The Path to Publication

 

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What does it take to get published? Does a writer try the traditional route or go Indie? And what is given up and or gained by choosing? It was a crossroad I faced after completing my children’s chapter book, Pink Sneakers in Space.

 

The most successful authors such as JK Rowling and Stephen King were unknown at one point. Ms. Rowling started writing her first book in about 1990 and didn’t get published until six years later. Stephen King’s first novel Carrie was rejected 30 times before it hit the bookstores. But they were lucky with traditional publication.

Traditional publishing has been around for centuries controlling what was printed and left many writers out in the cold. But self-publishing has also been around a long time too. Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and Edgar Allan Poe self-published, and just think what would have been lost if they didn’t.

Getting something into print is not easy no matter the path chosen. If the author wants to go the traditional route, the manuscript must grab the attention of the targeted literary agent. Does this work? Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen often enough. The slush piles are high and maybe the agent is looking for something else.

I feel too much control of the author’s work is lost publishing traditionally. There is little to no say in the editing process or cover art. Is advances and prestige of proclaiming to having a literary agent worth it? Not sure.

However, with self-publishing, the author has a direct line to the publisher. No writing and sending the query letters. No disappointment when the rejections roll in. And the Indie Author has no time constraint on when the next book is ready for publication. You write when you want. But it’s a double edge sword. No book equals no sales.

One drawback with self-publication is editing. Every literary work needs it. Authors try to do it themselves and few are good at it. A writer will read and reread a WIP (Work-in-Progress) and not see all the grammatical errors or plot issues. Indie Authors need to pay for a good editor which can cost a lot. However, I find critique partners and using Grammarly works well.

Another thing to consider is the book cover. They are probably the most important thing about a book. It is what captures the attention of the reader as they skim Amazon or walk the aisles of a bookstore. If it isn’t compelling enough to make a reader pause, the book will sit. To me, having control with the cover is important. The story inside is mine, and I should have a say what’s on the outside.

There is a bottom line to business. With traditional publishing, the average percentage of sales that goes to the author is about 15%. They also give up the rights to their book. The literary agent gets their cut. The publishing house gets their cut. Of course, the author didn’t have to front any money, but exactly who is profiting on the creativity?

On the other side of the coin, the Indie Author receives 100% of the sales and holds all the book’s rights. This includes movie rights. It’s a long shot for a new author’s book to be made into a movie but think about the book, The Martian. The author Andrew Weir, self-published the story, but after selling 30,000 copies, it was noticed by the publishing world. Weir sold the rights for $100,000, and I hope he retained the movie rights.

Today, the traditional publishing world is trying to reinvent itself while holding onto its old ways and habits. The all-inclusive club that controls what the public reads has been threatened by the explosion of self-published books. Smashwords, Cafepress, and CreateSpace are a few tools used by Indie Authors populating Amazon and cutting into the traditional publications profits.

Traditional publishing houses are losing market share to Amazon. There has been a downward trend over the last few years, and because of this contracted authors are being offered less and less.

Indie Authors are expected to market their books and build a fan base. However, contracted authors are expected to do the same. Yes, all authors must have a social media presence. Yes, all authors need a website. But is the author ready to give up control of their hard work?

This was my dilemma. Do I try traditional publishing or go Indie? I weighed the pros and cons of each and decided becoming an Indie Author was best for me. It has taken me years to push the button, and I wanted control of my work. I’m not saying it’s an easy path, but it’s my own.

Saturday, October 8th is Indie Author Day. Please join me in supporting the mavericks of the publishing world by visiting,  <https://www.pinterest.com/kathrynrbiel/indie-book-day-2016/&gt;

Internet-Free Day

What a spectacular day! After a few weeks of oppressive weather, mid 70’s and low humidity was a welcomed respite. There was even autumn clinging to the breeze’s tips promising pumpkins, apples, and the change of seasons.

I adore days like this. It makes me think of sweaters and fires in the woodstove. So I thought, I need to seize today. My hubby was home, and the writing could wait.

We packed a lunch, put on our swimsuits and went to the state park. I haven’t been to Grafton State ParkGrafton in I don’t know how many years. It’s only 20 minutes from my house and as we drove in, I wondered why we haven’t visited this hidden jewel sooner.

There is a sandy beach for the sunbathers, walking trails, and even a boat launch where you could rent canoes and kayaks. There is little to no cell signal in the park and to tell you the truth, I didn’t even check. It was my husband that mentioned it. Why would someone want to check social media or emails when there was so much beauty surrounding them?

Everyone needs an internet-free day. Reaching out and connecting with nature is almost an ethereal experience. It recharges your soul and uplifts your spirit.

As we sliced the paddles through the water and glided the canoe across the 2 ½ mile lake, inner peace descended. Neither of us spoke as we watched a heron take flight.

