sometimes those realizations and changes hurt because they are not always what you want. I've realized a few things about this industry:

*not everyone good gets published
*not everyone published is good
*a great agent doesn't mean they are good for you
*as much as we love writing, it's a business and it's about money.
*It's hard to reconcile passion with money.
*Its all in the timing
* Doesn't matter who you know, its down to have a good book that hits at
the right time.
*Even though this industry feels as though it moves slow, I think it moves fast. A door that is open one month is closed the next.
*No matter what you do or how hard you work, you cant force anything.

So I guess I will come clean so I can move forward honestly and openly.

My awesome agent and I decided to part ways. To be honest, even though my agent was awesome and hardworking and communicative and fun and supportive, sometime you need a fresh perspective and something different than you did 2 years before. My writing has changed, my genre has changed, and my direction has changed. All relationships are unpredictable - some are for a reason, a season or a lifetime. This one for me was a season, although at the time we paired up - I always assumed it would be for a lifetime. Why would we part? Why would I leave? Why would we not work? What would change? Answer: we never know.

And though I adored (still do) my former agent, sometimes the person you adore and respect still may not be the right person for you. And no matter how brilliant they are or how far they get you or how much they help you grow, sometimes you can only grow so far and can't grow anymore until you let go. The last few months have been hard and confusing. I've second guessed the decision, I've wondered if moving on was a mistake, I've unfairly questioned her, and have even questioned my own writing ability.

But now that I am on the other side, its like all relationships. Remember the special love you found when you were younger, the guy who was great and cute and funny and perfect for you on paper, but for some reason, he wasn't the right one for you but you couldn't not explain why. You felt crazy to give him up but scared to stay knowing it was not long term. The one you didnt want to leave b/c you were scared you may not find another who loved you as much. And no matter how great he was or how much you so wanted him to be the long term one, you couldn't force it if your visions/future didn't align or your timing is off. And you question if you will ever love again.

Thats' how I feel now.

Know what I mean?

To start over is hard when you think you are just about to make it. I've been to acquisitions so many times, I've lost count. I've done so many noncontractual revisions, I've lost a sense of my writing, and I've gotten so close, it's broken my heart more than once. To realize you can get that close to a dream so many times, to bust your ass and do everything you are supposed to do and more - and still - not make it. I never thought that was an option for me. I think I'm a giving person and a positive person and the last three months have really challenged that. It's been hard to be supportive of those making it, hard to hide my own bitterness towards the process, and hard to find the motivation and confidence to push forward.

Anyway, I miss my agent. Miss her ideas and funny jokes. I think we did great things but there comes a time that in order to move on you have to let go of something and take a chance. So here I am faced with an unknown truth and scared that maybe I've taken a wrong turn somewhere. Scared I may never realize a dream. Afraid I wont find that agent or editor who believes in me as much as I believe in myself.

As always, people bounce back but I guess I thought once you got to a certai
n point, there was nowhere to go but up. And now I realize that's not the way it always is. Sometimes, you take 3 steps forward and then 2 steps back, having faith that you have still made progress.

So for now, I'm working on a new project and starting completely over, hoping that my time has not somehow passed me by. Hoping that I get another chance to make a difference. Praying that my vision is the same vision as a higher power. Trying to have faith in a process that is so subjective and random and finicky and unpredictable.

The only things I do know for sure.

Passion + luck+ timing+ persistence is the key to publishing. But fate is the deciding factor.

I love writing and love so many people in this industry. But sometimes you can only get yourself so far before fate and serendipity take over. Timing is so important and that is something I am not in control of....ever. Hard for me to admit or imagine.

Anyway, thanks for listening. I wasn't going to say anything but to be honest, everyone talks about the good and no one ever talks about the tough parts or the sad parts or the struggles until something good happens. And I needed to come clean for me so I can reach back out again to my friends online - the ones I've abandoned in the face of hard decisions and disappointment.

So to all my beautiful online friends, I'm sorry I have not been very available and thanks for your support.

Of course, I'd love to hear your thoughts.....


