Posted on 6 Comments

An Inside Look at the Pelican Book Group

I first read about the Pelican Book Group on Kathy Temean’s excellent blog, Writing and Illustrating. I looked them up online and found this description: “Our primary ministry is to publish quality fiction that reflects the salvation and love offered by Jesus Christ. Our titles adhere to mainline Christianity, but are enjoyed by Christians and non-Christians.” I knew I had to find out more for our Write2Ignite readers!

PELICAN’S DISTINTICTVES

CAROL: What distinguishes your publishing house from general publishing companies?
NICOLA:  Pelican Book Group is a ministry before it’s anything else, which is why we publish fiction from a Christian worldview. As editor-in-chief, it is my goal to seek out new life and new civilization…oh wait, that’s something else…it’s my goal to seek out stories that shine a light on the new and everlasting life we can have in Christ, and to publish stories that show readers what civilization is supposed to be, even though we’re flawed and can’t accomplish it without the One who saves us all. Pelican does have a clean/wholesome line that is considered secular in that it doesn’t necessarily have to feature Christian characters or have any of the traditionally Christian elements, but even our clean/wholesome line won’t oppose Christian values or promote a position that would oppose Christ’s teachings.

EDITORIAL ADVICE

CAROL: As a Christian writing my first young adult novel, I have often struggled with how to write a book that is God-honoring and still appeals to contemporary young adult readers who prefer edgy novels and vampires. How do you write a non-preachy book that glorifies the Lord and appeals to today’s teens?

NICOLA: The Christian YA market is tough for the very reason you’ve mentioned. I think the best thing always is to write the story that’s itching to come out of you. If you do that, you won’t have to worry about being preachy, because the Christian element will be an integral part of your plot or your characterization. Don’t write a story with “preaching” in mind. Don’t put unnatural dialogue into your characters’ mouths because you’re trying to make a point (no author intrusion!) Don’t bend Christianity or flake out on it simply to try to make your story appealing to a secular audience. One problem with many Christian stories today is that the Christianity is compromised under the guise of “being real.” One can be both real and Christian. After all, Christ was! He is the standard, not trends in publishing. If you write interesting characters who overcome obstacles, who are scared to death but rise to the occasion, who are tempted but either don’t fall or if they do, pay the consequence and then find redemption, then your story will be appealing.

Speaking to the problem I mentioned, what I see is that authors are writing to the lowest common denominator in order to grasp popularity, and they aren’t showing our young adults that life should be lived to the highest standard, not the lowest thrill. If your book illustrates that choosing well, doing good, being faithful is actually the best way to have an awesome, hopeful and fun life, then God will do the rest to put that book into the hands of teens who need it.

FIVE TIPS TO KEEP YOU ON TRACK

CAROL: Many of the writers who come to the Write2Ignite conference are either new writers or are breaking into the children’s and young adult market for the first time. What are your suggestions for “newbies?”

NICOLA: Here are my top five:

1) Hone your craft and don’t rush the process. The ease with which one can self-publish seems to be making people impatient, and because of that,  a lot of books are being published before they are ready–or even good. You want to tell a great story, and that means you have to learn how to write. Learn the rules (from grammar rules to the rules/formula of your genre.) If you don’t know terminology, that’s an indication that you still have something to learn. For example: If you hear the term show don’t tell and you have no clue what that means or how to accomplish it, then take the time to learn. 

2) Follow the rules/formula for your genre. They are there because that’s what readers expect. Follow those rules. Get so good at them that including them becomes automatic. Once you know your genre and can write it well, then you can bend the rules with your own unique twist. . . and don’t think because you aren’t writing romance that there isn’t a formula. Every genre has its own. Can you imagine an action-adventure without a chase scene, or a [mystery] without a sleuth?

3) Listen to feedback. If editors, crit partners, agents, etc. keep telling you the same or similar things about character development, plot flaws, believability, etc., listen to them. Then, figure out how to fix the issues. 

4) Get crit partners who will tell you the truth. If your manuscript is terrible, you need to know it. A terrible manuscript isn’t the end of the world; it’s a starting point, but if your CP’s will only stroke your ego, then you will never improve. 

