Tag Archives: indie publishing

Chapter 1 of Kevin and the Three-Headed Alien

We’ve moved from the editing phase to the illustration phase of making Kevin and the Three-Headed Alien.  Thanks to all my beta-editors and readers!

This next book is an early chapter book.  It’s around 10,600 words.  (For all you teachers out there.)

So I thought I would share the first chapter and beginning part of chapter 2.  This time around Kevin has a last name and friends.   The universe gets expanded here.

I’m eager to share and hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 1 – The White Whale

“Ahoy! Man ye stations!  We’ve got a ship to board!” shouted Grey Beard, the dirtiest pirate that ever sailed the Seven Seas.

“Aye! A ship to board” squawked Dirty Melon, Grey Beard’s parrot.

Men ran back and forth across the swaying ship. Grey Beard, with Dirty Melon perched on his shoulder, walked slowly to the stern of his ship, the White Whale. 

There she was, the prize, the Falcon, the fastest ship on the high seas, with treasures to match inside.  Grey Beard had been pursuing her for months and here she was, right in front of the White Whale.

Cannons began to fire.  Smoke rose and billowed everywhere.  But Grey Beard just stood there staring at the Falcon. It was going to be his. He felt it. He knew it.

He pulled out his spyglass and held it up to his right eye.  There, looking back at him through his own pirate telescope was Captain Kurtz, the soon-to-be former skipper of the Falcon.

Although he stood 400 yards away, Grey Beard pulled his pistol from his belt, pointed it at the White Whale and pulled the trigger. BANG! 

Chapter 2 – Jared

“Kevin! What are you doing?” shouted Jared Thompson, Kevin’s next-door neighbor. Jared was also in Kevin’s class. “Get up! It’s your stop.”

Kevin Kershner looked up, put down his pencil, closed his notebook and got off the bus. He walked briskly to his house, hoping that Jared would just go home.  Kevin’s sandy brown hair bounced as he walked.

“Kevin!”

Jared wasn’t going to his house. Kevin kept walking. Jared ran to catch up, his backpack slung off his left shoulder. “Kevin, what’s with the notebook? Let me see.”

That’s all you get for right now.  We began work on illustrations this week.  So it is coming together.  Thanks again everyone!

Great Resources for Indie Publishing

I’ve talked to a few people in the last 48 hours who have mentioned they are reading this blog for ideas on how to publish their book.  I figured a better way maybe instead of me doing all the writing, but instead share what I have read and am currently reading.

Books

APE, Author-Publisher-Entrepreneur came out after I was well on my way finishing the first Kevin book.  It covers the whole process from the writing, to the publishing, to the marketing part.  It is written by Guy Kawasaki, who a major tech player, having once been a Chief Apple Evangelist and himself has over 1 million twitter followers.

One thing I disagree with him on is a social media presence.  He suggests getting that started before anything.  I wouldn’t agree with that.  Write your book, but also work on developing your audience, which could include a large social media following.

But still the best book on the whole process from beginning to end.

This is another entry in how to publish.  David Gaughran is an Irish writer who has a great blog on the subject.  His book doesn’t have as much on the promotion end as the Kawasaki book does, but still tells you step by step what to do.

Be the Monkey, doesn’t really tell you how to publish, but it does the best job explaining about what is going on in the publishing world.  Both writers are best-selling authors with traditional contracts who have gone the indie route.  That alone speaks volumes of the publishing industry.

Websites and Blogs

Here is a list of some great blogs by writers who are doing the indie publishing thing.

James Altucher’s writing is what got me to thinking about self-publishing.  He has books published both traditionally and self-published.  This post from 2011 is probably what got the ball rolling for me.  His blog is wonderful for things beyond writing.  It was his blog where I discovered the phrase “choose yourself.”  But that’s for another post.

Let’s Go Digital is David Gaughran’s blog who wrote the above Let’s Get Digital.  Great info about the industry and how to get your name out.

Failure Ahoy is the blog of Edward Robertson who has several self published scifi books out.  He does an unbelievable job digging into the nitty-gritty of the Amazon store’s algorithm.

Dean Wesley Smith is a former traditionally published author who now indie publishes.  (Noticing a pattern?)  He does online workshops for people, which I have not done, but his experience that he passes on is great.

A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing is written by Joe Konrath who helped write the above Be the Monkey.  See this post on his blog about a writer who used to publish thrillers through Harlequin but now does them on her own.  See where I am going with this?

Barry Eisler apparently used to be an actual James Bond, expect that he is an American.  And has been writing spy novels for years, now he has taken back the rights to his books and published them on his own.  Great resources here.

Hugh Howley is the writer of the Wool Omnibus Edition (Wool 1 – 5) (Silo Saga)
.  His self published series has been bought by 20th century fox to make into a movie with Ridley Scott directing.  So there you go.

