Author Rebekah Jones – The Vintage Jane Austen Project

Author Rebekah Jones has been a bit of a hero to the Vintage Jane Austen project. Rebekah-Author-Picture-2017-200x300Another author originally signed up to pen a new spin on Pride and Prejudice, but bowed out several months later. We couldn’t have a Jane Austen series without Pride and Prejudice! Thankfully, Rebekah, who already has five books to her name, graciously stepped in and took on the project, even though she was several months behind. We are all very excited about the forthcoming Presumption and Partiality and I’m so glad she could join us here today!

How did you get involved in the Vintage Jane Austen Project?

Sarah Holman wrote me, asking if I would be interested in rewriting Pride and Prejudice in the 1930’s for the Vintage Jane Austen Collection. I wasn’t sure at first – in a lot of ways, it would be a new challenge in writing for me – but the idea struck me as being a fascinating experience and a lot of fun, so I said that I would.

How big of a Jane Austen fan are you?

Moderate? I own all of her books and I’ve seen multiple versions of most of the novels put to film. (Even Lawrence Olivier and Greer Garson doing their Victorian Era version of Pride and Prejudice and Bollywood making the same story an Indian style musical!) I don’t obsess over Jane Austen in any way, although I’m determined to have a Regency wardrobe one of these days. I admire her literary skill, enjoy her characters (Fanny Price has always been my favorite), and enjoy pulling Biblical principles from her stories.

RebekahIs there a reason you choose Pride and Prejudice to translate into the 1930s?

Actually, I didn’t choose it. Pride and Prejudice was the only novel left in the collection that wasn’t already being written. When Sarah asked me to join the group, she specifically asked if I would write Pride and Prejudice. Honestly, it was the most perfect one for me to write! Despite Mansfield Park being my favorite, I know Pride and Prejudice backwards, forwards, and topsy-turvy, since it’s the one I’ve seen and read the most.

How well do you think Pride and Prejudice translates to the Great Depression?

Oh, it depends. Some parts translate so perfectly, that it’s fascinating. Others have to be changed and I need to get creative. The underlying characters and the motivation for their actions are, for the most part, so timeless that sometimes all I have to do is come up with a different outplay of those motives. Perhaps the biggest difference is that Jane Austen’s Regency England was affluent and even the poor shown are fairly well off, whereas my Great Depression Arizona is already suffering the ravages of poverty and suffering. 

What kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

Lots and lots of books. I read up on Arizona in the entire decade of the 1930’s for weeks. Then, when I decided on writing in the years 1932-1933, I started looking for materials that were more specific to those years. I did some on the ground research exploring, since I chose to use real towns, instead of fictional ones. Then, I read some more, looked up as many pictures as I could find of Gilbert, Phoenix, and Scottsdale in the 1930’s, and read even more. I also read a few fiction books, trying to get a feel for dialogue, as well as pulling out some old movies. Possibly one of the more fun resources I found were the records of the Weather Bureau for the area that I was focusing on, in my exact years. Those proved fascinating and very helpful.

Did you stick pretty closely to the source material, or did you find ways to deviate and/or add new scenes?

I think, at its core, Presumption and Partiality has remained close to the source material, but I certainly found scenes to add, as well as a surprise twist or two. The poverty of the Great Depression has influenced some of those changes, since as I said earlier, it made a huge impact on my research. Further, as my general writing motto is “Bible Centered, Modern Literature” I wanted to be able to show the Biblical motivations or answers to some of the circumstances and people in the book, which has made this an interesting journey.

What did you find most challenging about this project?

Honestly? Writing the actual words has been the most challenging part of this project. Especially, writing while trying not to compare myself to Jane Austen. Writing this book has been a major challenge. A good one, but still a major challenge.

What other books do you have on the market?

I have five other books on the market. My novels: Grandmother’s Letters a treasure hunt mystery, Journeys of Four a tale of mystery and redemption, and 24 Days Before Christmas a Christmas murder mystery with each chapter being written as a day in December leading up to Christmas Day. I also have two children’s books, A Year with the Potters a collection of short stories about a homeschooling family and A Tale of the Say’s Phoebe a story of a mother bird telling her young how she learned to fly.

Thanks again, Rebekah, for joining this project and joining us today!
Please check out Rebekah’s books and blog at rebekahsquill.com.

A Little Help For My Independent Author Friends.

An independent author juggles a lot. We write, edit, design, host websites, blog, do promotions, and generally try to find as many ways as possible to connect with our readers. We are used to this, but often times what we have on our plates is enough to deal with. That is why, when it came to the Vintage Jane Austen Project, we, as group of authors who already handled plenty with the books we have individually on the market, decided to hire someone to help with the design of the project and promotion.

Fortunately…we had Deborah.