After the internet-free day, I was ready to get back to work. The scent of the woods and the sound of twigs snapping under my step will stay with me. Let’s hope it doesn’t take years for me to go back. Maybe I need to buy a kayak.

What to Write….Plot Ideas & Characters…

I love fiction. Paranormal, sci-fi and fantasy stories are my favorite. Stepping into another world, to experience a tale through the eyes of the protagonist will take me away even if it’s for a few hours.

Where do writers come up with their ideas? For me as a writer, it’s easy for an idea to cross my mind, but to get it down on paper is another thing. However, that’s only half the battle. What’s just as difficult is to come up with plot twists, characters, and congealing it into a story someone wants to read.

One way I find ideas is to use generators. Scifiideas.com is a great site for writers and has a brilliant generator,

http://www.scifiideas.com/story-idea-generator/

The ideas will be a sentence or two but it’s enough to nudge you in the right direction. Some of the ideas are strange and bizarre but to find something new, you need to reach out to the obscure.

Another way I get ideas is from everyday life. People watching is one of my favorite past times. It’s amazing the drama playing out right in front of you. All you have to do is be observant and listen. The stories of ordinary lives with a little twist and dark shading can be the next best seller.

Characters too. Everyone has a friend or relative that needs their story told. Even the person on the street has something lurking in the dark corners of their mind. I was sitting in Starbucks waiting for a friend and a little old man walked in. He was short, probably in his eighties using a cane. After getting a cup of coffee, he sat across from me and pulled out a tablet. His smiles and laughter were priceless as he read whatever was on the screen. I would have loved to go over and talked to him but I thought it would have been intrusive. There was a special gleam in his eyes that lit up his face. This man had a story.saipan-703463_1280 (2)

I can imagine him a sailor in WWII. Fighting on a PT boat in the South Pacific was tough and one night on patrol, he and a few others were marooned on an island. At one point the men thought all was lost. What they did to survive is to be revealed by the last survivor, the little old man.

So the next time you read a story, take a moment and think what the author had to do to get the book in your hands. You will be amazed how authors come up with their ideas.

Pink Sneakers in Space

Pink Sneakers in Space

So the book is written. What now?

I have written a children’s book, ‘Pink Sneakers in Space’ and now it’s time to get someone to read it. It’s a sci-fi fantasy where a little girl travels into space to save an alien princess’s planet. A friend designed the cover and drew illustrations. The book looks great if I don’t say so myself. But what do I do next?Business card

There are so many great books out there waiting to get read but are never discovered. And there are horribly written books that become best sellers and even made into movies. Why is that? I’ll tell you why marketing. It all boils down to your fan base and reaching readers.

My book has been out for about 2 weeks and every day it sinks further down the Amazon list. It’s rather discouraging but I’ll not be defeated. I’ve watched a few webinars on how to market your book and got some good ideas. Instagram and LinkedIn are two social media tools that can be used for promoting books.

Another marketing strategy of mine is book signings at independently owned bookstores and hosting a ‘Meet the author’ at local libraries. It’s going to take a lot of work. Probably more than writing Pink Sneakers, but the reward of a child reading my book will make it all worth it.

Pink Sneakers in Space

Pink Sneakers in Space

Getting Published

Getting Published

After spending years spinning my wheels, I finally pressed the button. I guess I’m a bit like my mother. Mom was a great storyteller and loved to read. She would tap away at her computer, creating a scene or two but never made the leap to getting published.

That was me up to this week. Every Sunday for years I would join my writers’ group and sit in front of my laptop writing. It was one of these Sundays after eating a plate of fries that I knew something had to change. I needed to start smaller and wondered what I could do. Short story? Poetry? Children’s book?

That was it, a children’s book. If I wanted to get published, I needed a smaller project. So I did some research and borrowed a few children’s books from the library. It looked easy.

But I needed a story and characters. All it took was to look down at my feet and it hit me like a lightning bolt. Pink sneakers! Yes, that is it and the rest fell into place.

My inspiration

My inspiration

It only took a couple of weeks to write and edit but then I hit a brick wall. What next? Do I send out query letters and try the traditional route? Or self-publish? I decided on self-publishing and thought that would be the quickest and easiest way to get my name up on Amazon.

However it didn’t turn out so easy and now I know why writers drink. Formatting my illustrated book to Kindle’s specifications was tedious. Correcting silly mistakes were painful. Dealing with CreateSpace frustrating. But it was definitely worth it. My ebook is on Amazon and the print on demand is coming out soon. So what if ‘Pink Sneakers in Space’ is ranked 107,000. I’m a published author. Now onto the marketing and book 2.amazon_logo_500500._V323939215_http://www.lizettestrait.com/

 

An Interview with Marley

I pass through the white picket fence and take in the big backyard. The smell of freshly cut grass greets me as I walk across the lawn. Sun-kissed ripples glide across the pool. The jungle gym with the fort stands patiently. A tire suspended by a rope slowly swings back and forth from a thick oak limb.