5) Don’t just polish the first three or four chapters of your manuscript. I see this very often where a book is great until chapter four. That’s because the first three chapters get revised each time they are submitted to an agent, publisher or contest, while the rest of the book just sits waiting for the magic  request-for-full. You will be highly disappointed if you keep getting requests for your complete manuscript followed by subsequent rejections because the quality of your book fell apart sixty pages in. It’s disappointing for editors, too.

CAROL: It appears that most of your publications are e-pubs of one sort or another. Was that because you see readers moving in that direction? How do you decide if you will publish the book in print?

NICOLA: All titles are released in some electronic format. Many readers like the convenience of being able to read a book on multiple devices without having to haul around paper–or having the luxury of owning a paperback to read when at home, but the e-version on their phone/tablet/laptop when away from home. Some novellas and all full-length novels are considered for paperback and/or hardback editions. Most full-length novels go to print, although not necessarily at the same time as they are released in e-format. The decision is based on prayer and whether we feel the market exists for print. 

CAROL:  A publisher who prays about these decisions–that’s amazing!!

NICOLA: Thanks for reaching out!

********

You will find links to several Pelican Imprints below. Please read the guidelines for each imprint before submitting.

Watershed  Make a Splash!

“All stories must be Christian fiction between 25,000 and 65,000 words. All stories must be written for a target audience of ages 14 to 19, but with an appeal that will transcend the teenager.”

Prism CW  “Clean & Wholesome secular fiction that reflects hope to a troubled world. Prism CW is our clean and wholesome fiction imprint. For this imprint we acquire all fiction sub-genres from romance to sci-fi/fantasy and everything in between. PCW titles feature strong heroes and heroines who have a strong moral compass. While these titles do not have a Christian element, PCW titles feature characters who understand right from wrong and ultimately understand the right choice even if they come to that conclusion by living through not-so-great decisions.”

Prism Lux  “Christian fiction that reflects the the Light of Christ. “Prism Lux is our Christian fiction imprint. For this imprint, we acquire all Christian fiction sub-genres from romance to sci-fi/fantasy and everything in between. Lux titles feature strong heroes and heroines who are Christian throughout the story or who come to a knowledge of Christ before “the end.” These stories contain a strong Christian message that adheres to mainline Christianity (e.g. The Trinity as one God, three Persons; Through the grace of Christ’s Pascal sacrifce, all can receive salvation . . .)”

Nicola Martinez is editor-in-chief at Pelican Book Group, where she is privileged to work with many talented authors and staff.

 

Posted on 3 Comments

My Wonderful, Terrifying Journey @ Write2Ignite 2018

Today’s guest blogger, Celeste Hawkins, shares her first experience attending a Write2Ignite Conference.

As I opened the doors to check into my first writers’ conference, I held a print-out of my book draft in one arm and the parking-line-yellow purse that makes me feel more optimistic in the other. I pulled it closer to my side as I searched the crowd of faces.

I spotted her and let out the breath I’d been holding in, then sifted my way off to the quiet side of the chattering writers, editors, and publishers. Everyone seemed to be pulling out their schedules and looking over the first session options:

  • Tessa Emily Hall – “Common Mistakes Newbie Writers Make in Their Manuscripts”
  • Kim Peterson – “Is My Manuscript Ready for an Agent?”
  • Jean Matthew Hall – “Children’s Book Categories”
  • Lori Hatcher – “The Day I Wanted to Quit: Tackling the Mind Games That Discourage and Defeat Writers”

When I reached my friend, Leah and I hugged and caught up on life since we’d last seen each other at a birthday party over the summer. That’s when we’d discovered we were both working on our first books.

We looked at our schedules. It felt like trying to order ice cream: you know you can pick any one and be happy, but you kind of wish you could have all of them.

Finally, we agreed Kim Peterson’s was perfect for us. And for the next 45 minutes, Kim shared the top reasons manuscripts got trashed when she worked at the Leslie Stobbe Literary Agency.

I took three pages of notes.