The first thing Deborah O’Carroll did for us was design in this amazing website. (screen shot below) Not only is the design beautiful, clean, and very functional, it was so nice not to have to design it ourselves! Deborah also helps us by doing promotional posts and keeps us in contact with our readers by managing the Vintage Jane Austen email. I know a lot of independent authors could use some help, so below is an interview I did with Deborah.

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Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into helping indie authors with their novels.

I’m a writer of fantasy of all kinds, a blogger, punctuation enthusiast, and list addict. I love all things Celtic, Faerie, and Tolkien, and believe that Diana Wynne Jones books are gold. You can usually find me typing away at one of my many novels, endlessly rearranging my bookshelves, or haunting library book-sales. I’m secretly a chocolate-loving otter.

How I got started was almost accidental! One thing led to another and all that… I started out in small ways, doing things I liked for people I knew, and slowly began to realize there are certain things I enjoy doing, have developed a talent for, and can turn into a job to help others.

pagedreamerbuttonnewI started out reviewing a few books by some authors I had met, and I discovered I love reviewing books. I beta-read unpublished books by fellow writer friends, and discovered that I love catching typos and have a knack for editing. (I don’t beta-read much anymore because it’s so time-consuming and I’m not much of a critic, but my love for editing has remained.) I started out blogging because I enjoyed it and wanted to build an online presence as a writer, and eventually started getting asked questions about how to do this or that on WordPress. I helped a few people with that, and designed the Vintage Jane Austen website, which, along with my years of blogging, led to the realization that I love designing blogs and websites.

Mostly, I know a lot of people in the online writing and bookish community, and I just love helping people. I guess that’s the main thing behind all of this. :)

What services do you offer authors in search of some help?

Briefly: I edit books, review books, and dabble in graphic design and web design. To expand on each of those a little:

I review books, honestly but kindly, in exchange for a free copy. (My book blog is here. https://thepagedreamer.wordpress.com/)

I offer a freelance copy-editing service (essentially catching typos and smoothing wording and the like).

I also do web design with WordPress—my main project in that area so far has been the Vintage Jane Austen website. Involved with the web-designing, I do some basic graphic design as well, such as making 3D images of book covers and so on.

What does the process of working with an author look like?

Hmm, tough question. It mostly involves a lot of emailing… There can sometimes be a lot of patience involved as well, on both sides, while things work to fall into place. Reviews are pretty straightforward—talk with the author a couple times, review their book, send them the links. Editing is a little more in-depth, and I’ll usually talk back and forth a few times. With web-design, there’s a lot of discussion and examples, previews, and ideas of theirs and suggestions on my part. On the whole, I’ve had a delightful experience with authors so far, and it’s been fun seeing these projects come to their conclusion. :)

 What is your favorite part of this job? 

I’ve always loved words and am something of a perfectionist, so I’m passionate about blogbuttonroadridding the world of typos and other errors, and love helping to make books the best they can be. I’m also a lifetime reader, so getting to review books is a dream, and I love being able to share with the world about the books I’ve found to love. I enjoy reading and am more of a book-lover than a book-critic, so while I’m honest in my reviews, I often find more to love in a book than to dislike, and I think that’s important—to share the beauty in books, not just the errors or things one doesn’t like. I also love creating, and the feeling of surmounting the obstacles of design, finally ending up with a finished product (like a website) which is clean, beautiful, and complete.

But most of all, across all three of these “jobs,” I love helping other writers bring their dreams to light, and in that way, somehow, making the world that much brighter.

How can an author get in touch with you if she/he would like to talk about your services?

Shoot me an email at deborahocarroll(at)yahoo.com—I don’t bite! :) You can also find me on my blog, The Road of a Writer: deborahocarroll.wordpress.com, and on my review blog, The Page Dreamer: thepagedreamer.wordpress.com, where I (naturally!) review books. ;) I love making friends with fellow writers and readers, so I’d love to hear from y’all!

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Author Sarah Scheele – The Vintage Jane Austen Project

If you have read my blog for any length of time, this is not the first time you’ve met sscheele2-216x300author Sarah Scheele. Although we have never met in person, Sarah and I have been long time friends, with a particularly strong writing bond. She is actually the one who invited me to the Vintage Jane Austen project. A Texas native, Sarah has been a writer since childhood and has several books available. Her unique twist on Mansfield Part, now titled Bellevere House, will definitely delight Austen Fans.

How did you get involved in the Vintage Jane Austen Project?

My sister Hannah created the project along with Sarah Holman, who I knew on Facebook. At that time Hannah was massively involved and when Sarah extended an invitation to me, I felt it was right to accept because this project was a big deal in our house. So, a family thing.

How big of a Jane Austen fan are you?

