Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Hybrid Publishing

Through the years, I have had many people ask me where I publish my books. 

When I tell them I published with a local publisher for my first book, later bought the rights back, and now publish strictly through hybrid publishing means, they want to know more. 

What is Hybrid?

Hybrid, like cross-breeding flowers, means taking the best publishing methods and making something incredible from both sources. Hybrid is the middle ground between traditional publishing and self-publishing. It is a place many are turning to simply because it's so difficult to get their work published the traditional way; plus, they have more control over what happens to their work. Here are some thoughts to consider:

Money talks

With hybrid publishing, you pay upfront for the service, but you make a higher percentage from sales on the back end - up to 70%. There are a few companies out there, so check to see how they do things. The company I run, Idea Creations Press, has the writer pay their upfront fees, gets the book done, and the money made after that goes completely to the author. Not all hybrid publishing companies do that - in fact, most want a small percentage of the book's sales, so make sure you know what you're getting before you sign on the dotted line.

The importance of an editor

You want to have an editor look over your work before it becomes your final draft. This is important with both traditional and hybrid publishing. In traditional publishing, what the publisher says usually goes, even if you don't agree with the changes. In hybrid publishing, after the suggestion is made, you can take it or leave it.

Book cover design

With traditional publishing, you have little to no say on the cover. With hybrid publishing you do. You can create your own cover if you want. You can study what makes a great cover by looking over those published by traditional publishers. You can hire out who you like.

To decide on the cover for this book I went to the library and perused the shelves for book covers I loved. Once I had a few in my hand I went through the reasons why I loved the cover. What I finally decided on (and found online when I returned home) was a simple stock photo mostly in white. I wanted readers to imagine themselves sitting here. I like the light that comes through the window lighting the room. The photo was purchased (inexpensively too) and my husband created the cover.

Me and my husband, Doug. We work together on all of my books.

Marketing mayhem

Marketing is perhaps the best reason to go traditionally, and yet, even traditional publishers need you to do most of the marketing. They may get your work there to the general public through electronic means like a website or snail mail, but it is up to you to do book signings, send your work out there through social media, and to create whatever else is necessary to get your name known. 

Flower for your thoughts?

Don't get me wrong. There is a place for traditional publishing. Book stores for one. It is difficult, if not impossible, to get your hybrid book into a huge bookstore chain like Barnes & Noble. Sure, you can get your hybrid book on their online bookstore, but not always will hybrid books make it onto the shelves of a national book store chain. You can, however, more easily get your hybrid published book into a local book store, and that may be okay with you. 

I am open to traditional publishing, again, if and when it opens up to me, and the publisher is the right fit. I love having everything wrapped up in a pretty package and seeing how others envision my work. But there is also something to be said for wrapping the gift yourself.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

How to Hand Sell Your Book Without Getting a Paper Cut

Okay, so it's a weird title, maybe even an unbelievable title, but hear me out.

The best book sales I get don't come from online purchases, although I do get those. They don't come from FREEbies I offer when I have a new book come out, the second in a series, and I want the reader to read my first, though some sales have come that way. The best book sales don't even come from my family members or friends, though many of them buy.

Most of my book sales come because I've hand-sold them.

Flowers from my yard often get more attention than my books do.

You might think that having published my books since 2002 I would have it all down, that readers are tramping down my flowers in the front yard to get to my latest "best-seller" but frankly, NOPE.


This has depressed me more than once. I have even stopped marketing more than once. And then, a day arrives that speaks to me just a little differently. It says:

Why do you write anyway?

Because you have to.
Because you love it.
Because you love people.
Because you want to connect.

Care for a paper cut?

Hand-selling your book is a little like taking care of a stack of papers on your desk that have been there, you know, FOREVER and going through the entire stack without getting a paper cut. Your book may have been out for forever, you may have written it 20 years ago, and the stupid thing still isn't selling.

I have more than one like that. 

When I started doing "events" for my books (I call them events because rarely do I do book signings in book stores) I was pretty scared. I was sure folks could see the little fear critters in my eyes. 


Yes, I got scared - a lot - made some initial mistakes (you know, like the ones some car salesmen make). I corraled some to my table. Emotionally speaking that is. I may have used guilt - can't remember - though I do recall a few fearful faces as they left my table.

So how do you hand-sell your book without getting a paper cut (i.e., a dirty look, the silent treatment, the invisibility cloak [you are underneath the cloak], or the "don't look at me. I do not want to come over to your table, and no amount of staring at me with your loving eyes will get me to change my mind."


And then I realized something, and this is a BIG something, so listen up. Readers and non-readers alike want connections too. They want to visit for the most part. They want to get to know new people for the most part.

