4 steps to publishing a book

If you’ve published – stop laughing…

If you’ve not published, don’t believe the headline. It’s a joke.

This year I’ve had a ton of projects and opportunities. It’s been wonderful for me to stretch my writer muscles and try different things like writing in an anthology, being part of a project I’m not allowed to talk about yet, and trying new things with my writing. The upside is the writing is exciting and the downside is I rarely know whether I’m coming or going.

In fact, my craziness with scheduling got so bad (home remodel, writing, etc) that I actually completely missed an event I’d signed up for. I was really excited about it and then the shit hit the fan.

I’ve been saying all year, I have too much to do and not enough time. I need to get organized. I don’t know why I kept telling others. The reality is I needed to get MYSELF organized.

One of the things I wanted was a clearer picture of my workload. I’ve been dabbling with Asana (highly recommend this for getting organized, I’m finding it useful) and took the bull by the horns and started putting my client work and writing work on the calendar. Then I open it every day and see my list of things.

One thing I realized – four big things in a day is too many. Four medium things in a day is possible. Four small things means I’m looking at the next day’s tasks to get ahead – I like this.

Clearly I have the tools I need, now what? Well now what? Oh yeah. I have four books to launch this year – in addition to what I’ve already launched – and no idea if I have time to do them. Two are set up as pre-orders so I need to get busy with those. This lead to a what do I actually need to do. Well here’s my four steps (I’m not totally full of shit)

  1. Completed rough draft
  2. Editing
  3. Book launch
  4. Marketing

Now anyone who knows writing is laughing their asses off now because they know each of these steps have mini-steps (substeps? subcategories?). I created my sections and started typing to create a list.

Under Completed rough draft, the biggest step is send it to beta readers. What if you don’t have any? Find them. Beg, borrow, or steal them. Good ones will help you make your book so much better. For instance, I finished a book this week (YEAH ME) and I did a read through. It was good. It had holes and gaps, things got dropped, but I said – nope the readers will get things get dropped.

I know better. Readers expect you to tell them a full and complete story. It’s got to have a beginning, middle and end. If it’s a romance, there has to be some sort of happy ever after (or happy for now). So I sent it to my beta readers. These are all awesome women – I sent a note which said – please please please get back to me ASAP because I have a tight timeframe on this one. One of my readers read it and within a day or two gave me a critique I read and said. Yup. You’re right on all points. Another beta reader got back to me with more things and a third one gave me even more feedback. Thank you to all these amazing women!!!

Surprisingly, all three of them had different things to say. So this of course sent me back to the story to bully some more information out of my characters. I ended up writing another 7,000 words.

In addition to finishing the manuscript, I contacted my cover designer. She already has the specs but I made sure she would have time for me. Yes, I have an appointment later this month.

Now the book is done, I have to write the blurb and start thinking about keywords. Oh my… There’s one of our categories and it had like four steps.

Under editing, my list is even longer. Read through, spell checks, search for my overused words, and so on. The list is long and complicated. This doesn’t happen in a night by any means.

Under book launch eight steps including things like set up pre-order, searching for quotes from the book, ordering graphics (we all know mine suck) and a bunch of other things.

Under marketing, well for now, I have another dozen steps like setting up a launch party, organizing a giveaway and more.

When I was done making this list so I could be more organized, I had almost thirty items on my list. I’m positive I’ve forgotten steps I need to do but I’ll add them in as I need to – and remember them.

The other problem is figuring out how much time to schedule between the tasks. If I set up my preorder and I miss the date, Amazon will prevent me from doing any more pre-orders for a year. You can move up the date but you cannot be late.

So I’ve finished a book – yeah! I now have like thirty balls to get the timing just right as I juggle all the steps. Oh and if you’re self published don’t forget you’re juggling the book balls along with life, family, and probably a day job. (No wonder my arms are tired, I’ve probably got like a hundred balls bouncing around.)

So when you see a title of 4 steps to publishing – they are LYING to you. The thing is if you say it’s 29 steps or 40 steps or however many you use, you are going to blow the mind of the author asking.