Well, my mother was probably the biggest Janeite on the planet. She didn’t dress up in Regency gowns, but otherwise it was total saturation—movies, characters, everything. I’ve been around it a long time and in a sense I hope that doesn’t show because there’s a freshness that comes with being a spontaneous fan. But in another way it goes pretty deep. When a relative asked what to get me for Christmas in my teens, my mom was quick to jump in and suggest Jane Austen, of course. So I had lots of book copies as well, and I read them—more or less.

Sarah S.Is there a reason you choose Mansfield Park to translate into the 1930s?

Three books were already assigned when I was invited to join. Besides Mansfield Park, the remaining books were Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice. I didn’t feel equal to Persuasion and I’ve never been interested in Pride and Prejudice. So Mansfield Park was the obvious only remaining option and I took it.

How well do you think Mansfield Park translates to the Great Depression?

Remarkably well, actually. Mansfield Park has the most dramatic separation between the haves and have-nots of any Austen novel and the Great Depression made it easy to find parallels. So the money dynamic translated really well and of course the characters are universal.

What kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

At first I had an angle with the developing war in Europe, but after I removed that it was just a matter of double-checking the details: verifying long-distance telephone connections, researching train travel, finding the names of old glassware. I did some googling on the history of New York, which was absolutely fascinating. And I was lucky there is one kind of orange that makes in the summer, because I was able to keep the Florida orange-grove set. I was happy about that because it’s a good set, I feel, and just fun.

Did you stick pretty closely to the source material, or did you find ways to deviate and/or add new scenes?

I did attempt a bit of cosmetic work because it’s a difficult book. Not that I’d say I really improved on a classic. I’m not that inordinate. But given the opportunity, I did change things around here and there. The long childhood areas with Fanny got cut, Mr. Rushworth got a new twist, and I will admit I threw Edmund out the window in favor of something snarkier and more modern. With appalling results, I’m sure.

What did you find most challenging about this project?

Fitting into a concept created by someone else. I’m a fantasy author, so the whole idea was pretty much—I wouldn’t say out of my comfort zone. More out of my dimension altogether. It was a challenge conforming to all the little regulations of the project and getting interested in the 1930s. Communication was irregular over the years, too, and it was hard to give input because, like I said, it wasn’t my concept. But I hoped my familiarity with Jane Austen would balance all of that and I believe it did, in the end.

What other books do you have on the market?

I have a children’s science fiction novel, a historical story set in 1700s Spain, and a number of fantasy stories floating around somewhere on Amazon. They don’t have any connection to this project.

A big thanks to Sarah for joining me today, and for inviting me to this project in the first place. Visit Sarah’s website to read her blog and keep up on her work: sarahscheele.com
And don’t forget to visit VintageJaneAusten.com to learn more about all the books available in this series.

 

Author Sarah Holman – The Vintage Jane Austen Project

I’m happy today to be interviewing Sarah Holman today, author of the first book in the Vintagesarahholman2-202x300 Jane Austen Series, Emmeline (Emma), as well several other novels and short stories. Sarah also runs the blog Homeschooled Authors which helps to promote independent authors with a homeschool background. One of the originator of the project, she is passionate about writing, literature, and, of course, Emma.

How did you get involved in the Vintage Jane Austen Project?

I was talking with a friend about a fairytale short story collection. We liked the concept, but wanted something other than fairytales. She mentioned Jane Austen and that was all I needed. Kelsey Bryant, Hannah Scheele, and myself met up one day and brainstormed the idea. It was an awesome beginning to this very cool project.

How big of a Jane Austen fan are you?

I love Jane Austen, but I’m far from the biggest fan. I have only read three of her books (though I love the long movies) and there are a couple of her stories I don’t care for. However, She has a talent for crafting characters in all her books that blows me away at times.

Is there a reason you choose Emma to translate into the 1930s?

Firstly, this is my favorite Jane Austen novel. It has so many awesome elements in it, my favorite being Mr. Knightly and Emma’s relationship. They are best of friend that both encourage and scold each other. It is so lifelike and enjoyable.

How well do you think Emma translates to the Great Depression?

I honestly felt like my job was easy. In the original story has some people who are struggling financially. The characters and struggles ended up flowing easily into the time period.  About the hardest thing was finding replacements for the balls, as dances were not the same.

What kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

I read quite a few books on and written during the 1930’s. My favorite resource were books by Grace Livingston Hill. She wrote during this time and captured the emotions, culture, and feel of the time that you can’t find in a textbook. She also gave me great insights into the Christians of the time as well.

Did you stick pretty closely to the source material, or did you find ways to deviate and/or add new scenes?

I added my own touches and twists to be sure, but I tried to stick close to the original story. After all, I wouldn’t want to mess up Jane Austen.

What did you find most challenging about this project?

