I write stuff for kids...and muse on writing, children's books, and the publishing industry in general

Monday, May 21, 2012

May Self-Publishing and Digital Publishing Series (Week 3: Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi Guest Post)

Welcome to my May Monday series on Self-Publishing and Digital Publishing. I hope you'll find heaps of information and knowledge within these posts to help you on your writing journey or give you information about the journey other writers are undertaking. I'll have guest posts from:
They're all either already published or have books that are coming out soon via self-publishing or digital publishing, and they're going to share some of their publishing journeys with you, give you interesting information about self/digital publishing, and even give you the chance to win some cool loot! And each of the four weeks, I'll be popping in some agent tips/posts and "link love" on the pros and cons of self- or digital publishing as well.

Some agent thoughts on self-publishing

Sarah LaPolla's interesting post on What's the Deal With Self-Publishing?

Some link love

A 2011 article on digital publishing pros and cons: E-Publishing with a Publisher rather than Self-Publishing

Harlequin Fail - a very frank look at why a long-time published author with Harlequin has turned to self-publishing

Something Scary Is Happening - an interesting look at Amazon's KDP Select and why they'll never give it up, plus some lessons for Indies

The Masquerade Crew on 99c Ebooks - Good or Bad?

I hope you find all these links useful. More next week.

Guest Post by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, authors of THE EMOTION THESAURUS 

I'd like to welcome these two lovely ladies to Rach Writes... and thank them for sharing their publishing journey with us. Together, they are responsible for The Bookshelf Muse, and as you will probably know, they've just published their fantastic book, THE EMOTION THESAURUS. They were also behind the massive Random Acts of Kindness blitz you will have seen around the writing community over the last week. Take it away ladies!!!

Self-Publishing: Taking the Scenic Route

ANGELA: Becca and I have been writing for a long time, so we’re familiar with setbacks and the occasional detour. What’s that line from Days of Thunder? Rubbin’ is racing. Well, that’s writing. If the path is smooth, you’re not on the writer’s road.

So when we decided to self publish The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression, we were ready for a few bumps! Our cover creation went smooth. We chose Scarlett Rugers, probably the most professional art designer I’ve ever met. You want a great cover, she’s your gal. However the first bump came when our original formatter found that our project was a bit too complex. (To be fair, the ET is not your average book. The fact that it needed someone really experienced in HTML wasn’t a total shock.) She did the right thing to tell us, and luckily, knew just the gal to get it done: Heather Adkins, Formatting Goddess (she really is). WHEW, crisis averted.

When it came to uploading, Becca and I divvied up tasks. I took on Createspace, and the whole process was a breeze. Provided you do your homework and make sure your Word doc. matches the trim size, and it’s formatted correctly, the process is quick and painless. In a few short days, we had a proof in our hands and suddenly, the book was REAL.

BECCA: Meanwhile, I was in charge of uploading the various digital files to the different distributor sites. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords were pretty straight forward. Apple, on the other hand...there’s a reason so many people go through a distributor like Smashwords to get to iTunes instead of selling directly through Apple. Their formatting standards are ridiculously picky, there is no phone support for iTunes Connect (their venue for self-publishing), and their wait times are notoriously long; first, you have to apply to self-publish with them (wait up to two weeks for acceptance), then you get to upload your file (and wait two more weeks for your book to go live). Craziness.

BECCA: Another speed bump that we never foresaw was the multi-authorship of our book. Most distributors had no problem with this. But when I uploaded to Smashwords, there was only one author’s name allowed. I e-mailed them to find out how to include both our names and they matter-of-factly informed me that Smashwords has no protocol for including multiple authors on their listings. End of story. No apology, no this-is-something-we’re-working-on. Just a resounding No. So if you co-author a book with someone and want to distribute it through Smashwords to other venues like Amazon, Sony, or Kobo, know that while your actual book will have both your names on it, the listing at Smashwords will not.

ANGELA: I’d say over all (possibly with a slight grumble from Becca) that our experience was pretty good. What we did learn is that it’s important to leave yourself a lot of lead time up to your launch. Becca and I uploaded to Smashwords well in advance, but we left others a bit too close to the release date. Had something gone sideways at the wrong time, it could have messed us up or even caused us to postpone.

Three takeaways from this experience: 
  • Don’t hit ‘Publish’ until you are certain your book is as strong as it would be had you gone through traditional publishing. This is your NAME, your BRAND. If the writing is sloppy, a pretty cover won’t save it. 
  • Unless you know what you’re doing, pay a formatter. A good one. Ask for references and talk to other clients. Trust me, it’s worth the cheddar. You want a painless process, not a pain-filled one. 
  • Hopefully you won’t need it, but leave yourself lots of time for the scenic route, just in case you find yourself on it!
Angela Ackerman Becca Puglisi are possibly twins separated at birth, living in different countries. The Bookshelf Muse blog duo are co-authors of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression. Listing the body language, visceral reactions and thoughts associated with seventy-five different emotions, this brainstorming guide is a valuable tool for showing, not telling, emotion.

This book is available in both Print and Digital Formats.


Thanks so much for sharing your insight, Angela and Becca. Make sure you check out their book, THE EMOTION THESAURUS, which is a must-have for all writers (of course, I've bought my copy already *grins*).

And make sure you pop back next Monday for the last in my Self-Publishing and Digital Publishing series, a guest post by the lovely Adina West from  Stairways and Landings!