Anyway that is what I currently reading about this new world.  The online community is very helpful.  I am also a part of the A.P.E. community on Google+.  Great community.

I am making this whole thing up as I go, and the more we share together the better.  We are all in this together.

P.S. yes the above Amazon links are affiliates, I make a little money if you buy through those links.  That doesn’t make a bad person, other things do.

Step 3 Tell People You’ve Written a Book.

The next step I took was telling people I wrote book.  I didn’t tell anyone at first because I had never done this before.  I mean who am I to think I can write a book?  No one from New York or London had ordained me a writer.  Who am I?

The simple math is that you will sell zero copies if you never tell people.

There is more than gaining sales when you tell people, you also earn respect.

Here’s the honest truth I didn’t even tell my wife at first.  I mean she had read an early draft of the book when I first wrote it several years ago.  But didn’t even tell my wife that I had hired an illustrator and was finishing a book.  Yeah, that’s the kind of husband I am.
But after I got around to telling her, I used Facebook to publish a few illustrations from the book to tell everyone.  Carla’s illustrations made it look like a legitimate book.
By publishing the pictures people actually began to be interested in the book.  It took me by surprise.

As if by some divine intervention Disney bought Star Wars, and the news covered my Facebook feed for the evening.  So I decided to jump on the wave and post the pictures the same evening.

My first press release.  A full 10-12 weeks before it was ready.

My first press release. A full 10-12 weeks before it was ready.

In some ways it would seem that telling people that you’ve written a book would be obvious. But telling people about a new project, especially something you’ve never done before, is a learning experience.
Telling people that you’ve made a book changes your life. And it changes it in ways you didn’t expect.
I received various questions from “where did you get the idea”, “who published you?”, “how did you do it?”
I was unprepared for the questions, in many ways I still am. But I realized if you not only write a book, but also format it, get a cover, and put it out there then you’ve done more than most people, and that separates you from the rest of the crowd.  They will want to know how you got there.

Okay, you’ve finished a book, and put it out there.  You have done what thousands of people have wanted to do, but never got around to doing it.

So go ahead and tell people, you’ve earned it.

Step 2 Hiring Someone to help you

You’re not just an author, you’re a publisher

There is more to making a book than just writing it. You will need an editor, a cover designer, and possibly an illustrator.

In this new world you are not just the author, you are also the publisher. So all of these decisions fall on your shoulders. Don’t worry that is a good thing.

With the first Kevin book I didn’t hire an editor.  That was a mistake.

Consequently there are a handful of copies of my book in existence that have two typos in them. My fantasy is that those copies will be worth millions some day. Until then they are just books with mistakes. But the wonderful thing about the 21st century is that when they were discovered it was fixed very quickly. As in, less than 24 hours kind of quick.

I did hire an illustrator to illustrate the book and design the cover. I did that right.

You will need an editor and a cover designer to make your book look professional.  In other words, that it doesn’t look “self-published” or pathetic. If you publish, remember you are competing against millions of other books. Do everything you can to make yourself standout.

You're competing against millions of books.

You’re competing against millions of books.

Even with just an ebook you will need an exceptional cover. Yes, your mom always taught you to never judge a book by its cover. Ironically that saying doesn’t work in a bookstore. Your cover is exactly how potential customers may decide to give your book a try. In the Kindle store or iBookstore your cover is competing against tons of other book covers. Make it look professional.

Sorry mom, people do judge a book by its cover.

You will need to hire someone to help you, yes it is an expense, get over it you’re a publisher.

So where do I hire someone?

I used Elance, and probably will for the foreseeable future.  I found Carla there, and she did an amazing job.

I am in Virginia, and she is in the UK.  That is a great example of how the 21st century is different, and how business is different.  Carla and I never had to meet face to face to work together and make wonderful illustrations.  I love that.

What I did was post a job posting on Elance.  I wrote that I was a teacher who attempted to write a children’s book and that I wanted an illustrator.  Because the book is only around 1000 words, I attached the text of the story to the job posting.  That was something I did right by accident.

By posting the text several illustrators differentiated themselves from the group by posting illustrations from the story as they saw.

On a side note trust me when I say that you see someone interpret your work, it will blow your mind like nothing else.

47 illustrators applied for the job.  Only a handful took the time to draw the character or a scene from the story.  Others would just say, I can do it for X amount of money.  No effort, no nothing.

What those that did it right is very closely related to Ramit Sethi’s Brief Case Technique.  There’s a lesson and another full post here in interviewing for any job.  Maybe I’ll write that at another time.

Hiring someone online is a 21st century skill that everyone will need to learn at some point. Plus being the person that is ultimately in charge is a nice change from always being an employee. But hiring someone to work with you is just the beginning of the process. I will write more about how Carla and I worked together in an upcoming post.

In this new world you are not just the author, you are also the publisher of your work.  That is a great thing.