It was my first time coordinating with others in my writing. Everyone involved has been amazing, but I have learned a lot and some aspects were challenging.

What other books do you have on the market?

Emmeline is one of ten books I have on the market. I have an book sent during the revolutionary war, two in an FBI series, four in a Medieval series, and a sci-fi trilogy. I also have several short stories.

A big thanks to Sarah for joining me today and for coming up with this project in the first place! If you would like to learn more about Sarah’s work, visit her website: www.thedestinyofone.com or check out the rest of the books in the Vintage Jane Austen series at vintagejaneausten.com.

Next week I will have author Kelsey Bryant with me to talk about transforming Sense and Sensibility.

New Project Announcement…in 1930

If you read this blog from time to time, you might have gotten a fairly good idea of my fondness for Jane Austen. And if you happened to have stopped by back in February you might have seen my post on the Art of Fan Faction, in particular, those who translate Miss Austen’s work.

Well, at last I get to tell you about an all new project I’m working on that involves both.

The Vintage Jane Austen

Several months ago I was contacted by one my favorite writing friends, Sarah Scheele, to ask if I wanted to participate in a group translating Jane Austen’s novel into 1930’s America. Yes, that’s right, the Elliots and the Bennets and even the Knightlys living in America somewhere between the two great wars.

As a lover of both Jane and fan fiction, I jumped at the offer. But those weren’t my only reasons. This was a chance to collaborate on a project with fellow writers as well as work with a structure I haven’t yet experimented with.

So, this is our introductory weekend. I hope to write more about the details of this type of project over the next several months, but to start with, here is a glimpse of where we’re headed.

I’m translating Persuasion, Jane Austen’s final novel to be completed and published posthumously.

If you don’t know the story, here is the original synopsis. Below is little insight into my translation, plus the amazing cover design provided by Hannah Scheele.

1930…
Thirteen years ago Abbey Evans was persuaded not follow her heart after a young, Book coverpenniless soldier headed off to the Great War. The daughter of nationally prominent family was expected to do more, but now everything has changed. Black Tuesday left her family’s prominence little more than an illusion and their finances barely sustainable. And if facing the lost her home wasn’t enough, the only man she ever loved has returned more successful than her family could ever dream.

Also, check out the other novels in the series:

Mansfield Park – Sarah Scheele

Emma – Sarah Holman

Pride and Prejudice – Rebekah Jones

Sense and Sensibility – Kelsey Bryant

Northanger Abbey – Laura Engelmann

Want to be part of this project?JA Contest

My Indie Story + Giveaway

Bio PicYes, I am ending the month of Indie Author April by actually interviewing myself. Strange, I know. But I’ve been asked before to write about my publishing experience, so I figured this might be a good opportunity to go about it. And, yes, this does end with a chance to win one of my books. :)

First tell us a little about your books.

My first mystery novel, Only Angels Are Bulletproof, was published in 2008. Since then I’ve published two novels in The Father Christmas Series, and have one novella, The Moment Max Forgot Me, available as a free download.


Angles CoverWhat formats of Indie Publishing have you used?

I used a self-publishing house for Only Angels Are Bulletproof. Both Christmas novels were published through Kindle’s ePublishing program. I used Smashwords for The Moment Max Forgot Me. They will host free books.

Do you have one you prefer above another?

While I enjoy the fact that a self-publishing house allowed me to have physical copies of my book, did editing and cover design for me and set up a few interviews, over all I’ve had a much better end result from Kindle’s program. Straight to the point, I lost money on a self-publishing house, but I’ve actually been able to make a little on Kindle. Their system is pretty comprehensive, including providing yearend tax statements.

Is there a reason you chose the independent route?

I think my initial decision to independently publish had a lot to do with both fear and impatience. Just the slightest bit of research on the publishing industry will scare you into certainty that your book will never see the light of an editor’s office. I was in my early twenties at the time, just coming off the recovery of a serious illness and not the least bit ready to face rejection like what I was reading about. I mean, really, are we ever ready?
However, in the end I’m glad I chose this route to start with. It allowed me to build some confidence, know trials and frustrations and failures in its own way, connect with readers and have amazing experiences like book signings and school events. Did I tell you I got fan art? (look here)

Do you do your own editing, cover design, and promoting as well?FCC JPEG 1

Nowadays I do it all. I actually love cover design. I did both Father Christmas Novels and The Moment Max Forgot Me. Photoshop and I have fond feelings for each other. Editing and I are trying to get along. I’m kind of an intense, get it all on the paper at once, writer. So, without the help of some very patient family member-proofreaders, I would be incoherent. I am looking into a professional proofreader, but I’ll just have to see what is in the budget for this year.

Any technical issues?