Later, Leah and I sat together again at our first keynote with Jenny Cote, award-winning author of the popular children’s fantasy series The Amazing Tales of Max and Liz and Epic Order of the Seven.

As she took the stage, I noticed her springy blonde hair that matched her personality inch for inch. She presented like the Energizer Bunny, clicking through slide after slide of quirky quotes and reviewing the pros and cons of each option in the publishing world in detail — in a talk she’d titled “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Deadlines.”

It’s the question every writer must grapple with: do you want to call the shots, or let someone else? I’d been grappling with that myself.

Instinctively, I began to reflect on the answer I’d reached. Originally, I’d considered co-publishing my book. Next, I’d staunchly decided on self-publishing. As Jenny went on, the realization sank in like a rock to the bottom of a lake: I’d defaulted to those options because, deep down, I didn’t believe a “real publisher” would ever publish my book.

The familiar fear remained as I drove off at the end of that first day, curving around the dark rural back roads to home.

But the next day, I couldn’t help feeling renewed hope as I walked into a session with my former classmate Daniel Blackaby, who had published eight books since I saw him last in Shakespearean Tragedies.

If he did it, why can’t I?

The chairs were filled, and we had to bring in more from next door to seat the group consisting of teenagers up to 60-somethings. Daniel encouraged us to write even when we didn’t feel inspired. He gave us silly prompts and the results were side-hurting laughs at soon-to-be stories by creative writers.

  • You’re the coach of a basketball team that’s about to lose. Write the worst pep talk ever.
  • You just woke up, looked in the mirror, and screamed. Write what you saw.
  • Write a back-of-the-book description for this picture. (It was an old-timey ship, a long tentacle rising up out of the surrounding tempestuous waves.)

After the session, Daniel and I talked for a minute about our current projects. To my surprise, he even offered to read my book and provide feedback.

I’ll never forget the next session with Jenny.

She took us step by step through her writing process — from jotting down initial concepts on an idea page, outlining, and planning out chapters to finding a critique team, knowing when to stop editing, and even soliciting endorsements for your book cover.

She reminded us that we do everything first for God and the results are ultimately up to Him.

“My book will get rejected by publishers. But if I give God 100 percent of the steps, then when my book gets rejected, they’ve rejected God’s plan,” I scribbled down in big letters.

The words entered my soul as if they’d been meant only for me.

I rehearsed those words as I waited at the large conference table, pulling out my binder and re-reading the title on the front.

Then he came in, the quiet man with the blue eyes and a tie. I stood, and we introduced ourselves.

“Hey, I’m Celeste,” I said, sure to give what one of our family friends used to call “the famous Hawkins handshake” — the one I’d practiced as a girl when people greeted us at church doors. “Good to meet you, Dr. Lowry.”

“You can call me Sam,” he said in his brilliant Irish accent.

I asked him why he first became interested in books, figuring that’s the only reason anyone becomes a publisher. He recounted how his father had built him a wooden shelf by hand. After that, he felt a sense of responsibility to fill it up with books. He couldn’t stop reading.

The conversation turned to me. I told him about my background as a writer, gave him the elevator pitch for my book, and slid over the three-ring binder containing my manuscript. My heart quickened as I felt powerless to keep it safe and un-rejected any longer.

“It’s short,” he said about the word count, listed on the cover page.

“Yeah,” I said, then gulped.

I studied his every reaction, as he began to thumb through the pages, flipping forward then backward.

“Oh, I’m glad you have questions. You need that,” he added, pointing to the end of a chapter.

I nodded.

“Hmm,” he continued.

Was that the good kind of “hmm” or the bad kind of “hmm”? I stretched my shoulders back, willing every muscle to stay calm.

We sat in a silence that felt like eternity.

Finally, he spoke.

“Well, it’s definitely a good book.” He looked up with a smile.

My heart exploded like fireworks and surprise birthday parties. It was one of the best strings of words I’ve ever heard, lined up together like that.

“Send me the manuscript,” he continued.

Did he really just say that? What is happening? My mind raced. Should I say something now?

