Say hello to Autumn’s Daughter!

I have dragged my feet and generally taken far too long to get here, but as of yesterday at 9:46 am et, my first book, Autumn’s Daughter, became available for sale via Amazon.

eBook cover for Autumn's Daughter

Would you care to purchase a copy? I’d be ever so grateful. :)

A Few Thoughts on Self-Publishing

One of the reasons I’ve taken so very long to publish this book is that I’ve been waffling about the best approach. Book publishing is at a bit of a crossroads. Self-publishing an ebook is a much less expensive and risky proposition than self-publishing a print book, which ultimately means that the barrier to entry doesn’t do anything to control the quality of what’s out there. How on earth is a humble reader to know which self-published books are worth their hard-earned dollars?

But there’s also a rising democracy of art which is giving more and more power to individual artists to be heard without the backing hand of a major publishing house.

Major publishing houses make me anxious because the whole business model of advances on royalties seems…binding. The pressure to write something that can be sold isn’t always conducive to producing the most genuine or innovative stories. And let’s be blunt: there is a shit-ton of anxiety in the whole query process. I heard it quoted that the average book that makes it to publication goes through about 35 queries…so that’s months or years of writing and revising a frickin’ request for one person to read a book. And if…IF…you can get that one person to agree to take you on as a client, they then embark on the mission of trying to sell your book to a company, which they may or may not manage to do, and IF they do sell it, there’s a cranky corporate machine that analyzes your book for profitability, cuts it up, spits it out, brands it, and so on, until finally your book makes it to the real world for readers to engage with.

And what has the writer been doing, meanwhile? Writing and re-writing queries instead of stories? Slaving away on books that might never see the light of day? Running in circles revising this first book with no real sense of whether the revisions are improving the situation? Getting stuck in a quagmire of anxiety about whether writing is a valuable pursuit?

I’m not saying there’s no room for the major publishing house model: the touch of many expert hands might turn a real stinker of a manuscript into a polished jewel. I am absolutely certain that my own book would be cleaner and sharper if I had that sort of support network, and my launch-day sales would be higher because of the marketing dollars and expertise that publishing houses spend to support their investment. And when you’re looking at the risk and dollars involved in print publishing, the traditional model makes much more sense. But:

There’s another way to share stories, and I think it’s a way that is less likely to make me lose my marbles.

I work for a web development company, and our internal slogan is “fail early, fail fast, fail often.” We design in the browser, we run A/B tests, we mess around with test variables, we track analytics, and we make our process as transparent as possible to clients to give them ownership in the design process through opportunities to provide continual feedback. It’s mad efficient and it makes client relationships smoother because they know what to expect from the get-go. We don’t invest massive amounts of time and energy in any stage without client approval because our model is designed to be lean, light, and flexible.

Because of the magic of the internet, of the information age, this “minimum viable product” approach can apply to just about anything. I’ve put out a book that is as carefully edited as my poor brain filters, the help of my friends, and a few limited resources can achieve. Is it worth five bucks? Yes. Can we do more with it? Abso-friggin-lutely. So what do you want? Do you want an audiobook? Do you want me to pay for better copyediting? Do you want the sequel faster than next fall? Do you want merch and bling? Because we can communicate through any number of platforms (Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, my contact form), I can talk directly to you and we can make this little book our plaything, bring it into whatever medium we like.

Not to be a massive cheeseball, but I like the idea of being the people’s writer instead of being just one cog of many in a huge corporate complex.

I KNOW. I published on Amazon. It doesn’t get any more huge corporate complexy than that, and believe me, I don’t love all of their policies. But here’s the thing: I can’t actually talk to readers and cultivate that creative community with them unless I can first find those few honest-to-goodness fans who love my story for itself, not just because they love me as a person. Amazon is a not-stupid place to start finding and connecting with those folks. I can’t speak to how Amazon deals with publishing houses, but as an individual author, I have a massive amount of control over my work, far more marketing support than I could possibly afford to pay for on my own, and direct access to substantial communities of folks who are most likely to truly enjoy what I have to offer. Maybe established authors and publishing houses can afford to pooh-pooh that kind of opportunity. Maybe someday we’ll have built a big enough community that I can make my work free to everyone on a pay-what-you-want model…but I’m too pragmatic a person to pretend I’m even close to being there, so for now: Amazon.

So. To sum up: I have chosen self-publishing as my first option because I think it’s got some cool potential over traditional publishing that suits my worldview, and I am looking forward to connecting with readers. If you’re of a mind to go adventuring with me, the first, best things you can do to send us on our way are (1) Read my book and (2) leave a specific, honest review.

Many thanks!

With a Little Help From My Friends

Never say that this dudette don’t meet her deadlines, ayuh.  With a little help from the Great Pumpkin, a ridiculously damaging October snowstorm, and a wonderful husband who knows when I need to ignore him for a while…I’ve done it. I’ve survived the second major revision of last year’s NaNoWriMo novel. Now I need your help. My book is far from perfect, but I’ve rewritten so much of it that I can’t distinguish between storylines that are, were, and might have been. I need detailed constructive criticism, and I’m not above offering bribes to get it.  Here’s a look at what all I’m asking you to read:

Autumn’s Daughter

Niamh Brennan is changing into…something. Something that can incinerate objects with a glance, move objects with a thought, inadvertently dematerialize a moving vehicle, and that’s not even the half of it. When Niamh’s sister Birdy is kidnapped by an entity no one else can even see, Niamh and her best friend plunge into a strange world of magic and theoretical physics to rescue her. In pursuit of the missing girl, Niamh discovers that she is more deeply connected than she could have imagined to the politics and scheming of a not-as-mythical-as-she-thought people who call themselves the Sidhe.

Edit My Book Fast Contest Extravaganza!

To enter:

1. Email me at the following address: with the subject line “I want to rip your manuscript into tiny pieces to make it better, for reals.”

2. Receive a reply from me containing a checklist of feedback I’m looking for and Word document attachment.

3. Email me again when I inevitably forget to attach the attachment.

4. Read my checklist, then read my book.

5. Make no less than 30 comments, changes, and/or suggestions using the comments and “track changes” features on Word or Open Office. If you don’t track it, I might not be able to find it to count it towards your total.

6. Save your copy and email it as an attachment back to me.

Grand Prize (first five valid responses)

> 1 batch of homemade cookies (chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, or snickerdoodles, your choice, and please don’t neglect to mention any food allergies if you win)

> Custom-designed mug sweater (they’re cute and they keep your tea warm!)

> Mention on my “Thanks” page when I eventually get published

> My eternal gratitude

Awesome Prize (next five valid responses)

> Custom-designed mug sweater (they’re cute and they keep your coffee warm!)

> Mention on my “Thanks” page when I eventually get published

> My eternal gratitude

Not Too Shabby Prize (any other valid responses)

> Mention on my “Thanks” page when I eventually get published

> My eternal gratitude

Bonus Prize for Artists!

If you’re and my book inspires you to draw anything from it, I would LOVE to see what you do. If you send me art based on my book (along with your permission to put it on my blog), I would be delighted to share it with my readers and link the post to your web presence.

I am heading into NaNoWriMo as of now and I still have a mountain of Christmas knitting to accomplish, so this contest will remain open at least until December 16th, longer if I have not received ten valid responses. One week after I announce the close of the contest, I will announce the winners. Prizes will be sent out by the end of January.