Kindle does not format itself!!! If you have never published through Kindle I will stress above all else that you have to learn how to format. If you just write a manuscript in MS Word and hit upload you are going to end up with tons of weird gaps and breaks in the middle of your sentences. Do your research on this one. Kindle doesn’t get along with most word-processing programs and its “Preview” feature lies!

What did you not expect when you came into the Indie world?

I didn’t expect to have to become so technical. When I started writing I was typing up simple manuscripts on a shared family computer. These days I work off of dual screens, know how to write some basic code, design and support my own website, Photoshop covers together and feature my work on multiple social media platforms. I’m no IT wiz, but I have to know my way around.

Are you considering traditional publishing any time in the future?

Yes. I would still like to traditionally publish a book and am currently working my way towards that goal. My life never works out the way I think it should and sometimes it just plain works out irrationally, so we’ll just have to see how things go.

FCP JPEG 1Any last words of advice for fellow Indie Authors?

Tons! Pay attention to your proofreading and formatting. A good cover is unfathomably valuable. Always be good to your readers and cordial to your critics. Try not to get bogged down by the people who are still trashing independent publishing like carriage company owners at the advent of the automobile, but also don’t be afraid to take a step into the traditional publishing world. And don’t Indie Publish if you aren’t going to enjoy at least a little bit of the ride. ;)

Finally, since this business is all about word of mouth, do you have any Indie Writers you enjoy?

All of the writers featured here over the last couple of weeks come highly recommended. Please, check each one of them out!
Tyrean Martinson
Loretta Boyett
Sarah Scheele
Warren Baldwin

And now for the giveaway!

Enter to win a $5 Amazon Card + a free copy of any of my books. By leaving a comment. (The Moment Max Forgot Me is always free, so don’t pick that one)Free MFM

And thank you again to all of the authors and readers who have joined me over the last month. I learned something from each author’s experience. Hopefully this month has helped writers considering this route of publishing, or opened someone up to the idea of reading independent authors.

Indie Author April – Sarah Scheele + Giveaway

I am pleased to start week three of Indie Author April with Author Sarah Scheele. Sarah and I have been sharing our writing experiences with each for so long sometimes I feel we’ve walked a lot of the publishing journey together. She has Sarahalways been so helpful to me and I am glad she was able to take part in this month.
She has also offered a great addition to this week’s giveaway.

First tell us a little about your book(s).

Well, I have two collections of novellas out right now. Most of the stories were published separately at various times, but are now anthologized together as I move past phase one of my career.

Facets of Fantasy is speculative, mostly sci-fi and a little futuristic. The Valley Stories is a transition to historical, a set of three retellings in an imaginary world very similar to 18th century Europe—Italy, Austria, and Spain. Naturally following from that, I’ve written a couple of historical novels that should be published soon. There’s a newsletter on my website, and subscribers will receive The Valley Stories Omnibus free for signing up.

What formats of Indie Publishing have you used? (ex: Self-publishing House, Kindle, Smashwords, Create Space)

I started out in CreateSpace, but switched to Kindle. CreateSpace is good for setting up a basic paperback book, but the ebook market offers much better sales. Outlets like Google Play (which will get your book to the huge Asian market that Kindle doesn’t reach) and Nook are also good options for a serious indie publisher. The only downside to ebooks is that the market is even more flooded than in the physical book world. Competition is intense—a good cover always helps!

Facets Katia Cover (2)Do you have one you prefer above another?

Ebooks, ebooks, ebooks. They are cost-efficient, period. Easier to set up and cheaper to buy. Book people have been moaning for  years about the “demise” of real solid books with crackly, real paper—but as a person who usually couldn’t afford expensive new books, I can promise you ebooks are expanding the book market. It’s easier for people on a tight budget to invest a dollar or two, whereas they might be more wary about putting down twenty-five dollars.

Is there a reason you chose the independent route?

Basically it was a matter of practicality. I needed to publish at that time for social reasons, so that people would understand I was working and developing my writing. But my work wasn’t focused enough on an identified market for me to approach agents. So I poked along for about 5 or 6 years, steadily learning and climbing the ranks. That’s how it is for a lot of the authors in indie.

Do you do your own editing, cover design, and promoting as well?

Promoting, yes—editing and cover design I gave to other people.  I’d recommend finding some friends who can help you out inexpensively. You don’t have to pay $300 for a cover design! And DO get it edited. Not that the editing Nazis really care about those little mistakes. They would easily ignore them if those same things appeared in work from a big publisher. But since you are independent—do yourself a favor.

Any technical issues?

Kindle formatting was a struggle at first, I will say that! Especially for Facets of Fantasy, I had five stories, each with several separate chapter headings, so making the TOC was a challenge until I learned the tricks. Creating the paperback was more time-consuming overall, though, because of all the details of a physical copy. So ebooks are still easier, though the formatting can be quirky sometimes.