Charmaine Clancy said...

So much information here and a great interview too. These girls have done a great job with this release, there's been a lot of talk of this book online.

writing and living by Richard P Hughes said...

Some good links and info. Much appreciated.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for sharing the tips Angela and Becca. I'd definitely need the formatting. That's great there were two of you to share the work.

Laura Pauling said...

Love this picture of you two! And with a book as complicated as yours I understand why you wanted a formatter! But with regular fiction I think it is worth learning because there is so much help out there!

Angela Brown said...

It's very interesting the things that have to be considered when it comes to self-publishing. I seriously would have thought there'd be no problems with multi-authorship, but I see that Smashwords has a bit of a snafu.

So many things I'm learning from this self-publishing series.

Heather Murphy said...

More great information. I am loving this series! Thank you ladies

Traci Kenworth said...

Congratulations again, Becca and Angela on your book!!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great information here on self-publishing! THank you so much! I am just thinking of this publishing path so I need all the info I can get.

Heather Cashman said...

This is a great series and I've enjoyed reading the info. I also think a great deal of thought needs to go into the after-shock of self-publishing and all the work it takes to promote. I'm still unsure which path is best to take, even after publishing through Amazon.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing with us girls. I'm planning to launch through smashwords and createspace, myself here soon, so this was excellent advice.

Unknown said...

I hadn't noticed that on Smashwords you can only list one author... Hmm. The Emotion Thesaurus is an absolutely fantastic idea. I didn't realize until very recently that it's self-published - that's how professional it looks!

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic links and tips. I appreciate them a lot especially since I'll be giving self-publishing a try this year. Good luck! :)

Savannah Chase said...

So much wonderful information..Thank you..

Carrie Butler said...

Thanks for the tips, ladies!

P.S. That photo is too fun! :D

Libby said...

Good luck with the book. A good formatter can change everything.

PJD said...

With smashwords, would it have been possible to have two uploads of the book, one with one author and the other with the other? Or would that be two ISBNs? Not that I ever plan to coauthor. Just curious, really. Haven't used smashwords yet, only createspace.

Angela Ackerman said...

Thanks everyone for the comments--sorry I wasn't able to hit them as they came in but it's a holiday here in Canada and I was out of the city with no internet (I needed the break, tho, lol!)

For us, we knew that our book had to be able to compare to other books on writing, and therefore quality was at the top of our thoughts all the way through. We did use an editor for parts of the book, and put a lot of thought into the usability of the tool.

One thing we didn't put in the post but probably should have is this: we have no regrets over going this route. The time it would have taken to find a publisher traditionally would have meant delaying this book a year or two (two most likely) and we did not feel this was fair to our supporters who have been waiting so patiently for so long. :) SP allowed us to get it out to you much sooner, and we're very happy with the result!

Thanks everyone for the kind words. We both hope this helps fill a gap as far as writing tools go, and supplies you with some help writing emotion, which is such a tricky part to master.

Happy week & happy writing!



Jemi Fraser said...

I have to say all the formatting talk terrifies me more than just a little. Thankfully there are formatting goddesses out there!

Leslie S. Rose said...

My copy of The Emotion Thesaurus arrived yesterday and it's already full of post-its. Congrats Angela and Becca.

Becca Puglisi said...

Thanks for the kind comments, everyone. I was out of town, too--still am, actually (thank God for wi-fi). Like Angela said, we are more than happy with the result we've gotten from self-publishing. There are speed bumps any time you try something new; hopefully our takeaways will make the process a little smoother for anyone getting ready to self-publish.

Peter, you're right: uploading two books would have resulted in two ISBNs. Also, two separate sets of reports, which would have made it doubly difficult to track sales.

Thank you, Rachael, for hosting us!

cleemckenzie said...

You're very lucky to have a partner. There's so much to do that sharing the responsibilities had to be a great help.

You did an amazing job with your launch. I thought your RAOK was a great success, and mostly because it was fun and rewarding for the bloggers who took part in it.

Congratulations to you both.

Angela Ackerman said...

Leslie, so glad you're finding the ET useful! :)

Cleemckenzie, RAOK was a lot of fun and very rewarding--and by that, I mean the spirit of kindness was rewarding. Not doing the splashy book cover everywhere thing was risky, and possibly our book sales could suffer, but I think what we chose to do instead aligns with who Becca and I are.

My attitude is this: people who need the Emotion Thesaurus will find it. It is my hope that if writers feel it offers value, they'll tell others. Again, maybe that's naive of me to put so much faith in others, but that's how I am. :) I believe in word of mouth, and hope it will help Becca and I make sure the book gets to the people who can be helped by it. :)


Adina West said...

Thanks for sharing your story - and what a great idea for a book! Your cover looks great.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. Thank you for sharing your experience with getting the book published.

The RAOK Blitz was awesome!

Karen Lange said...

Thanks, Rachael, for hosting Becca and Angela as they share about their journey! It's great to learn about their adventure; I appreciate their thoughts and experience. Wishing them the best with ET!

Tracy MacDonald said...

What a great post sharing both positive and less-than-positive experiences. I've learned so much from these past 3 Mondays!
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Unknown said...

I am surprised you had trouble with Smashwords. This is the first time I have ever heard a bad comment about their customer service team.

I publish with Smashwords who distribute to the big guns and I have had nothing but good relations with them.

I also self-published my paper back version through Lulu who distribute to Amazon for free and they are great too!

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