“Okay. Of course,” I managed to answer, gathering my things and probably saying “thank you” a dozen times as his next appointment walked in and I left, bounding up the stairs to find someone to tell.

Even now, I hardly believe it. I shared my book with a publisher. Then, he actually read it. Then, he wrote back saying that they’d be pleased to publish it. Now I’ve signed a book contract with Ambassador International. And maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll be on the other side of the Write2Ignite Conference table at North Greenville University autographing my first book.

[This article first appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of 1892, the alumni magazine of North Greenville University.]

Celeste Hawkins lived in the same red-shuttered house in North Carolina until she was 22. After studying English education, Celeste started her career in writing and editing. Her work has appeared online at USA Today 10Best.com, as well as in print in edible UPCOUNTRY and 1892 Magazine, among others. She also created the popular travel website Travelers Rest Here. Set to release within this decade (hopefully), Always Been Loved is her first book, a deeply personal discovery of God’s out-of-this-world love for us. Celeste also enjoys sharing amazing stories of what happens when we pray, listen for God’s voice, and then obey at StillGodSpeaks.com.

Posted on 5 Comments

Writing Contest and Anthology Publication

WRITING CONTEST!

According to author and founder Cheri Cowell, EA Books Publishing will offer a writing contest and publication opportunity open only to those who register for and attend the September 21–22, 2018, Write2Ignite Conference. Participants who attend the conference both Friday and Saturday may submit one entry on the theme of “Faith and Freedom”—fiction, nonfiction, or poetry—for a writing contest to be judged by editors of EA Books Publishing.

Contest award: Twenty to twenty-five authors will be chosen to have their work published by EA Books Publishing in a print anthology entitled Faith and Freedom. Authors will be able to purchase books at a reduced rate and keep the profit from their sales.

In keeping with Write2Ignite Conference’s primary mission of producing Christian worldview materials for children and young adults, the anthology will include stories by, about, and/or for children and youth of various ages as well as content for more general or adult readers.

Contest Guidelines

  • Open only to unpublished authors (“Unpublished” is defined as follows: the writer can have articles, blogs, or online content published, either paid or unpaid, but cannot have a traditionally published book or inclusion in another published anthology.)
  • Each contestant must be registered for the full 2018 Write2Ignite Conference. The contest is not open to single-day attendees. Both adult and Teen Track participants are eligible to enter.
  • Only those who follow the full submission guidelines will be considered.
  • Only one submission per person registered for the conference
  • Genres accepted: short story, article, devotional, or poem
  • 300–1000 word limit
  • Include a 50-word bio at the end of your submission. At the top of the first page of the submission, place a title and your name with contact information (email, address, and phone number). (This page heading is not included in submission word count total.)
  • Standard manuscript format (Times New Roman, 12-pt font, double spaced, 1-inch margins, Microsoft Word doc or docx)
  • Submissions must be submitted via email attachment to contests@eabookspublishing.com by midnight on September 10, 2018.
  • Include W2I in the subject line.
  • Criteria: Those that best reflect the theme (Faith and Freedom), who meet submission guidelines, and represent the best writing of a new author, will be chosen for inclusion in the book. Winners will be announced during the conference.

What will you enter?

  • Set your plans now for registration.
  • Write your entry on the Faith and Freedom theme.
  • Submit by the deadline on September 10, 2018!
  • Attendance will be verified before winners are announced.

Author and Founder of EA Books   

Posted on 2 Comments

Write2Ignite Conference Celebrates Success Stories!

Maria Bostian: author of What Should Daisy Do? and Firefighters’ Busy Day

As Write2Ignite Conference 2018 approaches, we want to highlight what we’re calling “Success Stories”: stories of past participants whose attendance at W2I led to specific contacts, published work, and even jobs! We often emphasize the benefits of attending a writing conference—benefits that include networking, learning, honing skills, and gaining inspiration and encouragement—and it’s time to celebrate some W2I benefits that our attendees have shared!