The adventure started here. A once in a lifetime journey few can say they had experienced. Marley Perry had traveled into deep space after discovering a spaceship in her mom’s vegetable garden. The red-headed girl met danger at every turn and rescued the king and queen with the help of her new BFF.

There is a rustling of leaves above me. I look up and see a tiny figure with a mop of red corkscrew hair shimmying down the gnarly oak tree.

“Hi,” the voice drifts down from above.

I grin, not able to hide my amusement for the precocious firecracker. Marley jumps the last couple of feet and lands with a thud. She bends over and wipes the dust off her pink sneakers.

“Hi Marley,” I say, “I thought your parents told you to use the door when you want to go outside.”

Marley’s cheeks turn a lovely shade of pink and a fMarleyluster crosses her face. She gazes up at her second-floor bedroom window and her escape route, the gnarly oak tree. The corners of her mouth twitch up sheepishly. “I forgot.”

I dismiss Marley’s embarrassment and walk over to the patio. “I’d like to ask you a few questions. ‘Pink Sneakers in Space’ will be coming out in a couple of weeks, and I’m sure my readers would love to get to know you.”

“Okay.” Marley’s face brightens as she sits in a folding chair. A pitcher and glasses were on the table with a plate of cookies. “Mom made us snickerdoodles and lemonade.” The little girl leaned forward and poured two glasses.

“Thanks,” I say. “So, what’s your new friend’s name? What’s she like?”

“Ally,” Marley gushes, “and she’s a real princess. Ally is the best friend ever! I can tell her anything and she won’t tell anyone.”

“Every girl needs a BFF. But you’re not sad?  Your friend lives on Lovian, and you won’t see her again.”

“But I will see Ally again,” Marley says with excitement and bubbles, “She is coming to visit soon and going to spend the night.”

“Wow. I didn’t think your parents knew about your adventure.”

Marley cast her eyes downward, and she pushes a stray lock of red hair away.

“Marley, you didn’t tell your parents did you?”

“No. But I’m going to. I’m just waiting until I get married.”

My eyes narrow and I wonder maybe it would be best if Marley’s parents don’t know about her travels in space. But how will she hide her alien visitor, so I ask. “How are you going to explain Ally? Your parents will notice her brilliant blue hair.”

“I have a hat for Ally.”

I laugh. A hat for a disguise. I wonder how long it will take Marley’s parents to catch on. An airplane flies overhead. I look up and watch as the jet leaves a trail behind. I think about how brave Marley must have been to climb into the spaceship and fly to the outer reaches of the Milky Way and face danger with the Blobarians.

“Are the Blobarians as creepy as I hear?”

“Naw, not once you get use to them. I like iguanas and cats.”

“Iguanas and cats?”

“Yes, Blobarians are big and look like iguanas. They have long whiskers like my cat Boris too.”

What an odd combination, lizard people with whiskers. Interesting.

“Marley, is your homework done?” a voice drifts out the kitchen back door.

“Almost. I still have to do my spelling,” Marley answers her mom. “I have to go. Ally is supposed to be here soon. Why don’t I text you when she’s here and you could interview her too.”

“That would be great. Thanks.”

Marley gets up and gives me a hug. “See you soon,” Marley says.

I get up and take one last look at the vegetable garden as I leave. Someone had filled in the hole created by Princess Ally’s spaceship. The tomatoes on the vine were red and ready to be picked. What an adventure. I’m almost envious, though I doubt I would have had the courage to get in a spaceship and travel beyond the stars.

The Death of a Beautiful Woman

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I fell in love with Edgar Allan Poe in high school. We had to read something by him so I chose the poem, Annabel Lee. Afterwards, there was no turning back. There is something beautiful and hypnotic about his writing that will transcend you to a higher place. Maybe this is why I love to listen to crashing waves.

Poe’s quote, “The death of a beautiful woman, is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world,” reinforces my love for Annabel Lee. What is your favorite EAP poem?

http://www.jkcandlen.com

Annabel Lee

By Edgar Allan Poe

(Published 1849)

It was many and many a year ago,

In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of ANNABEL LEE;–

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.

She was a child and I was a child,

In this kingdom by the sea,

But we loved with a love that was more than love–

I and my Annabel Lee–

With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven

Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,

In this kingdom by the sea,

A wind blew out of a cloud by night

Chilling my Annabel Lee;

So that her high-born kinsman came

And bore her away from me,

To shut her up in a sepulchre

In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,

Went envying her and me:–

Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,

In this kingdom by the sea)

That the wind came out of a cloud, chilling

And killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love

Of those who were older than we–

Of many far wiser than we-

And neither the angels in Heaven above,

Nor the demons down under the sea,

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:–

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,

In her sepulchre there by the sea–

In her tomb by the side of the sea.