Friday, May 24, 2019

FACING A COSMIC SHIFT


Interstellar Rescue--all now self-published.

There’s been a cosmic shift in my writing world. One I didn’t ask for. One that took me off my feet and hurled me willy-nilly in a direction I was certain I didn’t want to go when I started out. It’s taken me almost two years and countless hours of blood, sweat and tears to find solid ground again. Now, finally, I can tell you the story. Or, at least, some of it. Hang in there. It’s a little crazy and convoluted, but it does have a (mostly) happy ending.

I offer the details of my story not only to those of you who have followed my career for a while, but also for any of you who may want a career in this Wild West of a business. Even with the outline I’m able to provide, it will be clear anything and everything can happen in publishing, even when you go into things with eyes wide open and with the best of intentions.

I never wanted to self-publish. I’m not good at details—graphics, formatting, cost analysis—or at promotion—I had to be forced into social media, though I’ve learned to like it. So, I went the traditional publishing route. Hundreds (literally) of rejections later, I found my agent, Michelle Johnson, originally of the Corvisiero Literary Agency of New York.

After a few months, Michelle left Corvisiero to form her own agency, Inklings Literary, and I went with her. Lots of other clients did, too, and Inklings prospered. Me, not so much. My first book didn’t attract any interest from the Big Five, or any of the dozens of small houses Michelle sent it to.

So we came up with the hybrid INK’d Press, a division of Inklings that allowed the publication of my first three books in the Interstellar Rescue series. Just like a trad publisher, INK’d took on the costs of production—cover, formatting, printing—and most promotion, while we split the profits from sales. I had more creative control than most trad-published authors, though, because INK’d was so small (just me and one other author). I used to say that I had all the benefits of self-publishing without the scary bits.

I was happy with this arrangement, and it worked well for me. Sales weren’t spectacular, but they were increasing, and Michelle negotiated audiobook production of the first three books that brought in decent profits. 

But just after I signed the contract for my fourth book, things began to fall apart at Inklings. For legal and other reasons, I can’t give you the details. Still, it’s a familiar story in publishing, and the authors are always the ones left high and dry.

In some ways, I was lucky. Because publication of my book was basically up to Michelle and me, when she went AWOL, I just took over to save Book 4 (Not Fade Away).That was simpler said than done, though. I had to learn a whole new set of skills: contract negotiation (made easy by the cover artist and editor I was dealing with, thankfully), formatting (AAARRGGH!), CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing, promo campaigns. But I did learn, and the book came out. I even sold some copies.

That wasn’t the end of things, though. My agent/publisher remained incommunicado. I was forced to cut all legal ties with Michelle Johnson and Inklings Literary as of December, 2018. My publishing rights reverted to me, but my books were still being published under the Inklings KDP account. I had to transfer them to my personal account in order to get any money from their sale.

How? By reformatting and republishing each of them on my account and having them unpublished from the Inklings account. This wasn't easy. Without some extremely helpful advice  to show me the way (thank you, Pauline!), I might never have known what to do. Then, it took six months and a lot of swearing at my computer to accomplish the near-impossible.

For months, I’ve been knee-deep in fonts and margins and Kindle Create and KDP. I’ve learned to copy format with Format Painter in Word. I’ve learned to edit covers in PDF with Microsoft Paint. I’ve learned the arcane ins and outs of PDF/Word conversion in Adobe and resizing online and so many other insane details I likely won't remember them when it comes time to do it again.

I’ve also learned that Word codes are sneaky and hide to come out and bite you in the butt. Over and over again. I hate computers.
But at last I have completed this process for all four books of my Interstellar Rescue series: Unchained Memory, Trouble in Mind, Fools Rush In, and Not Fade Away. I’ve got four new shiny editions of my books, with a bonus short story at the end of the novels, “Saturday Night in Devils Holler,” an Interstellar Rescue novella that originally appeared in the Baby, It’s Cold in Space anthology (Bathory Gate Press, 2016). By July, I hope to have four new covers for the novels, too, courtesy of cover artist Jessica Hildreth. I plan a big promo blitz then, just as the summer convention season is underway.

In the meantime, you can help a poor starving writer by checking out a new edition of one of the Interstellar Rescue novels. Maybe start at the beginning, with the Golden Heart® Finalists Unchained Memory (Book 1) and Trouble in Mind (Book 2). Or the SFR Galaxy Award-winning space opera Fools Rush In (Book 3). Or, if you’re a dog lover, the SFR Galaxy Award winning Not Fade Away (Book 4). The best part is that you can be sure your favorite newest self-published author will now get ALL the profit. (Note: just be sure to follow THESE links to the right versions of the books. Amazon is still getting its act together in linking the new editions.)

Cheers, Donna



6 comments:

  1. So very proud of you! It's a tough ride. I've been there and done that, but you are going to love being in charge. I promise!

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  2. What a story. Congratulations on your persistence and success!

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  3. Such an unfortunately familiar story. I did a bit of this, too. As you said, it's always the author who loses out. I'm so glad it's working out for you. Welcome to the Indie side.

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  4. Thanks, everybody, for your encouraging words! It pays to be stubborn, but it definitely helps to have friends on your side rooting for you!

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  5. I have a lot of confidence in you and know you will persevere!!

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  6. Donna I'm so glad that ride is finally over.

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