What did you not expect when you came into the Indie world?

How narrow minded most book readers are. I’m very open-minded and enjoy a variety of genres, so this wasn’t intuitive to me. But for most readers, demographic is everything. A book can be treated miserably in one sector, have its label switched, and suddenly do very well in another zone. Especially in some genres, Valley Girls Coversuch as young adult, the readers are snotty, pouty piranhas with a very definite, specialized taste. Agents and publicists can be a big help in navigating the bratty little book cliques. If you don’t have an agent, walk softly, carry a big stick, and be prepared for some bumps.

Are you considering traditional publishing any time in the future?

Certainly. I always viewed indie publishing as a place to get started. I view my past body of work as a platform I can eventually carry towards more mainstream publishing.

Any last words of advice for fellow Indie Authors?

Expect to struggle. Not only are there a horde of vanity hobbyists distracting attention from the real authors, but even the really sincere writers in indie have typically not found their focus yet. Eventually you’ll find your feet and learn where you belong or whether you belong at all. It’s a roller coaster. Expect a ride.

Finally, since this business is all about word of mouth, do you have any Indie Writers you enjoy?

Surprisingly, most of the indie authors I’ve enjoyed have been rare and charming gifts off the beaten path, such as The Frog Who Would Be Prince by Norm DaPloom. But among higher profile indies, I admire the savvy marketing of historical author Roseanna White, who started a company to publish her Biblical novel and now has a strong business that includes 13 other authors. And Serena Chase, who is gaining quite a little foothold in the YA market with her fantasy series The Eyes of E’veria, is another striking new author.

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Thank you so much, Sarah, for joining me and sharing some great information! Sarah has also generously offered two copies of her book Facets of Fantasy in addition to the $5 Amazon gift card I am giving out every week. To enter to win please leave a comment with your email address. Additional points are granted for following Sarah on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

Indie Author April: Loretta Boyett + Giveaway!

Week two of Indie Author April has brought Loretta Boyett, author of Deadly Betrayal here to talk with us about her walk through the Independent Publishing world. One of the biggest things I’ve learned in this process is how each Indie Author has something to teach me through their experience.

First tell us a little about your book(s).

I write Christian romantic suspense and have one published novel, LorettaDeadly Betrayal, the First in my Hidden Danger Trilogy. You can check it out on my blog.

The last two Hidden Danger novels were already started when my twenty-three-year-old granddaughter, Melissa, who was like a daughter to me, died. I fell apart and have been too devastated to write much since. However, now I’m finally ready to dive in once more and hope to complete those two soon.

What formats of Indie Publishing have you used? (ex: Self-publishing House, Kindle, Smashwords, Create Space)

I used Book Baby to self publish my ebook because I knew zilch about publishing and they were offering a premium package at a special price of $149. One great thing about Book Baby is that they pay me everything they receive from sales, taking no percentage for themselves. They also offer their ebooks on many sites and formats in addition to Amazon—iBook, Nook, etc., but that’s not as important now as it was then because Amazon has free apps that convert ebooks into these formats.

For my paperback, I used CreateSpace. They are wonderful to work with. I will definitely use them again. One big advantage is that they offer the book on Amazon as a Print On Demand that ships quickly, and you don’t have to buy books from your publisher and then pay to ship them to Amazon. This saves a lot of money. Also, they are very reasonable in the price I pay to order copies that I sell myself. I usually make $8 – $10 profit when I sell autographed copies.

Do you have one you prefer above another?

I learned a lot from Book Baby but don’t think I will need their help any longer. My next ebook will probably be published with Amazon Kindle. I published a short poem with them just to see how they work and am totally satisfied with their process. CreateSpace will definitely be my choice for the paperback.

Is there a reason you chose the independent route? 

  1. I want to own my book, not sell it to a company who can make any changes they want without my approval. (I have friends who’ve had this problem.)
  1. I love the challenge of learning how to do new things. Self-publishing was definitely a challenge, and I learned a whole lot.
  1. The Lord called me to write, so I don’t do it for the money (good thing, huh?), but I do make a lot more from book sales than I would if I had to pay a publisher and agent their cut. And, let’s face it. We have to do most of the marketing anyway, whether we go with a publishing house or self publish.

Do you do your own editing, cover design, and promoting as well?

Editing: Although we all must self-edit, every book should be professionally edited before publication. I have a great editor/teacher/mentor who also taught me how to write fiction when I first started.

Cover Design: Hiring a book cover designer is expensive. I knew that Emily Ann Benedict had created her own cover for one of her books and questioned her about it. Following her advice, I designed my own cover using Photoshop and really enjoyed the process. For the front cover, I received directions for dimensions, etc. from Book Baby. For the back cover and spine, I obtained the necessary information from CreateSpace. I had difficulty doing the spine, so I paid CreateSpace $45 to do it.