Sunday, December 11, 2011

For Nascar Boys: Lisa Nowak's Getting Sideways


Getting Sideways: Book 2 in the Full Throttle Series


Getting shipped off to live with his uncle Race was the best thing that ever happened to fifteen-year-old Cody. Then a wreck at the speedway nearly ruined everything. Cody's making every effort to get his life back on track-writing for the school paper, searching for the perfect girlfriend, and counting the days until he gets his drivers' license-but there's no escaping the nightmares that haunt him.


A chance to build his own car seems like the perfect distraction. Until Cody realizes he'll have to live up to Race's legendary status. But that's the least of his worries, considering he doesn't have his dad's permission. All he has to do is the impossible: keep Race from discovering his lie until he can convince his dad that racing's safe.


Yeah, sure. That'll be easy.
Haven't read the first book? Running Wide Open is on sale now for 99 cents.



Running Wide Open: Book 1 in the Full Throttle Series
Cody Everett has a temper as hot as the flashpoint of racing fuel, and it's landed him at his uncle's trailer, a last-chance home before military school. But how can he take the guy seriously when he calls himself Race, eats Twinkies for breakfast, and pals around with rednecks who drive in circles every Saturday night?


What Cody doesn't expect is for the arrangement to work. Or for Race to become the friend and mentor he's been looking for all his life. But just as Cody begins to settle in and get a handle on his supercharged temper, a crisis sends his life spinning out of control. Everything he's come to care about is threatened, and he has to choose between falling back on his old, familiar anger or stepping up to prove his loyalty to the only person he's ever dared to trust.


Praise for Running Wide Open:


"It doesn't matter if you are a racing fan or not, Running Wide Open will captivate you and capture your heart." - Cari J, Amazon reviewer


"The roar of engines practically explodes off the page in this compelling, heart-thumping debut. Cody Everett is a straight-shooter with attitude, smarts, and whip-cracking wit; he doesn't pull any punches, and neither does author Lisa Nowak. The collision of Cody and the world of stock car racing makes for a great story, one of the best I've read in a long time. Running Wide Open is a book not to be missed." - Christine Fletcher, author of Tallulah Falls and Ten Cents a Dance


"The racing is easy to understand and does not get in the way of a rattling good story. I still couldn't put it down on a re-read." - Elisabeth Miles, Amazon reviewer


"We race stock cars during the summer and even though this is a recommended read for Young Adults, we are seniors and enjoyed every page. We can hardly wait for the sequel to come out. MUST READING!" - Maxci Jermann, Barnes and Noble reviewer


"I say read this book, it's fun, it's beautiful, it's a very cool read that will give you a feel-good state of mind. Awesome read." - L.E.Olteano, Butterfly-o-meter Books

Author Bio:
In addition to being a YA author, Lisa Nowak is a retired amateur stock car racer, an accomplished cat whisperer, and a professional smartass. She writes coming-of-age books about kids in hard luck situations who learn to appreciate their own value after finding mentors who love them for who they are. She enjoys dark chocolate and stout beer and constantly works toward employing wei wu wei in her life, all the while realizing that the struggle itself is an oxymoron.


Lisa has no spare time, but if she did she'd use it to tend to her expansive perennial garden, watch medical dramas, take long walks after dark, and teach her cats to play poker. For those of you who might be wondering, she is not, and has never been, a diaper-wearing astronaut. She lives in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her husband, four feline companions, and two giant sequoias.
Connect with Lisa online:

Friday, December 09, 2011

IndieView: Megg Jensen (author of Cloud Prophet Trilogy)

I forgot to mention - I'm doing a new marketing series over and KTLiterary. Agent Kate Testerman asked me to sit in the next couple of weeks and provide authors some tips and tricks on how to tackle marketing. All authors - whether indie or traditional - will learn how to focus on branding, promotion, author marketing, and even how to start a marketing plan. 


Yesterday was the first post in the series. Hope you find it helpful and follow along. Leave questions and I will try to answer them! :)

======================

Megg is a friend of mine and an indie published author. The final book in the trilogy, Severed,  was just released.