Maria Bostian, Fire & Life Safety Educator at Kannapolis Fire Department, first attended in 2014 and credits both professional and personal gains to W2I:

“[The] most important thing that happened as far as my writing is concerned: I met [Brenda Covert, Editor at Ambassador International] during one of the ten- minute critiques. It was fate! I missed my first session [ . . . ] I didn’t know to interrupt when someone was taking up my time. (It was my first conference and I just didn’t know these things.) I was upset and didn’t know what to do so they let me sign up again and I signed up with [Brenda, who] suggested that I make a few changes to my manuscript and submit it to Sam [Lowry]. I did and went on to publish it and another fire safety book with Ambassador International.

“[The] most important thing personally: I met Laura. She and I were both a few minutes late and we registered at the same time. We had to practically run in the rain to the next building to get to the pre-conference workshop. We forged a friendship that is still going strong. We are each other’s sounding boards, pillars, shoulders to cry on, cheerleaders, and most importantly . . . each other’s Friday accountability partner! That’s something unique and special that I believe has something to do with the true magic that takes place at Write2Ignite.”

 

To learn more about Maria Bostian, you can find her books and read reviews on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2qbhcXp; visit her author website, https://mariabostian.com/; or check out her author page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MJBostian.

 

Posted on 1 Comment

The Good, the Bad, and the Mediocre of Self-Publishing

Kenneth G. Winters, author of the YA novel The Lost Crown of Colonnade, served as a Navy chaplain; a few years ago, he retired from full-time ministry. After investigating several Christian self-publishing companies, he published this first novel in 2011. He shares here, in the fifth of our Write2Ignite author interviews on self-publishing, what he learned in the process.

1. Don’t sign to self-publish until your book is totally ready. I learned this the hard way. In 2010, I committed with XULON Press to publish my WIP (Work in Progress). They were offering quite a good deal, including some publicity that was not a part of the normal package, so even though I wasn’t totally satisfied with the book at that time, I signed a contract. After that, I had one year to get my finished file (manuscript) to them. One year is plenty of time, right? I was working full time and writing in my spare time. I put myself “under the gun” in terms of having a self-imposed deadline. When I publish book two, I will definitely have my finished and fully proofread file ready to submit.

2. Unless you pay extra, self-publishers provide no proofreading or editorial suggestions. I knew this when I signed, and this is not necessarily a bad thing, if you have a peer who will be honest with you about troublesome paragraphs (or chapters), and an outstanding proofreader(s). I did have a fellow writer to help recognize character development weaknesses and conflicts or weaknesses in plot or narrative. I also had good proofreaders. But what I didn’t have were proofreaders who knew the nitty-gritty final manuscript format requirements of XULON Press. [Though I was aware of those requirements, I didn’t catch format errors, and my pre-publication readers didn’t know to look for them.] As a result, the first printing of my book was double spaced, taking twice as many pages as it should have.

3. Every time the self-publishing company sends a sample copy, you must proofread it again before it goes to print. On first glance, my sample copies looked correct. However, Tammy Doherty, a talented self-publishing author, noticed that the title on the header of every page was incorrect. Instead of The Lost Crown of Colonnade, the title read The Lost Sword of Colonnade. The cover, title page, and publishing page with the ISBN all had the correct title. I had to return the books (at no charge to me) for correction of the title on each page header.

In the second sample, the title was correct on the cover, title page, and page headers. However, once again, we found an error. On the ISBN page, the title now read The Lost Sword of Colonnade. Fortunately, we detected the problem. I proofread the book both of those times. My correct final draft/file was used in both of the first two samples.

The publisher made that one small correction, showed it to me in the file, and sent me two printed copies of the book with the correct title on the cover, headers, and ISBN page. After this “minor” change (just one word), I failed to proofread the book in this final format. I assumed (no comments) that the book had been prepared from the same draft . . . used the previous two times. Wrong. Somehow, someone had gone back to my next-to-last draft, which had a number of formatting errors and about 25 typos, including one interchanged sentence. I gave my approval without proofreading or having anyone else proofread the book one last time. In most self-publishing houses, the author is responsible for all editing. When he or she gives final approval, the book is set up and printed that way.