One Step at a Time

Frustration abounds for me right now.  There are a lot of things happening for me with my writing.  I’ve got a sale going on through Smashwords, a blog tour coming up in less than a week, and a reader event I’m trying to get organized to go to. 

Each of these has many steps and components I need to pay attention to.  Meaning – get busy and work on them.  I’ve finished making the star coasters.  I started making bibs per a request from my daughter.  I decided if I was making bibs, I might as well design them so I can publish a leaflet.  I’ve got ideas for each.  The first one turned out FABULOUS!  I have five or six more designs I want to try as well as having one started. 

There are all these steps and each time I work on a different one, I think I should be working on eight other steps.  I keep reminding myself I can only do one or two things at a time but my manager in my head (who is a slave driver) keeps telling me to do MORE!!!!

It’s difficult for me to sit down to crochet for hours because in my head I’m thinking – I need to do this and that and ten other things.  For instance, I have all the components for the 100 gift bags.  Next step, assemble them.  Okay – I need to get them all in one place.  I need to punch holes in the bookmarks and gift card and then attach (how am I attaching them?) all of them together. 

This task leads me to the gift basket I want to get ready – I have to make a decision on whether I’m crocheting something or not.  Along with this crochet project, I’m trying to crochet things for publication… the list is endless. 

I know I’m in overload when I sit down with the intentions of working and my brain can’t settle on one thing so I end up playing a game on my phone.  My to do list helps but insomnia doesn’t.  I know the key to success – prioritize and delegate.  My daughters step in and help. 

The other night, I got a video call from the two in Georgia.  They wanted to show me some things they made.  The two of them worked on some good stuff for me to take with me in November to have on my table for a giveaway!  I didn’t ask them to but they went ahead and made them.  They looked super cute and I LOVED them.  It was so sweet and helpful. 

Ultimately I’m busy – over busy right now.  I need to let go the frustration, keep reminding myself one thing at a time, and keep moving forward.  Now I need to stop thinking seven or a hundred steps ahead and focus.  I need to remember I’ll get stuff done and things will slow down.  I keep thinking – take a deep breath and relax. 

On a Roll

The words flow from me and I’m working hard on a number of projects.  I finished and published Wayfarer Evolution.  I’ve got other manuscripts edited and I’m hoping to get them on the computer soon.  In the meanwhile, I’ve started – or restarted – this story I’ve had in my slush pile.  I’m 55K into the manuscript.  

Over the weekend, I wrote 21K words to pull the story along.  I can see later scenes and see how the story will unfold.  I’m not sure on the climactic scene yet or if this will be a series.  I am sure I like the story.
All week I’ve been adding to this story by leaps and bounds.  Tonight I crept along rather than leaping.  I stopped at one point because I wasn’t sure where the story was going.  I came home and normally I’m opening my computer and shooing the people away.  Tonight it was more – okay I can write.  
The problem – I still wasn’t sure how the scene was going to go.  Instead of leaping into it, I opted to go back and read through the story.  I updated my character list as I had missed some.  I corrected misspelling, grammar, typographical errors and so on.  
I got to the end and I still wasn’t sure but I started writing.  Every other night I could tell you I added 3K or 4K or whatever to the story.  Tonight I added about 1500.  I aim for a minimum of 50K and I’m past that.  Now I’m going to write till the end of the story.  If I’m any judge, I’ll probably end up with 15 – 20 K more.  If I write this weekend, it is probably the amount of work I can get done in the weekend.  However, I never know where the characters will take me.
This is the time I want three or four of me to be able to do all the tasks I need to do.  Some of my other tasks are creating patterns to submit to the magazine which pays for them; editing; publishing; marketing as I’ve been adding my books and patterns to Mogul, Ravelry (just patterns), and Pinterest.  I should be putting out review requests but I am struggling at this point because I feel like I’m not getting enough writing time.  
I keep reminding myself I can only do what I can do.  I’m hoping I’ll keep this juggling act going and get it all done.  It’s June and I have to think about the goody bags and the basket for the raffle.  I may have to edit tasks to get everything done.  
It’s my hope I can keep moving forward and not get stressed by the long to do list which is rattling through my head.  I keep reading the list and crossing things off.  One thing at a time – it’s the only way.  