So this is what you do, you give that to them. You connect. You find out about them. You discover what they like to do. You are not offended if they say they don't like to read. You lay off the pressure and instead show forth the kind of stuff you like to get. You know, the authentic stuff with no strings attached.

Is this hard when in your heart-of-hearts you are out there at the "event" to sell your books?

Are you real?

You bet it is. But people can smell a plastic, fake person a mile away. And if they don't, they will see it the first time you open your mouth and try to sell them like a car salesman.

I still remember those times when a sale came because I connected with a reader. And I remember when I connected with a reader and my book still wasn't bought. But you know what?

The connection was made, and this connection, honestly given and returned, has produced more book sales for me than trying to coerce sales in every other way.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

How to Unlock Your Writing Genius

Doors are hard to unlock unless you have the right key.

This is the front door to my office.
(Man, it needs some painting).
I need to use the right key to unlock this door;
not any key will do.

The same is true of your writing genius. Dreaming about being a writer never got anyone anywhere - just ask my brother who has been dreaming about becoming a writer for more years than I can remember. He has great ideas too. Ideas that would sell. But what does he do?


Dreaming is good if you take the time to do something about it. 

Make the time.

"Time waits for no man", the old saying goes, and it doesn't wait for women either. If you want to unlock your writing genius, if you want to learn how to become a writer, even the best writer you can be, then you must make the time. When I first thought about writing as a career I didn't have a lot of money to spend on classes. I couldn't afford to go back to school.

What did I do?

I checked out books at the library. I wrote. I attended a writer's

These are some of my books, and some of the books of other writers I have published
through Idea Creations Press.
None of them would have happened
had I not stayed on the wobbly bike.

Learning how to become a writer is a little like dusting off your bike, getting on the seat, and taking yourself for a ride. You might have peddled a few times before, but not lately, and as your bike wobbles, as you try to gain your balance, you realize you've still got it. You can still ride.

My personal belief? We can all write, but not all of us apply ourselves. The juice is in us, but we don't apply what's already there. 

Write more than you watch television or play games on your phone or...

Writing not only takes time it takes a lot of focused time. You've more than likely heard of morning pages, or writing a page a day - or about 500 words, but what of writing 500 words a day on a particular project? Rather than writing 500 random words that come to you, and then wondering what else you can possibly share later, you're just so exhausted getting it all out, why not use those creative juices right off the bat?

Say you're interested in writing a book about your childhood. Start your day by remembering an event that happened to you. You don't need to start at the beginning, just start with one remembrance. The next day, follow it up with another remembrance, and so on. Once you get enough written, you can then consider how you'd like to organize your book.

My first book was a mixture of true experience
and fiction as Samantha deals with her
parents' divorce.

What if you're interested in writing a novel? One of my favorite techniques is finding a picture, either from a magazine, a painting, or a book that reflects my vision. I look at that thing and start to write whatever comes to me. Will it be the beginning? Probably not. But it will be something. And the next day I can look at it again and see what else comes to mind. I may find my beginning on day three or day ten, but if I use my creative juices the day will come and I will know when my book has begun. And who knows? Those other things I have written may just be chapter three or ten!

Throw negative critiques out. 

Story bashing never helps. "Story helps" do. You will know right away what type you're receiving as you're learning how to become a writer by how you feel. Defensive? Bash. Time for a crying jag? Bash. "I really like this part right here." Help. "That's exactly how I felt as a kid." Help. "What were you trying to say here? I really want to get it." Help.

Negative critiques of your writing, especially in the beginning may create within you a desire to STOP. You will hear them, and when you do, let them go. Pick up your pen. Go to your computer and write. 

I usually write on my computer unless I'm away from home. 

But stay focused. Don't rant. Keep going.

Share your work.

Yep. I know, after hearing that you'll receive negative critiques as you learn how to become a writer, you may not want to share your work with anyone. Do. And continue to share even after the negative critiques, especially when you receive the negative critiques. As a writer, I am still learning, and I have been a published book writer since 2002! I was learning before that as well because I started as a newspaper reporter. 

My first draft on a paper for college
received a C-.
My final, an A as I remember.

I am still learning, and expect to be learning until my dying day. I still share my work. Not everyone likes it. And that's okay. I keep writing, and so should you!

Monday, June 8, 2020

Best Audiobook Narrators Don't have to Cost You

Getting your book on audio may seem like a daunting task, kind of like frosting a cake with your eyes closed.

Fortunately, the first time I discovered the value of an audiobook narrator in 2014, the narrator came to me. Her name?

Nancy Peterson.