A few weeks later, I received 1,000 copies of my book printed from the next-to-last draft, with all those errors. This wasn’t a total disaster financially, because I sold most of them and gave away about 100 to Christian schools. I was honest about the errors with people who bought the book, and most were gracious enough to buy the book anyhow. I more than broke even, which is pretty amazing. Even though [the double-spaced] printing meant each book was about 460 pages, my costs were quite fair. The initial “Bestseller Package” was $1,799. For printing and shipping, the 1,000 copies cost me $4,899, so my initial investment was $6,698. If the original printing had been single-spaced (232 pages), I would have saved about $1,000 on printing.

I did contact XULON about the mistakes. Although I was ultimately responsible for this major mistake, XULON admitted [some responsibility] in it and gave me a significant [price] break on making the changes. I really appreciated this. Those who buy the paperback or e-book are now receiving the version I intended to release.

By the way, XULON provided me with what I consider a beautiful cover (front and back).

Now, I am preparing to publish book 2, The Enchanted Bride of Colonnade. I believe I am better prepared to avoid the [problems] I fell into with The Lost Crown of Colonnade. (I was tempted to put the word sword in place of crown, just to see who would notice.)

This time, I will be using Kindle Digital Publishing (KDP), [which allows me] to create the e-book and paperback file for free, paying only printing costs. KDP offers stock graphics and guidance on creating front and back covers. However, I will pay someone to do the cover.

Initially, I plan to give Amazon exclusive rights to the e-book version. Doing so [allows me to] include the book in what is called “Kindle Unlimited Free Books.” [Subscribers to that service] can download any book [in] it for free. [Those who are not . . . Unlimited subscribers] . . . pay the normal Kindle price of $2.99, and I receive the full royalty. If an individual selects my book on Kindle Unlimited, I receive a much smaller commission. However, [Unlimited] is a great way to build an audience and gain reviews. People will click on a free book from an unknown author to check it out. They might not pay $2.99 to do so.

I am still studying KDP procedures to understand all of the details of creating and producing the paperback version. In any case, I retain full rights to my work for both versions, and I may cancel my agreement for either version or both with five days’ notice. The printed version will be available for sale through all book outlets. XULON [set the price for my first book], but [with KDP], I set my own price for the paperback.

I hope my lessons learned are helpful to other writers. There is certainly a place for the self-publishing companies, but I’m going to try this less expensive approach.

Contact Information
Author name: Kenneth G. Winters

Phone: (774) 922-4144
E-mail: winterskn@gmail.com
Amazon author page for Kenneth G. Winters: https://amzn.to/2IlR9I7

Barnes & Noble link: https://bit.ly/2Io8zQ9

Interview series by Deborah S. DeCiantis, director of Write2Ignite Conference

Posted on Leave a comment

Self-Publishing Series Part IV Author Interviews

Author and former Write2Ignite Team member Janice D. Green has a wealth of experience with self-publishing projects. Below, she shares information about the steep learning curve she experienced as she navigated different options, programs, and methods for publishing books herself.

  1. What book did you first publish using a self-publishing provider or system?
    I have self-published several books. My first attempt at publishing was with com, which I discovered when I decided to write a book about my father’s life. After that, I published a few more family books and attempted to publish an alphabet book that I hoped to market, but realized I would never get a competitive price using Lulu.com.
    A. Title/Genre/Target age: . . . [T]o publish my first Bible storybook, The Creation, I established my own publishing company under the guidance of Larry Carpenter, who helped me locate a printer and some resource people who helped me with the InDesign software the printing company required me to use. I later published a second Bible storybook, The First Christmas. These two books were written for early elementary children; however, my goal was to reach the parents as well with additional information at the end of the books [back matter] and a more thorough retelling of the biblical accounts than is generally found in Bible storybooks.
  2. What publisher or system did you use?
    The Creation was printed by Worzalla Publishing Company, which prints books for publishers only. I had 2200 copies of this book printed using offset printing.
    The First Christmas was printed by Lightning Source using print-on-demand.
  3. When was the book published? Length of the project from start to finish? How many self-publishing companies or products were investigated?
    The Creation was published in 2011, The First Christmas in 2012. Offset printing required a longer wait for [printing set up and completion] than . . . print-on-demand.

