Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Finding the Right Indie Publisher - Trust and Results Are the Primary Focus Points

I've been approached more than once, by writers looking for a publisher, asking questions that include: "Should I get an agent first?" or "How do I know the difference between a vanity publisher vs. a POD or an indie?" I answer them by saying, "You have to do your research and then decide which path works for you."

That might sound like I'm dodging the question, but I'm really not.  First of all, in today's publishing world, what worked five or ten years ago is now ancient history.  I remember when self-published authors were dismissed as being writers who couldn't get an agent.  Not today.  The best way for me to explain my response is to share the process I went through to get published.

While writing articles and essays for various regional and national publications, I got comfortable working with editors and publishers. I always worried that, submitting my work through an agent would be giving up some of the control I might have in the details. By the time I had a book I wanted to publish, the self-publishing world was coming into its own, so I decided to research several Publish on Demand (POD) companies, with the thought of seeing my novel in print.

Before that could happen, my husband and I approached a publisher, who had been recommended to us, with our idea about our non-fiction book, "Together in the Dream".  After submission of an outline and a sample chapter, he said he would be delighted to publish our work. That was the beginning of what has blossomed into a great rapport with this publisher/editor, and we have three other works in the offing through his company.

Bottom line:  all that happened because we did our research.  You need to be able to immediately recognize a vanity, POD or indie publisher because you've found out the differences.  You need to thoroughly check out a potential publisher: what is their experience?; what genre(s) do they publish?; what do you expect as far as promotion, royalties, etc.  There's much to learn if you are going to bypass an agent, and "do it on your own".  You have to be realistic about the work that is involved in promoting your book this way.  AND, you need to have a positive dialogue with the publisher to know if you are in the right hands.

My husband and I feel extremely lucky to have found the right fit for us.  That fit is different for every writer, and it requires having the right information, and knowing what will work for you.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Alan Rickman: The True Embodiment of an Actor's Actor

Sitting at my computer screen this morning, I had a subject in mind for a blog post, but decided to check out Facebook before getting to work on my writing. The first post noted the death of one of my all-time favorite actors, so my blog topic just had to be about him today.

Alan Rickman, without a doubt, created characters on screen that were impossible to forget. As an actor, I would watch his performances over and over because he possessed that "special something" that every actor wishes he could emulate.

I remember asking (almost thirty years ago now), after seeing him in Die Hard: "Who is this guy? He is so beautifully evil!"  You hated the character, wanted Bruce Willis to kill him off throughout the film, but being an actor, I was mesmerized by the completeness he exhibited. By that I mean, his body language, his facial expressions, that distinctive voice: he used them all flawlessly to enhance the scripted lines. Best of all, you never were aware that he was "acting". He just was that evil man!

There are so many of his performances that drew me in that way. Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves was a favorite (still is), Truly, Madly, Deeply is the favorite of many I know. His portrayal of Snape in the Harry Potter series made me understand why J.K. Rowling thought of him playing the role as she was writing the character. I laughed - and identified - with him in Galaxy Quest, which is one I still watch again and again.

He touched me deeply with two of his films: Love Actually and Sense & Sensibility. The moments he created in those films showed his depth, his unending creativity, and the unique gift he had for doing just enough to engage you in his inner conflicts and thoughts. So many times on screen, he made you feel for him without saying anything. THAT is what made him an "actor's actor".  He showed me how to be better, even though I knew I would never achieve that level of artistry.  I still wanted to try when I watched him.

To say he will be missed is an understatement. He still had so much to give to audiences. I do love that film allows us to relive those cinematic moments again and again, but I am so sad that I'll never have a "new moment" in a darkened theatre when I discover another Alan Rickman creation on screen.

Rest In Peace, you dear, talented, and giving artist.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Time Spent Promoting A Book Is Not Only Time Well Spent; It's Necessary!

Of course it's fun having a book that is sparking the interest ours is.  It's also fun having friends and family tell you they've read, or are reading, the book, and think it's a great read.  We've done podcasts, been interviewed by a major newspaper, and "Together in the Dream" is now being sold in the #1 independent bookstore in the Chicago area: Anderson's Bookshop.

That would be enough for some who've been lucky enough to have a book published.  But, there are so many self-published and vanity published books deluging the reader's market now, unless you have the marketing campaign of one of the top five publishers, you can never stop promoting it on your own.  Certainly, our independent publisher has made our book available on Amazon.com and Kindle, and he's let reviewers, etc., know it's out there. Plus, if you go on the themeparkpress.com website, there it is on the cover page, in full color, available for sale right there.

We know, though, ("we" being my beloved husband, R.J., and I) that we can't stop looking for ways to get our volume known, and reviewed, and read by more than just those who love us already.  So, we go on all social media sites: Facebook, Linked In, Twitter our blogs, R.J.'s website, on a daily basis to let our followers know what's happening with the book - and us.  It's extremely time-consuming, but most definitely worth it in the end.  To date, it has yielded thousands of followers, netted us podcast interviews, and speaking engagements.

Even though we have been self-employed for many years now, our writing is now the prime, motivating work of our lives.  R.J. has already been asked to do a second book, which he's busy writing now, and we've just been encouraged by our publisher to write a sequel to "Together in the Dream".  And we have lots of ideas for other work as well.

Spending our days researching and learning ways to "get our book out there" has become as important as penning the new stuff.  It's even what's kept me from posting on my blog since before Christmas.  It is possible to make a living at being a writer - but it doesn't just land in your lap because you get a positive review or you sell some copies for a few weeks.  It's a full-time job - and we think it's worth it.