Nancy was looking to begin her narrating career, having spent the last few years as an actress playing parts in movies such as Ephriam's Rescue and Friendship's Field.

What was out of this world great about Nancy is that she wanted to get her "narrator name" out there, and she was willing to share in the profits to do that. That means it didn't cost me a penny to have her narrate my books. We split the profits after the audio was published.

Nancy told me about a marketplace that matches authors with narrators. The company, ACX.com is connected with Audible.com, which sells the audiobook (along with Amazon and iTunes) after it's produced.  

I worked with her on the first audiobook, 

 Conquering Your Goliaths audiobook cover art
the second,

The Feast audiobook cover art

                                                   The Feast: A Parable of the Ring," 

and the third,
The Gift audiobook cover art
Since then, Nancy Peterson has become one of the best audiobook narrators out there; take a look at what she's doing now.

By the time I was ready for her assistance again, however, she was no longer available for a 50/50 split. She is now charging for her services, which is what many of the best audiobook narrators do once they get their feet wet.

From 2016-2018, I worked with a narrator named Lauren Holladay. We found each other online and she worked on my mystery books and the first of my two science/fantasy novels for middle readers. Unfortunately, she got sick recently and hasn't been able to use her voice for narration, but she was terrific.

LightShade: The Space Adventures of Aaden Prescott audiobook cover art

Why am I telling you this?

If I could find two narrators - and get going without so much as paying a dollar upfront, so can you.

Begin Your Search

To begin your own search for one of the best audiobook narrators out there, you'll need to go to ACX.com first, to see who is listed as a producer. 

Go to this link: https://www.acx.com/help/authors/200484540. Start with confirming your audio rights. Get your profile set up and find a producer. You can listen to sample narrations and/or review auditions from producers looking for work. When you're ready to make a deal, you will see two options. Either the narrator will be open to a 50/50 split, or royalty share deal, or they will want their payment after they have finished with your project. Some audiobook narrators are open to both ways of payment, others are not.

Find the Best Audiobook Narrator for Your Book

What follows is a sample, ACX calls a 15-minute checkpoint, where the narrator does a reading of your book. If you like what you hear you can move on. What's great about this process, is that you can approve the book in segments, chapter by chapter. Consider the tone of the narrator and the speed at which he/she speaks. Make sure that the narrator's voice fits in well with the subject matter or main character of your book.

Sell Your Audiobook!

Once your audiobook is approved by you, your book is distributed to Audible.com, Amazon.com, and iTunes. You can then promote your book, though there are opportunities through the process to let your readers know where you are in the narration, and when they can expect the audiobook to be released during key times offered by ACX. You will also receive 25 free promotional codes so that you can receive reviews from listeners. From there you receive a digital monthly statement on sales from Audible.com.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Digging deep.

I have been working on some short stories as a book compilation. I know short stories aren't really the 'thing', at least when it comes to book sales - they're a little like poetry with a narrower audience, but the idea came to me one day when I was thinking of Malchus from the Bible. His name is mentioned only once, though the story is told more than once in the Bible.

You may remember it. Jesus has just finished praying at the Garden of Gethsemane when he is approached by a multitude - one of them being Malchus. There was Judas, of course, one of the twelve who betrayed Jesus with a kiss. As you may know, one of the disciples "smote the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear" (Luke 22:50). 

How did Malchus feel about the healing? Was this the first time he'd seen Jesus? Probably not. He was a servant of a high priest, maybe even the servant of Caiaphas. He would have seen some things near the temple. He may have even listened at the temple. If so, what effect would listening at the doors mean to him later when he was healed?

I had so many questions, not many answers, but it seemed to me the answers were there. In a matter of a week, I had the first draft done. I sent it off to two readers with positive results. 

One of them said, "I loved the story. Your style is very reflective, with the narrator and key actors in contemplation. I wish that I could write like you!"

The other reader wondered if I should change the name of Jesus Christ to Messiah because that is how he was known in those times. A keen observation. I made the change.

I am now working on the second story. It is about the widow of Nain whose son was raised from the dead. We don't even know the widow's name in this story, though her son was probably about twenty and she was more than likely middle-aged, probably somewhere in her mid to late 30s. 

Why would Christ come all the way from Capernaum for a woman and her son? He probably had to walk all night to reach the widow at just the right time the next morning. Not to mention that Nain is about 30 miles southwest of Capernaum and the journey is an uphill climb... 

Being at home so much I've had more time to reflect on things. What are the priorities of my life? Is what I do a reflection of my priorities? What do I want to weed out of my life that really isn't important? What do I want to plant?

I'm digging deep.