Larry Carpenter investigat[ed] for my first book and told me about . . . printing options. What factors led to your choice? Price was my main concern in selecting [a printer].

  1. How many up-front costs did you incur to publish your book? How long did it take to recoup costs (if you have), or what is the projected time frame to recover them?
    My first book incurred many more up-front costs, beginning with the software purchase and the fees I paid Mr. Carpenter, and adding . . . the cost of printing 2200 books. I did not have to pay an illustrator, as I created my own illustrations with hand-appliquéd quilt blocks – though the fabric was expensive. I never recovered my costs on The Creation, and probably never will, though I hope I have learned from my mistakes. I have sold many of these books for less than what I paid to have them printed simply to get credit on my taxes for having invested the money in the first place. Until they sell (or I destroy them) I can’t claim the printing expense on my taxes.
    I got smarter on my second book and used print-on-demand. I have probably broken even on this book by now, as the upfront costs were about $150-200.
    How much control did you maintain over the process (editing, revision choices, cover design, illustrations, book type setup (font, size of print, etc.), book description for marketing purposes, etc.)?
    These decisions were all mine to make.
  2. Did you hire a professional or use services provided by the self-publishing company for any of the following?
  3. Cover design
  4. Illustrations
    I created my own illustrations for The Creation. I found an illustrator to help me with the illustrations on The First Christmas who was willing to be paid a royalty as the books sold. I regret that she hasn’t been able to recoup more for her work.
  5. Editing
  6. Layout/design
    A friend who does layout and marketing professionally helped me with the cover and illustrations as I struggled to understand the software I was using. Her suggestions were extremely helpful, and she didn’t expect to be paid.
  7. Did you self publish in print or e-book format, or both? Did the self-publishing company (if used) provide software services to create book files for printing or e-book conversion of your manuscript?
    What software or process was used?
  8. Did you do the typing in this system, or was it provided by the company?
  9. If you purchased software yourself, what was the product? What was the cost?
  10. How much learning curve and time were required for the typing/file preparation?

I have used Smashwords.com to create e-books. This is a tedious process and hasn’t sold enough copies to be worth the trouble. I need to consider other options on this.

  1. Is the book being marketed in stores (print)?
    . . . [A] few stores where I have connections . . . still carry The Creation.

Online only? If online only, what sites offer your book?
I have my books on sale on my blog, www.honeycombadventures.com. The First Christmas is also available on Amazon.com, but if you don’t know to look for it with my name [Janice D. Green], it won’t come up with a search for the title.

  1. From your first self-publishing project, what advice do you have for authors who are considering embarking on a self-publishing adventure?

 “Do this”
1. Do all in your power to find a regular publisher instead of self-publishing. Submit, submit, submit, and keep on submitting your manuscript.

  1. Use a bona fide, qualified editor who understands your genre before you publish your book – maybe before you submit it to a publisher.
  2. Use print-on-demand
  3. Find a professional illustrator who understands your genre.
  4. Get professional help with your cover. It is the face of your project, and if the cover doesn’t sell, your book is dead in the water.
  5. Plan to spend money on marketing your book. Make that a serious part of your budget.
  6. If you establish yourself as a publisher, join the Christian Small Publishers Association.

 “Don’t do this”                                

  1. Don’t assume you know what you are doing. Get advice from experienced people in your genre.
  2. Don’t print more than 50 copies at a time of your first book. That number may still be high.
  3. Don’t spend money you can’t afford to lose to get your book published.
  4. Don’t choose self-publishing as an easy way to get published. You will run out of friends to buy your book.

Author name/phone#: Janice D. Green (843) 621-1639

Author website/contact information: www.honeycombadventures.com

Interview series by Deborah S. DeCiantis, Ph.D., Director of Write2Ignite

Posted on 1 Comment

Making Sense of Publishing Options—What’s Your Measure of Success?