Promotion: I’ve done very little marketing because of my granddaughter’s death. I attended two book fests, but children’s books seem to be what most people buy at these gatherings. Most of my paperback sales came from autographed copies bought by family, friends, past students, my physicians, and others whom I met in different places. I usually carry a book with me and have a box full in my trunk. I’ve sold quite a few just by having one out where it can be seen. I sold five one day in the beauty shop while I was waiting on my husband to pick me up. I had bookmarks printed and put one in every paperback I sell and everything I mail, including Christmas cards and bill payments.

Deadly Betrayal Bk CoverAny technical issues? None that I remember.

What did you not expect when you came into the Indie world?

Being somewhat ostracized by some published authors, although this was not true of many who interviewed me on their blog. This might not be a problem now since a lot of “published” authors are beginning to self pub themselves, and self-published books can now be listed under Fiction Finder on the ACFW website.

Are you considering traditional publishing any time in the future? Not right now.

Any last words of advice for fellow Indie Authors?

— Hire a good editor. You don’t want to put your name on something that isn’t professional.

— Prepare in advance for your book release.

— Bookmarks are excellent, inexpensive giveaways. Also order a poster of your book cover to use at book signings. I used UPrinting.com for mine and they did an excellent job.

— Get an article about your book in your local newspaper, if possible. The small, neighborhood ones are easier.

— Schedule as many book signings in advance as possible.

— Of course, post an announcement on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Linkedin, Pinterest, etc. and have your Facebook author page and website ready to launch (or already out there.)

— Don’t hesitate to ask questions of other Indie authors. Most are quite willing to help you.

Finally, since this business is all about word of mouth, do you have any Indie Writers you enjoy?

This is an interesting question because it is becoming difficult to tell a self-published book from one published by a small publishing house—unless, of course, you know the names of different publishing houses. Also, a lot of famous authors are creating their own publishing house. For example, Angela Hunt, whom I read often, now has her own publishing house, and, therefore, could be considered self-published. I believe Emily Ann Benedict was the first self-published author I read. I also read a short story self-published by James Scott Bell. Catherine Leggitt’s first novel in her Christine Sterling Mystery series was self-published by WestBow Press, but the series was later picked up by Ellechor Publishing House, LLC. Right now, I’m reading a self-published novel by Jessica Nelson, who also publishes novels with Love Inspired. Rosemary Hines is another self-published author I’ve read. There are others I’m sure I’m missing. The point is, I think self-publishing is here to stay.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences and answer my questions, Loretta!
As with all Indie Author April posts one reader will receive a $5 Amazon gift card.

To enter to win, please leave a comment on this post with your email address. Additional points given for following Loretta’s Blog and Twitter Account!

Indie Author April – Tyrean Martinson + Giveaway!

Okay, it’s not quite April yet, but to make the weeks even ouTyerant, we’re starting out our month of talking with Independent Authors from across the board about their experiences in this brave new world of publishing right now. And I’m happy to start this month off with one of my favorites – Author, Tyrean Martinson. (Read to the finish to find out what this week’s giveaway entails.)

First tell us a little about your book(s).

My first two novels, Champion in the Darkness and Champion in Flight, follow the action-packed journey through doubt and into faith of Clara, the youngest Champion in the history of Aramatir. The third novel in the trilogy, Champion’s Destiny, will reveal another layer to her story and include a climatic showdown with the Dark Sisterhood, but it will also open the doors for more books of Aramatir. I started out with a heroine and a sword, and I’ve found a whole world of characters I love.

I’ve also put together a few collections of short stories and poetry, Dragonfold and Other Adventures, and Light Reflections.

And, then, this year, I’m on a huge push to get some of the work that’s been foundering on my laptop out into the world including a collection of writing prompt books: A Jumble of 500+ Writing Prompts in e-book, a Pocket-Sized Jumble of 500+ Writing Prompts (paperback), and two Jumble Journals; and some writing curriculum books that I’ve used for my home-school co-op writing classes: Dynamic Writing 1-3.

ChampionWhat formats of Indie Publishing have you used? (ex: Self-publishing House, Kindle, Smashwords, Create Space)

I’ve used Kindle, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Nook Press, Lulu, and Kobo.

Do you have one you prefer above another?

I like each of them for different reasons. Kindle is an easy platform with checks and balances. Smashwords and the Smashwords Style Guide are invaluable tools for knowing that the formatting of an e-book is just right. Kobo was harder for me to learn, and took longer to upload, but I think it reaches a different audience than Kindle and Smashwords. Nook Press provides a way to upload e-books for the B&N site, again, gaining another audience – although Smashwords books also show up at B&N after about a month.