Long Weekend

Three days off was nice but it makes for an odd start to the week.  It’s Tuesday already and I feel like I’m behind but I’m not. 

The weekend was busy.  Vicki and I did the errands.  This included grocery shopping, visit to the butcher, Walmart, Aldis, and Hobby Lobby.  We grabbed lunch on the run and took it home.  This was all on Saturday.  Sunday we spent the morning doing food prep.  I repackaged a bunch of stuff for lunches and breakfasts.  Monday I made fruit salad and finished the few things we missed on Sunday. 

On the writing front, I wrote a little since finishing the last novel.  I did get through a paper edit of Wayfarer Evolution and started a paper edit of Wayfarer Resolve.  Monday morning I managed to get some publishing done (see previous post). 

I figured out what I want to do for goody bags for the event in November.  I started crocheting coasters.  I have ten done of the hundred I’ll need.  Fortunately, it’s a quick pattern.  I plan to expand the pattern into a shawl and make one for the gift basket I’ll send in for the raffle. 

My neighbor stopped over and wanted some more books.  I gave her three more.  I hope she enjoys them.  She started with Secret Past.  She said she’s not a fan of science fiction and most of mine are in that genre so I’ll see whether she continues to read my books. 

I’ve got a list of crocheting I want to get done.  I still need to upload several patterns to Ravelry.  I’m hoping I’ll have time to do that next weekend.  My to do list got things crossed off but not nearly as much as I would have liked. 

Ken worked on the patio we are putting in.  With the temps being over 90, he got some done but it was too hot for that kind of work.  Hopefully this next weekend he will be able to get more done.  I sat outside for a while but the bugs and the heat drove me back inside.

What to do with my weekend?

Is it the weekend yet?  This week feels like it has dragged on and on – maybe because of the two snow storms.  In my head, I’m starting my weekend to do list.  I have a list of projects to work on for publishing, crochet projects (gifts to get done soon), and household stuff to do. 

With four of my student workers graduating, I need to finish their gifts.  I am half done.  I’ve started the third one and am hoping to complete it this weekend.  Once those are done, I have two more afghans, a shawl, and two dresser scarves to finish.  Three of the five projects are started so first I’ll work on completing the started ones. 

I started the third project and designing is always trial and error.  I got the start of it, did a sequence of stitches – didn’t like so I tore them out.  I did that three times before I set the project aside.  The following night I started again, did a sequence, liked it but four rows into it, I wanted more variety so I changed it up a bit.  I thought – I’m going to end up tearing this out but as I experimented, I realized, I liked how it was turning out.  Design created – finally. 

At some point, I need to look at my tasks for publishing and start prioritizing them.  I’ve been crocheting a lot which means I’ve been creating my own designs.  I need to get them organized so I can the patterns published.  At the same time I have the next Wayfarer novel (Wayfarer War) to publish.  I’m doing my first reader event in November and I need to look at what I need to have on hand for that and start purchasing so I can spread the costs out over the next few months.

There is a lot of stuff rattling around in my head.  I’ve got two stories whispering to me.  I’m fairly certain they will go from whispering to screaming before too long.  There are other sequels I want to get written as well.  Summer is always a productive time for me for writing so I’m hoping to get a lot done by the end of August. 

For the weekend, I hope I can plow through some of my to do list.  It isn’t a pay week so we shouldn’t have a lot of errands.  I don’t have a lot of paperwork to go through for mom.  I don’t have a lot of my own paperwork so I’m hoping lots will be accomplished either in crocheting or publishing or both.  Hopefully both. 

Converting Paperbacks from Createspace to Amazon

I’ve got over 30 books in paperback.  I’ve been with Createspace, KDP and Smashwords from the beginning.  Now Createspace is closing down.  Amazon started it and is folding it back into Amazon. 

I’ve tried the Amazon paperbacks and the process is about the same as Createspace and the quality is there as well.  Changing from Createspace to Amazon isn’t horrible but what to do about the 30+ novels I already have.  Do I want to keep them all in paperback?  Should I consider not publishing in paperback since most of my sales are ebooks?  What about the journal I created?  Should I keep that in paperback form?  It isn’t in ebook – obviously.