In Severed, Reychel knows her gift of prophecy will lead to madness and now she is at her most vulnerable. The enemy army will attempt to sever her from everything she's ever known: her homeland, her friends, Mark, and her gift. Even at her weakest, she refuses to give up on her desire to end the war between the Malborn and the Serenians. Reychel would do anything, even come back from the dead, to conquer the enemy and reunite with Mark.

Megg has stopped by to share her journey...

======================

If you would have told me last year that not only would I yank my full manuscript of SLEEPERS from two agents’ consideration, but that all of my ebooks would have hit bestseller lists on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, I would have laughed in your face.

One year ago, I had my sights set on traditional publication and one of the two agents who were reading my manuscript were destined to propel me to superstardom. My friend, Karly Kirkpatrick, had tried to convince me of the benefits of epublishing, having successfully epublished her first novel, INTO THE SHADOWS. In my mind, epublishing sounded too much like self-publishing. I had visions in my head of poorly edited, ugly books that cost thousands to produce. Not me, no thank you. I was a traditional girl. My books were going to be on the octagonal display in the front of Barnes and Noble bookstores.

Since I adored Karly and didn’t want to just push off her theories, I followed some of the blogs and Internet chat boards she recommended. That’s when my eyes were opened to what was really going on. There were extraordinarily successful independent authors out there with gorgeous covers, impeccable editing, and huge sales. Some of them were easily beating sales of traditional authors and due to the royalty structure at Amazon.com, making money I could only dream about.

The week after Christmas in 2010, I sat my husband down. I told him everything Karly told me and shared what I’d learned on the web. For the past six years I had successfully run my own small business as a freelance parenting journalist (under my real name, Megg Jensen is a pen name used mainly to keep the two careers separate). The more I read about epublishing, the more it spoke to my entrepreneurial side. I could find great editors and cover designers. Everything the traditional publishers were doing, I could replicate through my already extensive network of contacts. I could do this on my own. I wanted to know if the hubby thought I was nuts.

He asked, “But will you ever see your book on a shelf at Barnes and Noble?”

I thought back to the first time I saw my name in print for a magazine article. I thought of the first time I saw my article featured on the cover of a magazine. Nothing could compare to the joy and pride. However, I also know how that feeling wore off. Within a year after landing my first article, I stopped looking at the magazines after publication. They jolt of seeing my name wore off. Deep in my heart, I knew that if my main reason for actively pursuing traditional publication would be to see my book on a book shelf then that superficial excuse would quickly lose its glamour.

The next day, I emailed both of those agents. I thanked them for their time and retracted my manuscript from consideration. That, perhaps, was one of the bravest things I’ve ever done. To say my hands were shaking as I typed those emails is an understatement. One agent never responded. The other agent, the one I had wanted so badly, asked me why. She told me she wanted to represent me, but only if I switched genres. At the time, traditional fantasy was very difficult to sell. I felt I had nothing to lose, so I told her the truth. Surprisingly, she told me that I was probably making the best decision of my career. We corresponded via email for some time and she promised to keep an eye on my career.

If she was watching, she would have seen me epublish ANATHEMA in February. Not only was it a featured pick on BarnesandNoble.com for two months, it also hit multiple bestseller lists on Amazon.com. My dreams came true because I made them happen. I took my writing career and shaped it into something that has allowed me to easily outsell and outearn the typical midlist advance, at least according to agent Mandy Hubbard’s blog post in May.

I haven’t regretted my decision. Not once. I don’t know what the future holds for my career, though. I’m not against having an agent in the future. It just needs to be a mutually beneficial relationship that helps us both achieve our goals. I’m no longer that googly-eyed writer willing to worship at the altar of agents. I’d like to think of myself now as a savvy businesswoman who is open to opportunities. I’ve sold thousands of copies of my novels. I have six more YA novels in the pipeline, as well as a MG fantasy I’d really like to find time to work on. I have an international epublishing deal. I have readers and bloggers who I love to interact with on Facebook and Twitter. They’re much more than faceless readers who tossed a couple bucks my way. Many of them have become real friends.

ePublishing changed my life. No regrets - just dreams I plan to make come true in the future!