Author and publisher Cheri Cowell presented the first webinar sponsored by Write2Ignite on Wednesday, September 21. Cowell, owner of EABooks Publishing, shared her own journey as a writer who started out and, after several years of submitting numerous manuscripts or queries to traditional publishers, eventually succeeded in publishing a book, followed by two others. After the third, her husband finally pinpointed a question she had never asked herself and answered: “Can you finally admit that you have succeeded [in your goal as a writer]”?

This question provided a light-bulb moment for Cowell, who realized that she’d never established for herself what success would look like. Thus, she kept pursuing writing projects and publishing but had no clear goal for what she really wanted to accomplish. She asked webinar participants to determine, on the way to publishing, what their measure of success will be. For many writers, this is “seeing [their] book on a bookstore shelf.” Cowell pointed out that this measure most likely requires traditional publishing because the bookstore market is based on supply and demand from print publishing houses.

For others, “making money” is part of the goal. In that case, Cowell pointed out, traditional publishing will not be likely to yield substantial income, especially for a first book, since the process of traditional publishing requires the publisher to take all the financial risk—averaging $45,000 and up to launch a new author with the marketing campaign that follows all the other upfront costs—editing, cover design, and printing. For this reason, the typical advance for the writer, based on the publisher’s estimate of first-year earning potential, may be only $1,500. If the book does not sell, bookstores will return copies to the publisher, a process called “remaindering,” which results in a deduction from royalties for any future copies sold, to recoup the publisher’s losses. Royalties, Cowell noted, are usually not more than 10–12% of the profit (not the sale price) of a book, so the royalty earned on a $15 book may be as low as 75 cents, after deductions for the advance until those have been “earned out.”

Self publishing, on the other hand, requires the writer to take the financial risk of publishing, with costs as low as $950 up to $10,000, depending on the services a writer hires out (such as editing, cover design, and coding, if e-book format is chosen). Though these start-up costs are significant, the writer controls all aspects of the publishing process—title selection, cover design (which are the traditional publisher’s decision, not the author’s), and marketing descriptions, to name a few. The profits also remain with the author—perhaps $10 per copy, compared to the advance and per-copy royalty for traditional publishing, described above.

A third measure of success Cowell described is “blessing and changing the lives of readers”—the strong urge to share a message with readers, who may become fans. If “getting [a] project out to the public” is the goal, Cowell suggests recent self publishing methods as a more sure path to accomplishing this goal. One example she gave is Paul Young’s best seller, The Shack. Young sent the manuscript to 99 traditional publishers, all of whom rejected it; but because he believed strongly in his project, he ultimately decided to self publish.

The success of Young’s book in 2008, Cowell notes, launched a sea change in negative attitudes toward self publishing, with the result that some well known traditionally published authors began self publishing some of their own books. While she acknowledges that traditional publishing usually brings prestige and that some negative associations still remain for self publishing, she encourages authors to decide for themselves which method best serves their goals. This may be traditional publishing for some projects but self publishing for others. Cowell refers to authors who work in both realms as “hybrid authors.”

In a nutshell, then, the prestige, professional services, and financial underwriting of traditional publishers, balanced against lower financial return and average shelf life of three to six months for a book on store shelves, is one publishing paradigm still pursued by many authors. Cowell suggests that self publishing options (also sometimes referred to as co-publishing or partner publishing, depending on the number of services contracted) may be a better fit for some writers’ projects. She adds that e-books, a market she entered reluctantly and only with the help of a very tech-savvy friend, involve a learning curve for do-it-yourself programs (paying a service to convert text to e-book format costs more) but yield a payoff for those who can invest the time and either have or can find help with the tech skills needed.

Her closing tip for writers, regardless of their publishing choice, addressed marketing such as blogging or other social media. “Your website and social media should not be about you or your book,” claims Cowell. Instead, she counsels, media posts should be reader-focused—“make your posts about your readers.”

If you missed Cheri Cowell’s webinar this time, stay tuned for future Write2Ignite webinar offerings. Make your plans now to attend the full conference on March 24–25, where Cowell and other presenters will offer a wide range of workshops and keynotes. Finally, stay tuned for announcement of our fall writing contest!

Deborah DeCiantis, acting Team director for Write2Ignite!