It’s a lot of work to set up each book.  When I’m publishing, it takes around 3-4 hours just to get them uploaded and all the settings the way I want the book to be.   Do I really want to take all that effort for items which I don’t get a lot of sales on? 

Also if I’m going to do this, then I want to redo some of the manuscripts.  I know there are spelling / grammar errors as I’ve reread them and been annoyed by them.  A lot of the newer books, I have a better routine so there are fewer but the earlier it was published the more likely I am going to want to update the manuscript.  In reality, I’ve already done updates to the ebooks.

All of this ran through my head but I decided I do want to continue offering paperbacks and it’s good to have paperbacks for my own purposes.  I wasn’t sure how it would work to discontinue my Createspace copies and go to the Amazon copies.

Thankfully all of this was addressed by Amazon.  I went in to see how complicated it would be.  It wasn’t.  The paperback option is listed right with each of my books.  For the latest, I was able to go in and use the same file and convert them in a under 15 minutes (roughly).  The longest part is when they do the review, which is typical.  Their message is slightly humorous and suggests a cup of coffee or making a sandwich. 

So far I’ve converted about half of them over to Amazon.  The ones I have left, I will spend a little more time reviewing the manuscript before I convert.  Hopefully this review won’t take me too long.

The nice thing, my prices to the public have gotten slightly lower in most cases.  This might encourage sales.  I had one book at 19.99 which no one bought but I revamped a little, changed margins and so on in an effort to reduce the number of pages.  To be fair, the book is long but still few people are going to invest that much in a book.  I managed to get the price down $7. 

Hopefully the rest of the conversions don’t take me too long and I’ll be all set.  The only other thing I have to figure out is how to get the books which don’t have an ebook converted over. 

Book and Publishing News

Wayfarer Contentious is out and available on Amazon and Smashwords.  This is a continuation of Adara and Decker’s story.  More turmoil and trials with the Command withdrawing their support and racial tensions rising.

Change and conflict surround the Phoenix.  New trainees and Nancy O’Neal Finnegan arrive to board the Phoenix.  The Command mandates keep coming provoking the unrest amongst the crew.  Racial tensions rise with many attacks on other races.  Trainees complain about Adara, leading Command to issue and ultimatum.  Allies are attacked, humans only group is on the rise.  Have they reached a tipping point?

In addition to publishing the book, I’ve updated covers for the Defenders series.  TJ Jahns created new artwork for me (see her web site).  I think they turned out well and are a decided improvement.

Defenders of Magic is coming soon.  I have the cover done (I think).  Final edits went on the computer but I still have to read through one more time and do a spell check before I can publish.  I have to find a few hours of free time in order to do the actual publishing.

Behind the scenes, I’ve been updating my files so I can more easily market my crochet patterns and my short stories.  Part of this was to find links for my web site in order to make it easier for people to buy from their preferred vendor. 

Over and above my own writing, I’m working on reading some books to write reviews.  I’ve completed six and have two more to read.  Out of the six, only one of them was enjoyable enough to keep.  I’m hoping the other two I have are more enjoyable but I’m not holding my breath.

Pre-Vacation Cranky

Prevacation cranky has come over me.  Next week I’m off my day job and will be able to work on anything I want to.  If you’ve read my blog – you know I have a to do list.  Counting the weekends, I’m going to have nine days off!  I cannot wait.

I have writing and publishing goals.  I have household goals.  I have crochet goals.  Are there more goals than I can accomplish in nine days?  Probably, most definitely.

Writing has been stampeding me.  I’ve written four novels with a fifth nearly done.  I’ve submitted a bunch of my novels for contests.  I’ve submitted a story for a book.  I had a pattern accepted in a magazine, sent it off for photographing and got it back.  I sold it to a friend who liked it.  I’ve been editing where I can.  It’s been crazy busy.

During my lunch hour and when I watch training at work, I pick up my crocheting.  I’ve made pot holders and coasters.  I tried a new pattern which I’m going to have to tweak because it was poorly written.  However I like the idea so I’ll tweak it.  I’ve fulfilled one crochet order and gotten paid.