You can follow Megg at her blog, on Twitter, or Facebook

You can learn more about her books here.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Thinking of Self Pubbing? Read this

Guys - you have to read this post "The Seduction of Self Pubbing" if you are even considering self pubbing. It is so true and so accurate that I wanted to address it today.

As you guys know, I chose to self pub after some serious hardships with my book not making it in the traditional world after some really close calls. And I would not change that decision now for the life of me. I love where I am.

I do want to say that this road I've chosen is not all glitter and glamour.

I have had people emailing me offline saying that I've "inspired them to self pub". Not first of all - that is always wonderful to hear - I mean I never thought I could inspire anyone. But, before you decide on this path - I think you should stop, take a deep breath, and think through your options. Don't make a rash decision. Every situation is so different. I'm not saying you ( in general sense)  won't or can't be successful. There are many successful self pub authors as there are traditional authors. I dont know how you define your level of success or what you are shooting for. Shoot, I'm flying by the seat of my pants too.

I'm just saying research self pubbing as you would agents and publishing houses. Take the time to check out the details because you don't hear all the nitty gritty things that we self pubbers face. I've tried to share as much as I can but there are daily bumps that I couldnt possibly remember to get into.

Here are a few things I didn't know when I got started:
  • The total investment. To do it right, you will spend AT LEAST $1,000 on your first book - cover, editing, fees to get it up, blah blah blah. To. Do. It. Right. Im not saying you cant do it somewhere for 50bucks. But in my mind that is not the best way. Just my opinion.
  • The time it takes. I started this process in September and it's ALL I'VE DONE - morning, noon and night - just to get my book out there and get it up. Man and I thought I didn't write enough before? Now I'm desperately trying to carve out an hour a day to write.  The self pub marketing takes tons of time. It takes over. It's hard to sit back and pass up any opportunity to keep your name and book out in the crowd. Because when you leave, the book drops off too. 
  • You are one man show. As a self pubber, you are standing on a corner with a harmonica, a pair of cymbals between your legs, bells on your toes, and a guitar in your hands playing your heart out. Meanwhile you are now competing against a 50 piece bands that has dancers and baton throwers and FIRE! They get more attention with one song in 10 min than you get playing songs for a week. You have no marketing team behind you to open doors, do the legwork. You get no advice. No have no credibility or pull in the marketplace. I have a solid marketing background and this process has been so challenging and exhausting for me! And even somewhat disheartening.
  • You don't make much money - you may if you are in it for the looooooonnnnnnggg haul. But don't think you will put out one book and BAM "Welcome to Cash-ola city". Some self pubbed ebooks rise over time - if you put out one after another. Look on amazon - most in the top 100 have several books out a year. Self pubbers count on build momentum. If you don't have a second book coming or in the works soon - you are the news of the day and can easily lose your voice to all the other much LOUDER voices out there. It's different for traditional authors b/c they have names and marketing teams behind them.
  • If you just want to write - this is not for you. You have to wear all hats and writing becomes 10% of your life. If you hat to interview. hate to social network. hate to make cold calls. Hate to put yourself out there. Don't feel comfortable in a marketing mindset. This is going to be extra tough.
Indie pubbing has been the right decision for me - for now. I personally have always believed in the my book (my agent did too) and I waited patiently (years) to give Untraceable every opportunity with my agent in the traditional model. By the time I made this decision, it was for me. It was an experiment to play around. But my book had NO life left in traditional pubbing - no agent would rep it because it had been seen and i couldn't sub to editors without my agent. Or who knows, I may have stayed on the traditional track.

Of course today, I am so happy I made this decisions for me. All the people I've met and all the wonderful bloggers who have supported me. That part of this process is priceless.

Just don't look outward - make a decision that is right for YOU and your book (baby). Look at your platform, your support, your journey, your goals, your writing -  and decide if this path is what you want. If it is what you are ready for. If it is in your heart.

Don't do this because you are mad at traditional pubbing, or are tired of rejection ( cuz trust me you still get rejected if you self pub) or need some quick cash. Because those aren't the reasons that are going to help you.