Createspace and Lulu are the only print-on-demand services I’ve used, and they also have their pros and cons.

Createspace is fast, and there are a number of helpful pages for understanding web sized in flight (1)how to format the interior and cover of a book. I learned a great deal with the first book I created with Createspace. Also, Createspace offers a print and on-line proof process, and once the book is proofed, it goes to print via the Createspace store within a few minutes to a few hours. Shipping is fairly fast, too.

Lulu has many of the same options as Createspace, but the platform uploads at a slightly slower rate. Lulu only offers an online proof process and not a print proof; and although the books may be uploaded to the store website right away, the print-on-demand and shipping process is slower than at Createspace. However, one feature I really like at Lulu is that I can order a “private” print run; this is a way to either do a print proof or to create books that I don’t plan to sell on the marketplace like the books I create for my home-schooled co-op students at the end of the year with selections of their work.

Is there a reason you chose the independent route?

Two reasons: I didn’t know all of the small press options out there and I couldn’t seem to find an agent or a press that might be interested in Christian Fantasy fiction, especially Christian Fantasy fiction for YA readers with a strong, sword-wielding heroine. When I first wrote Champion in the Darkness, it seemed like Christian Fantasy books only had heroines who could knit, pray, or prophesy. The fighting was all generally left to brawny guys on white horses. So, I felt like my book with a young swords-woman wouldn’t fit in the traditional path. After a great deal of research into agents, presses, and indie publishing, I went straight to indie publishing without writing a single query letter.

Do you do your own editing, cover design, and promoting as well?

I’ve received editing help from a teacher, a gardener, an engineer, and a kind friend; and I work on editing myself. I’ve also had a few critique partners. However, I still have found some embarrassing mistakes after publication, and those are especially embarrassing since I teach writing to teens and I’ve taken college level (400 series) grammar.

With cover design, I’ve had some beautiful artwork created for me by my niece, and I’ve found inexpensive art that I’ve learned to manipulate and use for creating my book covers.

Although I have tried a few paid promotional services and may again, I have done most of the promoting myself. It’s hard, constant work, but I just keep at it.

Despite feeling shy, I’ve approached bookstore owners, home-school co-ops, and a few Pastors with my books. It’s terrifying and hard to start those conversations, but I’ve found that people actually respond pretty well.

Any technical issues?

I’ve had many. I can’t stress enough the need to back-up work every day in multiple ways – a wireless download every day is great, but I had my system break down on that part before my whole laptop died and lost my copy-edited perfect copy of my first novel. I recommend having a wireless download system and e-mailing a copy every single day. (I e-mail the copy to myself at a different e-mail account.)

What did you not expect when you came into the Indie world?

I don’t think I realized just how many indie books are being published daily, weekly, and monthly. The book market is a tough, competitive market. I’m still working on how to deal with that.

Are you considering traditional publishing any time in the future?

Yes, I have a MG paranormal novella, Eight If By Sea, coming out this year. It’s part of a thirteen book series, written by several different authors. I was hired and contracted for my part in the project (the fifth book) last December. One of the best parts: I didn’t have to query for this one either! :)

On a more traditional query path, I hope to have a project that’s ready for that by the end of this year. Then, I’ll be working on Indie publishing and querying traditional presses next year.

Any last words of advice for fellow Indie Authors?

Just keep writing. Just keep working. Create the best product you can.

If you need editing help, get it. If you need cover design help, get it. If you need marketing help, get it.

However, in all these areas, research first. Just because a place is offering an expensive service does not mean it is a good service. I’ve met authors who have spent $5,000 on services and have sold less than 100 books. That’s not a good investment return; and I know I don’t have that kind of money to waste.

Finally, since this business is all about word of mouth, do you have any Indie Writers you enjoy?

I could create a huge list here, but I’m just going to name three:
-I really love Emily Ann Benedict’s romantic Father Christmas series. :)
-For MG urban fantasy, I’m a fan of Jeff Chapman’s Give Me Your Teeth. The cover for it looks a little scary, but it’s a really sweet story about facing fears and bullies.
-For speculative fiction which ranges the gamut of fantasy, sci-fi, space opera, and horror, I’m a fan of Milo James Fowler who is both Indie and traditionally published. His faith is presented a little bit more like Tolkien’s LOTR in the world-building, but it’s definitely there.

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Thank you so much for stopping by Tyrean! Not only did Tyrean take the time to Jumbleanswer my questions, she also offered, in addition to the $5 Amazon card we are giving out each week, a free e-copy of her book, A Jumble of 500+ Writing Prompts.

To enter to win, please leave a comment on this post with your email address. Additional point given for following Tyrean’s blog, Everyday Writer, and Facebook page.