My house is a mess.  I can’t seem to keep up on it.  I’ll pick up as I’m able (which isn’t much) but I have piles of laundry in my bathroom and lots of stuff sitting around in my living room.  It’s starting to bug me so more effort…. unless I get too involved in writing my novel.

We painted boards for Vicki so Ken and her can build her bookshelves and a desk.  The shutters we wanted to replace the plastic ones on our house went on sale with a rebate.  We picked them up.  Next step is to paint them and put them up.  Hopefully sooner rather than later.

If things go well, I’ll have help a couple times this next week to work on more organizing, discarding, and cleaning of my house.  If schedules don’t mesh, I’ll work on other things.  I know my days off are going to fly by but I can’t wait to have the time to work on what I want and get stuff done and off that never ending to do list.

For next week, I’ve got specific days which I’m working with other people.  Other than that I’m hoping for quiet days at home so I can do what I want, when I want, and without a lot of fussing.  A lot of peace and quiet to help recharge my batteries.

Projects – Done and To Do

This week I’ve finished the scarves and the afghan for my student workers’ graduation gifts.  I’ve given one gift which is why I’m posting the two pictures.  For the afghan, I need to take pictures.  I plan to publish four of the scarf patterns and the afghan pattern.  This adds to my list of crochet patterns to publish.  I have a bandanna, log cabin afghan, and set of headbands to publish.  

The collar or cowl scarf shown on the left turned out gorgeous.  I’m really proud of it because it was outside my normal and preferred type of project.  The smaller yarn and projects like this are hard on my hands but it was worth it to do and redo some of the stitching.  The other scarves turned out excellent and I’m excited to publish the four new ones.  The necklace type scarf I love making.  It uses up small bits of yarn but is stunning and versatile.  
Tonight I’ll be working on dish towels and dish cloths to make for someone who is helping me out this weekend.  After I get those done, I’ll be back on my other projects.  Currently I have bibs for a former co-worker of Vicki’s, a skirt, a couple of afghans, and a few smaller projects which aren’t designated for anyone yet.  
This weekend Ken goes off to Atlanta for twelve days.  I know he’s excited to visit the girls down there.  It will give him a nice break from work and our messy house.  
Vicki and I plan to play a bit on Saturday.  Sunday we will have help with getting things organized and settled.  Next weekend will be busy with working on the house as well.  
However, I’m taking off work on the 11th and hoping to get some writing stuff done – like publishing patterns.  I’ll have two days with no one in the house so I plan to get up and work on anything I have for writing – publishing, writing, marketing, editing.  I have a number of projects in the works so I want to make progress on them.  
Ken may be gone for twelve days but it will be a busy time for Vicki and I.  Hopefully by the time he comes home, the house is better organized.  I’m hoping this will lower everyone’s stress levels.

Winter Projects

Marketing is a necessary part of writing.  I’m realizing that I need to have marketing tools in place before I normally do.  I’ve been posting to social media in an attempt to get my work noticed.  I’ve been getting published in other places to draw in people outside my social media.  I’ve been trying to get reviews (though I could work harder at this.)

Has any of it done any good?  Some has and some hasn’t.  The thing is – with marketing what works today may or may not work tomorrow.  It’s something I have to constantly think about.

I’ve got a weekend without anyone home besides Ken and I so I’m hoping to get some work done in the writing arena.  I have marketing, publishing, and writing to do.

Having said that – I’m definitely in a crochet mode.  I’m working on the projects I had going before I set them aside to do holiday stuff.  I want to get certain things done while I’m still in the mood.  I’m on the down side (or nearing the finish) of one project which means all I really want to do is work on it and have been every night.  Behind this big project, I have one more in progress and at least four more in the wings pushing at me to work on them.

I don’t know if it’s the cold weather or the pile of containers in my craft room but I feel the need to get things done – crochet wise.  I’ve got ideas in my head for projects and patterns I want to try out.  I’ve got ideas for articles on crochet.  I need to get focused and get things done.