If your book has life left, if you are getting requests, you may want to let those play out - you may want to keep going. And give your book every chance it deserves. Im not saying that self pubbing is the last chance - Im just saying that its important to think through both sides. Because there are pros and cons to each. There are hardships on both sides. 

The self pub road is a tough one in different ways than traditional pubbing. It is a road I didn't see myself on a year ago. It is a road I happened to come on at a time when the decision was right for me. If my book had sold and I'd stayed with my agent, who knows where I would be. For me - self pubbing was the only place for Untraceable - my book's last opportunity to see a shelf besides my own.

It is the hard road. It is not the short cut. And don't let it entice you without researching. I spent 6 months researching self pubbing, indie pubbing, and marketing options. I just don't want people thinking it is the easy way. 

It's not something to rush into.

It's something to think about.

And if you do go that route - put everything you have into it. Your blood sweat and tears, because that is the only way it is worth it in the end if you don't have the success you dreamed or expected.

And of course - I will be here to support you too :)



Tuesday, December 06, 2011

In the aftermath of Untraceable's launch...

Update: Check out this contest going on for the best cover - Untraceable vs Delerium. Go check it out! You might even be able to see Grace's boxing gloves.


First, thank you to everyone for everything- from the bottom of my heart!


I appreciate all the tweets and emails and notes last week. The support and encouragement. I was actually so overwhelmed by you all that I had to step away from my computer that day. I cried, I laughed, and I silently thanked each of you.


I promised I'd be honest with you guys on everything. But before I say anything else - I just want to say this.


I could not have done it without you guys - the bloggers and my online peeps. YOU made this book successful - not me. I could never have done this alone. YOU got the word out and YOU supported me. This community is amazing and I owe my great day to you. So thank you.


I hope my debut has shown each of you what one person can do on their own. That no matter what - DONT give up because there are many, many different paths you can take. And sometimes I know it might feel like you are on the wrong path or stumbling up the right path - but in the end - just know that we all take different routes and we all get there in different ways. 


Some run up the path and don't even trip. Some walk slowly so they don't trip and then there are others - like me - who trained for the run, met all the right people, and tried to sprint it the fastest. Only to fall down, get back up, trip over a rock (how did that get there?) and tumble down again, get tripped by someone (you know who you are! ;) , and are pushed and stepped on. And then manage to still get on your feet and keep going. 


That even through the scraped knees, sore muscles, and exhaustion - I never gave up. I kept getting up and I kept moving on. yes I cried. yes I yelled. I even cursed a few people (forgive me!) but one thing I did - was never let them convince me that my dream was over. I just redefined my dreams along the way. And last week - I took back control and made them mine again.


After all that - last week's successful debut was what I won in the end. So worth it. Because writing is never about the money or the fame. It is never about getting the biggest deal. Writing is about how I feel, my passion, what I have to say, and reaching goals for myself so I can grown. But most of all, I've made new friends over the last few months, I've seen how the industry can rally around someone,  and those things have meant the most.


So - don't give up! You can do it - and when the path seems to lead to nowhere - maybe it leads someplace different and unexpected. You might have to do it on your own or with someone different but you can still do it. You might just have to step away from what you expected or thought it would be and be open to a different path and journey.


So here are some stats for my first week. I wasn't going to share them but I promised you all in the beginning of this journey that I would take you to the end with me - if you followed along. And I don't go back on my word. (I'm not sure if these # are totally final because some of the reporting lags but it's what I know so far.)



In my first week - I sold about 250 copies of Untraceable.
60 paperbacks
51 other formats
100 amazon
40 B&N


Am I a Bestseller? no. Am I rich beyond belief - uh hardly. But my little book that everyone said would go nowhere, did really good :) 


Considering a few big name authors I know sold about 1,000 copies their first week, my little book did damn good and I'm proud of Untraceable


Other wins for Untraceable
  • ebook debuted at #10 in Amazon's Hot new ebook releases
  • it made #44 in ebooks for children/action and adventure
  • the paperback made in the the top 100 for fiction action and adventure
And I owe it all to you guys for helping me spread the word!


The winners of the Prelaunch Party for getting the word out are:
Amanda Milner
Chery Colyer
Sheri Larsen

You may each choose from one of these prizes and email me at shelli@srjohannes.
  • A stack of new bestselling hardbacks (YA)
  • A 1 hour consulting session with me for free (can be on writing, indie pubbing, marketing, etc)
  • Query critique (MG or YA)
I also gave out a lot of prizes including amazon gift cards, books, and other gifts at the online launch party so congrads to all the winners.


Thank you to everyone! I hope you enjoy my book and please email me anytime.









Monday, December 05, 2011

Never give up! (Karen Hooper, author of Tangled Tides)

Reminders:

  1. My special offer runs until tonight a midnight. If you already planned on purchasing Untraceable and do it today, send me the receipt and I will give you a free query critique. Just to say "thanks for your support."
  2. Also, pop over to my blog tour to catch up on marketing and self pubbing posts.Today I will be at: Nazarea (The Author Process) and PJ Hoover (Top 10 ebook Release Tips)
  3. Also - you still have one week to enter the Goodreads Giveaway for a free copy of my paperback. The link is on the side of my blog.
==============

Here is a guest post on "never giving up" from my friend and author, Karen Hooper who just published her first book, Tangled Tides, with Rhemalda Publishing


Shelli, thanks so much inviting me to do a guest post today. I’m a bit intimidated considering you just had an awesome launch for Untraceable. I considered blogging about a few different topics, but they all dulled in comparison to your big day.

The best I could come up with is to discuss a topic that I know is near and dear to your heart and mine: 

Never give up on a project you love.

I wrote Tangled Tides a couple years ago, and I queried it widely, received lots of great feedback and compliments, but no offers of representation.  I assumed that was the end of the road. No one wanted my sea creature story. So, I shelved it.

Almost a year later, I was querying a totally different project, and then an article came out in USA Today announcing that mermaids were the big summer trend in books and movies. The new Pirates of the Caribbean movie had mermaids, a few mermaid books were debuting, and, wait for it…Stephanie Meyer was writing a mermaid novel.

I feared Stephenie’s mermaid book would be out way before mine, and, most likely, so would many others. IF I went the traditional route and tried to query it again, it MIGHT get an offer of representation, then I MIGHT get an editor offer in submissions, and IF it made it through that lengthy process then MAYBE my book would be scheduled to release in 2013. Maybe even 2014—who knows. No one would ever care to find out that I wrote my mermaid story years ago. I’d never be able to convince people that I wrote my story out of pure love for the ocean and sea creatures. Readers would assume I wrote a mermaid book to follow a trend. *sad sigh*

A few friends emailed me the article saying things like, “Self-publish your mermaid story. Now is the time!” When the fourth friend emailed me the same link to the article, I took it as a sign. The universe was urging me to pull my manuscript off the shelf, and to share it with the world ASAP. That, combined with the worries mentioned above, forced me to take action.

I contacted a couple friends who had self-published and asked them where to start. One of those friends had signed with a publisher since self-publishing her first book, and she encouraged me to submit to her publisher, Rhemalda. I figured I had better odds of winning the lottery, but I submitted anyway.
A few weeks later, they offered me a book deal. Less than five months after that, my book has been released into the world. It was a chaotic ride, but a wonderful and exciting one. It was a path and result that I didn’t plan, or expect, but it worked out better than I could have ever imagined.

If I had excepted defeat, if I kept believing that an agent was my only hope of getting published, if I hadn’t loved my story enough to give it a second chance, then my life would be very different today. My story wouldn’t be out in the world. I wouldn’t be getting messages from readers saying how much they love my story and my characters.  And that, my friend, is what writing stories is all about: reaching people, connecting with readers, and giving them a world, characters, or an escape that touches them in some way.

To all the aspiring authors reading this, don’t ever give up on a project you love. But also, write with love. Write what you love. The universe will take care of the rest.

Karen can be found at www.KarenAmandaHooper.com

Her debut YA fantasy novel, Tangled Tides, can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Rhemalda.com. You can read the first few chapters for free on Amazon’s Look Inside feature.
(LINKS)
Rhemalda Bookstore: http://tiny.cc/BuyTangledTides